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 No.703862[Last 50 Posts]

Post Sheets.


File: 1540862762672.jpg (139.05 KB, 1265x1188, shorty.jpg)


>All at full H/W

Last time on HQ…

Flaming, Flow, Amy and KP explored more of the tower, beyond the room in which the skeleton researchers were cataloguing the various creatures and plants which they had found. About 60 meters up in the tower, they discovered an Anomaly, which was launching bolts of magic energy around the tower, causing a variety of effects, such as setting things on fire, turning Amy's mane curly and white, causing KP to float like a balloon, and turning objects into cake and confetti. Flaming dived into the Anomaly and managed to seal the doorway she found within, stopping the flow of magic energy which was being flung through by strange frog creatures on the other side.

Pryce, Shei, Vice and Trapper returned to King Lininas, who was inspecting a variety of stone icons and figurines which he and his team of geomancers recovered from the hidden vault far below Zha Arlakane's royal palace. Among the objects was a strange, moon-shaped stone discus, which had an uncomfortable aura. When touched, the discus gave pessimistic visions of the future about whatever subject the person touching it was thinking about. And, when someone touched it while thinking about themselves, the discus presented them with an avatar of themselves, representing the myriad dark futures that they might face. Upon confronting these figures, Shei, Pryce and the goo clones received a blessing of new, dark powers.



The visions fade as you accept the orbs, and they dissolve into mist, mingling with your souls. You are brought back to the room where the king is inspecting the stone artifacts.

>Choose one Aspect from the Sphere of Dark, and then choose 1 level 1 skill and 1 level 2 skill from that Aspect.

As you leap, you feel yourself coming up a bit short toward the railing, and just before the panic of falling can set in, LJ leans out and grabs you, princess style, and you see him straining with his back legs to hold onto the railing as they're pressed up against it. He strains and pulls himself back, slipping you out of the rope and back onto solid ground.

You see that the Anomaly now lies dormant, but is still there, floating in the air. However, it's not doing anything. The bird in the nearby nest looks up as the coast is clear, then looks down at the nest, where you hear a very faint peeping.

Flaming catches the potion as LJ catches her, and the potion is so good that it can last and be used later as a free action.




"Aaaaaaaw," Amy swoons when she hears the baby birds peeping. "The babies are hatched!"


Zjetya starts to fly up, following along the stairways leading upward through the tower, and approaches the bird's nest, built atop an old, moss-coated bookshelf. The bird squawks and screeches at her as she draws near, though she leaves a wide breadth as she glances down at the nest.

"Huh… this could be trouble," she says, then starts floating downward.


As Flaming falls along the rope, swinging around the massive library, she sees the potion tossed at her by Amy, swiftly grabbing it in her teeth to use for later… or very soon, depending on how she lands.

Flaming's eyes open wide as she comes up short of the railing, her instinct to run already in full swing as she tries to reach for it… before she feels herself being caught in mid-air, her back and legs supported by a pair of hooves reaching out to catch her. "Journey…?!"

As he hoists her back up over the ledge successfully, she blushes at being carried in such a dainty fashion, but looks back at the straining calf as he manages to pull her safely back over the ledge, looking at him with a dumbfounded expression. "Y-you… you caught me…"

Momentarily distracted by the sounds of the peeping, Flaming shakes her head to look up at the calm anomaly, then looks over to Amy. "Why is that a bad thing? I thought you'd like cute things like chicks. And look! The anomlememly isn't doing anything anymore."


>name fix


LJ groans and falls onto his back, and you lay in his arms for a few seconds before he pushes you off to the side. "W-well yeah, what was I supposed to do? From that height, only Zjetya coulda caught you, and I – well it's not like she's not strong, but uh… I didn't want to risk the skeletons having buffalo pancakes for breakfast, just in case she wasn't fast enough."



Pryce stands, looking down at his hoof once they return back to reality. He reflects on what he felt and saw, the grim feeling that shook him deeply now invigorating an ember of hope to make sure it does not come to pass.
>Aspect of Space: Elemental Current
>Aspect of Space: Elemental Fusion

"We are ready, King Lininas."

KP looks down at the nest while he still floats in the air, held by his rope.
>"Hey you're all safe now Mister Bird!"
KP says down to the nest.
>"Your wife has been all upset back in the tower, you should go get her now!"


Both of the goo clones confusedly look around as they’re brought back to the room.
>”That was… an experience”
>Primordial Aspect of Space
>This is How a Drill Works!
>You Are (Not) Alone

Flow lowers his guard as the anomaly stops spitting out bolts.
“…huh. It worked!”
He steps closer to the nest once he hears peeping comig from inside.
“Oh, so it was just protecting its young after all.”


>Changing Flaming's response to Amy/Zjetya
As Amy coos at the chicks being hatched, Flaming looks over at Amy with a smile, somewhat in adoration herself of the cute sight of baby birds hatching. "I know you're tempted, but you probably shouldn't go hugging them yet, I don't know if they're ready for those yet."

As Zjetya mentions a problem, however, she looks up. "Huh? What's trouble?"

As Flaming is pushed off to the side, she looks at Journey with a surprised, almost disappointed look at first… but then gets a devious smirk, picking herself up as she smiles at him. "Sooo, it was only because you thought you were the only one who could catch me? Not because of anything 'else'…?"


The king gives another glance at the moon-shaped discus. "By the looks on your faces, I can see that what you saw was far worse than what you had expected. My experience was the same, though I have reason to believe that what you saw was not entirely accurate… but that, we shall discuss later."

He gestures to the table, which has a number of small stone tablets and figurines, etched in an ancient, abstract style. Among them, you see figures of warriors, armed with shields and spears, of fierce goddesses, raising their hooves to the sky and of imposing emperors, dictating to some unseen crowd. Among them are tablets with scenes etched onto them depicting gardens, a cluster of meteors, and finally, a tremendous erupting volcano.

"The weapons of the past, disguised so innocently as no more than simple bits of pottery, like what one might leave at a loved one's grave," the king says.



"I can hug gently…" Amy objects sternly. "But… they're all the way up there…"


"What's trouble?"


Vice studies the figures and tablets with much intrigue. Trapper does the same, albeit with much less enthusiasm.
>>”…I don’t follow.”
>”Me neither. What are all these supposed to signify?”

“Cripe, what’s the problem?”


Pryce steps toward the table, looking over the tablets the King has laid out.
"Are they inscriptions for spells? Or just tales of what they could do?"
Pryce questions.


LJ turns his head up and away, giving you side-eye. "I just didn't think a great Climbing-Fire warrior would be so soft! Where's all that power you're supposed to have?"

You ascend the vine and grass covered stairs, ascending multiple floors until you reach the floor where the nest is perched atop its bookcase (with the exception of KP who just has to float there, about five meters above that floor).

Zjetya pauses, looking up at the tower. "The silence – we haven't heard anything about this trial being over yet. But I don't see anything else around here that could be a threat to us, besides that bird."

The bird glares at you, hunched over its nest with wings spread wide.

Above you, you see that the stairs continue leading upward to platforms further above you. You're about halfway up the tower right now.



"Well then, I guess we gotta keep going!" Amy says before climbing up to the stairs.


“Seems like this was just a small inconvenience along the road… we should keep climbing to see what’s up the tower.”
He takes a step before turning back around.
“Wait, we can’t just leave KP here. How’re we gonna bring him with us?”


>"What if we get the other bird and bring her back here? That might calm him down to not be threatening."
KP suggests as he turn around, floating upside down as the others climb up closer to his level.



Amy stops. "Oh," she says, looking up at KP. "Is he still all floaty?"

Then, a look of horror crosses her face. "Wait! Does that mean my mane…" she trails off as she grabs some of it with her hoof.

"NO!" she shouts tragically. "Quick! We gotta go see if the skeletons have something to fix my mane!"

Amy quickly climbs back down to the skeletons' lab to see if they have any potion to fix her mane.


"After the geomancers finished examining them, they found that the magic imbued in these weapons is activated when they are broken. Most of these were designed so as to cause mass, wanton destruction in the area around them, regardless of who or what happened to be around.

"These in particular –" the King gestures at the figurines of the emperor and the goddess, as well as the tablets depicting a meteor shower and the volcano. "These were, according to previously undiscovered historical inscriptions found within the temple's vault, so terrible as to be outlawed from the kingdom's armory after their use in a war against an invading force from the south. Said battle was then erased from all public record, and its discussion forbidden to anyone but the royal family. Do you understand what I am getting at? The official history of Zha Arlakane maintains that this kingdom was never involved in any war on its own soil, its image is that of a peacebroker between nations. This is a fabrication, a lie likely invented to cover up our use of these very weapons against our enemies.

"For me to trust you with them, you will need to give me your absolute word, under penalty of death, that you will not use them except in the most absolutely dire of circumstances."


Flaming chuckles. "I'm sure you can… but then, their Papa might not be so happy about it. I'm sorry Amy, I think he'd prefer you not to hug his chicks. But we can probably look at 'em."

Flaming scoffs, "Me?! Soft? HAH! I'd like to see anyone who can't fly make that jump better. You would still be up there if the situation was reversed. I went into that fall like a warrior, you would have needed me shouting you encouragement the entire time." She reaches over to poke through his generous amount of fur. "Softy."

She smiles, "But, I'll admit… you were stronger than I thought, catching me like that."

Flaming looks over at the bird as Zjetya makes the problem known, looking at him curiously. "Hmmm… well, maybe it's still standing because we're in the room and it thinks we're a threat? Maybe we should try going back to the mom, and seeing if she's calmed down yet. Otherwise, Pryce might have the right idea and we need to bring her back here."

She turns towards Kid Pryce, chuckling at the floating colt as she grabs at the rope that they tied to him going up. "We'll pull him down with us, of course. I wonder how long this is supposed to last…"

As Amy flees for the skeletons, she can't help but start laughing again, though trying hard as she might to keep it quiet to avoid hurting her friends' feelings.



"It wouldn't be the first time I got someone's dad mad at me," Amy laughs.


Both of the goo clones keep quiet after hearing the King’s explanation, and look to Pryce for confirmation.

Flow rolls his eyes and follows Amy as she jets down the stairs.
“Oi oi! Wait up!”


>"Of course I am, can't you see I'm still floating up here?"

>"Hopefully not too long…"

"So they're containers then," Pryce summarizes as the King explains, "Almost like a scroll. But do they say what they do? Some come across as obvious, but others appear more vague."
He says, pointing to the meteors and volcano as obvious, and the emperor and goddess as the more mysterious ones.

He looks up to the King, nodding.
"I swear, under execution, we will not use them unless the fate of this land depends on it."



"As am I" Shei-Sher rises from his crouch position, previously ruminating.

"I give you might your Highness. Only until Hell is an inch between our faces and all that surrounds us is chaos. We shall not use these items until the most dire circumstances."


Give you my word wew


Flaming looks at Amy, a bit innocent and not quite understanding the meaning. "You made someone's dad mad once? What'd ya do?"

"Oh I'm sure it won't last TOO long, Pryce! Hold on," she says, grabbing the rope in her teeth and tugging him along like a child with her balloon, "There, this should work! Come along now."


The King gazes down at each of you with severe judgment, allowing the silence to linger.

"Very well."

The King then turns to the figurines and tablets, then begins to explain what each of them does when broken.

>Figure of the Loyal Hoplite: For the rest of combat, all actions allies take autocrit; normal failures are re-rolled once per turn; critfails incur no penalty

>Figure of the Indomitable Emperor: 15d10 wave of terror, each success autocrits; all enemies in range are struck with awesome fear of the user and allies
>Image of the Falling Stars: 10d10 meteor shower, each success dealing autocrit damage to all in range (allies get free action to flee)
>Image of the Endless Garden: Party and all allies are fully healed; their Hits and Wounds are doubled; until the end of combat, they cannot go helpless, merely losing 1 wound if their Hits fall to 0, after which their Hits are restored to their full (doubled) amount.
>Figure of the Mountain Goddess: 20d10 earthquake, each success dealing autocrit damage to all in range (allies get free action to flee)
>Image of the Broken Earth: 25d10 volcanic eruption, each success dealing autocrit damage to all in range; failures are re-rolled once; Magma damage on all successes (allies get free action to flee)

There is one of each of these stone tablets and figures upon the table.

Surprisingly, beneath the very thick fur, you feel a powerful block of muscle. LJ smirks as you concede his strength, subtly flexing as he walks. "Yeah, and don't make me prove it again with all that big talk of yours."

You go along with Amy as she returns to the small room where the skeletons are researching the local flora and fauna. As you return, the red bird in the skeletons' captivity turns to you, raising its beak as if to smell the air. Then, with an angry squawk, it tries to fly at Amy, only to be caught by the skeletons, who try to restrain it despite its thrashing.

The other skeletons glance at you in confusion, especially at KP.


Both of the good stare at the table with wide eyes and pursed lips.
“Wow,” they say in unison.
>”I can see why you’d keep these under such secrecy…”

Flow nods to the skeletons.
“Oi. Er…how do we explain that things have cooled down in the other room?”



Amy laughs. "Let's just say I… hugged them too much."


Amy cocks her head at the bird. "What'd I do?" she asks indignantly. Then, she looks up at her mane.

"Maybe it's my mane. It got all zapped by the amomany. Do you guys… girls? Things?" Amy shakes her head. "Do you have something to fix my mane?"

[1d10] for skeleton comradery!

Roll #1 3 = 3


Zjetya glances at the bird as it squawks. "Oh… she smells the hatchling and the other bird on all of us! She probably thinks we've been messing with them. Uh… you're the persuasive one, what should I say?"

One of the skeletons hands you a comb, then clatters its teeth. You have a feeling that it may be laughing at you.


As Flaming feels the strong muscle stored underneath, she flushes red, surprised to feel such strength beneath such a fluffy exterior. She pulls it back, but maintains her swagger as he tries to act tough. "Well what if I WANT you to prove it? Last I checked, I beat you pretty hooves down the last combat we did. I think I can take you on, no problem."

Flaming chuckles, "Wow. You must have hugged them REALLY hard to get their papas mad at you. Did you hurt them or something?"

As Flaming tugs the Pryce balloon on back into the captivity room, and then sees the red bird explode at Amy, she looks between the two, frowning. "Wow, she's mad… maybe she's picking up the scent of the other birds on Amy?" She shakes her head, and then approaches the skeleton.

"Excuse me sir: can you let THAT bird out?" She says, pointing at the cage. "I think it's worried about its babies in the next room over. It should calm down no problem once it sees they're all alright."



Roll #1 9 = 9


Flow eyes the skeleton as it clatters its teeth, and looks around at the other skeletons in the room. He puts a hoof on his chin as he thinks.



"Tell them we got rid of the problem. The nest is safe now. She can go see for herself! We were just helping."


"Oh, I might have hurt them, but they definitely liked it," Amy laughs suggestively.


KP drifts along as Flaming takes the rope so he can remain with the group.
>"Hey this is kinda fun, I'm like a balloon!"

>"We stopped that anomoly and made this birdie's eggs al safe again! Also it made me start floating."
KP says to the skeletons as they looked confused.

"I see why they were kept in secrecy and erased from records now."
Pryce says grimly at hearing the devastation these can bring.
"Am I safe to assume you're letting us choose which we will need? So I must ask. how many are we allowed to borrow?"


Shei-Sher sets down a seperate bag to hold these very dangerous items in and starts delicately stowing them away.

"Thank you King Lininias, these weapons will greatly alleviate our sorrows in the struggles to come soon."

Shei-Sher then addresses everyone (Pryce, River, Gaddz, Busta, Chroazin, etc..) as he stashes the stuff

"Well that concludes our business in Zha Arlakane, I believe. Who would like to go out for ice cream?"


"Tomorrow, right after breakfast," LJ says eagerly, bucking slightly. "This time I won't let you win."

You make your case to the skeleton researchers, and Zjetya relays Amy's message to the bird in a series of wing flaps and squawks. After some consideration, the skeleton that is holding back the red bird looks at his associates, who nod at him. He leans back and turns away, then lets the bird go. With a loud "Bu-gawk!" and a storm of feathers, the bird flies out of the room, and flies upward through the tower. You see the first bird land in the nest with the second bird, and the two crowd around it, looking down at the hatchling inside.

"You have done well," the mysterious, sourceless voice says, only somewhat different than before. Though it is imposing and distant, the voice seems to have a light feminine intonation that it did not have when speaking to you before. "The tablet is at the top of this tower."



"It worked!" Amy says happily. "And we didn't have to sit."

Then, she takes the comb from the skeleton. "Thanks," she says sarcastically. She starts combing her mane, hoping something good will happen.


Flow looks up at the tower.
“Huh. So they were the only threat around here…”
He eyes one of the skeletons once more.
“Could we keep one of these guys? They look pretty useful… It doesn’t seem like there’s a necromancer controlling them, either. That, or we just haven’t met the bloke yet.”


The king nods as Shei takes all of the stone weapons. "All of them are for your use in Tartarus. My hope, unrealistic as it may be, is that they will prove superfluous. But, I cannot think of a more fitting representation for my kingdom's commitment to the success of your mission. We will not be able to send you troops or arms. All our forces will be tied up with defending Zha and Fantasia from the advances of the Treibheanna following the opening of the Great Seal of Tartarus. I am afraid that it will be you and your allies alongside Mudi, Vizsla and their lackeys, as well as many members of the Ecclesian Choir. Frightening company indeed… You can pay me back for my contribution by returning alive."

"Seems like kind of an odd thing to have on your mind after getting a bunch of forbidden weapons," Gaddz comments. "Not that I'm saying 'no'."

The others seem to be of the same opinion, nodding and assenting to the proposal.


Flaming chuckles, "He sounds weird, but, I guess I can kind of imagine liking getting hurt. I like fighting and that gets you hurt. Must have been a REALLY tight hug though, sometimes I can't breath but I don't think you've ever actually hurt me with one before."

Flaming chuckles as she tugs him along. "Yeah, and now both you AND big PRyce can fly. Maybe we should just keep you like this?"

Flaming laughs, "*Let* me win? As if! You're going down, Journey." She pauses, "In fact, why don't we make it interesting. Wanna bet on it?"

Flaming looks out as the bird flies away to rejoin its family, her heart melting at the sight of a mother and father reunited with its young, making her feel old pangs for home herself as a small tear comes to her eye, but swiftly wipes away before any can see. "Awwww… I'm happy for them. That baby sounds really happy to have its Mama back."

As the voice rings out, she smiles, looking up towards the grassy steps as she begins to make the ascension. "This was MUCH nicer than the last one! That just leaves one more, we're in the home stretch!"


>>”Aye, we ain’t gonna do anything dumb, like dying while we’re down there, eh?”
>”That much, we can guarantee.”
>>”And as for the afterparty, I think I ave’ a date to attend.”
Vice rolls his eyes.



Amy stares at Flaming with a straight-mouthed exasperated expression.

"I'm talking about sex," Amy says flatly.


Flaming's eyes open wide, and she turns away, her cheeks flaring red. "O-oh… ew."

She coughs, "I-I mean, I knew that! I was just, you know, pretending. OBVIOUSLY you were talking about sex, I mean, what kind of dummy do you take me for, hehe…?"


File: 1540869507551.png (31.36 KB, 482x637, 9015ADEB-915F-4D3A-A2EF-4D….png)

>Flow’s face when


"Yeah, that didn't feel like it fit with the others," Spitshine says. "It felt like something was… not going the way it was intended, almost."

The skeletons all turn away to try to avoid your gaze as you talk about binging one of them along. It's unclear whether they're lazy, intimidated or both.

You comb out your mane, returning it to its original shape. You notice the color slowly returning to your mane; the magic must be wearing off.

"What could you possibly have to bet that'd be worth it?" LJ asks.

>For everyone ascending the tower, roll climbing/navigation for me, all relevant bonuses apply


"All of them?"
Pryce repeats, astounded. He bows his head.
"Thank you, truly."

Pryce rises up.
"We shall, and no longer will these demons be a threat once we are finished."

"Be careful with those Shei."
Pryce says with worry.
"Maybe we should find some proper containers for those."

"…I suppose. Are you sure we have nothing more to do?"

>"If I could control myself that'd be great. Maybe I should get an air tank or something.

KP looks up, straightening himself out in his float as the voice speaks.
>"You're telling us where it is? Wow, thanks voice!"
KP says.
>"You heard the voice, let's go!"


"Indeed, I always do hope that my good deeds for kingdom and for people may be repayed. It's rare that they ever are, but I am glad to be of service regardless. It's the only kind of attitude that might sew the hewns back together on this war torn continent. You have my deepest grattitudes King Lininias we will return to be of service again, I will see to it." Shei-Sher bids the King farewell and good wishes.

And Shei addresses the party "Well It's a fine thing to have a reprieve now and then. And beside that, I want to acquaint you with some of the pleasures of this world Gadriele so you might be steeled to defend it."

Leaving the castle for icecream?


Mocha's eyebrows launch upward as Trapper mentions the date, having apparently forgotten it since the skateboarding competition ended. "Oh yeah… where are we gonna go?"


KP notices that he's starting to descend slowly to the ground, as the magic is apparently wearing off.


"Well after our little excursion for frosted dairy I have business with Ecclessia. So I will get in contact, find the princesses and camp and hopefully Mocha will be able to provide me with a dark corridor."




Amy sighs with relief at her mane going back to normal. [1d10] for climbing


Amy giggles uncontrollably at Flaming's reaction. "Let this be a lesson to you," Amy says. "Make sure your mate's dad is okay with it."

Roll #1 1 = 1


Flow slowly nods at Spitshine’s observation.
“Maybe the skeletons were supposed to be in on it?”
He squints at the skeletons, and points a hoof at one of them, before turning to ascend the tower once more.

Trapper shrugs.
>>”I don’t know my way around here, lass. I’ve never even been on a date before.”

>too much information

Roll #1 5 = 5


>not enough information!


>no, please, no me quiero


"Can't you just use your magic to move yourself around? You know with the sparkly field thing?"

Flaming blushes, sparing half a glance towards LJ before looking straight back at Amy. "Hehe… I-I'll keep that in mind. It's actually not too different in my clan, my dad had to earn my mom's family's blessing before having me."

Flaming starts to climb the stairs, looking over at LJ. "If you beat me, I'll go on another date with you. But if I win, you have to do what I say for the whole day. Is that fair?"

[1d10+1] Climbing!

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6


>"Aww… I was liking the floating now."
KP says as he starts to come back down, though he does enjoy not risking flying away anymore.
>Climb [1d10]

>"I could try, but since I was already floating away I don't know if I could push back against that."

Roll #1 5 = 5


"What business do you have with Ecclessia?"


"Well I don't want to speak too much about it. I don't know where Mudi's eyes are but it's safe to assume she's watching us. There is something that can be done to possibly negate Mudi's magic or at least subdue her and I need Ecclessia's corroboration with my findings before we may step forward with putting it into motion."


"YES," LJ blurts out, nearly cutting off your question, then clears his throat. "Uh yeah, that doesn't sound too bad. Hope those words taste good, 'cause you'll be eating them when I win tomorrow!"

One of the skeletons does decide to tag along as Flow convinces him to.

You and your allies ascend the tower's ancient stairs, feeling the sense of vivacity and overflowing life grow stronger as you climb up each floor, coated in plant life. The climbing is very tricky, as the denseness of the plants, combined with the relative ruin of the floors themselves, means there are many obstacles like overturned shelves and broken sections of wall and floor for you to overcome.

As you climb, you see several stone golem laying around, half broken and defeated, long since covered over in moss and plant life. "Maybe this is what we were supposed to fight?" Spitshine asks, and the tagalong skeleton nods in confirmation.

At many times you stumble and trip, and Amy even falls through a hole in one of the floors, landing on the floor below her with a heavy thud, losing 1 Wound.

At present, you are about 75% up through the tower, and see that the last remaining stretch above you is rather treacherous, being the most damaged by age and by weather from many years without maintenance.

>One more roll and you'll be at the top


After excusing yourself from the king's presence, you search around for an ice cream shop, having much more trouble finding one than in Fantasia. However, you eventually find a shop for sweets, run by some elderly sheep with the assistance of a few young Ecclesians, evidently members of the Laity.

>Assume that whatever ice cream you want is there, within reason



Amy drinks a potion to heal the wound she lost. [1d10+3]

Also, she keeps climbing. [1d10]

Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4 / Roll #2 8 = 8



Merryflower root. [1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6



Let me use the right die. [1d3]

Roll #1 3 = 3


"I see. …I wold also suggest, if you're visiting them, we should acquire supplies to do another cleansing ritual after what Gadriele said about the demon taint on us. Just to be safe."

With the offer of ice cream, Pryce does relax slightly after the trial they saw.
He orders a large cone of Cotton Candy ice cream.

KP slowly hovers along as they climb, until his hooves finally reach the floor again. He stays in place for a moment, appreciating gravity and the feeling of the ground.

>"Maybe. Those guardians back on the river said this place was around a long time ago. They might've been beat or just got old."

KP says to Spitshine.

KP looks up the last steps as they crumble and hang apart.
>"This place is so cool, it's like those old temples in stories where treasure awaits!"
He says excitedly as he quickly goes across the last of the tower.
>Climb [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5


“Oh hey, I didn’t expect one of you lot to tag along.”
He nods at the skeleton tagging along.
“I think I’ll call you…Rattle,” he nods, satisfied with the name.

He chuckles when they pass the golems.
“Guess you were right, son,” he tousles Spitshine’s mane.
The goo keeps a close eye on his footing when they reach the upper portion of the tower.

Both of the goos wait outside for the others.
>”I don’t know, you can’t exactly wear formal attire.”
>>”Aye, tis true lad. I still want to impress her, y’know? Take her somewhere fancy, eh?”
>”I understand, it’s just that you’ll probably have to settle for something in the middle. Sure we have a lot of money from that scientist, but who knows when we’ll need it for other things?”
>>”Ah, I see. Well, I’m not too picky anyways, I suppose I’ll let her decide, eh?”

Roll #1 1 = 1


Shei-Sher looks up at the menu, squinting his eyes and making various hmm noises as he seems dissatisfied with the selection. So disatisfied infact, he's actually more absorbed in remembering the flavors from Mr'uthgar's ice cream shops than actually contemplating the menu's flavors.

"Do.. Do you have- Blood clots and peanut butter wheatgrass?" Griffons like blood, hopefully this shop is used to providing for demons. "With some barley crisps onto please?"

"Gaddz what do you want?"




"Hmm, I see what you mean. But it might be easier to control than some kind of air jet. If this thing lasts all the way home, maybe Shei can make you one!"

Flaming chuckles, "Oooh, keep building up hope like that, Journey. It'll be all the more fun when I crush it into little tiny pieces tomorrow." She gives a fierce stomp of her fore-hooves, almost slipping on the mossy steps before catching herself and saving face. "Better not hold anything back."

Flaming lets out a gasp as Amy falls, sighing with 'slight' relief as she hits only stairs beneath her, but still shouts down at her, "You can't rush these steps, Amy, gotta take them more carefully!"

She looks around as they climb, commenting to Spitshine, "I don't know… if there was anything here to fight, it looks like someone beat us to it. You know, all those other guys trapped on the mural? Maybe they beat some of these challenges before failing, and took care of some of them for us?"

[1d10+1] Continuing the climb

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


Shei sighs as if incredibly bored with the suggestion "baaaa-a-a that is going to take up a lot of tiii-i-ime, and I am already bothering them. You know I detest Ecclesians Pryce. Please do not oblige me to smoke a peace pipe with aged cactus as well."

"And why are you so concerned with cleansing. You truly wish to be cleansed, tear your wings off already for goodness sake!"


Amy restores her lost wound as you all climb the ancient structure, having to stop at multiple points to help one another edge across gaps, or go up single file across a particularly narrow stretch of solid ground surrounded by gaps. Eventually you reach the very top floor, and Flow unceremoniously trips and faceplants upon reaching it, losing 1 wound. On the top floor is a ladder leading up to the roof. After climbing through that, you reach a simple rooftop, like the lookout post of some ancient castle, displaying an impressive view of the entire, forest-coated countryside, an endless plain of green below, the blue, cloud-speckled sky above, and the purple and white of old, snow-peaked mountains far off in the distance to the north. At the end of the rooftop is a small stone podium, containing the fourth tablet.

Your allies are speechless as they survey the beautiful view.




"Needs more dinosaurs," Amy comments off-handedly as she looks around for the piece of the tablet.


>"It's already wearing off. But if it ever comes up again then we have some great ideas!"


"A bit of time is nothing for this."
Pryce starts to retort, until Shei says to tear off his wings.
"Look who's talking!—"
Pryce starts, before pausing himself to take a breath.
"Shei, I just meant it purely for a precaution. Going to the heart of the underworld we should try to cleanse ourselves before going in. Who knows how that essence could affect everypony down there!"


KP peers over the edge of their small post, mouth agape at the view.
>"Whoaaa…. Now I wish I was still floating. These skeletons have a great home out here."
Looking up along the rooftop, KP steps out onto it to go grab the fourth tablet.


You get your various ice cream flavors, despite their strangeness, but the shopkeepers just glare at Mocha and Busta, and the two quickly step back outside, joining Trapper and Vice. Gadriele and Miracle don't get any kind of weird glance, despite looking abnormal themselves with their metallic bodies.

River gets some strawberry ice cream. "I am a very basic pony," she offers as justification.
"Just some water for me, thank you," Miracle says.
Gadriele looks at all the different flavors with uncertainty. "Never had any of this before, or any food for that matt–" Then, his gaze locks onto the tray containing chocolate. "That one, please!" he says eagerly.

This reminds the lot of you of a certain pony.


As they reach the top of the structure, Flaming looks out from the top of the mighty labyrinth they found themselves in, peering out at the forest and impressive view beyond. She stops moving, equally speechless by the breathtaking sight of the green fields, purple mountains, and clear blue skies. She sits down for a moment, looking out at the world before them with a moment of tranquility.

She looks up at the podium with the tablet as KP and Amy got to retrieve, and she takes another moment to stare at the expanse. "…I wish the whole world could look like this. Back in Accorsia."


"Riiiight- precautions. Fair enough, you do have a point Etac. Begs the question why you personally would like a cleansing ritual done. I hadn't thought you were verily going through with passing through Tartarus' gates with us Etac."


Flow grumbles as his face splatters all over the floor. He pulls himself up and scoops up the goo he left stuck on the floor.
The old goo stares out into the distance, eyeing the vast forest with narrow eyes. He is reminded of home, and continues to stare out into the ocean of green.

Trapper nervously scoots close to Mocha.
>>”S-so uh…any idea of where you want to go? I aven’t an idea meself, y’know?”
Vice looks on from a distance, and approaches Busta.
>”I take it you caught some stares?” he asks discreetly.


"Yeah, but I understand it," Busta says. "People like me make mortals nervous, even when we're with heroes like you guys. I really don't mind it." However, he cannot hide the hurt in his voice.

Mocha glances around the city's shops. "Honestly, given the past few weeks we've all had, a quiet walk around the city would be just perfect. No fights, no missions. How's about it?"


Shei-Sher has a hearty chuckle seeing the flavor Gadriele chose "Hah. of course you would."

Shei looks back at the shopkeepers "Yes and a double scoop of chocolate for my brother here. With chocolate chips, and flakes, and sticks and a side of hot fudge."

"Hm yess and a sunday- For the two of my friends you stared out of your establishment." Shei-Sher puts the bits on the counter "Keep the change please. You don't have much time to spend it. The World is ending!"

Shei-Sher says lethargically although with drama as he plops down a seat in the lounging area beside his friends.



"So, was that all one building?" Amy thinks out loud. She hangs her head over the side to try to get a look at the fucking bizarre building they were just in.


"You are plenty more than basic."
Pryce says to River.

As Gadriele quickly jumps to ordering chocolate, Pryce can't help but give a short chuckle at the imposing demonic fusion acting like a child.

"I am, but after you mentioned the ember shielding from that corruption. I've been holding onto it after what we gave to get it all those months ago… but think it might be better to have it protect you all down there."


Vice sighs.
>”Yeah…It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Even before demons came, mortals have always been like that. Flow doesn’t pay it any mind, however, I think he knows he can silence anyone who gives him lip,” he says with a chuckle.

Trapper blinks, and sheepishly smiles.
>>”Uh…that sounds lovely.”


You see indeed that it was all one long and elaborate temple complex, sprawling and half-covered by the thick forest far below you.

"Dino-what?" Spitshine asks.
Zjetya scoffs. "Dinosaurs are just a myth; everyone knows that those are dragon bones, which should not be disturbed from their slumber. That's a sin."
Spitshine scrunches his eyebrows, as confusion piles onto confusion, but the voice returns again.

"The fourth rule is void," the voice says, growing more feminine and less abstract and distant with each word. "The fifth rule is this: Remember your mission. Deny every false temptation.

"Return to the mural," the voice continues. "There, the final trial awaits."


with a smile Shei-Sher nudges Pryce when seeing Gadriele's ice cream pick "Evil's Punishment loved ice cream."

>but think it might be better to have it protect you all down there."
"Is that really it?" Shei says dubiously "Or you could, say, simply hand it over to one of us. Save yourself a few more days on the surface. You will not see me crying about it. Who wants to go to hell?" Shei says rhetorically "A lot of people have told me to go to hell in my life time and I can't say I once thought that would be at all very nice."


Busta nods. "That guy… I really do admire him. Can you ask him to help train me?"

River shuts you up by pressing a scoop of her ice cream to your lip, then steals a bite of yours as compensation.

You all get your ice cream, and sit outside to enjoy it, with Busta and Mocha attempting to ignore the weird glances from passerby.
"What should we toast to?" Busta asks.
"You don't toast with ice cream," Gadriele says, already eating his.
"How would you know if you've never eaten it?" River protests.
"Screw it, we're toasting!" Mocha says. "Just not sure what it should be to…"


Flaming looks out at on the horizon, lost in its beauty, as she turns her head to Amy. "I guess so… I mean, remember when we came up on it? It WAS pretty huge, remember? Massive."

Her enjoyment of the scene is disrupted as the voice makes its presence known again, and delivers their instructions. She blinks, raising her ears as she tries to consider its meaning.

"We… just go back to the mural? And ignore every temptation on the way back? Temptations like *what*, I don't think there's much of anything that distracting on the way up here, 'cept maybe the library…"

She shrugs, "Well, if it's that easy, I say we've earned the break! Everyone move on ahead… and don't stop for ANYTHING. Not matter what."

She turns and takes a long, HARD look at Amy Thest.


"I have a toast!" Shei proclaims, he taps his porcelain ice cream bowl with his spoon "To another good day. A day where I may sit in a library, drink tea and provoke useless arguments about scripture with apostles. Yes, those were good days when I had them."


Flow squints.
“Remember the mission…seems like this’ll be good practice.”
He starts making his way down the tower.

Vice scratches his head.
“I don’t see why not. He’s training Spitshine and Sugar already, so I suppose you can listen in on his erm…lessons.”

>>”To a job well done!”

Trapper proposes, even though he has no ice cream.


>"Remember our mission?"
KP questions when the voice echoes again.
>"Oh, right. We're here for that treasure. …What was it again?"

"She did? I guess they really shine through Gadriele then."

Pryce looks down at Shei.
"I meant that I would give it to one of you," Pryce corrects, "It's just, after everything to get it, it feels strange to part with. And an old soldier from that kingdom is after me for it. I wouldn't want ot send him after you all if he's following the ember."

Pryce pauses in surprise as River shuts him up with the cone. He licks the ice cream off his muzzle when it's pulled away.
"You chose a good flavor."

"Let's toast to a successful mission and a pleasant day."
Pryce says as he holds up his cone, taking a bite.



"Oh, come on! There's gotta be a faster way to get back!"


"Why are you looking at ME?" Amy says, sounding insulted.


Flaming coughs, "Uh… well… you 'do' kind of get distracted, here and there…"

Flaming looks towards Pryce as he asks what the treasure is, "We're not sure, but if the Sons of God were willing to make anyone go through all this work for it, it HAS to be worth it."


"Ba-a-ah Why are you so incapable of saying you wish to see the end together with your friends Pryce. That's not very hard is it? This is quite a big venture we are taking is it not?"

"And again I was not jesting about your wings. Tear off your wings, have the younger Pryce retract his prayers to Buiwong and repent to the Daeva's."


>"Evil's Punishment loved ice cream."
Evil's Punishment loved Chocolate.


Busta beams, a rather odd thing to see out of someone usually so pensive. "Thanks! I can't wait!"

"To peace between demons and mortals," Busta says.
"To coming home safely," River says.
"To redemption," Chorazin says.
"To victory," Mocha says.
"To… to…" Gadds says, struggling to think of something good. "…our family."

The others pause, as the meaning of Gadds' words hit each of them hard. They clink their bowls, and with that, they start eating and idly chatting over this and that (or resume, in Gadd's case).

"A sun shaped–" the disembodied female voice interjects, but then stops. "You're supposed to remember this yourself. It's your mission, trainee!"

As Amy starts to complain, the female voice sighs. "It's… not that far away, is it? If you're keeping up on your cardio drills it shouldn't be that bad."

"Trainee…?" LJ wonders aloud.


>"Yea, though I hope that means we can also fix Blessings too."

KP looks up as the voice speaks more directly and not all fancy either.
>"Oh hey you're talking all normal now! Does that mean we'll see you after all this? What's your name?"
KP starts to ask as they all begin to climb down the tower.

Pryce grows flustered by Shei's accusations.
"It's not that I'm incapable! There's a lot of complications going on here!"

"I don't think that's how it'll work, and I'd rather not risk mutilation."



"As long as we don't have to go back through those caves…" Amy grumbles in response to the sourceless voice.

"Wait, who is talking?" she says, suddenly realizing the oddness of it and looking around.


As Flaming heads down the stairs in the direction of the mural they first came across, far, far back whence they came, she points her ears up as the voice, that had been leading them this far, actually begins to hold a conversation.

"Wait… wait… you can talk? You can HEAR us?!"


Vice can’t help but smirk, and quickly steels his gaze.
>”Be prepared for a rigorous training routine! Sir Flow believes not only in training of the body, but training of the mind as well!”

Flow’s head snaps up.
“Trainee? Hey, wait a minute, since when did you get all chatty?”
He slows his descent down the stairs as the others question the voice as well.


Pryce looks over at Gadriele as he says his toast.
"Gadriele… How much do you remember of that final day of the Rapture?"



"You can hear it too!?" Amy says, surprised. "I'm used to being the only one able to hear the mysterious voices in my head."


"Wait…" the female voice says. "Did I say that out lo– Oh shit, did they hear me say that?"

"Nope, we didn't hear a thing," Spitshine responds.

"Oh, shit they heard me," the voice says back, and you hear a clattering as something gets knocked to the floor, and a stumbling of awkward hooves. "Uh…"

The air starts to swirl around you, distorting space just like you saw around the Anomaly. In a moment, the scene around you vanishes, and you find yourself back at the stone mural at the fore of the temple. Only this time, there is another stone podium in front of the mural, containing the fifth tablet.

Zophie is in front of the mural, studying its hieroglyphs with a torch. She hasn't seen you yet.


"I'm not going to have to do math, am I?" Busta asks with trepidation.

Gadds gazes sharply at you over the rim of his bowl. "Enough."


He looks around to see if Rattle was transported with them.
“Who and or what was that?”


>”Not that kind of mental exercise. More like, the philosophy of combat.”


Indeed, Rattle was teleported alongside you, and you have a feeling that, if he had a face, he would appear just as confused as you are. He clatters his teeth.

"Oh, thank goodness," Busta says between bites of ice cream. "I've gone through more than a few scrolls and codices on philosophy when I was just a wandering demon."


>"Have you been watching us the whole time?"
KP asks before the voice start to changed tone in confusion.
>"Oh, do you have stage fright? I can help with that!"

KP looks around as everything vanishes and they're back in the main room.
>"Was that whole tower fake? Wait we're not trapped are we, was that voice part of the 'no distractions' rule?!"
KP says in a panic, before seeing Zophie and the fifth tablet. He quickly runs over to grab onto it to get that last rule out of the way.
>"Hey Zophie, how'd it go getting through that torch tunnel?"

Pryce meets the gaze, not looking away or staring back with any negativity.
"I'm sorry. For everything I did then. I should've been stronger and tried to talk with you. I should've tried anything else but fighting two friends. I know we're far past having any of what happened then fixed, but if there's anything I can do, please do not hesitate to ask."


Shei-Sher feels a flutter in his heart at Gaddz's toast and eats his icecream.

"mmf" Shei napkins his lips "Gadriele allow me to tell you the tale of how I've fallen into this brigand. You see it all began when I saw Pryce, Gabriele, and Evil's Punishment on a ferry to Manyirongdi. Now, I did not join the party until I spent a day stalking them. I was quite shy and bit curious about the zebra friend they were chasing about. A few more days in their company. For the couple of days spent I face many a dillema with kings and demons. I and a friend I made in their company decided it was unwise to carry on like this with these strangers who magnets for calamity. It wasn't our quest. Eventually My friend Golden had to leave to his family and I was left to deliver a letter in Hearthome which was the beauteous capital of my Homeland. I fell in love with the pony cities, they had buildings that reached up into the clouds, architecture you could spend an afternoon looking at, their parks, their culture, the food. It was all great. So I found it upon myself to give my services to church and earn a cot as a squire. And well it was to my surprise during the examinations that did not take too kindly to the sort of magic I was familiar with. So I was lashed, strung up and choked by a wet noose while left in the summer heat to swell for a day. They let me have my cot and after confirming my credentials Hearthome's church realized I was a famous Occultist's protege. Well now I could not stay at the church and they did not want to risk angering Crow-ley by simply throwing me out to the curb. So arrangements were made for me to stay in Etherward. And it was very comfortable living. I had my own room, full access to their libraries, free meals, free tea. Croe-ley's name bought quite a lot for me. A month had passed and the library for the university I was studying saw a large number of assasinations. By the month's end I was the only one alive so I was put to court trial. For week I spent in a cell await execution. but my allubi passed Thank the gods. It was a very poor one in retrospect. I reasoned with the judge that I did not need to sleep. I could god days even a month simply studying and seeing how the people who were assasinated, perished in their sleep it was obvious to me how I survived. The library clerks and some ornery scholars thankfully gave my story credit. They would see me in the library every day and evening. There was already a public outcry for my head however. The jury and press made a big noise about Crow-ley's protege carrying assasinations. So instead my Friend Rising Tide found it honorable instead to put me in the service to Pryce and his friends in their mission to stop Buiwong from breaking the firmament. And NOW I'm here."


"Well you tell me Pryce. You still carry the gift Buiwong bequeathed you. You use them regularly. Your inner child has made prayers to Buiwong, you have renounced your gods and you are constantly within the companion of followers of Buiwong. What do you think happens to your soul after you die?"

Shei offers the food for thought. "In the best case scenario Buiwong will take the angels to court and split your soul in half. Do not take the risk Pryce."



At the sound of things being knocked over, Amy can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. "How can we even hear that!?" she voices her own confusion.


"Yay! KP did it! Good job!" Amy cheers KP on as if he did some amazing thing.

"Now, let's put it all together."


Flow shrugs at Rattle, and goes up to Zophie.

Vice practically beams.
>”Oh, perfect! So you’re somewhat familiar with what I’ll be teaching, then! That’s perfect!”
He pulls Busta in close.
>”Sometimes I have to put it in simple terms, due to Sugar and Spitshine being children.”


Flaming snickers. "I can believe it. But no, this time we're ALL a little crazy I think."

Flaming looks at Spitshine, "What? Of course we heard her Spitshine, she was just talking."

She turns up towards the voice, raising an eyebrow as she hears all the noise cluttering about, turning towards the others to pass a bewildered look before all the air around them starts to swirl. Flaming is put off guard, pacing away from the swirling warp until they find themselves back at the stone mural, looking ahead at the stone podium with the final piece of the tablet on it.

"Wait, what?! You sent us back? Why are you helping us?"

She looks at Zophie, about to shout towards her, but stops short, remembeing the final rule
>"No distractions…"
She follows Pryce in going directly for the last piece, intent on fulfilling the rule and getting confirmation before ANYTHING else is done.


"…I do not know. But I do not intend to leave my fate to Buiwong."
Pryce says simply.

>"Yea! Let's get Blessing back out of this stone!"


"Oh I wouldn't mind a slower pace to training, I'd hate to disrupt it for the kids."

There is no response, either to your question or to KP taking the fifth tablet. You see that the stone mural has five spots for the tablets to be inserted in order to complete the mural's designs.

Zophie jumps at the sound of your voices, then swings around in surprise. She then pouts at the sight of you. "I can't believe you all just left me there."

"Right, right… I remember… part of that," Gadds says, though none too confidently. "Mostly from my own end. A lot of memories jumble up together around that point. All the adventures, all the people we ran into, monster summoners, gods, demons, angels… I lose track of whose memories I'm reading at times. I used to be those demons that went into my fusion just as much as I used to be Punishment, or Gabriele, or even Wrath… it's all like a mixed up stained glass mural. Even I don't know what it's supposed to be… does that make any sense?"

Gadds spends a long time studying his bowl, swirling his spoon through the contents.


"'I'm sorry'… what am I supposed to say to something like that? You didn't land the finishing blow, but if it weren't for that fight, then… those people I used to be, wouldn't have died. If they weren't dead, then I, born from their souls, wouldn't be alive. So, what are you apologizing for – who are you even apologizing to? To me? Or to them? Those people… aren't here anymore. I remember them as if I was them, but still, you're talking to ghosts.

"I've been alive, I've been 'me' for all of about what, an hour? I don't even know what this 'me' really is yet, and you – the you in my memories is far different than the you that's right there. And you're coming to me as if we're at the end of a long and old feud. Am I just supposed to – I don't know, forgive you? To say you were 'just doing what you had to' or that I – or we – or that they had it coming? What am I supposed to feel? What were you hoping to get out of me for apologizing for what you did to… to them?"

He looks at you in earnest confusion.



"I can't believe you made it back," Amy says to Zophie conversationally as (presumably) KP puts together the tablets.


Vice smiles.
>”I suppose. If anything you can assist me by being an instructional aid during lessons! Oh what fun we will have,” he says, giddy with excitement.

“Ah, sorry love. We had a couple hiccups along the way, and couldn’t come back. We’ve got all the tablets though, so we’ll be out soon enough. Even picked up a new friend along the way,” he gestures to Rattle.


Flaming looks at the five tablet slots and the five tablets, looking up at them one more time to make sure there isn't any more tricky business about the order they're supposed to be inserted in before they get to work.

[1d10] Investigate the mural looking for any over-looked clues about how to put in the tablets before just putting them in the order we found them.

She turns to Zophie, and frowns. "I'm sorry about that Zophie, by the time we got all the way through the third trial, it was so far ahead of you we couldn't turn back! WEre you able to hear our echoes? We tried shouting to you to let you know we were moving on ahead."

Roll #1 4 = 4


"No, that makes fine sense to me. Sorry, I know this is still all likely bewildering to you. I am just so happy to see you again. But, you're more than the sum of your parts. You are someone of your own making, maybe think of those memories as your heritage, your ancestors -family, you said it yourself that is what we are."

Shei-Sher is suddenly caught between the discussion Pryce and Gadriele are having. He silently watches.


>"Sorry. We thought you would find your way through fine since we cleared everything. And that lady tossed the next rule at us so quick we just had to keep going!"
KP explains, then looks up at the mural.
>"So we just put these all back and then we get Blessings back, and everypony else on these. Get ready everypony!"
KP says as he staets to slowly levitate the pieces back into place.

Pryce looks down to the ground, unsure of how to respond.
"I don't know. After that happened, after I came to, I beat myself up over that for weeks. I felt horrible for betraying friends that I traveled for so long with."
He looks up as his cone starts to melt.
"I guess I might just be talking to ghosts. I know you weren't there, but if you remembered… If the memories were there, then a part of them in whatever afterlife may hear it as well."
The pink cream starts to drip to the ground.
"I must be sounding selfish, to ask for closure from you."


Gadds is silent.

"That doesn't mean 'punching bag,' does it?" Busta asks hesitantly.

Zophie gives you all the evil eye. "If I had heard you, I would have gone over to… oh whatever, just complete the trial."

KP cannot seem to figure out what order the pieces should go back in. There are a variety of pictograms on them, in the same style as on the mural.

Upon inspection of the mural, Flaming realizes that the pictograms seem to be a retelling of the story that was on the stone cube in the center of the temple, based on a few recurring stretches of the mural that look very similar to what she saw on the stone cube. However, there are many key differences between the story as it's told on the cube vs as it's on the mural. With the pieces out of order, you cannot immediately tell what the differences are, but with a review of the story, perhaps you will find the answer.

River takes your ice cream to prevent it from dripping.

"I can't tell you what you're being right now," Gadds says. "I've only been 'me' for about an hour. I need time to acclimate to walking around, blinking, moving my mouth, eating – Hell, I've been breathing manually for this whole time because I forgot to do it for the first few seconds of living."

He forces out an awkward laugh, and you can't tell for whose comfort it's supposed to be. "Uh… so… what I'm getting at, is… why don't we discuss this once we've figured out what the hell the two of us even are?"



Poost sheets and reply to >>703986, no waiting for recap or repost




"So," Amy thinks out loud. "If we can all hear it, maybe it's not in our heads at all. Maybe there's just someone really far away talking to us really loud."


"So they have a really big horn or an instrument or something?" Spitshine asks. "I could see that happening. What if they've just been sneaking up on us each time we go to another room?"



>"Uhhh…. Does anypony know how these fit together?"
KP asks the others, as he tries to look between the mural to see if the pictograms line up to maybe give a solution.
>Examine [1d10]

"Yea. I… guess that's best for now."
Pryce says, feeling a bit awkward about this all now.
"Sorry, for bringing this all up now."

Roll #1 6 = 6


Flaming bows her head to Zophie, "I'm really, really sorry about that again… we promise we won't do it again, it just was way too hard to go back."

As she looks ahead at the puzzle pieces they've collected, along with the five slots to put them in, Flaming analyzes the mural as she recalls the story read earlier when they were collecting their first piece, the story of the god, the hero, and the demons he fought in rescuing someone precious. She looks over the pieces again as she recounts the story in her head, re-arranging each of them into the right order, before she notices the issue.

"I think I have an idea… there was a story on one of the murals I read earlier that line up with pictures on these pieces, but something's… off. I can't tell exactly what, but I'm pretty sure we have to arrange these in the same order of the story." She picks up the pieces, "Follow me, I'm taking these back to where I originally saw it. Maybe if we compare them directly, we can find what's different!"



Vice chuckles and shakes his head.
>”No no no, you’ll just be helping me teach the young ones. Trapper is the punching bag!”

Flow winces.
“Y-yeah, we’ll get to solving it.”
He looks at the pieces from afar, and thinks very hard about which pieces go where. Really hard.



"Maybe they're invisible!"


It occurs to KP and Flow that the designs on the mural and on each tablet seem to be telling some kind of story, involving someone with a sword, a large bird-like god, a labyrinth, and a prince. It's a matter now of finding the logic of the story and the order in which this writing system flows.

Flaming takes the pieces from KP and return to the mural inscribed on the massive stone cube in the large central room.

>Reposting previous descriptions from portion deciphered so far:

Running from right to left and from the bottom up, the inscriptions are telling a story about a stallion, armed only with a sword, tasked with the protection of a kingdom by the voice of some kind of god, represented by some kind of great, dark bird descending from a cloud. The hero journeys forth into a dark wood, bearing only a sword, only to be confronted by a dark clump of golden-eyed monsters with many hands.

he hero perserveres against many kinds of monsters in his path, but not without suffering great injury. In time, he rescues a princess, who joins his quest, but the two are stopped by a great pit that zig-zags its way through the earth.

As Flaming cross-checks between the mural and the pieces she's acquired, she starts to notice some differences more clearly, particularly in the characters… (roll at DC 3 to examine differences and figure out more of the story).


"What if it's one of those bats that kept flying into everyone's hair!?" Spitshine asks, crouching down with a suspicious look at the ceiling.


"Now that I can get behind," Busta says, subtly flexing at Trapper.

"Yeah, at least let me finish my ice cream before you hit me with something so heavy, heheheh," Gadds tries to joke, clearly also feeling awkward.

River hands you back your ice cream. "So, eh… anywhere else that you lot want to travel to once we're done here?"


"It sure does sound like it's coming from my head though. I have pretty good ears, if it was coming from a certain direction, I thought I'd know where."

Flaming looks at the mural and then to the pieces after they return to the large central room, darting back and forth as she gauges them for similarities and departures. "Let's see… what did they change…"

[1d10] Observation

Roll #1 3 = 3



Evidently, this notion is too silly, even for Amy. She giggles a little bit and says, "What?"


"Not if it was likes… SUPER loud. So it came from EVERY direction!"


Shei-Sher continues eating his ice-cream, ignoring the awkwardness of Pryce's conversation with Gadd's

"Mm.. This is really good ice-cream."

So Shei-Sher spends some time eating before he asks everyone at the table what their plans are.
He taps dings on his ice cream bowl to get everyone's attention "Yes, so Pryce, my brother, Chorazin and I are going to need a dark corridor to Lilane to speak with Ecclessia about our plans for Tartarus. What you all do is your own business of course but I will be needing some of mocha's time. Does anyone wish to leave to the ship? Are you staying in the city? Perhaps we should set a curfew maybe in case Mocha doesn't wish to spend her day with the Ecclessian lot."


Flaming pauses, "Hmm… I guess that's possible… at any rate, we definitely agree on one thing: whoever's speaking is IN this place somewhere. I just have no idea how we would go about finding them."

She pauses to think. "You don't think it could be that bird, do you?"


"As long as they don't attack me, which they didn't seem like they'd do in Fantasia, I'm alright with staying there all day," Mocha says.
"Ecclesia? Sounds like a wonderful time," Gadds says in earnest. "They're the… good guys right?"



"No, that birs is TOTALLY a guy!"



"J-just throwing out possibilities!" Spitshine says in embarrassment.


Flaming turns her head, "Really? How do you know, I never heard it talk."



"Because it's big and ugly, obviously!"


"You're silly," is all Amy has to say in response.


>"Heeey I almost had it figured out! …Maybe."
KP whines as Flaming picks up the pieces and carries them off.

>"Oh, there's another story?"

He questions as they look at the other mural. He sits down to look it over.
>"Are they the same thing? Or is it like a different version?"

"Heh, sorry about that, again."
Pryce looks to River as she hands back his cone, grabbing it in his magic and licking some of it back up after all the melting.
"Shei mentioned visiting the Ecclesians, but aside from that I have no focuses unless you'd want to sightsee."


Flow squints more and more at the mural as it’s completed, nodding his head as if he understands.

Vice chuckles, and Trapper gulps.
>”Why yes, it’ll be easier to have a demonstrator for once…” he mumbles
>”Wait, we’re going to Ecclessia?”
Both of the goos look at each other, then to Shei.
>”Right now?”


>"They're the… good guys right?"
"nyeeeeaa-a-ah" Shei-Sher parses his hooves together as some gesture of indecision "It is complicated… -They're good enough. And their core members are Accorsian migrants, among them the King of Hearthome."

"Right well, when you are done with your sunday, no hurry."


"No, I'm Spitshine."


It eventually clicks for you after holding up the stone tablets to the cube's version of the mural to see where they would fit within the story. The mural in the front hallway seems to fundamentally be telling the same story, but with switched characters, and in more detail:

A princess, armed with a sword, is tasked with the protection of a kingdom by the voice of some kind of god, represented by a great, dark bird descending from a cloud. The princess travels into a dark wood like the stallion in the original, but in the new story, she meets kind of many-jointed, insect-like demon. Together, the princess and the insect face a slew of horrific demons; at first, the demons are fierce, but in successive panels, she breaks and routs them. In later panels, the demons appear frightened and surrendering, but the princess does not stop, and leaves only corpses in her wake. Among the corpses appear to be people.

In time, a stallion, armed with a sword of his own, faces her, and the two fight, but she spares him just as he is at the brink of death. For some reason, he joins up with her and the insect, and the two prepare to enter a great pit that zig-zags its way through the earth. The final panel has the great dark bird-god from earlier, only now it is depicted at the bottom of the labyrinth, with many gnarled evils spewing forth from its mouth.

You now know where to put each of the tablets in the mural in the front hallway.


"Pay a little more attention little familiars. You may stay in Fantasia if you wish, or come along. It's your choice."


The awkwardness parts only a little as Gadds turns away from Pryce and everyone goes back to their ice cream.
"I don't have any objections to that plan," River says.
"Right, just don't let me out of your sight," Busta says. "They were friendly enough in Fantasia, but something tells me that's cause it's not their territory… in one of their camps, we'd better all stick together."


Among the corpses of demons are those of people.*


"Of course, but we are all fighting for the same cause. The core of Ecclessia will recognize us, surely."


>voting to leave whenever Pryce is ready.


Flow hums as the story clicks together.
“Quite the tale…seems familiar somehow…”

Vice looks down in thought.
>”Then perhaps you could help us,” he says as his face lights up.
He pulls the sword he recieved from the demons from his hip and displays it to Shei.
>”We were planning to consult Observer as to what exactly this weapon we found can do. However, we might as well ask you,” he says as he hands it over.
>”We got this from a couple demons, and we’re not entirely certain as to it’s full potential yet.”

Both of the goos shrug.
>>”We aven’t a good reason t’ stay either, eh?”


>Whenever PRyce and Flow are ready



Amy giggles at Spitshine's response.

"Hey, maybe the voice is that princess lady!"


Flaming chuckles, "That's it? Girls can be ugly and big too, you know."

Flaming reaches up to rub Pryce's head, "I know that, that's why I took them away so I could figure it out BEFORE you."

As she leads the way back to the mural, she nods. "Yep yep, the was another story I was reading during that first challenge, right before Blessings got sucked up. I think it's a slightly different story."

Flaming looks over the mural as she compares notes, her eyes squinting in confusion as she re-reads the altered tale. "This is odd… on the tablets, it looks like the PRINCESS is the hero instead who later meets the stallion after being given the mission by the dark god. She meets a friendly demon along the way in this version too, and they join her on her journey… and it's not just demons she's slaying, but people."

"The dark god… looks more like the bad guy in this version." She shakes her head. "That isn't good, I was almost sure the bird was the god in the tale, and if he's bad…" she sighs. "Well… let's just get these tablets back then. We can sort out things as they come, but I think I have a good idea of where these fit now!"


Shei is taken a little aback by the inquiry. A little left field outside an ice cream parlor "Uh- well, it certainly looks ominous. I can tell you rightly." Shei takes Pupil out from his coat pocket and dangles it over the sword for it to Apraise it.
[1d10+1] appraising Vice's demon sword

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9


Trapper smirks.
>>”Th’ two of us /are/ from left field, mate.”



"You take that back!" Amy says, only half-joking.


Flaming giggles. "Why. It's true, isn't it? You're telling me you've NEVER met a big woman or an ugly woman ever, not once?"


As you head back to the mural in the front hall, a sense of trepidation and hesitance comes over you, giving you a certain impression of danger to come; an instinct honed over your many adventures. You feel that something is bound to happen once you set up the tablets in their proper order, something you should be ready for. From the grim, steeled looks on their faces, Zjetya, Spitshine and Zophie can sense it as well.


Shei examines the sword, finding that it can transform between a bow and a broken katana, with the broken part being replaced by a sinister spectral energy.
>The End of the Hunt
>Great/Ranged (as katana/bow)
>A magic sword, once part of a great hunter's proud and prized collection, the reward of many successful hunts on behalf of his warrior-king father, until it was tainted by the lingering resentment of its countless victims, and banished.
>When a katana, the use of Cleave has no increase of critfail range, up to a maximum of 4 targets.
>When a bow, the attacks do not do any damage, but a successful hit causes the target to be unable to use any magic or other supernatural skills until they land a hit on the weapon's wielder.


To clarify: Critfail range on Cleave with this weapon ONLY starts to increase once you target more than 4. So targeting 5 increases critfail range by 1, targeting 6 increases the range by 2, and so on.


Flaming tenses up as they approach the mural, looking around at all the others as she gauges the looks on the others' faces.

"Right… I guess I'm not the only one feeling it. Something's about to happen when we put this in. Is everyone ready? Spitshine, stick close to someone, I think if something dangerous starts you're not the quickest to get out of the way."



"Pshh," Amy says with a dismissive wave of her hoof. "We'll be fine. Probably just another friend to make."


Flow’s eyes narrow, and he brandishes the spear as the others and him approach.
“Hmm…” he grits his teeth as they get closer.


>"Well I can't be mad at that. It must be a good story if it's been hidden all the way out here in this place. Hey maybe you could do a show about this one too!"

>"Oh, so it's all swapped around in this one."
KP comments as the new story is interpreted.
>"That's neat, it's like two stories in one."

KP hops up now that they know the right order.
>"Come on let's go save Blessings now!"

"I'm sure you travelling with us would show you're good enough. Or, at least make them not attack you."
Pryce assures Busta.
>Good to travel


Now knowing the strength of the sword/bow combo weapon, the goos eye the sword in awe.
>”I uh…think we got a good deal.”
>>”Boy did we…”


KP looks up to the mural, worried. He hides behind Zjetya at the ominous feeling.
>"It's just other ponies and Blessing trapped in there, right? No big monsters or anything?"


Once your party finishes their chit-chat and ice cream break, Mocha leads you to a somewhat reclusive little alley between two buildings, and opens the Dark Corridor, safely hidden from public eye. Once the other end opens up, you find yourself upon a hill just on the outskirts from Lilane's border, on the northern side, judging by the distant sight of the perpetual night sky over Circadia behind you. "Just wanted to be safe about where we exited," Mocha says.

After a brief walk, you find that Lilane is far more fortified and more populated than before. Where last time, it was a somewhat sleepy relaxation spot for Ecclesians wanting to sample the hot springs, it is now a serious garrison, full of armed soldiers and refugees relocated from Zha Arlakane as part of Ecclesia's hegemony over the region. While the place is more heavily fortified, a sense of good morale hovers in the air. Various people, especially the more grizzled fighters, eye Busta and Mocha, but upon seeing Flow, Pryce and Shei, leave you be.


Flaming smirks. "With you, there's ALWAYS some new friend to be made."

"Kind of confusing though. How could the same story be told so differently, unless two different people worked on both this totem and the mural pieces we've been collecting. and which one is true?"

Flaming turns to Pryce, shaking her head. "As far as we know… but I'm getting a bad feeling about this all the same."


The two goos follow uncomfortably behind Pryce.
>”It seems as if the populace is still wary, not that I’d blame them.”
Trapper keeps close to Mocha, returning any glances the group gets with squints.


Shei-Sher explains to Vice and Trapper the what he has learned about the sword.

Once within Lilane's walls Shei-Sher mention's "We should speak with a griffon named Gegenschein first, he would be most amendable to helping us."

Shei-Sher, with his friends scour the camp asking for Gengenschein's Whereabouts.


Flaming arranges the five missing tablets into the empty spots on the mural in the front hall, and as she places the fifth and final one into its spot, a pulse of energy swells in your bodies. You briefly feel light-headed, and then you full-on begin to float in an odd out of body experience. Your vision swirls and churns, and you suddenly feel yourself falling in a windless expanse, and everything rushes up inside you in a few hair-raising moments.


Eventually, your vision clears, and the sensations fade. Only, your present situation is far more odd than what it seemed. Each of you has now become a hieroglyphic representation of yourself. You find yourself in an unfamiliar town, which is also hieroglyphic, appearing to be some kind of lesser medieval city, perhaps that of a client state of a great kingdom. A dark wood surrounds the city to the north, just outside its walls.

The most odd difference is this: You are not seeing yourself and the world through your own eyes. It is as though you were taking the persepctive of an audience member in a theater, where your body is the 'actor' on a stage. Despite this out-of-body perspective forced upon you, you retain control over your body, and also have all of its senses.

Your companions look around, mouths agape for want of words as they awkwardly move around in their new bodies.

[sp]For a more OOC explanation, picture your characters as being in a 2D side-scroller, where your vision is that of the player. Specifically, Paper Mario, in a hierogrlyphic visual style.[/sp]


Flow blinks to get his bearings, until he realizes his bearings are out of his body.
“Wait…what is this?”
He looks around at the scenery around himself and the rest of the party in pure confusion.
“…are we part of the story now or something?” he ponders aloud.


Pryce quickly chomps down on the rest of his cone as they prepare to depart, no worse for wear from the cold treat.

As they overlook Lilane and have Circadia in the distance, Pryce looks on with grim fondness.
"It's feels like it's been an eternity since we were last here. I wonder how the city looks now…"

Pryce glances around as they see the newly fortified garrison.
"They must've heard the news then. I know they're a fighting force, but it's such a contrast from last time that I wish didn't need to be."

>"I remember hearing of some old stories were you could look at it different ways and completely change it up. Maybe this is one of those?"

KP peers up at the mural, still as they finally place the last piece in. He waits for Blessings to tumble on out and be saved, but when they begin to float, he starts to panic.
>"Wh-Whoa! What's happening, we did this right right?"
He shouts as he flails his legs.

When his vision returns, he blinks, looking around only to see he's already staring at "all around" already. He tries to step forward, very clumsily and all turned around.
>"This is weird…"
He says slowly, trying to get his bearings poorly and falling over.


As you head further within the town, you are beset with a greater sense of serenity and calm, as though there were something in the air. You get directions from a few soldiers, who indicate that Gegenschein can be found, as usual, in the longhouse-like building at the top of Lilane's hill. As you head up there, the sense of calm grows strong, and you feel the inklings of something 'else' just behind that sense of calm.

You reach the longhouse, bustling and busy as always. Inside, you see Gegenschein overseeing a team of new recruits as they practice cleaning and repairing various guns. Other prominent members of the Choir are nearby, namely Doctor Galton and Ichimonji. The two are teaching a large group of foals about herbs for cleaning and treating wounds and common ailments. You feel immense power radiating from the three Choir members; they seem to be the source of the serenity.




"Woooooah!" Amy says as she laughs and jumps around. "Look at me! I'm jumping! This is so cool!"


Amy faces toward the "screen" and starts waving. "So, am I waving at you guys right now?"


Both of the goos eye each other in slight confusion.
>”Not just a natural aura, eh? Seems like it’s a real one.”
>>”Aye mate…”

Flow’s confusion is written all over his face as he looks from the “screen” to Amy.



"I wonder what would be the most polite place to look while you're talking to someone like this," Amy contemplates while looking from Flow to the 'screen'. "Do I look at your body or where you're seeing me from?"


After putting in the last piece of the puzzle, Flaming looks up at the mural, waiting for something to happen before she sees the energy beginning to well around their hooves. "Here we go…!"

After the light finishes enveloping them, and the swirling, rushing sensation finally subsides, the hieroglyphic representing Shorty staggers up, trying to reorient itself in the hieroglyphic representation of the village. "Wo-woah… that felt really weird…"

She stands up straight, looking straight ahead at where her (and the others') out of body perspective 'camera' would be, and exclaims, "No, wait this is STILL really feeling weird! A-are you all seeing the same thing I am?! It's like we're… looking at ourselves. As characters on the mural!"

As Amy waves, Flaming nods her head (which all the others also see from the audience), and starts waving her hooves. "Yeah yeah, I can see! Can you see me do this!?"



"I CAN!" Amy says as her self starts bouncing with excitement. "I can see you do everything!"

Then, she stops and starts scratching her own head. "I wonder how anyone is supposed to get privacy like this…"


It definitely looks as though Amy and Flaming are waving at everyone, since their waves are at the 'screen' or the 'outside' or… whatever it is.
Spitshine walks around with his eyes shut until he bumps into KP. "This is really disorienting, can I check out of this already?"
"I think you may be onto it," Zjetya says to Flow. "At least, it looks like it could be that… so what do we do now?"
"We came here for Blessings… so is she already here?" LJ asks, then gasps. "My allies could be here, too! But… where are they?"

Around you, in the town, are various hieroglyphic townsfolk of no particular renown, mostly looking like merchants, guildsponies, and other types you'd find in a small city. They don't seem to have noticed your odd and sudden injection into their world, and go about their business as normal.



"Wait wait wait," Amy says with a the sort of amusement a scientist gets as they discover the extents of a new concept.

"What happens when I close my eyes?" she asks as she closes her eyes.


"I think regardless of the news, Lilane would have turned this way in the end. Ecclessia is making themselves a nation, a nation needs garrisons, an army, and everything else that follows."

The subdueing calm is only a little eerie, but Shei-Sher thinks it to be the alicorn Yahreak's doing, of whom he knows so little. This is good, perhaps those alicorn sisters are here after all.

Shei-Sher hates doing this, but he feels a loud greeting and show of presence is in order to grab everyone's attention. Shei speaks loud and clearly, letting his voice carry across the longhouse "Hello everyone, and good tidings! The delinquents of Ecclessia have returned. I believe it's time we speak about the goings in Tartarus, I have no doubt you've heard." His wings flourish outward spontaneously in Shei's greeting.


Flow lets out a sigh.
“I was hoping I’d be wrong…” he groans.
He looks from side-to-side at the other townsfolk.
“No one noticed we just popped out of nowhere?”


>"It looks like it, I think?"

KP tries to turn as Spitshine bumps into him, but he can't quite figure out the right direction. He's looking at Spits and himself, but turning his body is very disorienting. He ends up reaching out with his hooves until he gets a hold of Spitshine's shoulder, turning to face him and also use him as support to move steady.
>"How are we supposed to move like this?!"

>"Wait, so we're in the thing that Blessings went when she turned into letters?" KP asks in shock at LJ and Flow's comment. "HOw do we get out of here then?"

"This calmness, it almost feels eerie. Was it like this last time?"
Pryce asks the others.

"A nation? I don't like the sound of that."


Your "screen" goes black for the duration that you have your eyes closed. It doesn't seem like anyone is affected besides you.


"I don't think delinquents is the best way to introduce yourself, or all of us, Shei."
Pryce comments to Shei's "grand" entrance.


Flaming gasps as she sees herself and Amy wave to their out of body selves. "W-wow… okay, this is REALLY weird… but, kind of neat all at the same time. This is so hard to describe… it's like we're actors in a play we're seeing play out right before our eyes."

As Flaming shakes herself free of distractions from the unusual situation, she watches as Amy closes her eyes shut and shakes her head, "No time to play around with everything, Amy. Journey's right, we're here to find Blessings! So, let's start asking around…"

She approaches the nearest villager she can see, trotting along in a cute hieroglyphic fashion as her figure approaches one. "Hello! We're looking for a zebra who should have passed through here not too long ago. Can you help us?"


Most of the recruits are shocked as Shei makes his announcement, but Gegenschein, after a brief wave to Shei, flags down another senior Ecclesian to carry on the lesson on gun maintenance for him. He approaches your group. "Please try not to interrupt the daily business of our soldiers," he says. "A simple 'hello' will do. What was it you wished to discuss?"


"Pryce what you're looking at is Accorsia. These are its people. In a way, we're back home here in Lilane.. Still.. I don't entirely approve of Ecclesia's operations, however they are our people in the end, just as we are their's -or once were. Our fight is everyone's fight in any case."

"I think it's just the right way to introduce ourselves seeing how last we were here we landed in jail cells -This is fine. We're in good company."


"My apologies, our business here is of grave import and unfortunately we do not have the time for pleasantries and such. Our mission to Tartarus is just a few days from now, there are more preparations to be done but I need to know if Ecclessia is backing us, how many soldiers, plans for dealing with Mudi, our provisions, and to be discussed in a place where the witch's eyes could not possibly see us."


As you 'turn', your body briefly appears to get thin, vanish, and then reverse, as though you were a page that was being flipped. In one sense, it is totally foreign, but in another, it feels like basic movement.

"Guess not," Zophie says. "It seems like we're just ordinary folk to their perspective."

When the villager begins to reply, there is no 'voice,' per se. Their response comes in the form of a text bubble above their heads, upon which the words of their reply are written, with the sound of an ink quill scribbling across papyrus.
"A zebra? I've not seen one in these parts in an age," the villager says. "But 'tis an odd timing that you'd ask me that. I heard of strange folk in yonder woods just recently – the first bit of disturbance in these parts since the princess o'erthrew the demon lord. Mayhaps there?"



"This is weeeeird… Let's go to those woods!" she says excitedly, immediately getting over it.


"When you put it that way, I can't help but agree with them rebuilding. But I don't like it under the Ecclesian name."

"We were imprisoned but that doesn't mark our entire presence! Especially if we're here for help."

"I would also like to add if supplies could be spared for another of those cleansing rituals before the journey as well."

KP shudders as his body nearly disappears, the visuals not meshing with the feeling putting him at unease.
>"So the woods? Ok, that shouldn't be too hard since we can see everything around us now."

KP decides to keep with Spitshine, helping lead him along to if he decides to keep his eyes shut.
>"This is working out a little better I think. I feel like I can align myself better."


Flaming looks up at the word bubbles appearing above the villager's head, raising her eyebrow as she speaks and trying to look for a 'text bubble' of her own. "You guys don't talk? Or… maybe you don't really know the difference…"

She shakes her head, looking towards the babbling villager as he answers her through his text bubble. "Strange folks appeared before you in the woods? Just how recently, like just an hour ago or so? And, I'm sorry, my friends and I are all sort of from far away… what princess? Did this 'demon lord' look like some kind of big bird?"


Gegenschein scoffs and claps you on the back, double-taking at your new wings. "Yes, yes, you've a point. Come then, and tell us of those new miracles you have with you."
Chorazin raises an eyebrow.
"I mean you, the wings and the new soul," Gegenschein clarifies. "A triple entente!"
Gadds snorts at the atrocious pun.

Gegenschein gestures to Galton and Ichimonji, and with a nod, the two find substitutes for the lesson, and head with your group to a back room, a mid-sized scribe's office. Galton produces a small scroll from her bag, and with a snap of her fingers, the scroll burns up. A bubble forms in the room, large enough for you all to enter.
"A brief answer for your initial questions," Gegenschein says. "We have decided that the majority of our Congregation and all of our Laity will remain on the surface to support Fantasia's and Zha's defense against the Treibheanna, who will surely seek to capture both territories and to use Tartarus for their own means. The Tartarus assault and expedition team shall consist of myself, Doctor Galton, Ichimonji, Freischutz and Holy Hours. As sparse as our numbers may seem, we believe, based on our current intel, that this is all we can risk… as well as all that we will need. Our equipment shall consist of the last of the Church's extant relics, as well as a copious amount of magically-protected food and water supplies, demon warding talismans and material for purification rites."

"As for Mudi… first I wish to hear what you have in mind, since I have revealed so much already."


"Why, the Princess –"

As the villager is about to say the Princess's name, the speech bubble violently shakes and resets itself without warning.

"Why, the Princess GO AWAY of course," the villager 'says'. The black portion of his text bubble appears to have been scribbled out at first glance, but as you focus on it, you see the words hidden underneath it. The villager doesn't seem to notice that the 'name' of the Princess has been scribbled out with in the text bubble. "A bird?" he continues. "No, not that I know of. This one was a vile squid-like thing, dredged up probably from some briny old ship. Not that I can keep track; we were ruled by one demon lord or another all the time; power changed hooves each week until the princess came!"

To go to the woods, you head for the town's gate. As you pass through it, the scene transitions from right to left, once scene to the next, with the screen having a 'page turn' visual effect upon it.

>Very early Pause, keep RPing


Flaming shakes her head as she looks up at the speech bubble resetting itself, pondering what the meaning behind that before she sees the blacked out message appear before her, causing Shorthorns to buckle slightly with slight loss of nerve at the cryptic warning hidden with in it. As the villager clarifies both the princess and the demon, she lets out a sigh. "So the demon wasn't a bird? That's good, at least. Some kind of squid thing…"

She takes notice as the party begins heading into the woods, before turning and watching herself bow to the villager. "My friend are going, thank you for your help stranger!" she says before darting after them, not eager on getting left behind in this strange place.

"Hey guys wait up! We shouldn't split up in a weird place like this!" She says as she follows them through the 'page turn'.
"Did… did you all just see that?"


"That's a much needed relief, knowing our defenses will be helped."
Pryce comments to the news.
"Just the five of you? Are you truly sure that's enough for delving into Tartarus?"

When Gegenschein asks about the plan for Mudi, Pryce is silent as Shei speaks.

KP pauses in place after the page turns, looking back (really only tilting his head to the side given their overview perspective).
>"Whoa, ok now that was pretty neat."
He comments as they venture into the woods.

>"You doing alright Spitshine?"


Shei-Sher smiles although tries to not to at the pun, he can't help but find it humorous.

"I believe you will frown upon this but I have arranged a game with the lords of Vitral for their help in subdueing Mudi. I would like to preface this by saying I think it is in the interests of all those in Huoli that we try to get along with the demons that at least seem interested in being cohesive elements of our societies and that includes entertaining the lords of Vitral who to my knowledge were once mortal lords of Mariposa." Shei-Sher presents onto the table the Idol Throne, Pravda had provided him.

"This Was given to me by Pravda, to summon the lords of Vitral once we have reached the Momentary Lake. If we encounter truly dire circumstances before we even reach there I am prepared to summon them earlier. It was agreed upon, with my powers of control over the will, the Lords will allow me to take some reign of them, one at a time is as much as my power allows, to empower them to walk along the soltaire fields. If Mudi can actually withstand it's effects this will be necessary. Once she enters that field our method for dealing with her will become limited to say the least. I am ruminating tactics, other strategies but this is the bulwark of my plan. The lords wish for a race to the lake to determine the Rulers of Demonkind, but that is not an outcome I am looking forward to. Call it nepotism but I believe our companion Amy Thest would be a far more suitable candidate. She is of demonkin, She has enjoyed some renown after a victory in Vitral's arena, and she is a member of Ecclessia, and perhaps one of the most compassionate and well meaning I know. Now The lord's needn't die. I have made preparations that upon incapacitation their body and soul may be sent back to the surface via a portal in my lantern. In the event they all were to fall that would leave us one candidate soverignty over the demons of Huoli. It will require great sacrifice to raise her power to such a degree however."

"Second item of import:" Shei-Sher takes the bag of relics from Pryce and lays it on the table opening them to reveal the contents. "Ancient relics of ultimate catastrophe, retrieved from the fabled King's vault of Zha Arlakane. They break upon usage. We were sworn under oath by King Lininias to only use them under the most grevious and dismal of circumstances."



Shei-Sher then places an Unending Flask of dark matter onto the table "Believe it or not this is a piece of the firmament. The eye Y'dryth gave me recurringly calls it by the name Dark Matter. The most I know of it's applications is that Deities find it an absolutely decadent offering. Contained within this enchanted flask its quantities are unlimited. I proposed to our comrade Volkama if he could work this dark matter into a weatherball. My notion is if it is a piece of the firmament maybe we can project bubbles in the landscape of Tartarus to protect us from the shifting chaos. Doctor Galton your expertise would be greatly appreciated."

"And finally a theory." Shei-Sher presents Pupil onto the table "Examine it if you must, I use this eyeball to appraise everything in my travels. It is made from ancient fuels stoked in the ember of Jhalandhara once seated in Vadahara. It is practically an organ of Y'dryth though non-sapient it relays the truth and only the truth of all things it sees to it's possessor. I used it to examine the quill Mudi uses to write her hexes and time and time again Y'dryth has told me it is a piece of Princess Laciela's data, her soul maybe. I do not know. I do know that this 'data' has a will of its own and when Mudi uses it, the data is fighting against her writing. The two wills struggle with another but Mudi's obviously wins out. I believe if Princess Laciela were to agree to allow me to place a seal upon her then there is a chance I can use my power for control to allow the feather to override Mudi's will, effectively disarming her."



Last time on HQ…

KP, Amy, Flow, Flaming and their allies completed the stone mural in the temple's central hallway by fitting all five stone tablets into their proper places, as determined by the story told by the mural. Once it was done, however, they found themselves drawn into a strange space, one rendered in a 2.5D fashion. They viewed this world as if they were the audience members in a play, watching a story unfold on stage, yet they still had control over their bodies, which were now stylized like hieroglyphs in appearance.

After an awkward conversation between Pryce and Gadriel, their group went to Lilane in order to discuss the Tartarus expedition and war plans with Gegenschein, Ichimonji and Doctor Galton of the Choir. Ecclesia's intelligence indicated that the forces of the Treibheanna, a large and roaming alliance of demons, would attack Fantasia and Zha Arlakane once the Great Seal of Tartarus had been unlocked, as those demons most like intended to harness Tartarus' power for their own.

Post sheets





>As a reminder, review your posts from last week, as it's these that I will be responding to in this post.


"In truth, we are considering bringing along a few more members," Ichimonji answers Pryce. "That is, the Spooks: the top assassins of Ecclesia, second only to the Choir in their accomplishments and our most holy of terrors… despite their ridiculous title."
"Oh, so you can make a children's rhyme our Caller Conch Code, but I can't give my students a cool nickname?" Gegenschein asks. "You are a stick-in-the-mud and a hypocrite, Ichimonji."
"And you're too old to be back-talking me like a brat," Ichimonji retorts.
Doctor Galton laughs. "Ahuhuhuhu. As you can plainly see, there is much disagreement in the Choir over whether to bring along the Spooks, and if so, how many. It all depends on whether we determine that they will be of greater necessity on the surface or in Tartarus. They are not just assassins, but physicians, explorers, botanists, trappers, strategists, exorcists – invaluable weapons of conquest wherever they go. We cannot risk misplacing them."

As Shei brings up his contributions and plans for Tartarus, the three Choir members share a weighted glance. Galton is the one to break the silence.

"Yes, all of those will be quite useful before and after the expedition – particularly the demon lords' support, which I would love to probe more of later – and I commend your careful acquisition of these tools. But, an honest question: Why do you believe that Amy Thest is the best candidate suited to lead the new world? How will she rule over demonkind, and what does she plan to do about mortals? And the rest of you… do you agree with Shei's assessment?"

Ichimonji snorts and looks off to the side; her frown and pinched eyebrows indicate trouble brewing in her thoughts and heart.

You head "off-screen" and see the page turn, and the next scene opens to your group exiting the town through the central gates, leaving behind the wall that surrounds the city in the direction of a thick forest some distance away. Something seems off about the presentation, and you can make a logic roll to find out more.


As you travel toward the woods, you soon come to the treeline. The road "diverges" in a fork, but because of your perspective, one branch of the fork appears as a road going upward, and the other is a road going downward, toward different "platforms" – that is, different layers of the forest, separated laterally.

"Okay, I can sort of handle moving now, but this…?" Spitshine asks. "What's going on here?"



Wrong pony.


Hey guys wait up! We shouldn't split up in a weird place like this!" She says as she follows them through the 'page turn'.
"Did… did you all just see that?"

She turns back to look at it, but does not take too much time to dwell on the oddity before moving herself through the gates leading out into the road. Feeling concerned about the presentation, she gives it another look over
[1d10] Logic roll

Moving up towards the diverging fork in the road, she looks between the upper and lower paths. "It looks like the road goes of in two different directions," she says to answer the obvious to Spitshine. "Not a whole lot to worry about I think, we'll just all pick one. I say 'Down'!"

Roll #1 4 = 4



Amy laughs and giggles as she hops back and forth between "screens", potentially causing the page to turn over and over.


In fact, this does happen! The others can act accordingly (not your reply for the round, just a quick note for the purposes of the others' responses).



"The only thing Amy plans to do is hug every demon visiting Huoli. But her wisdom comes from knowing that she lacks it. She will look to us for our opinions, our wisdom and troubles. That is, Ecclessia, Zha, The Demon Lords, Buiwong, the angels, and anyone else contributing to our cause. She's the only candidate you have that not only qualifies's but will listen to her advisors rather than play ruler for the sake of it."

Shei-Sher's sights land on Ichimoji, curling at that vehement face she is making.
"Don't you make that face Ichimonji. Wars have been started over mean looks and reticent opinions. If you have something to share, speak. There won't be time for conversation later."


File: 1543462771682.gif (3.25 MB, 500x384, Amy and Shei.gif)

>forgot to post this pic along with sheet


Pryce looks between the bickering of Ichimonji and Gengenschein, trying to keep a straight face and not show worry with the disagreement.
"If they cover as many fields as you claim, I would highly suggest sending at least one or two down in to Tartarus. Fighters are useful but when we don't know what's down there, the more information and skills each pony brings, the better."

KP walks down the path, starting to enjoy the scenery more as they adjust to it.
>"I think we gotta go though the story to get Blessings back?"

As Flaming takes the lead and heads down, KP follows with.


Flaming turns back as the pages keeps going back and forth, back and forth, her 'character's face growing frustrated.

"Amy would you cut that out!? You're giving me a headache looking at all these pages. I can't even read that well to begin with!"



"It's really funny, though," Amy laughs as she stops doing it and comes back with the rest of the group.


"Indeed, we are in agreement," Galton says. "I'm planning to, at minimum, pick a few based on wilderness survival, herblore and scavenging skills. We have no idea how long we will be in Tartarus."

"That may be well and good for dealing with demonkind, but as for mortals? It is a far different story," Galton says.

"I have participated in a few wars in my time, mostly border skirmishes in defense of Accorsia's outer territories, and I have studied many more in our country's history," Gegenschein begins. "When a war is conducted according to strict ethical guidelines – that is, when attacks on civilians are forbidden, weapons of unjustifiable cruelty and mayhem go unused, and when prisoners are treated fairly – a certain dignity is preserved even as soldiers are ordered to maim and kill their enemies and die for the sake of their country. When an armistice is signed and a peace reached, they throw down their weapons with a cheer, and may even run across a battlefield to embrace the one who was an enemy a moment ago.

"But what happens if a war is conducted with nothing but brutality in mind? When towns and cities are razed and burned, when captives are beaten, used as target practice, or abused for the pleasure of their captors, and when it is not a tactical victory, but mayhem, even genocide, that the opposing sides fight toward – will soldiers embrace peace when it is declared? No, far from it. The war will continue in their hearts and minds, even when officials offer hollow promises of peace. They will attack their enemies in their own homes, they will stalk them in the streets, they will even kidnap them and carry out the sick fantasies of revenge that had been brewing in their hearts since the supposed 'end' of the war, when they were no longer given license to kill those they had come to hate.

"After defeating Mudi and absorbing the power that Mudi seeks for herself, Amy may be able to exert her willpower to force demons into submission. But do you truly think that mortalkind will just stop fighting demons after what they have seen and suffered at the hands of demons, that they will listen to what Amy, who is fused with a demon, will command? You have seen the atrocities that the Apostles of White commit in their bunker, those sick experiments and cruel weapons… do you really think they are the only ones who have, or who will act in that way? When demons are cowed into submission, those mortals who have survived to see the worst of what demons can do will only see an opportunity to strike, and no half-demon leader will change that."

Ichimonji motions for silence, watching Gegenschein as he monologues..


To Flaming, something just doesn't add up between the written speech bubble dialogue of the townsperson she spoke with, and the 'page turn' style of scene transition. When taken in the context of the stone mural and the hieroglyphic visual style, it seems to clash quite a bit.

As you take the path downward, the forest continues onward. A spooky darkness settles in, and a circle of light forms around you, a representation of whatever light sources may be on you. Ahead, you see a collection of shadowy forms moving around in the darkness, indeterminate and hard to number, perhaps as many as ten or fifteen. LJ tenses and struts in front of Flaming, and Zjetya quickly positions herself behind Amy with a gulp.


"I know there was a time before the firmament where demons and mortalkind co-existed, perhaps not in the same cities but the same states and continents at least. I don't expect our work to be done after Tartarus, nor do I expect it to be done within our lifespans. It will take generations. But what's your alternative to that? Waging genocide against the demons. Letting rouge agents like Mudi prop up in the never ending chaos to take advantage for their own personal vanity. We at the very least have a common enemy, which is the dissolution of our world, The Daevas who have forsaken us. Our world ends if we cannot get along with demonkind, it was our troubles getting along that beseeched the Daevas to prop the firmament and that is no longer an option. The only thing that ensures the survival of this world is proving to the Daeva's our competency as a culture as mortal beings. Our grace and serenity because for all these eons they so believed we lacked it."



"Hey, don't worry!" Amy says Zjetya. "They could be friends!"

"Hello?" she calls out to the figures around them. "I'm Amy. Who are you?"

[1d10] for diplomacy!

Roll #1 3 = 3


Flaming grunts, "I'm sure it is Amy, but we're not here to have fun! We're here to save Blessings. Maybe we can do it later."

Flaming looks back towards the 'edge' of the page as they pass through into the woods, trying to piece together what doesn't sit right with her contrasting the murals she saw and the very story-book like feel of the current setting. However, failing to exactly piece together the issue, she shakes her head, putting it towards the back of her mind as she presses onwards throught he forest.

As they push on into the darkness, and the 'spotlight' forms around them, Flaming huffs, "This place is REALLY weird… but, I guess it's nice of them to give us a little light like this. Still pretty dark though… everyone stay on guard, we're clearly not alone in here. I sure hope we can still fight, looking how we do, I don't know if we're anything close to as strong as we are in the real world. Stick together."

As LJ tenses and takes charge, she smiles and takes up the rear behind them. "LJ, if they attack, I'll just use you as my buffalo shield while I bash them with my horns, sound good? Probably would make a better shield than me, given all that fluff."


"I do not know how much scavenging will be possible there, but those sound like useful qualities to take. I would also suggest anypony with good knowledge on history or stories of demons. If this place is a prison, there might be things in there that spawned the myths we tell."

"I do not see an issue with our kind continuing the fighting once the demons are pacified," Pryce adds once Galton finishes his rant, "Demons follow power, but I doubt they will be willing to pacify completely. Some I have seen can change their ways and work wit hus, but the majority I doubt can. They will reluctantly follow Amy out of their natural instinct, but anything too far from her reach or any demon closer to her power will likely not fall in line. We will still need to defend and fight if we try to return to further lands such as Accorsia. We will still need to show us mortals are strong in this reprieve to keep the demons off our back and show that trying to change the new rule won't be wise."

>"Here, let me get a light. I didn't expect a book would get this dark."
KP says, horn lighting as they see shadowy forms approaching.
>Light [1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6


"You, Pryce, clearly see the dilemma that we face," Gegenschein says. "The alternative, Shei, is to turn power over to Ecclesia and to our candidates for leadership of the new world. The ones who should rule the new world we create must not have any loyalties or preferences to demonkind or even appear to. Mortals, for all our power, have suffered far greater losses than the demons and will be snuffed out by demons if we don't establish peace soon. Those few who survive the coming war will need to be assuaged of their fears about a peaceful existence alongside the demons who outnumber them, and this can only be accomplished if the balance of power is shifted in favor of mortalkind.

"In short, though Amy's accomplishments and agreeable nature are undeniable, the fact of her demonic fusion with Ego means that mortals will never see her as truly on their side… not after all that we have done to demons and what they have done to us. But we cannot allow this to continue unless we want all of mortalkind to throw itself against the innumerable demons in suicidal acts of vengeance! After the Tartarus expedition, Ecclesia's purpose will be to rebuild and rehabilitate mortalkind so that they can live alongside demons. That is how the world once was, and how the world will have to be in the absence of the Firmament. The bad blood between mortals and demons means that true harmony will not exist for generations, even hundreds of years, but that is all the more reason that we have the loyalty of all mortals on our side, so that our work can begin as soon as possible!"

Gegenschein pauses after this, and laughs grimly. "It is funny that you brought up Laciela. By all means, if she can help you seal Mudi's power, give it a try. In fact, she and Yareakh are our candidates for the leaders of the new world. And for this end, they will have to enter Tartarus alongside us."

"And there it is," Ichimonji seethes.


[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 8 = 8


>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8



[1d10] perception

Roll #1 10 = 10


LJ keeps his stern, battle-ready look on, but tilts his head to the side to knock his horns against yours. "Yeah, wouldn't want them to break anyone too fragile for the front line."

"I am the demon lord of these woods," a deep feminine voice says, and a figure approaches, equine in shape, though her face and body are obscured by a white cloak which covers her entire upper half. But, you can all clearly see that her legs are white with black stripes… or perhaps black with white stripes. You can see that she wears a familiar sword handle with no blade at her waist too. "Foolish mortals who tread upon my land! Pay your tribute, or begone from this place, lest I draggeth thee and thy ilk to the bottommost layers of Tartarus for this trespass!"

A few other figures approach behind this mysterious figure, also wearing cloaks over their heads.

Your entourage exchange looks, unsure what to make of this.


"Those children are your proposal?"
Pryce questions to the absurd offer.
"You cannot ask that kind of responsibility placed on them. I know any sort of unity between us and demons is very unlikely, but I will agree with Shei that Amy is our best option. Her half demon nature will at least guarantee that the lesser demons will follow her. We do not have that same guarantee if any normal mortal takes that position."

>"Hey this is just like the story! So we are playing it out!"
KP says joyfully as he looks on at the mystery mare. As she calls them out with a threat, KP doesn't look quite as excited. He looks at the sword handle, then down to her legs. KP steps forward a bit to see if he can spot under the cloak's hood.
>"Blessings? Is that you?"


"I agree with the intent, but it feels as though we are trading tyrants for tyrants. Excuse the language, I have nothing but love and patriotism for Accorsia and her Union. But in the end the demons will submit to someone, in this case you aren't even demons. In the other case We have Amy who's half her council will comprise of Demon Lords. Not just that but there are too many actors vying for power. Your plans hang on the idea that Ecclessia will be triumphant in culling the demon population. But what if it doesn't, what if it is a battle of attrition, and desolace is all we have to look forward to? Your empire is far too steeped in subversion and Buiwong's web for the world to proceed honestly and peaceably. Ecclessia may still have it's nation, but concede Demonkind some sovereignty and rule by a Committee of nations, that includes Buiwong sitting in a committee chair. There will be no shadow governments in our new world."

"Yareakh would be a fine idea to have accompany us, but I'm afraid Laciela must stay above ground. I can use her to seal Mudi's power indeed, but if Mudi can reach her in Tartarus she will be the first person in her mind to slaughter."



"Hello, new friend," Amy says, stepping forward and giving the demonic figure a wave with a genuine smile on her face.

>Not sure if this is related, but Amy is wearing the Garment of the Founder right now

"You haven't said your name. Who are you?" she asks again. "Anyway, we're looking for our friend. She may have come this way. Have you seen her?"

>Prayer of Enligtenment for Compassion

>[1d10] for diplomacy with a DC-3

Roll #1 3 = 3


Flaming grunts as he knocks her horns, and she snorts and gives him a growl. "Please, they hit me with a hundred arrows and I wouldn't feel a tickle. You just happen to have a very thick coat. Not to mention a thick head."

As the voice speaks out of the woods, Flaming sudden tenses up even more, putting herself into a fighting position (VERY unthreatening, however, she's displeased to see as she does it given the story-book aesthetic she's been turned into). She looks out as the figure steps out of the woods, cloaked in white, but Flaming turns to look down at her legs, and then at her familiar looking sword. She starts to toon out the being's threat and demand for tribute as she puts the pieces together, and when Pryce says it…

Flaming joins in. "Yeah… YEAH! Blessings, that *is* you, isn't it? What are you doing?"


"NO," the mysterious figure quickly answers Flaming and KP. "Uh, my name… I-I… my name is Curses, the feared Duke of Tartarus! Only the Princes and the Accuser have authority before me, so what are thee but a worm, mortal? Kneel before me, and address me by my proper designation!"

"Oh, do you mean that dreadful demon hunter Blessings? Yes, I fought with her for a hundred days straight before your arrival interrupted our fight; she is a mighty foe indeed, and has even saved many souls who became lost in this world after failing the temple's trials. Of course, I recaptured them after I drove off that dreaded hunter, and they are now back under my control! Mwahahaha."

One of the other hooded figures steps forward, and you see that he is a buffalo with the black and white mark of Buiwong's cult on his forehead. "Yeah, we've been following Blessings here ever since she saved us from those real demons back deeper in the–"

"Shhh!" 'Curses' says.

"But didn't you say–"

"I said shh, that's what I said."


KP looks up at her as she states her true name. After a moment his eyes light up, and he gives a wink.
>"I will never kneel before you Curses! And we will not pay your tribute either! We're on a grand quest to save our friends, and we won't stop for the likes of you!"
KP declares, puffing up his chest in a false bravado, playing along.


As 'Curses' swiftly denies the allegations, Flaming turns her head and stares at the cloaked figure, squinting. "Really…? Cause," she points to the buffalo, "That guy right there just called you Blessings. Is this some sort of game? Because I don't know if I like it."

As she comments on her being here for a hundred days, Flaming's eyes open up, "Wait, WHAT!? But Blessings only disappeared a few hours ago! How could she be here for a hundred days?!"

She turns to Pryce, confused. "Uh… what are you doing, Pryce?"


"They will largely be figureheads; survivors of the old world, they will act as symbols of mortalkind's resilience, and its potential to survive the worst of evils that lies in wait in this cruel world. True power shall lay with Ecclesia, who will guide them and take control of mortalkind at each level."

"We can throw around 'what if' questions until we are all old and gray. Amy's tattoo is currently causing her to meld closer with her demon. What will happen when she and Ego completely integrate thanks to the tattoo? Will they still be 'Amy Thest,' or something else? Will they be more mortal, or more demon at the end? If she becomes more like a demon, will she be subject to the innate respect for power that all full demons feel? What if she does not survive to the end of Tartarus… or what if she feels the power of a greater demon inside Tartarus, and it imposes its will upon her? Your plan is as full of variables and chance for failure as ours is, no matter what they are, yet I fail to see how you will take command of mortals without the Church as the sole unifying authority that mortals will be able to trust."

He shakes his head. "How do you know your seal will hold purchase if it is too far from Mudi? If you are to use her as a seal, the fillies will have to come with us. If they are to remain on the surface, other means will have to be used to take them into Tartarus at the moment that we reach our destination and slay Mudi."


>("We gotta play through the story I think, so I'm just playing along! Think of it like that show you did.")
He whispers.



"Flaming, what are you doing!?" Amy says angrily. "Don't ruin the game!"


Amy looks to 'Curses' and smiles. "What tribute do you demand of us?"



"You don't even know what she wants yet," Amy admonishes KP. "Don't be rude to the new friend!"


Flaming quickly looks between the two of them, seeming VERY confused about the current situation. But, not wanting to look the fool, she swiftly turns her attention towards 'Curses'. "Y-yeah! You don't scare us, what tribute do you even want?"


"Are they ok with that decision, to be a figurehead for the rest of their days? Even if we went with that route, they cannot be mere idols. The demons would need to see real power in either of them in order to be pacified, not power from your large assorted group."

"Whether she is more of one or the other does not matter. She will still be mortal in some capacity and that will keep her from giving in to the demonic instinct to follow power. She has not forgotten herself to follow power with any demon in the past during our travels, so I believe we do not have any worries on her there."
Pryce says to Shei's defense.
"And I would agree that we can be here all day throwing around worries and what-ifs until the world ends again. We should worry more on getting through Tartarus, rather than jumping to assuming we'll reach the end without issue."

>"She came at us and demanded tribute or to leave!



"The tribute is one million bits! But, as is customary in demonic law, I will offer thee an alternative to payment, as thou lookest as though thou have trouble paying your tab at the bar, much less throwing around millions! Mwahahaha! The alternative is to help me with a little issue. I used most of my power fighting that hunter, and so other demons… ones I don't quite recognize, have moved in on my territory. I have to protect my subjects, and thus I need your assistance in defeating those monsters… particularly a pair of characters who are also in the midst of a fierce battle of their own!"
LJ digs his hooves through the ground. "No objections from me, Duke Curses!"


>"Very well," KP says with a heavy sigh, "I shall aid you in this task Curses. Who are these other demons we must deal with?"
He asks, trying his best to hide his excitement over being in the story, to act more reluctant in working for the dark Duke.


"Well I would say a quarter of those 'what ifs' are void after we submerge from Tartarus-" The sound of Shei-Sher's voice becomes tender and fonding "Maybe it is my own preference for Amy speaking. But she loves me, She loves a mortal. And I love her too. We have grown to be a couple during our travels together. I do not believe she will ever forget that. Amy Thest has walked a long arduous path in self-control and learning what is right. The tattoo she has is intentional, everything she does is so she will be in more control of herself. Your point is fair, I will concede my share of variables. The church has failed us once before however. The highest order of the church were not even whisked off unto Nirvana when the angels came, I wonder why. I was there beside Rising Tide when he had gone mad with desolation. And yet you preach their righteousness as if it is absolute, as if the angels will recognize it."

Shei sighs shortly, Shei-Sher learns forward and speaks in a softer more beseeching tone "I'm asking you to look in your heart. Ask yourself if we are repeating history again. Ask yourself if we walk this path Ecclessia walks will it be honest."
[1d10] Diplomacy

>"How do you know your seal will hold purchase if it is too far from Mudi?

"My seal, is a brand on the soul. To my knowledge, data is maybe like the script of a soul's memory. Laciela's Data is what Mudi holds when she writes her hexes. Though the Data is seperate from Laciela's body that does not truly mean it is Seperate. My Pupil has never told me such, only that it is a part of Laciela's Data. As long as I am close to that, and Laciela has my seal placed on her it is like the seal is on Mudi's quill as well."

Roll #1 7 = 7




"One million bits?!" Flaming repeats angrily, shaking her head. "That's outrageous! I doubt that much money even exists!"

As Curses gives her their alternatives, she snorts, shaking her head, "I am not one to deal with evil such as you, uh… Demon Lord Curses…" she groans, "Curses, *really*?" She shakes her head, "B-but no matter! Point us in the direction of these you need dealt with, and I…"

Flaming pauses, looking to the side. "Uhhh. I, Chief… Inferno Stampede, will see it done, if you are too weak to do it yourself. Now tell us where we need to go!"


"Of course they will have real power: all the pure magical energy which Mudi drained from the witchbone and that she seeks to absorb into herself with the help of the Momentary Lake… her own magical power, accumulated by stealing the talents of countless ponies… the magatsuhi of the Shades that she so cruelly drags along, keeping them from their eternal rest… everything that Mudi has gathered for herself shall be offered instead to the Princesses, combined with the boons of Ecclesia's gods – those who have not abandoned the Church. You needn't worry about their power before demonkind; it's fair to say they'll be quite set."

"Repeating history?" Gegenschein asks. "But of course we are. It is simply mortal nature. They rise, they fall, and rise once again. Each time the cycle begins anew, they say to themselves, 'This time we've got it, this time we'll do it right, this time will be the right one…' They put far too much stock in their power as individuals, not realizing that they are stumbling along, pushed by the momentum of those who came before them."

Suddenly, with a chill, the night of the Rapture comes back to you. Gadds in particular shudders and clutches his arm, as Gegenschein repeats some of the final words of the Archbishops before Agape fell.

"But what else can we do? Even to suggest that we can break this cycle, to recognize the spiral nature of history, is in itself a repetition. Piece by piece, the great machine of mortalkind falls apart. Individual pieces lose themselves in hubris, and lead others astray with their dreams of the future, of what they can shape reality to be. And piece by piece, the collective good falls apart once again. The Church is to blame for each crack in the machine if it does not repair itself every time that peace begins to break down again. Go on and establish Amy as the monarch over demons and mortals! Establish Mudi as the monarch! Establish anyone as the monarch! It shall happen again and again and again… unless the church's control is utterly and truly absolute, whoever the monarch may be. Only when all hearts are turned toward it, when the Union is complete in all places and in all hearts, guided by the gods, can we expect to finally break this cycle."



"And I… Amy… will help her!" Amy says with lackluster drama.


Flaming looks at her, whispering, "Hey, Amy, what was that about not breaking the rules?! Blessings chose a new name!"


"I still disagree with giving that power to children. And if it's to be split between the two of them, we can't be certain two halves of this power will draw the same effect of the demons as one whole."

Pryce listens to Gengenschein's grim warning, and almost threat. He holds his tongue. While his face shows his distrust from that, he waits for Shei to respond.



"I couldn't think of anything!" Amy whispers in a panic.


"I am not insisting that Amy rule Mortal kind. Everyone to the nation they belong respect their ruler. To each their family, to each their nation, to each their gods, segregated but united against Dissolution! What I am proposing is that we know nothing and the only way forward is to for an embassy to represent the interests of all creatures"

"Lo, your hearts lay bare. The same as I saw within Accorssia's Church. Heed my words, you will never control a person's heart. You may never have a person's heart, if it is all you desire."

"Chorazin- You're an Angel. Enlighten us, what would Metatron think of this new Union Church? What did he think of the previous one?"


With that, Curses gives a flourish, nearly revealing her face from how the gesture moves her cloak, but quickly pulls it back into place. "Come, they're fighting over in the woods a bit up from here."

Curses leads you along through the 2.5D landscape, occasionally stopping and checking behind trees and bushes, protectively holding out her hoof before the others to make sure they are safe. Eventually, after a little while of travel, you hear the clashing of swords and the breaking of trees. The scene shakes as trees are felled and rocks are knocked around, some even whizzing just overhead.

Up ahead, in a destroyed clearing, you see a knight, identical in appearance to the stallion you saw in the mural on the cube. However, whenever you look at his face directly, it is blotted out by black scribbles. When you look at him from your peripherals, his face can be seen, though only in that half-blurry way that things in your peripheral vision appear. He is fighting another figure, a mare wearing the same dress as Amy, only hers is of a higher quality. Her face is similarly obscured, only revealed when not looked at directly.

The two don't acknowledge you at any point, and continue fighting, leaping and clashing at one another, with nobody having an advantage over the other.

"I tried to intervene, but no matter what I tried, I couldn't find an opening while still protecting my servants," Curses says. "But thou lookest like you can hold your own in a fight, even for puny mortals, and there's a lot of you! See if you can solve this matter!"


KP trails along, looking around and wondering where they will be next in the story. When they come out to see the Knight and Princess fighting each other, KP pauses with hesitation.

>"Uhhh… which one do we help?"



Amy sees the dress, and steps forward without thinking. A mystified look sits upon her face.

"Princess Vinland?" Amy calls out above the noise of the combat.

[1d10] for diplomacy with Compassion

Roll #1 7 = 7


Shorthorns lowers her head deep in thought, "Well okay, okay, lemme think… maybe… let's see, what's purple and sparkly like you…"

"This had better not be a waste of Chief Inferno Stampede's time, Lord Curses!" Flaming bellows, stomping her hooves as hard as she can to feel more intimidating as she tries to get into her role.

She follows behind the disguised Blessings, felling VERY relieved that she is safe after all, as they travel through the woods to the sounds of clashing swords.

She looks at the knight, trying and failing to catch a glimpse at his face, and then to the princess, whom she can't help but feel is eerily familiar regarding the dress she wears… and remembering where they found the one Amy now wears. She opens her eyes, "It's her… the Princess of this story, s-she was that mare from the tower!"

She turns towards Pryce as he asks who to stop, and she snorts. "BOTH. Let's let Amy try and talk them both down first. I'll hang back behind her ready to jump in if either of them make a move."


"Metatron did not exist prior to the Rapture," Chorazin answers. "In fact, as an angel, he is hardly older than I am. As for this new union Ecclesia seeks to build from the ruins of the old…"

She looks up at the ceiling with reticence. "He shall make his opinion clear tonight."

"Ah, good, we shall look forward to hearing his thoughts," Gegenschein says. "As for hearts? I am afraid your perspective is too small, Shei. Hearts are truly easy to guide when a higher truth is on your side. Fear not: is our alliance with Zha not an indication that we do not seek blind power and instead work well with others? You might claim that we took Zha over with cruel politics. Far from it; Zha had already lost its sovereignty when King Lininas took on the leaders of the nearby kingdoms into his council. Each squabbling ruler only fought for his own interests and the interests of his people, and the other kingdoms' refugees be damned. Our allegiance is not to power, but to the higher wills of the gods. Even foreign gods can be added to our union. We are not the inquisitors and exterminators of old – we are a unifying force. I mean, listen to us! We are all on the same side except for who we are putting at the top!"



"Amethyst," Amy says flatly.


Flaming's eyes open wide, "OH! That's good, Amy! Use 'Amethyst', that's really pretty." She says, apparently lost on the pun.



"See, that's what I was thinking. But, then I realized that that's where my name came from in the first place. So, I was like, 'Hey, maybe I can make some pun out of it'. Then, I just came up with Amy…"


"An angel is going to come down tonight?"
Pryce says in shock to Chorazin.


"'An' angel?" Chorazin asks with irony. "You don't know the half of it."


Pryce looks on grimly.
"…And he's coming down for Ecclesia specifically?"


"…I don't even know how to describe it."


The two combatants stop their fight and look at you, and they both back away from one another and from you, with the Princess hopping up to a higher platform, holding her sword at your group in a cautious stance. The knight does the same, and clutches at some injuries around his side, though he looks like he's got some fight still in him. It is only now that you start to notice a blurry, indistinct aura around them, rippling out like heatwaves, seemingly concentrated around their shoulders.

Curses stands back, protectively guarding her entourage, and Zophie stands beside her.


>We are all on the same side except for who we are putting at the top!
Shei-Sher sighs "That we are.. I- I just can't help but feel terrible about this. As though we are digging our graves this very night… I do not think the Gods want us to rely on them. At least not the good ones.. No, no.." Shei-Sher turns his head left and right telling himself it won't work. "Union is a lie, the creatures that are different are truly distinct even in heart, it is something one must accept. Only Y'dryth is truly united, we are not Y'dryth. We were born in the waters of Sheol.. It doesn't matter. I came here to know if you will fight with me in Tartarus and now I do. Doctor Galton I shall prepare another vial of dark matter from my source vial, for your examination. We will rendezvous at Fantasia on the morning after two days from now. If that settles everything would you care to call Laciela for me? So I may place my seal upon her."

"And one more thing, has Ecclessia happen to take in a number of Goats from Zha Arlakane?"


KP holds up a hoof in defense as the Knight and Princess lead away and aim their weapons at them.
>"W-We mean no harm. We're here to help."
He says to try and defuse the situation.
>"Why is it that you two are fighting?"
He asks. As he sees the aura, he looks up inquisitively as he tries to see if there's anything causing it.
>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8


"Oh…" Flaming comments, "Well… I think it still works even if it's where your name comes from, it sounds a little different from how your full name does, and it's pretty."

Flaming smiles as she looks to Amy, "I knew you could get their attention. Yeah, I think that lady there is the one we learned about in that Tower, when we first learned about the Sons of God. I wonder if she realizes what you're wearing."

She looks towards their shoulders, noticing the odd waves coming off of them, and asks, "Why are the two of you fighting?! Can't you see what you're doing to the land around you? What you're doing to yourselves?"



"Princess Vinland…" Amy says slowly, looking a combination of worried and awestruck. "Why do you fight your own knight?"

[1d10] for Compassionate Diplomacy

Roll #1 9 = 9


Gegenschein seems to calm down somewhat, and settles some feathers back into place. "So long as you don't raise your arms against us, we will fight alongside you to the last bullet, the last blade, the last soul. We may disagree with you over who should rule, but…" he scoffs. "Well, I suspect Tartarus itself will gauge our wills and do the sorting for us so we don't have to squabble over the crown at the last moment. We are not enemies; let neither you nor I forget that.

"We have taken in some who are stationed here. Others have surprisingly opted to be resettled in other locations; conventional wisdom suggested they'd all want to be together, but it seems they've fractured some. Do you wish to speak with the ones here?"

Galton steps out, then comes back with Laciela after a little while. She greets you with a wave. "Well, if it isn't the Saviors! Some of you anyway. What's going on?"


"Right, we should focus on our unity first and foremost. This needs to be done, regardless of how we feel on the end result."

"We're discussing the details of the Tartarus mission."
Pryce responds as Laciela is brought in.


You can see a monstrous, insect-like shape crouching upon their shoulders. At times it looks like there's one on each of their shoulders, and at others, it looks as though it is a single creature, a lanky and thin mass of limbs and chitin. As you speak to Vinland, she leaps backward, leaning to the side as if attempting to dodge an attack. As she lands, she leaps forward and tries to strike at Amy with the flat of her blade.


Roll #1 8, 7 + 6 = 21


KP shudders at the large besial insects possessing the Knight and Princess.
>"Hold on, you guys are being co—"
KP stops as the Princess jumps and charges at them. His horn lights, trying to see if he can maybe pull off the bug before it reaches Amy.
>Telekinesis [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9


>We are not enemies; let neither you nor I forget that.
"Of course, you have our trust."

>Do you wish to speak with the ones here?"

"I was their Shepherd, but they lost faith in me. I want to tell them farewell formally. Do all the goats in Ecclessia share a lodge? Is there perhaps somewhere they all convene for supper?"

Shei-Sher steps forward to Laciela "Laciela? Can you open your mouth? Say Awwww."

then if Laciela turns her eyes up to show her mah Shei-Sher slaps a paper seal onto her shoulder.
[1d10] Cursed seal

"There, we will need that on you to defeat Mudi. She is using a piece of your data to write her hexes."

Roll #1 1 = 1


Flaming catches glimpses of the strange creature shifting in and out of sight on the two's shoulders, leering at it carefully as she tries to gauge what's going on witht he princess and the knight. "Does anyone else see anything…"

As the Princess leaps at Amy, Flaming lets out a gasp, turning towards Amy as she bows her head, white light appearing around her horns as she lets out a scream, "AMY! MOVE!"
>Prayer for Salvation on Amy


The moment you put your seal on Laciela, it is as though the world itself blinks. You are now standing ten feet away, about to put the seal on the wall instead. "You want to try explaining yourself before sticking weird things on fillies? I feel like you weren't bullied enough."

Galton waggles her finger at Laciela. "Now Laciela, what did I tell you? You need to state your opinion as if it was a fact, you're a princess, you can't be wishy washy."

"Right, you definitely weren't bullied enough," Laciela says.

Ichimonji shakes her head and walks out. "I'll summon the goats."



"I don't know what's happening, but it has something to do with those bugs," Amy says angrily as she is attacked by the princess.

>Wrath on the insect thing [1d10+3]

Roll #1 10 + 3 = 13


>Amy 0/4
Amy is knocked backward into a tree, nearly felling it from the force of the impact and the deep gash it puts into the trunk, but she retaliates with a blast of fire, causing the bug perched on Vinland's shoulder to fly off, skittering about for a few moments before leaping onto the knight. He doesn't seem to notice the bug as it melds with the one on his shoulder, morphing into a much larger shape, which coats the knight in a dark and malicious aura.

Vinland stumbles forward and shakes her head, and you can now see her face plainly, without any blurring or scratching out. She looks around in confusion, before turning to face the knight, as he grows in size, with shadows gathering around him.

Curses curses, drawing her sword in anticipation as the knight now towers above you, empowered by the insect that seems to be controlling him.




Shei-Sher is sincerely impressed, he's only heard of the little alicorn sister's abilities.
He peels the seal off the wall.
"I will have you know, There has been no shortage of bullies my entire life. In fact, some of my closest friends bully me." Shei-Sher says proudly, half joking, half not "Simply ask Sir Etac."

"Now hold still, we need to administer my seal onto you. The Choir and I have agreed to help mute Mudi's power we will need this seal on your body. Mudi uses a piece of your data to write her hexes, this is the only way to subdue it."
>cursed seal again, roll required?


Pryce blinks as Shei is suddenly jutted forward after attempting to place a seal on Laciela. He feels a sense of deja vu, like this sort of effect happened before.
"Shei what are you doing?"

"I am not a bully," Pryce defends himself, "I have only scolded you for doing things like this with your seal."


>Amy 0/4

Last time on HQ…

Pryce, Vice, Trapper and Shei spoke at length with Gegenschein about their plans for Tartarus. Gegenschein revealed the Choir's plan to make Princesses Laciela and Yareakh into co-monarchs over demonkind, though they would largely be figureheads controlled by Ecclesia. Gegenschein asserted that the problems post-Tartarus would not be caused by demons, but by vengeful mortals and those unwilling to accept a peace treaty or co-existence with demonkind.

Amy, Flaming, Flow and KP met a mysterious demon lord named Curses, who appeared to be a female zebra under a white cloak, accompanied by an entourage of ponies and buffalo also wearing cloaks over their heads. Curses demanded tribute, namely that they help her defeat a pair of rampaging knights whose battle threatened to destroy the forest. At leaset one of the rampaging knights, as Amy discovered, was none other than Princess Vinland herself.


>Amy, KP, Flaming, Flow
>Amy 0/4
Amy is knocked backward into a tree, nearly felling it from the force of the impact and the deep gash it puts into the trunk, but she retaliates with a blast of fire, causing the bug perched on Vinland's shoulder to fly off, skittering about for a few moments before leaping onto the knight. He doesn't seem to notice the bug as it melds with the one on his shoulder, morphing into a much larger shape, which coats the knight in a dark and malicious aura.

Vinland stumbles forward and shakes her head, and you can now see her face plainly, without any blurring or scratching out. She looks around in confusion, before turning to face the knight, as he grows in size, with shadows gathering around him.

Curses curses, drawing her sword in anticipation as the knight now towers above you, empowered by the insect that seems to be controlling him.

>Shei, Pryce, Vice, Trapper

Laciela stares down Shei, holding up her hoof. "Wouldn't she get SUPER suspicious if anything were to go wrong with that quill pen I've heard so much about? What if she does some snooping and figures out what you're up to?"


Flaming shouts in dismay as Amy is knocked flying back into a nearby tree, looking out towards her sister with worry. "AMY!"

She turns her attention back towards the bug, looking on as it seems to leap from Vinland's shoulders onto the knight's, keeping the blurry creature in her peripheral vision. "I think you're right Amy-! Let me take a crack at it…" she lets loose a battle cry, before leaping up towards the knight, trying to aim for the tiny creature as opposed to him (difficult as it may be).
[1d10+5] All or Nothing
>Declaring the bug as the target of 'Charge', critfails on 2 or less

Roll #1 8 + 5 = 13


Flow steps out from behind a tree and stares up at the towering form of the knight. He scratches his head and looks in between him, the Princess, and his comrades.
“I fall asleep for a few minutes and all this happens?… I should sleep more often.”
He steps forward into the clearing, the Spinsaw already revved up and ready. He sprints forwards, and slams the rotating saw onto the growing bug on the knight’s shoulder.

Both of Flow’s clones remain in the background as the others continue their discussion.
>”They do bring up good points…”
>>”Aye, but it don’t matter t’ us. Our lad won’t even think about letting those bastards ‘ave control, let alone over himself.”

Roll #1 2 + 3 = 5 / Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8



Roll #1 1 = 1



KP stares up at the knight as the bug combines and grows to turn him into a intimidating figure. He darts back to hide behind the others.

"So you're aware she has a feather of yours? Do you know when she would have taken it?"
Pryce asks Laciela after Shei's poor attempt to curse the child.


"I have been careful to keep this tactic as clandestine as I can manage. Save for one occasion I have not mentioned the idea to anyone. Just one other member in my company. And is also why we are only speaking of this within Galton's Barrier. There won't be any discussion of this once we're done here. That said, there is a conspicuous nature to the spell. If my theory is right, and if Mudi has the gumption to take a good look at her quill. She might notice it's data has been tampered. If the spell is undone we will have our answer and will be able to try again later. If it is not dispelled then well -I suppose we could cross our hooves and pray."




"Are you okay, Princess?" Amy asks weakly as she struggles to stand up. [1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7


>holding up her hoof.
Shei-Sher administers the seal
[1d10+1] roll if needed

"Also, I hope you don't think me childish enough to try controlling you outside of Tartarus. Doing so would likely alarm Mudi, and render this pointless -needless to say"

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3



Using the 7 to heal self with Natural Remedy.


The knight surprisingly bends to allow you an easier shot at the mantis, but the ethereal beast dissolves like smoke as you collide with it, with each piece forming a wispy, cloudy limb, all of which skitter together and reform on the knight's other shoulder.

The knight's helmet breaks, splitting like the jowls of a hound, and he curls his arms around you both, then lifts and slams you into the dirt.


"All I know is that she has a still-bleeding wing that looks an awful lot like mine, and that the feathers from that wing have powers that I don't have," Laciela says with a chill. "So, I really don't have any theories on how or when she got it. I'd know for sure if an entire limb of mine got ripped off and I'd sure as sugar know if my feathers had that kind of magic."

"If you're really sure the risk is worth it…" Laciela mutters. "But if something bad happens to me because of it, I'm chopping you into pieces and mailing you across the country."

"Laciela!" Galton scolds.


"I'm sure you can think of a more vivid threat than that, that's so basic."

"I'd say you're more infantile than childish, actually; that'd be an insult to children," Laciela retorts.

>Regained 1 wound and full Hits
Vinland is about to respond, before the knight slams Flaming and Flow into the dirt. She hisses and lunges at him, preparing to strike with the sword's handle.


"Damn it, Osmium! What's become of you!?" she shouts.

Roll #1 4, 5 + 5 = 14 / Roll #2 6, 6 + 3 = 15


"GOT IT!" Flaming exclaims as she thinks she hits the bug, however as it dissolves to smoke and disappears, she looks back in surprise. "Wait, what?! How did it-"

She gasps as she's caught suddenly in the knight's terrible bear-hug, grunting in pain alongside Flow as she's about to be slamed directly into the hard ground below. "D-did you see that? It just disappeared!" She grunts as she tries to brace herself against the ground below. "Did that even hurt it?!"
[1d10] Dodge/Block the oncoming ground

Roll #1 1 = 1


KP shouts as the knight avoids her charge entirely and goes to slam her into the ground. His horn lights up as he tries to pull her out of his grasp to not get piledrived.
>Free Flaming [1d10]

"You can't do anything it can? Then how are we sure it's your wing then?"

Pryce grimaces s Galton corrects Laciela's threat.
"Is that really what you're teaching them?"

Roll #1 5 = 5


>that's so basic."
"The thought lingers -who would you mail my pieces too?" Shei asks, his interest piqued.

>"I'd say you're more infantile than childish, actually; that'd be an insult to children,"

"My Princess, sincerely, you flatter this meager goat. I am but a mite in your presence. Simply polishing the stool from your rear would be considered a virtue among my kind and I will tell my children of this day for generations onward." Shei-Sher proclaims completely unphased by Laciela's insults.

Assuming business is done here, Shei-Sher ambles to the two goats brought into the chamber "Do you remember me." Shei-Sher's tone take a more stoic and stern air as he addresses the goats who were once among his herd. Notably, Shei-Sher's wings and the Demon and Angel by his side may cause some alarm to them.

"The feather may just be an image her data takes. Stolen data can take memories just as well as abilities, age and health. But that's just my own hypothesis. As much as I've gathered from having my data ripped from me on two separate occasions."


Flow grits his teeth when his attack passes right through the towering knight and its pet bug. As he’s grabbed, he quickly grabs his Bow and looses a Frostbullet at the bug before he’s slammed into the ground.

>”Seems like our situation is getting more and more dire by the minute…”

>>”Aye lad, but all we need is superior firepower t’ win, eh?”
>”And the proper people to use it.”
Vice puts a hoof on his chin as he thinks.

Roll #1 9 = 9


"Let me rephrase then. If she can't do the abilities this quill can herself, how do we know it is even linked to her then?"



"It's that… THING!" Amy shouts. "That bug on his back. It's messing with him."

Then, she sees that physical attacks fail to connect. "Hit it with magic," she instructs quickly.

Before the fight gets more intense, she decides to use Pragma on Flaming.

"You have to stop this, Osmium! Fight it!" Amy shouts at the knight, hoping he will listen.

>Mantra of Equality with a DC-3 because Compassion [1d10+2]

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11


[1d10] Rolling HUGE!

Roll #1 9 = 9


"We know because Y'dryth speaks to me in whispers via a detached eyeball. More research is due on my part -I am thinking that perhaps when Mudi took Laciela's data, she too some part of her abilities and memory.


"She cannot, but she has demonstrated a similar, and greater power," Ichimonji states. "It is you just saw, with Shei being moved without any discernable cause. She and Yareakh have demonstrated an odd ability to rearrange areas and undo certain events within a very limited span of time, without attracting the attention of most of those it affected. The last time you were in Lilane, it happened as well, as you will recall. Then, the sisters' power was chaotic, unpredictable, haphazard. As you just saw with Shei, it is growing in precision, in its focus."

"That's the only odd power I have," Laciela confirms. "And I did only start being able to use it after escaping Mariposa. Never figured out where it came from."

"Ahuhuhuhu," Galton laughs. "Why should a princess' tongue not be as deadly as a poisoned knife?"

The goats leer at you, an ambivalent mix of nostalgia and wariness. "Yep," the older one says, and he is an old goat, withered and worn. "They've taken to calling you the Shepherd, after what you done for us in crossing that wasteland between here and Accorsia. And they're calling you and your friends the Saviors, too, after your crew brought back all those survivors from Mariposa."

They eye Chorazin, Mocha and the others warily, but seem assured by your presence.

Flaming and Flow are slammed into the ground with a great tremble by the knight, knocking all the wind and stamina out of them as the knight's powerful aura enshrouds their bodies.
>Flaming 1/7
>Flow 1/5
Flow's magic-infused attack knocks the monster off of Sir Osmium's shoulder, and he comes to briefly, just long enough for Princess Vinland to knock him backward with her strike. Osmium stands in confusion, and readies his sword, just as a hint of lucidity comes to his eyes. He squints at you, unsure if you are enemy or ally. Vinland stands before you, her own sword at the ready.

"You there, what… what did you see of this scene up until now? It's all a blur to me," Vinland says, in hieroglyphs.

The mantis reforms and unleashes a monsterous hiss after Flow strikes it, and skitters away into the undergrowth.


"So those powers are hers, they were just stolen. And if we return the data, Laciela will be able to do what it could herself then?"



"That thing was making you two fight each other," Amy explains to Vinland as she pops a potion in Flaming's mouth. [1d10+3]

"What was it?"

Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4



Merryflower root [1d3]

Roll #1 1 = 1


>>”How in the bloody ‘ell are we supposed to beat that bleedin cunt if she’s got something like that in her arsenal?”
>”It’s hard, but its possible. Every living thing has a weakness, every tactic has its flaws. We just need to find it.”

As Flow meets with the ground, his front hooves and head quickly form to aim another arrow at the mantis, and curses when it gets away.
“Damn…pesky insect.”
He uncaps one of his waterskins and replaces his lost goo.

Roll #1 10 = 10


"And yet you have forsaken me." Shei-Sher says his tone unchanged "You are Ecclessia's flock now. There is nothing more I can do for the goats. But please, I wish to join you all for supper, to say my farewells. Where do you convene for supper time?"
>If it isn't close to evening yet Shei and pryce can go do the cleansing ritual first before visiting the goats.


"They… They can redo reality?"
Pryce says, dumbfounded at the power's explanation.
"Last time?… Wait, so when I found myself back on the wall, that was them?"

"I would expect a princess to be taught how to speak with grace and formality, not on how to best speak to cut somepony down. And disregarding royalty, a child should be raised with manners, not encouraged to threaten others."
Pryce retorts.

>"Uh… You two were fighting when we got here. You both had that bug on your shoulders, until they combined."
KP says, still a little frightened after the mantis skitters off.
>"You two were being controlled by whatever it was."


"That's my theory!"


As she's about ready to be slammed down into the dirt, Flaming looks out towards Amy with worry. "Magic?! But I don't know how to use any magic! Or, hardly any at least!"

As she's slammed down hard into the dirt, Flaming braces her body and awaits the impact, praying on her hardy buffalo physique to spare her the bulk of the damage. It knocks the wind out of her entirely, but she still manages to stand on her legs, keeping herself from falling just yet as she stands up in the small crater.

"Oooh… uggh… th-that hurt…"
She looks on as Flow's magic sends the bug scurrying off into the undergrowth, Flaming smirking with stars still flying around her head as she grins. "H-haha! And don't… come… BACK… oofff" she staggers, trying to shake her head free.

She looks up as Vinland seems ready to speak, the buffalo bowing her head respectfully. "Well, not much: we only JUST got here. You and the knight there though, the two of you were fighting."

As Flaming has a potion popped in her mouth, she pauses, "Oh!" she says through her mouth, before adding through the corners, "Oh, thanks Amy. My head could really use a bit o-"

As the putrid taste hits her tongue, Flaming's eyes bulge outwards, her mouth suddenly closing tight as she spits the bottle out and onto the ground, her mouth looking ready to blow chunks as she start spitting out the vile taste.
"PLEAGH! PEW! PEW! Aaaagh, Amy!!!"



"Wha-" Amy looks at Flaming with confusion. "OH! I'm so so so so sorry!" she says, putting her hooves to her mouth.


Flow’s grin is very apparent behind his waterskin.


Flaming continues to retch, making pseudo-vomiting noises, "I think I'm gonna… I'm gonna… oooooh…"

"Why do you still HAVE those?"

"HEY! Don't think I can't see you smiling! We're watching a stage, I can see EVERYONE equally right now buster!"


“I’m not really trying to hide it, lass,” he says with a snicker.


"The metaphor I would use is like a writer editing a story, or an artist making corrections to a sculpture or painting in progress," Ichimonji says. "In each instance I have seen, they have never been able to stray outrageously far from the original events as they occurred. They can change details, erase minor causes and effects, even replace actors, but they cannot deviate far from what originally happened. As for this power's limits, none of us know. Laciela has only recently demonstrated any ability to use it consistently or on command. Previously she and Yareakh have only been able to use it under duress, or during moments of religious ecstacy. As you saw just now, she used it on what appeared to be a whim."

"Even without consciously training it, it's growing stronger," Laciela admits. "To be honest, it sort of freaks me out… it doesn't feel like a power I've earned, so I'm skeptical of using it… except when annoyances like Shei wander in."

"Someone called the Fun Inquisiton, I see," Galton childishly retorts. "Let the child be a child every now and again. The time for formality and class will be once demonkind has been subjugated."

"Meet us in the mess hall at sundown," the old goat says, a bit offended at your chastisement. "We'll save you the best seats."

Flow restores his injuries, and Flaming loses a wound for obvious reasons.

Vinland's expression is grave as you explain the situation. Osmium groans, clutching his head as he shrinks down to a more normal size. At the end, he stumbles, and Vinland props him up on her shoulder.
"I don't know why I thought I would be surprised," Vinland says with a grave weariness. "That creature made its intentions clear soon after we left the isle. Be not convinced of its form as a mantis: it is a tendril of evil… and our sponsor and debtor. If only I had listened to THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING. GET OUT."

Just as the townspony's dialogue from earlier was censored, so too is the last part of Vinland's. As you focus on the blacked-out part, you see the hidden message.



"Because I can't make my potions without them!" Amy says in a sort of panic defense.


"It also makes it REALLY hard to grab anything out of this bag…"



Amy stares at the text for a moment and blinks.

"Does he not want people to know that he gave you advice?" Amy asks. She's not sure if the name would have been male or female.



She also pops an apology potion in Flaming's mouth. [1d10+3]

Roll #1 6 + 3 = 9


Shei-Sher nods and dismisses the goats. He ambles back to the ecclessians and his crew that are chatting.

>it doesn't feel like a power I've earned, so I'm skeptical of using it… except when annoyances like Shei wander in."

Shei puts a hoof to his chin, rubbing it "So what you are trying to say Laciela, is that people like me inspire you to reach the greatest heights of your ability. You honor me, truly."

"Pryce, concede already. Chivalry just is not an asset of the new Church of Ecclessia." Shei-Sher playfully mocks "Galton, Pryce and I were curious if the camp could arrange another cleansing ritual for us. We reek of magatsuhi."


Both of the goos look at each other, them back to the group.
>”Going by your metaphor, the artist can’t go back and change their art, then. Once the product is finished, any blemishes are there to stay, am I correct?”

Flow’s eyes narrow when the blacked out text has its hidden message revealed.
“Seems like someone is trying to hide themselves…”


"Oh… well in that case, you're mean." Flaming states plainly, giving her harshest frowny face she can muster in Flow's direction.

"Then why don't you just keep them at the ship and only bring the bottles you know are good…? Blegh, that tastes awful…"

Flaming falls down to her knees, her stomach aching in agony as a result of the bad potion, but manages to listen to the knight and the princess as they tell their story. However, as the black marks appear, Flaming raises her eyebrow.

"I… see. Um.. Princess Vinland, I'm just wondering, you can see the world like we do too, right? Like on this stage, with little bubbles and script in them whenever anyone talks? I was wondering, can you see that 'black' part of what you just said?" Flaming asks, being somewhat direct in her line of questioning to see if Vinland and Osmium is under the same perceptions they are.

"And, this evil mantis bug creature, where did it come from?"

As Flaming gets another potion popped in her mouth, Flaming's eyes open wide with fear again, before her tongue can taste the healing benefits of this one. "MMMMMPH!" She takes the potion out of her mouth, smacking her lips. "Mmm… okay that's a good one. You know you don't need to just pop them in my mouth, right?"



"Yeah, but if I don't, then the rules get confusing," Amy says enigmatically.


"Even still, that's a formidable power. That could help a lot of ponies, to simply change small details like that."
Pryce comments to the details.

Pryce turns to Laciela.
"Even if you feel you haven't earned it, it is yours. You should be proud of a gift like that."
Pryce says as she speaks her worries.

"I am all for letting a child have their fun, but I wouldn't call that fun. You should let them run and play, not teach them to be a little devil."

"I will not cease, especially if they want these children in any kind of power."

>"So you know what those were? Where did they come from?"
KP asks, until the censored block is spoken. As the black appears, KP looks around the scene to see if anypony is there that could have censored it then.
He looks in at the deeper message, even more confused.
>"Hey we didn't asked to be pulled in here! We're just trying t get our friend back!"
He shouts in hopes that the censorer hears him.


Flow retaliates with the smuggest grin he can muster.

“Flaming’s right thou-“
He purses his lips.
“N-never mind.”


"So you intend to change the face of Ecclessia's royalty through a single conversation. We are so narrowly allied with Ecclessia. Yield until after our business in Tartarus at least."


Flaming pauses, "The… rules? What rules?"

She says, looking directly at the 'audience' us. "There are rules to this?"


"Yes, your life is at last worth something, slave. It has all been worth this long buildup, hasn't it? Oh, but don't kill yourself. I understand that some slave goats ended their lives after earning the favor of their masters, just to avoid slumping back into the well of misery that their lives were otherwise."

Busta and Mocha scowl with distaste, but Chorazin simply arches her brows. "This one is so much like the Queen, it's almost nostalgic," she whispers.

"Yes; judging by our observations so far, they cannot change things that were more than a minute ago, and a scene that has been edited cannot be edited again; at least a full minute must pass before they can edit events again."

"A gift?" Laciela asks. "Well, Doctor Galton and Sir Gegenschein may see it that way, but I'm worried about the same thing Sir Ichimonji is: If it is a gift, then who or what gave it to me and Yareakh?"

"The Fun. Inquisition," Galton stubbornly repeats.

Vinland squints at you as if you had been speaking another language. "I'm… sorry? Stage, bubbles, script? Whatever are you talking about?"

"A creature from Tartarus, the endless abyss below the world," Vinland says. "Just as demons are the vile spawn of the gods who created and then abandoned our world to misery and chaos, so too did this creature introduce itself as the emissary from Tartarus: an envoy on behalf of the One whom the mantis simply referred to as 'God'.

"It is from this God whom we Sons of God derive our name. It was the mantis who brought us God's miracles, Its wonders and Its weapons, its words and its signs, that which aided us in rising against demonkind; demons who blanketed the world in filth, who bred and kept mortals in bonds of slavery, and who heaped death upon death against those who earned their ire."

She grimly chuckles. "And we were so eager to be free of demons that we took God at Its word, not remembering that every debtor is also a usurer."


Both Vice and Trapper’s lips curl into grins.
>”Then we have all that we need.”

Flow scoffs.
“That’s what you deserve for putting your faith in anything besides luck.”


This one heals Flaming! Good job.

"Osmium and I thought to negotiate with our debtor on the terms of our deal in a seance conducted a few days ago. God did not respond to us, nor did the mantis, so we put it out of mind for a time. And now, the past few days are a blur in my mind, and only now do I know, from your explanation, that we were made to fight one another, controlled by the mantis. This must have been God's answer."


Flaming looks up at Vinland with a sigh. "Right, sorry, uh… that blow from your knight earlier shook me up harder than I thought, I'm just speaking nonsense."

"Wait, wait… so what you're saying is," she points at the direction of the creature when it fled, "That bug thing, is from Tartarus, and it serves the God that the Sons of God take their name from."

"But as it turns out, both this God… and this creature who brought you power from God to fight the demons ravaging the earth… had some sort of ulterior motive?" She frowns, "I didn't know the 'God' you named yourselves for was from Tartarus. What exactly does it want, why did it possess you just now?"


"I don't intended to change them. Just to advise their teacher on better habits."

"Sometimes magic takes a while to come out. Maybe fleeing from Mariposa was enough to awaken an inner talent. Was anypony else in your family able to do anything similar to this ability?"

"I'll have you know I ran a festival and a magic show the other day. I am not the Fun Inquisition.
Pryce defends, almost as childishly, to Galton.

KP mutters grimly as Vinland tells of hte mantis.
>"Sooo… What were you two doing out here anyways? Aside from fighting."
He asks



Amy stares at Vinland as she explains the situation. And stares for a long time afterwards. "Sounds like someone likes to keep secrets," she says at last. "I don't get what's going on, but I don't care. Sounds to me like if we are gonna get anywhere, we gotta kill that mean bug thing."


"Wow. That was cruel. Verily, verily, verily such a cruel thing to say. Are you aware of the stories in Mr'uthgar about such things. So marked in the ethos between Master and Servant, in the Dusk of Reverie they held plays illustrating such stories on the third day of Slavery. It was my favorite occasion in all the seasons!"

>then who or what gave it to me and Yareakh?"

Shei-Sher chimes in to say "Well, if you wish to know. Perhaps we can ask the moon discus we've brought." Shei-Sher takes from a bag the moon discus "A gift from King Lininias, when we asked it our fates in Tartarus it should us horrendous sights. When we asked it about ourselves, the sights were.. more enlightening. Maybe you ask the Discus about yourself Princess Laciela, if would be so willing."


"Fine, fine as you wish." Shei-Sher gives up


"If we were forced to fight one another, it was cut us down for our disobedience, I have no doubt," Sir Osmium says, standing up and recovering. "If the two of God's highest servants will turn upon God and betray It, then surely they will tell their own followers to do the same. We would have fought until one remained, and the survivor would be puppeted and resume executing God's will."

"The past few days have been a blur, as I said," Vinland says. "I remember fighting to free mortals from the control of demons, but…" she sighs with weariness. "It is all I have done for centuries now. Fighting against demon lords, organizing mortals to do the same… recruiting them, training them, fighting alongside them, laughing with them, loving them… losing them, mourning them. Again and again. That is all this has been; an endless cycle since the day I first drew demon's blood."

"You're both right," Osmium says to Flow and Amy. "Our plans have not changed, Vinland. We must find I WARNED YOU and continue to Tartarus. We will find our answer at its deepest layer."

"Yes…" Vinland says with resignation. "T'would be only fitting to have our original party with us. But first, we must exterminate those agents of God – the Raven and the Mantis."

"Oh good. In that case, participate and kill yourself."

"No, not in the slightest. I don't know of any reason why it might be genetic or even learned. It's like I picked it up in the same way one picks up dirt on the bottom of their boots after a walk."

Galton and Gegesnchein nearly trip over one another as they spy the moon discus and approach to examine it closer. "Leave that here. We're going to need to examine that and its visions quite a lot. Quite a blessing that you came and brought it for us!"



"Then, let's go!" Amy says dramatically with a smile on her face. She marches to the right -obviously the correct direction.

"Original party?" Amy cocks her head at Vinland as they begin to walk.


"That makes sense," Flaming comments as he points out the logic of having the two kill each other, the puppet the remainder. "That's horrible, but clever I'll admit. But, then another question: what made the two of you turn against God? I thought if he was helping you all to slay demons destroying your homes, he was a good god. Now you're fighting his agents."

As Vinland brings up a raven, Flaming expresses surpise. "OH! You know, we've been fighting a raven! For a few hours now. Well, less like 'fighting' and, more like chasing. Big, ugly looking thing?"


Flow smirks when the censored texts appears.
“It seems like we’ve incurred the wrath of God. Doesn’t matter, it’ll be pulp in due time. And as for these subordinates, we’ll have to crush them as well.”
He pounds his hooves together.
“This raven and mantis won’t know what hit their sorry asses in due time.”
He puts a hoof on his chin.
“What’s stopping us from collecting your old comrades? The more the merrier, I say.”

The two goos pay no mind to Galton and Gegenschein’s question, and turn away from the others.
>”It’s just as I told you. Every being and idea has its flaws. And they just gave us one of her’s on a silver platter.”
>>”Aye lad, but there’s still the witch herself we ‘ave to deal with. Just because we know her trump card’s weakness, don’t mean we ‘ave the wench dead t’ rights, eh?”
>”Quite. However, this is still a major development for our plan. We’re going to have to make a lot of stuff happen in under a minute…”


>"We've been kinda going through the same thing too. Demon troubles day in and day out. But you've been making a difference right? Even if it's small, it still matters."

>"Who's the Raven?"
KP asks.

"That's a horrible way to describe acquiring this power. Though in the end it doesn't matter where you got it, it matters what you do with it."
Pryce says to try and improve the outlook.

As the others scramble for the disc, Pryce looks over.
"I'm afraid we will be keeping that. We'll need that for the rest of our group so we can all be prepared for Tartarus."
Pryce says to cut the grabbing hooves short.


Shei-Sher chuckles at their eagerness "hehehe, you greedy Ecclesians. I am not some Jolied cow bringing gifts to the good foals and fillies of lilane. I will come back for it before I leave the camp. Until then, please exhaust it of inquiry. It works similar to how a seerstone should."

"Er- Before you lose yourselves to the discus, there is still the item of cleansing magatsuchi for my companions. We would appreciate it very much."

>"Oh good. In that case, participate and kill yourself."
Shei-Sher rebounds with increased enthusiasm "Ba-a-h The plays were about so much more than the suicides of favored goats. They were tragic romances, a warning to entangling yourself in fraternity or seduction with those who serve you. To both griffon and goat, might I add. The visciosness of the politic, the strictness of Mr'uthgar culture poised the two players into a malignant dance where Master fell from grace and the contemptious nature of the caste system drove the forlorn goat to Suicide. You should ask Gegenschein about the plays. It is essential wisdom for a Princess to view."


"Yes, it was the three of us who formed the Sons of God," Osmium explains. "Myself, Princess Vinland, and Lady , though at the same time, she lacked the title, being only an attendant training at a temple for shrine maiden duties. The three of us formed a pact, and drank of a blessing of wrath, bestowed by God; it gave us the power to fight back, the will to resist demons, and the courage to persist even through the darkest night… all at the cost of our vision to what we were doing."

"For centuries, we were pushed forward by a dream of a world free of demons. A world free of death, a world free of misery and filth, bitterness and evil, where exorcisms and war would be unnecessary, where mortalkind would leave behind its worship of the gods who spawned those demons, where we could carve out our own destiny, where we and our foals could sleep in peace, without need of swords or wards or the terrible weapons God handed to us," Vinland explains. "That the nightmare mortals found themselves in, being the pawns and playthings of demons, would at long last end.

"And yet, after centuries of fighting and slaying demons, we have seen something that we never thought possible: harmony between mortals and demons. Agreements between them, alliances, and even acts of union… in a word, a fusion between mortals and demons. We sought at first to destroy it, believing it another nightmare that would swallow our dream. But the blood of innocents is a terrible thing to feel on one's face, one's hooves. When we had spilled it… we knew we had crossed a line that one cannot walk back from. Still, we must make whatever little attempts at redemption we can, starting with refusing any more of God's will.

"The Raven is another incarnation, another mouthpiece for God, another of Its tendrils poking up from the earth into the world. A fierce enemy as you have no doubt experienced, but ultimately no more than a tool, an unthinking, unfeeling monstrosity, undeserving of being described as a living thing; a mere shadow of Death," Vinland spits with contempt.

"I know what you're doing," Laciela states, unimpressed, no longer interested or vindictive as she was with her taunts. "But are you sure you want to keep doing it?"

"Yes, yes, Shei, I hear you. You want a cleansing ritual?" Gegenschein asks. "Go down to the tent by the lake, and I'll have some of our Laity set it up for you."

You journey through the woods with Osmium and Vinland for a time, before the path splits. One path heads higher, and the other path heads lower, in the same 'platform' style as before. You cannot see far beyond that, as it reaches the edge of the 'screen', and would thus warrant a page turn once you go along. Vinland and Osmium opt for the lower path, but you get a creeping feeling, as though something were clinging about your shoulders, something unseen and unfelt, yet present and prickling at your senses nonetheless. Roll for sensing.



"Where is your third friend?" Amy asks curiously. "You said that you'd be doing this together, but I don't see her."

Amy becomes suspicious and looks around. [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9


Flaming listens intently as Vinland tells the tales of the old crusades against demon kind, finding herself welling with hope at the prospect of a peaceful world free of violence and war after partaking so much of it. But, as she gets to the part about unions of mortals and demons forming, peace brokered without annihilation, Flaming frowns, knowing all too well from recent talks how possible it is to find good among demonkind. "I understand… you changed your minds after seeing that demons could be reasoned with. And God didn't approve…" she growls. "That's not right. We only fight when we needed to, if the demons were willing to make peace God shouldn't have found any reason to complain!"

"So I see… this mantis, and the Raven we fought earlier, you seek to send these envoys of God back from whence they came. But, what of God itself? Can… can this 'One' possibly be beaten if it is so powerful?"

As they head up towards the path, turning the page as Flaming looks on at the story-book like presentation as they move on through the tale, and then looking at the crossroads. "It's probably best not to split up: that bug could jump any of us at any moment, we're safer in a group."

Feeling the hairs on her neck stand up, she looks around as well to see if she can find the source of the presence…
[1d10] Sensing!

Roll #1 7 = 7


Flow listens intently to Osmium’s explaination, reminding himself of the conflict he’s been wondering about himself.
“Harmony, eh?…”

Flow’s goo wobbles as he’s struck with that disturbing feeling.
“Something doesn’t feel right…splitting up in unknown territory like this won’t bode well…”

The two goos finally turn around to the others.
>”I’m sorry to trouble you, but do you perchance have a…workshop or something of the sorts nearby?”

Roll #1 7 = 7


>"But are you sure you want to keep doing it?"
Shei stops for a moment, rethinking what he's said. Perplexed, the goat is thrown for a loop "I- cannot say I am catching your meaning Laciela. If there were a day of peace ahead I wanted to suggest a trip to Mr'uthgar for nostalgia's sake (if)-Gengenschein willing- A year's time from now, if the Princess observed her schedule vacant it would be a pleasant excursion."

"Excellent, thank you Gengenschein." Shei-Sher tells everyone in the party to come with him, Pryce and Flow's minions to the lake for the cleansing.


>"Is Raven a name, or do you mean an actual giant bird?"

KP follows behind the two, trying to shed off the creepy feeling as just being the atmosphere of this book world.

Pryce nods, following the group down to the lake.

Roll #1 7 = 7


>”We’re not going.”
>>”Yeah, we’ll just get our maga-whatever back when we fuse back with Flow.”


"Hm.. I suppose that is true. Well then.. do as you wish."


>>”More like whoever,” Trapper says with a shit-eating grin.
Vice is quick to punch his face off before Mocha can hear him.


"Whose wrong was it, truly?" Osmium asks. "Ours, for beseeching God for the power to exterminate demons, or God's, for providing it? Ours, for seeking to renege on our deal, to cancel the debt we owed God, to back out of our pact, or God's, for holding us to the blood-soaked contract we were so eager to sign with It, in exchange for power?"

"From righteous war to bloody massacres of the unarmed… God gave us nothing that we did not ask for," Vinland says grimly.

They don't answer when you ask if God can be defeated, instead looking ahead resolutely.

"It is simply a title, one of many bestowed upon it in the akashic records we discovered in one of the layers of Tartarus – an immense library, spanning miles upon miles, countless stories in every direction. Each of its other titles is a name of reverence, a boast of its great abilities and terrifying might. The thought of revering any of God's tools or puppets is repulsive to me now," Vinland says.


From behind you, another pony emerges into the scene, wearing a red peplos and chlamys; a unicorn, one of exceptional beauty, with a red mane and sepia body. Something odd strikes you about her appearance, namely that she was not in the mural before this appearance. Yet, Osmium and Vinland greet her with a salute - thumping themselves once on the chest. "Lady Athena! I trust you've received our summons," Vinland says.
"You're very astute, Princess," Athena says, using text bubbles as the other characters do, despite not having been in the mural. She eyes each of you. "New recruits? Seems odd to be recruiting in the eleventh hour… doesn't it?"

"Yes, in the study, just outside of this room," Gegenschein says. "You will find tools for tinkering with guns, crossbows, magitech, gemstones, runes, conventional weapons, clockwork… just ask for whatever you need."

You head down to the lake, finding the large buffalo tribal tent set up already. Eventually, a group of Laity of various stripes enter, setting up the pillows and blanket, as well as the traditional mixtures of drinks and of incense to burn for the purification to begin. They clothe themselves in protective, warded garments, full of runes and inscriptions, and once their preparations are complete, they blend a drink of herbs and liquids for the both of you, and begin lighting the scones full of herbs to fill the tent with smoke. You are instructed to drink the substance offered.


Shei's eyes squint at you goos, unsure of the meaning. Probably a joke at his expense he can't really tell "You familiars are curious things. Don't get into trouble."


Shei-Sher looks a the tincture he has been handed. He looks at with disdain, already familiar with the taste. He drinks it.



"Is this your third friend?" Amy asks Vinland as she looks at Athena suspiciously.


Flow’s eyes focus in on Lady Athena as she greets Osmium and the Princess.
“I assume it was your name who was censored, then?” he asks directly.

The two goos nod and head for the workshop.
>”What’re you going in there for? We ‘avent the know-how to build stuff.”
>>”Never hurts to check it out, right?”

>”Don’t worry, I’ll keep this one out of trouble,” he says as he pulls Trapper away by the shoulder.
>>”Yeah, don’t worry about us, egghead!” Trapper shouts as he’s dragged away.


>"Oh. Cause we had to deal with a giant bird before we came here. It was always a step ahead of us, holding onto these big tablets while we had to do these puzzles to get to it."
KP responds.
>"Yea, I've had the same feeling in the past. Once you get involved in anything deeper beyond prayers or church for gods, it doesn't always end well. …Wait, you've been in Tartarus?"

>"Is she the other one you formed the group with?" KP questions since the third name as blanked out, "Cool, we're all regrouped then. Taking out this Mantis and Raven should be a breeze!"

Pryce sits down as they set up the tent and brewing their herbs.
"Feels like it was almost yesterday when we last did this."
He reminisces as he drinks the elixir that is offered.


Flaming thinks on the conundrum offered her by the two powerful ponies, contemplating their words. "…if it is any consolation, I think I understand how you two feel. It wasn't on so grand a scale as this One, but, not too long ago my tribe made a pact with a nefarious god of our own. We were so afraid of losing who we were we sided with him in a war, and… well, it didn't turn out well for anyone involved."

"I used to put the blame all on him, that everything that transpired was his fault. But, lately I've come to accept the world isn't that black and white. But in the end, I guess the past doesn't matter too much. You don't want anything to do with him *now*, and that's what's important."

When they are approached by the new enigmatic, beautiful pony, Flaming's ears perk up as they address her as 'Lady', giving her a hint of who the ______ they mentioned earlier might be. "Hello. Yes, we came here actually to stop these two from fighting at the insistence of the great Duke Curses, and, seeing they were in some trouble of their own, saw fit to join them in ridding the original problem."


As before, the strong and bitter drink overwhelms you, throwing you into a semi-lucid ecstacy; a kaleidoscope of memories and imagined possibilities flit about you, blown about like flecks of snow in a snowglobe. Your eyes shut, and yet it is as though they were open, as visions present themselves to you.

The pieces align, and you behold a certain sight: a wasteland of white, churned by a storm. It becomes clear that it is not snow, but a kind of ash-like particle that blankets the area. The region is hilly and mountainous, overlooking a valley. The valley is swamped with thousands of demonic figures, frozen, their bodies turned to crystalline glass, their faces broken and twisted with agony.

A lone person moves through the bleak landscape as though it were nothing, insulated by a thunderous layer of magical energy: Mudi the Young, her expression grave, vengeful and piteous as she surveys the fields of the dead. As she approaches each of the glass statues, you see her draw forth the crystal ball in which she keeps her pocket dimension, and her Shades. She taps the glass figures, and they rapidly decompose, their bodies giving up a spiraling plume of energy, which is absorbed into the crystal ball.

"Soon… very soon, I'll restore you," she whispers into the crystal ball, cradling it as if it were a child. You see the faces of the Shades floating up to the surface as she kisses it. "I'll bring all of you back."

"Yes, every one of our soldiers has reached varying layers of Tartarus in order to imprison certain powerful demons that cannot be killed or dealt with using other conventional means," Osmium says. "Princess Vinland has been as far as the Ninth layer… the second bottommost."

"Who else would it be?" Lady Athena sarcastically asks. "Done having your little lovers' quarrel over there?"
"If you knew of the fight God imposed upon us, surely you have a good excuse for your lack of intervention," Osmium testily asks.
"Tracking down the Raven of course," Athena says. "The beast can shapeshift, as all God's agents can. God can be so frightfully elusive when It desires to be. So, come along, everyone. I hope you're worth your salt in a battle."






>All at full H/W

Last time on HolyQuest…

Flaming, Amy, Flow and KP traveled for a time with Princess Vinland and Sir Osmium, after helping to break them free of the control of the Mantis. The two Sons of God explained that they planned to enter Tartarus, in order to confront the God they once served. The Sons had allied themselves with God in order to free mortalkind from being the playthings and slaves of demons, but began to question themselves after their crusades had ended the lives of mortals and demons who lived in equality and harmony, even forming unions between themselves, called Demon Fusion.

Pryce, Vice, Trapper and Shei finished their conversation with Gegenschein, Ichimonji, Galton and Laciela. Pryce and Shei went down to the lake to partake in a cleansing ritual to purge their souls of the magatsuhi they had absorbed from demons in recent time, while the goos held back to tinker with some tools in the Laity's workshops.






Amy stares at Athena suspiciously. Then, she turns back to Vinland.

"So, you like the Demon Fusion idea?" she asks curiously.


>Vice and Trapper
The two goos enter the workshop, finding it to be a wide room, occupied by many Laity. Dozens of tables fill the space, and the Laity have laid out a plethora of tools and parts for their tinkerers to use. They are organized by purpose, allowing one to work with herbs, chemicals, magic components, magitech, flintlock weaponry, explosives, standard weapons, armor, clothing, books, runes, wands and staves.

As before, the strong and bitter drink overwhelms you, throwing you into a semi-lucid ecstacy; a kaleidoscope of memories and imagined possibilities flit about you, blown about like flecks of snow in a snowglobe. Your eyes shut, and yet it is as though they were open, as visions present themselves to you.

The pieces align, and you behold a certain sight: a wasteland of white, churned by a storm. It becomes clear that it is not snow, but a kind of ash-like particle that blankets the area. The region is hilly and mountainous, overlooking a valley. The valley is swamped with thousands of demonic figures, frozen, their bodies turned to crystalline glass, their faces broken and twisted with agony.

A lone person moves through the bleak landscape as though it were nothing, insulated by a thunderous layer of magical energy: Mudi the Young, her expression grave, vengeful and piteous as she surveys the fields of the dead. As she approaches each of the glass statues, you see her draw forth the crystal ball in which she keeps her pocket dimension, and her Shades. She taps the glass figures, and they rapidly decompose, their bodies giving up a spiraling plume of energy, which is absorbed into the crystal ball.

"Soon… very soon, I'll restore you," she whispers into the crystal ball, cradling it as if it were a child. You see the faces of the Shades floating up to the surface as she kisses it. "I'll bring all of you back."

"Yes, every one of our soldiers has reached varying layers of Tartarus in order to imprison certain powerful demons that cannot be killed or dealt with using other conventional means," Osmium says. "Princess Vinland has been as far as the Ninth layer… the second bottommost."

"Who else would it be?" Lady Athena sarcastically asks. "Done having your little lovers' quarrel over there?"
"If you knew of the fight God imposed upon us, surely you have a good excuse for your lack of intervention," Osmium testily asks.
"Tracking down the Raven of course," Athena says. "The beast can shapeshift, as all God's agents can. God can be so frightfully elusive when It desires to be. So, come along, everyone. I hope you're worth your salt in a battle."

Vinland pauses. "…I haven't decided. Blurring the lines between yourself and another being, destroying both of the original selves in the process, to create a new being? At what point do the conscious minds of the originals end, and where does the new one begin? Are they all aware of one another? What of the soul? Is there an afterlife for a soul that has been fused, or is it utter blackness? I cannot condone it… especially knowing that some may do it solely for the great buildup of power that comes with the Fusion."



Trapper practically drools at the sight of the many weapons on display. Vice nods as he scans the Workshop.
>"I was expecting a healthy amount of tools, but this…this exceeds my expectations."
They both scratch their heads as they wonder what to do with the plethora of tools that they have no idea how to use.

Flow puts a hoof on his forehead when Lady Athena addresses the party.
"Ugh…this is gonna be harder than I thought, isn't it."


Shei-Sher watches Mudi in the landscape. A sad display, Shei himself lives for someone deceased, but we are all fighting for the things we love. It is nothing out of the ordinary.

Shei-Sher puts on his kitty cat stealth cloak just incase and ambles forward. With Pupil in his hoof he tries to get a good angle to further appraise Mudi's feather.
[1d10+1] If I look hard enough can I see my sigil working on Mudi's quill

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4


Flaming's eyes open wide with realization as they start to remember where they'd heard the name 'Athena' in the past, and as it dawns on her that the mare in front of them is the owner of the dreaded Colosseum where Vir-can is held, it's all Flaming can do to keep her cool and a straight face as she approaches her.

"R-right. A pleasure to make your acquaintance! We are currently seeking the mantis that was just forcing these two brave warriors to do battle. Perhaps your Raven and the Mantis have reconvened somewhere. Do we have any idea of where they may have hidden?"



"Yeah, it's confusing sometimes. I don't think I'm all the way yet, but I can say that we're both still here… Somewhere. Together. It's like… a hug. A soul hug. It's not so bad. And, I'm sure we'll be like this forever, even after we die."


Pryce holds his sitting position as the bitter taste floods his mouth, knowing how rough the hallucinations can get from the last time. He clenches his eyes shut, opening them once things feel calm.

He looks around the snowy wasteland, a stark difference to the ruined world from his last cleansing. He goes to stand, but stops as Mudi comes out through the white fog. He looks on as she absorbs one of the figurines and speaks, He listens to her words, wondering if this is a scrying vision, a memory, or a hopeful dream.

>"There's only ten layers in Tartarus? Each one must be huge if you use it to seal away all those demons."

>"If it can shapeshift, then how can we find it?"
KP asks Athena as she talks so confidently about the Raven.


You cannot get a good enough glimpse with Pupil amid the falling, cold ash.

Mudi lowers her crystal ball, then looks out at the thousands of demons. "Their souls are fading… but the power is still there. Magatsuhi everywhere… perfect."

She looks down at the ball again, smiling sweetly. "Who wants to help me test Aunt Vizsla's staff?" she asks the Shades inside. Like goldfish, they float up to the surface, and Mudi draws out one, releasing a wendigo-like silhouette. You can feel that it is an incomplete soul, a product of black magic and occultic experimentation. "First, I need you empty," Mudi says.

Mudi draws her hoof between the Shade and the crystal ball, and a flow of magatsuhi leaves the Shade's body, and enters the crystal ball. The Shade droops a little as the power is drained from its body.

Mudi then pulls a staff from her robe, long and silver, with a lantern at its tip, similar in appearance to the Witching Lantern.

A couple of the Laity workers come over, dusting some wood and magic residue off their robes, fresh from chiseling wands and staves. "Ah, the squires of the great samurai, Flow. What can we assist you with, sirs? Looking for something specific?"

Vinland and Athena gasp softly as you reveal that you have been fused with a demon. "Ah… it is good to finally have a chance to speak with someone who has undergone it," Vinland says, casting a glare at Athena. "When we are done with this, will you tell me more?"
Athena looks off to the side, not meeting Vinland's gaze with prideful stubbornness.

"It is infinite in diameter, at each level, and yet paradoxically, each layer is smaller the deeper you go," Osmium says. "Tartarus is not a world like ours; it embodies paradoxes, chaos and confusion. Our laws of physics, even our notions of cause and effect, are merely suggestions to Tartarus. Make no mistake – Tartarus is no mere place, it is a being."

Athena draws a jagged sword and presents it. You see that it is solid black, all of one material, a solid-black substance with no texture of any kind, giving off an otherworldly presence. "All of God's creatures are drawn together. I only needed to listen to God's guidance."

Vinland's mouth twists at the sight of the sword. "You were to dispose of all traces of God's so-called boons."

"After this mission," Athena says. "You and I both know we can't take it down, strong as we are, unless we take advantage of these relics. They hold far more power than mortals like you or I ever could."

Vinland shakes her head and smirks. "Excuses, excuses. It is a wonder I haven't broken off our friendship with how often you shirk my orders. Lead the way."

"If only I had a Bit for each time you said that…" Athena chides raises the sword, and takes the lead, taking the aforementioned downward route toward the boundary of the page.


Shei-Sher watches Mudi's experiment carefully, the inquisitive goat is fully engrossed in observation.

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3



"I'd love to answer any question you ever want to ask me, Lady Vinland," Amy says with a smile. "Now or later, no matter WHEN you ask it."


Amy waits to see where the other members of the "real" party go before following.


Pryce looks on as she continues to speak. His curiosity is heightened as she mentions magatushi, the thing they're purging now. As she drains one of the shades and draws out a latern, Pryce moves into a defensive stance out of reflex.
"Can this really be a vision, is this happening at this moment?"
He mutters to himself as he steps closer.

>"Yea that does sound confusing. How do you find your way through it all if it's infinite?"

KP looks up at the jet black sword Athena draws out.
>"So it's a part of the Raven, or God, to be a big Raven seeking magnet?"
He asks as he follows behind.


Another rolley poley courtesy of dm
[1d10+1] appraise

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3


fucking kill me Dice gods



Amy decides she doesn't like what's happening. Something or someone is hiding information, and that's her least favorite thing in the world.

"What's the other way?" Amy speaks up suddenly. She asks the question somewhat aggressively.


The two goos look at each other in confusion and suprise, then turn to the
>>"Samurai, mate?"
>"Heh…never been called that before. And "great", too. I do suppose he, and myself through proxy, are great," Vice says with a puff of his chest.
Trapper is quick to smack him in the face.
>>"Quit blubbering, lad, we've got a golden opportunity!"
Trapper shows the blacksmith the blade they got from the demons.
>>"Somthin like this lads, cept without the bells n' whistles, eh?"

Flow squints as Athena heads downward.
He eyes the upper path.
"What's up there?…"


Mudi holds the staff over the Shade, and it is drawn inside, turning into a black-and-blue soul flame in the center. With the Shade stored in the lantern, Mudi turns to the demons, shutting her eyes in concentration, chanting a spell.

At the end of the chant, she raises the staff, speaking barely louder than a whisper at first. "Thy spirits are at my command… thy strength is at my command… thy lives are at my command! Everything you are, soul, body and power, belongs to me! Lifedrain!"


The region is shaken by a massive eruption as thousands of glass-frozen demons explode and crumble, their bodies reduced to ash. Lightning and wind storm about you as great currents of energy fly from the destroyed demons, turning into a cyclone as it is drawn into Mudi's staff. Mudi stands steady through it all, holding the staff aloft. You hear a thousand voices cry out in agony, the twisted screams of countless demons, but Mudi shows no signs of caring.

In time, the last of the vortex is drawn into the staff, and the scene is peaceful again. The lantern is abuzz with power, hyper-compressed into a small space. The Shade is awash in color, a dark rainbow illuminated by the two golden lights of its eyes. Mudi cradles the lantern fondly as if it were a baby. "It works… it works so well…" Mudi coos.

"Only those with a powerful will of their own can find their way," Osmium says. "You set your will to finding a certain place, or a certain demon, trapped inside Tartarus. The road to your goal unfolds before you, and you merely have to follow it. Tartarus itself puts obstacles in your path, but should you overcome them, you will reach the end of the road in time."

"The distinctions are trivial," Athena says. "This is as much a part of God as your horn is a part of your body. If you are searching for a person, it matters little to you whether you see their arm, their leg, or their face first upon finding them."

The smith examines the weapon, whistling. "Now this is an awfully rare thing… So, you want a bow, or a sword? I can make you either of these things, for a little gold."

"An old city, a ruin, left behind by demons," Athena says. "There's nothing for us there, just rubble and memories… it'll be years before there will be enough people in this region to rebuild that place. The fighting between the Sons and the demon lords has been fierce." She grimaces. "There's no reason for us to ever trust demons or those who fused with them, after what we've seen them accomplish. Come on. You helping us or what?"


Flaming looks at the jet black sword Athena holds, curious as to its significance at first before picking up on what Vinland and Athena are discussing. "All of God's creatures are drawn together… this tool is also a gift from God, so you're going to use it to track down the Raven and Mantis. That makes sense, I suppose. I guess…"

As Amy brings up the other direction Athena is ignoring as she sets upon the lower path, Flaming's eyes light up, still wary of anything Athena has to do or say and thinking Amy may be on to the same thought process. "Y-yeah, are you sure we shouldn't go that way?"


"I'm positive," Athena says, a bit more forcefully this time.

Vinland and Osmium wait just at the edge of the page, turning their heads at the tension. "Tis better for us to go to this fight ourselves, isn't it?" Osmium asks. "These people are no Sons of God, and certainly not ready to fight the Raven. We don't need any unnecessary concerns during the battle."

"And what do you expect will happen to them at that heap of rubble they want to go to?" Athena asks. "They'll find no peace there, just danger."



Amy looks between everyone silently. Her eyes linger on Athena for a while. Finally, she looks to Flaming and says, "Come on," as she starts heading the 'upper' way.


>>"That it is, lad. The blokes who sold it to us seemed glad t' be rid of it, stupid gits."
Vice scratches his head.
>"I'm certain Sir Flow would appreciate a new sword over a bow. Besides, we're already in possession of one!"
He slams down 500 bits for payment.

"Tch… says the one we just had to bail out."
He turns to Athena.
"Danger's our middle names, lass. You run along, an we'll find our way back to you. Sounds like a deal?"


Flaming pauses as Athena contests that there is nothing there for them to the north, she bunkers down, trying to think of a reason to defy the unsettling mare.

"God's servants are not fools, are they?" She retorts. "If you are aware that they are drawn to such artifacts, then surely they are as well. It can be used to track us as much them, and they will know better than to jump ALL of us at once and surely plan a trap."

"So… let's split up? If we don't have that piece, they cannot be so easily aware of OUR position, and if we split our group, it will make them more likely to come out of hiding. Plus, we can cover more ground and possibly catch them by surprise."


Shei endures the tumultuous gust and screams, the weather turned catacylsmic for the moment.

When peace returns Shei stares blankly at the lantern Mudi cares. A mixture of emotions self-contained but mostly awe and perturbation. Shei-Sher scampers to find a better angle to Appraise Mudi's Quil, before he is ejected from this scene.

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10


Pryce looks in horror as Mudi shatters acres of the demons and funnels all their essence into her lantern.
"If this is what she can do already… We can't even risk letting her come close to her plan in Tartarus."

>"Oh, so it's kinda like how they say you always know where home is."
KP summarizes

>"Coool. So your sword is a god?"

>"Well I mean, we can trust some demons, at least the pony fused ones."
KP comments.

As Amy walks the other way and Flaming talks about splitting up, KP looks worried.
>"Uh, shouldn't we not split up in a forest? That doesn't sound like a good idea when we don't know were we are really."
He says, concerned.


Perturbrance wew


Flaming turns towards KP, trying to hide her face from Athena.

"It'll be fine, KP: I think it's a good idea if 'Athena'" she tries 'subtly' nodding her head, "Goes the other way so we cover…" she winks once, "…more…", she winks twice,"…ground. See?"


Gradually, the scene fades away, and you wake up, lying on the blankets and pillows in the ceremonial tent used by the Ecclesians for the purification ritual.

But before it ends, Shei is able to scan the quill pen with Pupil. He senses a trio of presences – Data – bound to the Quill, in a mixture of three distinct beings' very essence: Laceila's, Buiwong's… and another presence, brilliant, proud and radiant, though distant and foreign, unknown even to him.

He learns of its central power: the Quill pen can be used to write any word on any solid surface. Said surface takes on the properties of the word written upon it. If the word is a noun, the surface becomes that noun. If it is a verb, it is forced to perform that action. If it is an adjective, it takes on that adjective's properties. The word must be under seven letters long in most circumstances. There appears to be another quality to it, which he can roll again to decipher.

"Come along, Athena, we're not their keepers," Vinland says. "Thank you again, adventurers. We shall find you once we are done banishing God's little puppets."
Athena's gaze lingers on you for a while. "Well, alright, Vinland. If you're sure you want to do that…"

The three knights depart, vanishing beyond the boundary of the page. Curses and her entourage draw closer, having backed away from Athena during the knight's attempts to persuade you to stay. "Ah, yes… good job, thoust knaveststs! For this tribute paid, I shall alloweth thee to accompany me to the next pa– town! The next town!"

>Posting description of the next page on the upper route to save time

As the page turns, you find more forest beyond, but after a short while of walking, you see a tall stone watchtower amid the trees, surrounded by a little guardpost. You don't see anyone around there, and the place looks like it's seen better days, partly crumbling.

The smith only takes 300 of the Bits. "I'll do it at a special price for you guys after what you've done for us… unless you want it blessed as well, which I'll have to charge full price for. What style do you want it? Eastern or western? Long or short? Ornate, or practical?"


Despite being thrown back into lucidity Shei-Sher stares into the air immersed in though. His eyes buzz with ideas, counterpoints, objection, subjection, rumination. The goat leans into silent air as tries to hang on to the dotting breath of y'dryth emitted from Pupil.
[1d10+1] decipher

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4


Flow warily eyes the knights as they leave, and turns to the upper path.
"Was that who I think it was?"
When they reach the guardpost, he immediately heads for it.

The two goos shake their heads and insist the blacksmith takes the full payment.
>"Oh no, by all means. Think of it as… a tip!"
>>"We'll ave it…Eastern, long, n practical, lad."


Flaming offers a bow to Vinland, "That is if WE don't end up banishing them first, you mean. We'll meet up further down the way I'm sure, if we don't find anything we'll come looking for you to see if you need further rescuing." She says cheekily before they depart. She bows respectfully to Athena as well, but does not say anything in turn, keeping a careful eye on her.

As 'Curses' emerges, Flaming turns in surprise, "Bles-… uh, 'CURSES'! Nice of you to show up. Why didn't you approach earlier if you were that close?" She asks, moving towards the 'upper' path to see what Athena was so eager for them to not go to.

AS she looks ahead towards the stone-tower and the guard post, she turns her head in curiosity. "Huh… an abandoned outpost? Wonder what this was used for." She moves closer to investigate.


>"Was that who I think it was?"
"If by that you mean, the owner of the COLISEUM…? Then yeah… I think it was."



Amy stares at """"Curses"""" for a while with a blank expression on her face. She blinks slowly. "I don't understand what you just said, Blessings," Amy says flatly at last. Then, she turns and goes to the next page.

Upon finding the watchtower, Amy looks up at it instinctively. Of course, this doesn't actually allow her to see any higher. And, this fact brings a thought to her mind. What would happen if they went to the top of the tower? Would they actually change their view at all?

Amy decides to head to the guard post, assuming that's how you enter the tower.


"She IS!?" Amy asks, completely taken by surprise.


"Well, unless there's more than one pony named Athena… sounds like a really unique name though."



"Was she… still her?" Amy asks in confusion. "How is she still alive?"


KP looks at Flaming in silence t process what she said.
>"But the thing will come to her sword, right? So wouldn't splitting ground not work?"
He says, not having caught on.

KP looks from VInland's group to Curses as she returns, confused.
>"…Is this how the story goes?"
He questions as he follows the group.

Pryce opens his eyes, back in the tent and staring at the ceiling. He sits up, worried about the vision they had, not left at ease like a purifying ritual would lead you to believe.
He turns his head to Shei.
"Did you see the same thing I saw?"


"You mean how could she still be alive after all this time? I'm not sure but, I assume there's magic that can let you live that long, right?"

"I'm saying it might not be dumb enough to just get drawn to her sword if there are a million ponies surrounding it, and it could just as easily let IT see US as let us see it. So, we split up… and catch it by surprise while it's only looking at the sword."



"I'm not so worried about how the story goes," Amy responds to KP's questions. "I'm more interested in why something is trying to keep us from learning parts of it."


"Not without… like making you half-demon or something. Or else, I haven't seen it yet. I don't know."


"I was simply, uh… allowing you to take a test run as my squires, thou weaketh mortals! I thought I'd let thee bargain with the Sons of God on my behalf, so as to get you acclimated to when I defeat thee, devour they souls and maketh thee my familiars!" Curses declares, adding on a wicked laugh at the end.

"Blessings!? I know no blessings! I am Curses, and deal with curses from the blackest pit of Tartarus! Care for a curse, mortal!? I shall giveth thee one if thou dost not get my name right!"

"I don't remember this part of the story," LJ says. "But, I get the feeling that following them to the end would've kicked us out before we could learn all we could about them. They seemed like they were on the brink of going into Tartarus, which is where the story ended in the mural."


As you enter the guardtower, the fourth wall of the guardtower turns transparent, allowing you to see inside the building. It looks to have been the site of a battle, as there are signs of damage inside – cracked tables, dents in the stone walls, and some scattered weapons and furniture all about, but no bodies or blood. There are three floors to the guardtower, connected by ladders. Upon each of the floors, you see a small, sparkling glass sphere, which contains a bit of color.

"Well, if you insist, I won't turn you down. Check back with me tomorrow, I'll have it all wrapped up nice and pretty for ya," the smith says, and heads off to get to work.

"We all saw the same thing, right?" Gadds asks, shivering as he lays next to you. "Who was that!? All of those demons, just gone in an instant!"

Mocha and Busta both shudder. "It's worse than I thought it would be," Busta notes grimly. "Mudi may put on a front of humanity, but she's not wasting a moment, gathering power, using those Shades as if they were magitech batteries."



"Oooh, pretty," Amy comments conversationally as she walks up to the sparkling glass on the first floor and starts poking it.


"Bah!" the idea Slips Shei's mind.

"Yes we all saw the same thing. The lantern I carry is merely a prototype of Mudi's. In her lantern she might have the magatsuhi amounted to even wield lording demons of Tartarus. It completely throws a wrench into my plans. However that is only secondary to it's prime mission in solidifying Mudi's position in power."

Shei-Sher stands up and steps outside the tent to see if it is nightfall yet.


Flaming rolls her eyes, "Surrrrree, that's the reason. So, if that's the case, how long are you going to make us wait before you 'defeat' us? I grow tired of waiting for battle!"

Flaming enters the guardtower, noting how its 'walls' turn transparent to allow her to see herself enter the stage. "This view is still taking a lot of getting used to… looks like this place has definitely seen some action though. Maybe the Sons of Gods used it against the demons or… maybe even against God himself after they rebelled."

She moves to inspect the sparkling glass sphere. "What's this…?"
[1d10] Inspection

Roll #1 8 = 8



"Isn't it pretty?" Amy asks as she continues to poke it.


>"I don't know… That raven outside seemed to not carry about all of us rushing it."

>"B-But how do we get out of here if we don't follow the story!"

KP looks a little confused and apprehensive still, but he nods and decides to follow Blessing's lead and calms a bit.
>"So did we do good then o' foul Lord Curses?"

>"It did, I thought they went all the way down. Or was that a different mural I'm thinking of."

KP looks around the guardtower as they enter to an abandoned and wrecked place.
>"She was right about the ruins. Does't look like anypony has been here in forever."

"That was Mudi, the pony we're trying to replace for Tartarus."
Pryce answers Gadds.
"I can't believe she was able to vaporize them all in an instant. If she can walk freely, she likely has all of the victims of Mariposa in her staff now."

Pryce takes a breath, easing his nerves and standing up.
"If we're lucky, she's just storing it for her planned ascension and can't use it yet. If so then she can't turn it on us without risking her throne being weak. All we can do is focus on ourselves being able to make it to the end to stop her."


Flow looks around the guardtower with intrigue.
"Seems like quite the struggle… then again, this place is supposed to be ancient."
He crouches down to look at one of the small spheres."

The two goos nod, and continue to look around the Workshop.
>"I wonder what strange weapons and contraptions they make here."
>>"Eh, they're probably reserved for the more…elite members, or somethin like that."
Vice grumbles.
>"It's not right to hog such wonderful weapons…"


"Okay, now that we're alone," Flaming mentions once they're at the tower, "I'll be straight: I don't trust Athena. Not for one second. Anything she DIDN'T want us to do may have been a good idea. You notice how those black bars popped up when they were first about to say Lady *something*?"

She nods, looking at the sparkling bauble. "Yeah. I wonder what it is? Some sort of magic artifact? Don't break it."


"I'd giveth thee a passing grade, though only barely."

LJ nods. "No, you've got it right. Breaking away from their route is proving fruitful; I didn't think the mural would allow us to split off like this."

"Uh… I haven't eaten yet. Thou canst not battle before eating! And certainly not after eating, for at least an hour, lest thou pullest a muscle or take a knee to the gut and hurl everywhere!"
Spitshine gags a little at the thought. "Sounds like training days with the Banana Splitz Gang…"

As you touch the glass, it begins to project an image onto one of the walls, and you are reminded of the first time you encountered one of the Sons of God's relics, once while exploring the mountains between Fantasia and Circadia. Back then, there was a crystal in an ancient golem, which displayed a message addressed to Vinland.

In the crystal orb's projection, you see Vinland playing tag with a filly who looks quite similar to her and Sir Osmium. The filly is about ten or so, you guess. Laughing and panting, the filly and Vinland leap and dash about, performing superhuman feats of acrobatics as if they were nothing, as they attempt to tag one another.

Athena's whispering voice comes on, from within the projection. "Why are you and Vinland so intent on leaving all of this behind?"
"We'll be back by the end," Osmium whispers. "Even Vinland's journey to the ninth layer did not take her overlong."
"She was gone for a year! None of us had any idea of where she was or if she was even alive, and I had to explain to Princess Wineberry that her mother was just 'out on another mission'! Do you know what that does to a young girl?"

The projection cuts out. Zjetya bites her lip in thought, her face downcast.

"But what if she can use that Lifedrain power on any of us?" Mocha asks. "It looked like she used it on the demons because they had been turned to glass, but if it's something she can do on anyone, anytime, or even on things inside Tartarus, we'd be done for. We have to figure out what she's altogether capable of before we can try anything."

Gadds shrugs. "Shei, you picked a killer time to bring me into existence."

Shei sees that it is about mid afternoon right now, the sun still a bit off from setting.



"Hmm," Amy responds, clearly not having thought of that. "I guess it depends on what ends up kicking us out. If we get out just because the story ends, then we don't really need to be there for it. And, if we DO need to be there for it, I guess that means it will wait for us."


"Don't tell me what to do!" Amy says with a smile on her face. It's unclear if she's joking or not.



"She had a daughter…?" Amy asks sadly. "I wonder what happened to her."

Amy looks up. Of course, she doesn't have to. Regardless of where he head is facing, she can see the next sphere right above her. She uses the ladder to go higher and touch the next sphere.


Flaming chuckles at Spitshine's joke, looking back to 'Curses'. "Right. Well, since we're waiting on YOU to fight US, I hope you'll do us the proper courtesy of providing us with the meal later. Right?"

As the crystal ball suddenly shoots up an image on the screen, Flaming looks over in surprise as the image of the happy scene, a mother and daughter playing joyfully (and hitting several nostalgic pangs for Flaming as well), she looks over at Amy, a light frown across her face. "I guess she did… I hope she managed to find a happier ending than we know her mama did, at least. I wonder what this is doing here, this seems REALLY important to just leave behind in an outpost."

"You can hear Athena and her husband too… this must be from a while ago." She moves to pick it up after the memory ends playing. "We should take this to bring back to Vinland when we see her again, I'm sure she'll want it. Let's keep looking around, there might be more." She says, going for the ladder that leads up to the next floor.


>"Shei, you picked a killer time to bring me into existence."
"Thank you, I'm happy our modicum of existence continues to impress you." he says before leaving the tent.

Shei re-enters the tent, sitting down in his seat again
"Apologies- I needed some fresh air."

Shei pinches his brow contemplating what Mocha said, he can't even really speak out loud about the whole thing. "I need to have a talk with Buiwong.." A strange consideration passes Shei's thoughts "Anyone wish to come with?" Shei adds.

"Gadds. Buiwong would very much like to see you." Shei-Sher takes Gadriel's paw in his hoof.
Shei closes his eyes "Anyone? Put your hoof on my back now otherwise I will nodding off."
>Astral Projection

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


>"You think that was Athena?"
KP asks as Flaming gives the theory.
>"I thought it was that voice we were talking too when we got the last piece who then got all confused when we heard her again."

>"As long as we get Curses out of here too then I don't matter how it happens."

>"Aww, only barely? Come on, I'm way smarter than that!"

>"Oh. Well I guess this is good then."

KP looks to the projection as it plays, sitting down as it shows Vinland's past.
>"She left a happy life for this, a-and even her filly? She sacrificed so much…"

As Zjetya looks downcast, KP stands back up and steps over to give her a hoof of support to help her feel better.

"That spell didn't look all that quick, you heard her chant when she cleared out the field. Even with the solo one it took a touch and time," Pryce states at their concerns, "We know the signs it takes for her to use that Lifedrain, so if she tries any of those we know what she is planning. At that point there is time to stop her."


Flow lowers his head as he thinks.
"Just how old is this place?"

Meanwhile, the two goos hurry for an exit.
>>"…wot do we do now?"
>"I…haven't the slightest idea."



In the next crystal projection, you see a dark, enormous cavern. Within the darkness stands Princess Vinland, Sir Osmium and Lady Athena, armed to the teeth and covered in brilliant, radiant armor. They are accompanied by a legion of similarly-dressed knights who carry copious amounts of supplies.

They march forward through the darkness, until they come to a towering, circular stone door hundreds of feet in diameter, with an S-shaped line running through the center. It is the Great Seal of Tartarus. Upon the outer edge of the colossal stone door is an inscription:

"May this seal hold back the dark heart of the World
My love is stronger than Death"

Vinland raises her hoof to the seal, but a shadow rises up before her, bubbling up like magma. The shadow morphs, becoming a black, two-headed wolf, massive in size, covered with battle scars from tip to tail. You notice that the wolf's two heads are in the center and on the right; where there is space for a third head, there is only a scarred stump. The wolf barks at Vinland, pawing at the ground before her, its rear raised in a play stance, and it hops around playfully.

Vinland pauses, her hoof wavering, and she lowers it, petting the ancient wolf. "Kerberos… I need you to stay here for a little while," she whispers. "We'll be back."

The wolf whines, and then lays in front of her, obediently.

As the second vision fades, LJ's expression is downcast as well, as is Spitshine's. Neither has anything to say. Even Curses is silent.

Busta slowly nods. "Right… if any of us see her doing that, we have to be sure to stop her. Even if that means leaving behind everything else to do it. Otherwise, there won't be anything left of us to stop her.

Mocha shrugs. "Oh, what harm could a visit to grandpa do?"

You project, taking with you Gadds and Mocha. You return to the cozy and well-furnished hallway, at the end of which is that familiar mahogany door. Gadds relaxes, in the way one does when returning home after a hard day. "This place… I've been here a lot haven't I?"

The goos head outside, and Box waddles up to them. "Hey, there you guys are! Where'd you wander off to?"


Shei-Sher pours all but a drop of dark matter into an empty flask and corks it. His infinity flask still has a little left to regenerate from.

>This place… I've been here a lot haven't I?"

"Oh -um -yes. Yes you could say some thing like that."

Shei-Sher steps forward ambling down the corridor, hoofsteps sound clearly off polished floor paneling. He opens the door, his stomach churning a little as he hears them creak open to show them into Buiwong's room.


"The black bar speaking to us? Yeah, I'm almost certain. They called her 'Lady' Athena, and 'Lady' *something* was when one of the black bars showed up. That was probably her voice back in the labyrinth in the real world, even!"

As the next projection plays, Flaming's eyes soften as she witnesses the scene playing out: VInland, Osmimum, and Athena approaching the great gates of Tartarus with an army backing them up. Knowing full well just how soon they too would be entering such a dangerous, chaotic place, Flaming feels a sense of dread watching the scene play out. A smile graces her face as Kerberos appears to be far more playful than she initially assumed it to be, looking at it as it playfully jumps around in front of Vinland. "Aww…" she says simply, finding the gigantic monster dog's antics cute after such a terrifying entrance.

She sighs as the vision completes. "How much courage do you think it took them to do it… entering a place that was certain death to fight a creature that they may have had no chance of beating…?"


KP watches the next projection, seeing Kerberos acting like a normal pet to Vinland. All the knights garbed in ornate armor ready to delve into the darkness.

KP climbs up to the third floor and touches the last sphere.

"If she doesn't try it, separating her and that staff is the highest priority before overthrowing her."
Pryce says, before he steps outside for the fresh breeze now that the ritual is done.


You enter the elaborate lounge, finding Buiwong sitting at the desk, in his normal zebra form, in a change for the orderly. He's idly dusting and straightening out his desk, polishing the statue of the golden bull and the silver eagle on either side of it. Yet, as you enter the room, he morphs into a cluster of spiders, which crawl across the desk and reconstitute into a zebra on the other end.

"Shei, oh how good to see you again… when you were only here a moment ago. Move, goat," Buiwong says, nudging you to the side. "Mocha, my granddaughter, it's good you've made some new friends. They're treating you well, I hope?"
"I think the goo one wants to touch me," Mocha says reluctantly.
Buiwong laughs. "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that."
He then turns to Gadds, examining him all over. "Ah… and my newest… nephew? Servant? Ah, no matter! A fine addition – a being with the soul of mortals, angels and demons inside him! A beautiful, unique union! Shei, excellent work! Your first foray into demon fusion was a resounding success!"
"What's our relationship, exactly?" Gadds asks you.


Flow stares intently at the projection as it plays. His gaze meets the floor once it's done, thoughts assaulting his mind.

>"Ah, hello Box. We just got done visiting the Workshop here. We even have a new blade for Flow in the works!"

>>"Yeah, that bloke better be thankful fer all the work we've been doin!"



Amy frowns. "They could have brought the dog with them. He would have fought faithfully. It wasn't right to leave them behind."

Amy then dutifully heads up to the third floor and touches the last crystal.


>"DO you think so? It id sound as confident as Athena did there before she teleported us though."


"It lightens my heart to see you in good spirits Master Buiwong. I really do try not to bother you too much. Please accept this." Shei-Sher offers a fresh flask of Dark Matter "I believe the kind of deities find the air of the firmament delectable. I will bring you a fresh batch every time I visit so when you drink it you might think fondly of me."

Shei-Sher answers Gadd's question "Gadriele please, if you are going to ask that ask Buiwong. You should properly introduce yourself to our patron God afterall."

Shei-Sher looks to Buiwong (if)after he explains to Gadriele and recieves his introduction. "I think nephew is best served." Shei-Sher says all while thinking to himself how it feels like he is involved in the mafia.


Flaming chuckles. "Maybe they just wanted to make sure he'd be around to protect their little filly? If something happened to them in Tartarus, she'd need SOMEONE to look after her?"


The third projection begins with a crash, and the shattering of furniture. "GET OUT!" a new female voice demands. "Y-you…! How dare you come back here!"

In the projection, you see the very guardtower in which you're standing, broken in just the way it is now. Princess Wineberry, the filly you saw in the first vision, a light pink alicorn with a white and red gradient mane, has grown into a young adult, her eyes aglow with fiery rage. She stares down Lady Athena, whose outfit has changed. Lady Athena now wears an elaborate, indulgent dress of red and gold, which has a computerized look to it – digital lines run up and down the dress, and the edges float ethereally. Shadows lie behind Athena's eyes, and she exudes an imposing demonic presence, as if she wielded the strenght of armies in her very gaze. Yet, her expression is one of deep regret; to put it plainly, she looks dead inside.

"Why should I listen to a word of what you have to say, you traitor!?" Princess Wineberry shouts. She grabs a table and flings it at Athena, who deflects it by producing white and black digital cubes from her hoof with magic. "You sabotaged them…! You left them behind…! Then you come back here and ask forgiveness, and push the blame on mom!? I don't believe you even for a moment! There's no way… she can't be – Out! GET OUT!"

The third vision ends.

Buiwong pockets the vial greedily.

Gadds kneels to Buiwong. "Yes! My name is Gadriele. I am Shei's creation, and your servant, as he is. Glory be to you and your name! May I serve you to even a tenth of what my progenitors – Wrath, Evil's Punishment, and Gabriele – accomplished in your name!"

In a rare moment, Buiwong looks… hurt.

"Ah, yes… rise, servant. I believe you will do just fine with this one at your side. Mudi can drain as much power as she likes; it matters not. I have set the board, I have arranged all my pieces, those ignorant and those aware of their service to me. Still, poor Mudi does not believe she is already in checkmate."

"That's great!" Box says. "Really great. I'm super happy for you. That's awesome."

There's a pause.

"Uh… what did I come out here for?" he asks himself. "Oh right! I wandered off earlier, do you know where Pryce is? I have a message for him."


"We have seen it Buiwong. Her power is marvelous, it bears tremors in the heart to see her miracles. That is what any layman might call her magic, it is simply massive. But even if the effort is futile our conflict is far too personal for me to ever surrender. That is not to say I am lacking faith Buiwong. I am only.. perturbed at what awaits us."

"She has a part of your data.. It is in her quill Buiwong. How did this come about?"


Flaming gasps with surprise as she watches the alicorn, now fully grown from a little filly into an angry mare, shouting down Athena, looking far different than she did going in and giving off even more dread than usual as she watches the scene play out. After Wineberry states she left her mother and father to die in Tartarus, Flaming's eyes narrow angrily, her hooves scratching at the wooden floor. "She trapped them in there… WHY? Why would she stab them in the back like that?!"

She looks around the watch-tower, noticing how it was in the final scene. "So this is where it happened… they were here. But why was Wineberry here? Is this where she fought? Or where she lived?" She looks around the tower, wondering if she could have left anything else worth seeing here. "I'm suddenly getting a VERY good idea of why Athena didn't want us coming through… here…"

She pauses, "Wait a second… these crystal spheres, they're showing Osmium and Vinland descending into Tartarus, and Athena leaving them there… but Osmium and Vinland are still HERE. We just saw them."


"Hmph…I knew something was up… Is this…"

The awkward silence stings the two goos harshly.
>>"I haven't the slightest clue, Box."
>"Last I heard, was something about that ritual, or something. We'll help you look for him."
>>"Yeah, we need somethin t' do."

"Remember, this is just a story of their journeys. At least, I assume so. This must be how…their story ended."



Amy stares at the crystal in confusion. "I don't understand. Is the story out of order. How could this be here if they're still out there?"

Amy's eyes go wide. "If that's right, then that means Athena is about to betray them!"


KP looks up (or down, rather, given the outside perspective) at the last projection. Vinland's daughter, looking heartbroken at the news or seeing the reminder of what happened, leaves him depressed. And with Athena standing there, implied as the only survivor and even a traitor, makes him reflect on how he turned against Gabriele and Punish during the Rapture. Ponies chasing what they believe to be justice to only turn into ruin.
He walks back down to the others, unsure of what to do next.

Pryce steps outside, feeling relieved at the open and normal environment after that vision.

He looks off and sees Box and the Goos looking for him, and approaches.



"I want to see how it happens, then," Amy says anxiously.


"There is a time and a place for all things," Buiwong begins. "If Mudi is spying on us, as I spy on all of you, or if she captures and tames a demon which can access hidden knowledge or read minds, then any information I give you could very well fall into enemy hands and disrupt the moves I still seek to make. The quill's special powers, and the very presence of my Data in it, is the result of a gift I gave to Princesses Laciela and Yareakh – their ability to selectively move around, change, and even rewrite the world about them. In comparison to what their gift shall bloom into with enough practice, Mudi's quill pen is but a parlor trick."

Zjetya stomps. "That's it! That's what was bothering me. None of the chronology here makes sense. Why and how are these recordings here? The second two certainly had to have come from after the events in the story."

"What if they were left here by whatever was causing those black shapes in the speech bubbles?" LJ offers.

Zophie glances out toward the other end of the screen, to where you see the ruins of a town. "There's something still beyond here, looks like – the place Athena was trying to dissuade us from going. What if what we're after lies out there?"



While we wait for the others to show up, you can speak with any NPC in your respective areas.


Flaming turns to Zjetya, nodding her head, "Exactly, right?! This story is supposed to be in the 'past', clearly before the princess and Athena had their falling out, or even descended into Tartarus… and yet there are recordings here of events far in the future. As though they're from outside this story just like we were."

She turns to Little Journey, rubbing her chin, "Well… I think the one behind those black shapes is Athena herself, since I think her name was getting blocked out earlier. But why would Athena leave stuff like this clearly putting her in a bad light for us to find? Unless… unless that's the reason she didn't want us coming over here, but then why have these things here at *all*?"


Zjetya paces a little in thought, flapping her wings every so often. "A few possibilities come to mind… it could be that they really were meant to be found after all. You remember what the voice said when we began this last trial: Ignore every false temptation, right? That's the rule, so leaving something like this here could be used as a justification for punishing people who break that rule.

"Or, it could be that these don't have anything to do with the trial," LJ adds, then furrows his brow in realization. "Perhaps Athena wants these around for her own reasons. People who can't let go of the past tend to do that – they'll keep around things that remind them of how they were wronged in the past, or how they wronged others, like little mementos of guilt."



"That is very wise of you Master. I would have done the same. But my inclination is to investigate her quill, find it's constituent powers and bind them to my seal. When my discovery is made it will cause faults in your attempts at secrecy. Unless you were to place the seal in my stead. If you know where the third constituent source Mudi's quell draws from then I do not see any problem giving you my power for the time being. And the day before we venture into Tartarus I will ask for you to return it." Shei-Sher avoids the implicit idea that Gabby's seal will have to be put on Buiwong by Buiwong himself for his plan to work. He thinks it's too obvious to bother mentioning.

Shei-Sher turns back to Mocha and Gadriele
"Mocha -Gadds, I am afraid we will be partaking in secrecy as well. We cannot tell anyone the vision we saw in the tent, of Mudi's true nature. It benefits us if she believes our party is at heart divided."


"Ignore every false temptation… yeah, yeah I do remember that, the last rule. But I thought that only meant up until we put the tablets in. Could she have meant 'here' too?"

She frowns, "Wait, if that's the case, then, wouldn't we have already have been penalized for looking through them? Or do you think we're only in trouble if we actually do something with the information?" She turns to Journey, "I guess that's a possibility, but I don't know… if it were mementos of guilt, wouldn't she at least keep them in a more secure place than just in an unprotected, abandoned outpost?"


"I will place the second and third seals myself; worry not, I find your plan agreeable. Secrecy won't matter once the trap is sprung in Tartarus. At the most opportune time, I will give you the signal to bend and break her power. Should all go well, you will have no further need to worry – at least about that particular facet of her powers. Worry extra about all the rest at her disposal!"

Mocha and Gadds nod grimly, both clearly brimming with anticipation.
"What if she finds out about what we've been talking about here?" Gadds asks.


"We didn't hear anything about the last trial being over yet, did we?" LJ asks. "I'd assume the rule is still in place, if not."

"If that's the case, we're already in for some real shit," Zjetya says. "But Blessings' punishment was being dragged into the mural –" she casts a glance at Curses – "And we still have to find her before this is all done, oh no, I have no idea where she is."

Curses chuckles. "Despair, mortal, you will never find–"

"Yeah, yeah," Zjetya dismisses with a roll of her eyes. "We should be on the lookout for a different punishment. If I had to guess, it's going to be a fight against one of God's creatures."

"Well, remember," LJ says. "We got here by avoiding the path we were being led to take by the narrative and by Athena herself. People who take this trial are probably supposed to take the hint and not go down this way, so Athena may have considered these protected enough without locked vaults and keys and all that."


Overhearing the shouting after stepping out of the tent, Pryce heads over to Box.
"A message for me? Who is it from?"


"It's from Sir Gegenschein," Box says. "He said he wanted to speak with you in private, then I haggled with him a little bit, and he said he'd let me join in, as long as you didn't mind, and as long as I shut my lid and didn't interrupt."


Flaming nods her head, "Oh yeah, that actually is a good point Zjetya," she comments. "Blessing's punishment…" she turns to look at 'Curses', raising an eyebrow. "WAS getting dragged into the mural. But she's already here… but Journey's also right in that we didn't hear the chime we always do when the rule is done. So…."

She grunts, rubbing her head. "This is getting confusing… well, let's just keep these in mind for now. We won't take these with us: I assume taking them this place is the sort of 'false temptation' the rules are talking about. If it comes to it, maybe we can just tell Vinland and Osmium where these are so they can see for themselves."

She looks out the other side of the screens, towards the ruins. "I think we SHOULD take the time to look through there though, at least. I would guess there's more than one reason Athena wouldn't want us coming out this way."


>Worry extra about all the rest at her disposal!"
"Her Lantern, sorely said, is an object of vexation." Shei says with head hung low

>"What if she finds out about what we've been talking about here?"

"Well I imagine Buiwong will take care of our memory of Buiwong's generous help" Shei turns to Buiwong smiling nervously "Maybe -leave me a note with the words 'naught to worry about the quil.' "


"Did he say what for?"
Pryce questions, though dismisses it quickly.
"Alright, lead the way. …Why do you want to join in?"
Pryce asks, curious as to why Box wants to join in.


"I agree about the ruins, but not about bringing the two other knights over here," Zophie says.

"Wouldn't it be able to stop them from falling into Athena's trap?" LJ asks.

"Possibly, and that's precisely the trouble," Zophie continues. "What even are Vinland and Osmium in the context of this mural? Are they magic constructs? Actual memories? What would happen if they saw these – it might even break the story that we're in."


"And the innumerable talents she has stolen from foals to maintain her perpetual youth," Buiwong says with a hungry grin. "And, her wide variety of combat spells, and her power to draw the soul out from the body and turn it into a Shade… ah, you've much more to worry about than a mere reality-warping quill pen. Oh, but you know already of all the pieces on the board; you have already seen her weak point; you merely need to strike her there with the proper force, and she and her plans will crumble. You know what I mean, yes…?"

Mocha and Gadds back away at the suggestion of revising their memories. "Ah, worry not," Buiwong says. "I will address that in a moment."


"I haven't been getting a whole lot of treasure lately, and a mimic's whole drive in life is to collect a horde and protect it from anyone who would steal it," Box explains. "So, secret conversations will have to do until we go into Tartarus or take a dungeon-crawling detour."

Box leads you back to Gegenschein's private office, where he and Galton are counciling some Ecclesian foals on what appear to be writing exercises, written on some scrolls. As they see you enter, Gegenschein waves. "Children, I've other business to attend to. Doctor Galton shall instruct you on the rest of your work. Goodbye."

Galton and Gegenschein kiss, then she and the children depart, leaving you and Box in the office with Gegenschein, who sighs fondly. "I hope the war will not reach this far – I aim to keep war a distant memory for these children. We'll be evacuating them deeper into the center of Ecclesian-held territory before the final day is done and we descend. If there's anyone you wish sorely to protect, you may send them there as well; I'll have them on the first cart out."


"That.. little snowglobe she fondles so lovingly. The right six letter word written onto it could be quite devastating." Shei-Sher wonders to himself "The way I see the pieces on the board -as you say- the next barrier I face is this lantern she has fabricated. As long as she has it then summoning the Lords of Vitral to be at my guard won't be a very wise idea. I will have to tamper with it, or at the very least inure the lord's from it's temptation."


"The Shades?" Mocha asks. "But they're just–"

"Not another word, granddaughter," Buiwong says, raising his hoof. "They are artificial demons, now. Shades are not sapient, and only have faculty over the most base and animalian of their senses. I cannot restore them, and only through demon fusion can they ever hope to be part of a thinking being again. To let them 'live' is to deny them the eternal rest that Mudi took when she created them. She has made them the object of her obsession; she believes redemption is hers if she can restore them. Thus, they are her weak point, your silver bullet."


Flaming turns towards Little Journey, "I don't think anything can stop that NOW, Journey… this is just a storybook. We're just characters in it."

She sighs. "Athena betrayed them a long, long time ago. There's nothing we can do to stop it now… but," she turns to Zophie, "It MIGHT make for a good threat. Who knows what'll happen to Athena here if we tried to break the story like that. It might hurt us too but, if it's something she doesn't want happening anymore than 'we' do, it could be something we can use as a weapon. For emergencies, I mean."


"Hey, don't lecture me on books when you can't even read!" LJ protests.

"True, but let's not go around threatening to do it unless we have no other choice," Zophie says. "I'd rather avoid a fight altogether; if the Athena contained in this story has even a fraction of the power of the real person, we're dealing with someone who descended into Tartarus multiple times as part of a war against demons. We may as well be trying to put out a forest fire with sweat at that rate."


"I thought hoards were more of a dragon's territory in stories," Pryce comments as they walk, "We have neglected that on you haven't we?"

Pryce steps inside the tent, watching on as they clear out for their talk.
"Neither do I," Pryce follows on worries of the war, "Though hopefully, for their sake, the demons should remain around Tartarus' gate."
Pryce pauses a moment to think.
"There's a number of unwell ponies back in Fantasia, and civilians as well. We can send them for protection, but as for everypony else… they're set on fighting. Those that aren't going into Tartarus… I would feel safer protecting them myself instead of sending them off."


Flaming gasps, "What?! I can TOO read, I just… can't read pony stuff is all, I know our own tribal scripts!" She says, putting her face all up in his to show him who's boss.

She turns to Zophie, "Well, that's kind of what's confusing me… I'm not sure if we can trust Athena at all, I swear SHE'S the source of all this black bar stuff, and maybe even the maze itself… but if we're supposed to avoid her, then what else are we to do? Just destroy the bird and mantis like they do in the story?"


"Mimics also have the hoarding instinct, though we usually end up coveting a smaller pile of treasure than dragons, since we have to be more mobile," Box says. "Oh but yeah, can we go out on a treasure hunt tomorrow? Or even today?"

"We'll take the noncombatants, but not the mentally-broken ponies that were left in Fantasia," Gegenschein says. "They were dumped there by demons from the Treibheanna; I'm surprised they haven't turned out to be biological weapons, intended to spread disease. However, we can't say for certain whether they are safe to take to our inner territories until they have been thoroughly inspected by our exorcists. For all we know, they could turn into demons themselves, or be possessed by demons hiding deep in the recesses of their minds.

"Anyway, that's not precisely what I wished to discuss," Gegenschein says. He pushes out some chairs for you and Box. "How many years were you a blessed paladin of the Union?"


Shei-Sher still wheres his thinking face as he is stricken remorse with Mocha's words "When the firmament broke the Angels took everyone they deigned to be pretty among their philosophy. We are the untouchables that are left and so is the evils our world. Repentance is useless, our only hope is to prove this world can stay afloat the celestial waters and not sink into Tartarus without the intervention of their agents and their many limbs. We prove nothing if a witch like Mudi shepherds the earth. So do not think of dispelling the shades as murder, Sabuul takes the many souls into her mane and no one calls it slaughter. In this instance we are acting through Y'dryth in a sort of housekeeping."

Shei turns back to Buiwong
"Well then. that sorts out all the business I have here. Thank you for seeing me again Buiwong. And I will see too it the goos do not bother Mocha."


"I don't know about a hunt, but I'll see if we can squeeze in some sort of treasure gathering tomorrow, or later today if there's time."

"They can hardly defend themselves! We can't keep them that close to the fighting, how can we keep them protected if demons manage to get into the town?"
Pryce protests.
"…Even if there was a chance they'd convert, wouldn't they have done so by now, or done far sooner to bolster their numbers more? At the very least we need to move them elsewhere until the fight is over, if we can't send them into your deeper territories."

As Gegenschein brings chairs out for them, Pryce takes a seat.
"I've was in the church for twelve years, until the Rapture happened."


Gadds looks a little disturbed at the concept, but steels himself. "We'd have no guilt for getting rid of the Shades; we'd only be concluding what Mudi started. If that's what it takes, I accept my responsibility fully."
Mocha still looks quite sad at the thought of it.

"Ah, yes, about the business of your memories; I shall weave this discussion into the patterns of your minds, and leave a simple lock. It will automatically be undone at the moment of truth, when you must activate the seals and lock down Mudi's power. A mind-reader will not be able to notice what I have done, unless they are already looking for this information, which they will have no way of knowing even exists," Buiwong explains. "Kneel afore me."

"Hey, well, look," Mocha says, rubbing her forehooves together. "I'm not entirely opposed to the idea."
Buiwong's eyebrows arch.
"Oh, like it's any weirder than waking up next to a giant spider," Mocha retorts.
"Multiple giant spiders," Buiwong corrects.
"Grandmother is an odd one…"


Box trembles with excitement, causing the handles and lock on the treasure chest to jitter and make much noise.

"You could be right, but that would hardly be a strategic move," Gegenschein says. "A sudden transformation would be better held off until an attack on Fantasia. If the Fantasian forces were held up with a siege at their walls, the demons in the amusement park could create a pincer movement, and utterly decimate their defenses. Still, we can move them to a separate internment camp until we know whether they will be safe to take to the hideouts."

"And do you consider yourself a member of the Church still? Or if not, at least a brother in arms?"


"What seems odd to me is a drider taken peculiar with the sight of Giant spiders. I always assumed all the spiders of the earth were your extended cousins." Shei-Sher says as he kneels down before Buiwong.


"I'll bet I'm more well-read than you," LJ says, in his usual competitive fervor. "Have you even familiarized yourself with Horn-Breaker's Considerations of the Pine Trees?"

"We'll see what this path holds," Zjetya says. "If there's nothing of interest, we may still have to go down that route that Athena and the other knights took, complete the story and then confront her."
"But consider this, mortals," Curses says. "What if it is not Athena we are dealing with?"


"Oh, it wouldn't be odd for me," Mocha says. "But for a pony, that's far different than simply having a taste for exotic stallions. As a drider, the door is already open for me to have whoever I take a fancy to–"
"Girl, I will personally make sure you don't have nobody until he proves he's worthy of a demi-demigoddess like yourself!" Buiwong declares. "Now all you, get your asses out of here and wash this conversation out from your mouths!"

Gadds laughs. "Didn't think the gods would be like this…"

Buiwong taps each of you on the head, and there is a faint itching sensation, like something crawling on the surface of your forehead. It slips into your head, heads for the back, and then you briefly lose consciousness…

… and then reawaken on the pillows and prayer-mats in the Ecclesian tent.


Shei-Sher barely has time to respond to Mocha "That! That is what we were talking about!?" before he is expelled from Buiwong's realm

Shei-Sher rises from his pillow, scratching his head and stretching his arms, and yawning his mouth.

He looks about himself to see if Chorazin is present. And then walks outside the tent to observe the horizon for the time of day.


"Yeah, I was talking about the 's-e-x' word," Mocha says. "Reproduction. Copulation. It's not that weird – what did you think I was talking about?"

In the late afternoon sun, you see Chorazin sitting on a rock by the lakeside a short distance from the tent. Various Ecclesians of a wide age range sit beside her, in awe of the sight of an angel in pony form, sitting before them. Chorazin is awkward and stiff, not comfortable with the reverence they try to pay her, but laughs, clearly trying to downplay her image. She's holding a fishing rod, and the Ecclesians are teaching her to attach bait to the line, as well as proper casting technique.


Flaming growls as Journey DARES to insinuate he be more literary than her. However, as he lets out the name of a book she's never heard of in her life, her eyes waver, "Uh… uh… I-I don't have time to bother with such… EASY books such as that, Journey! I read far more complicated ones than that. Ones you never even heard of, even."

She nods towards Zjetya, "I'm hoping there IS something of interest at least. Though it may be worth it one way or another: I was mostly looking for an excuse to get away from Athena, but there is some logic in each of us trying to split up to trap God's creatures between us."
She turns to Curses, raising her eyebrow. "What do you mean? Do you mean? Who else could it be if not Athena?"


File: 1545890385814.jpg (70.54 KB, 300x225, do it sheiggot.jpg)

[roll]1d10[/roll] BLUFFING



Roll #1 10 = 10


"Thank you for that."

Pryce is silent for a moment.
"I do not consider myself part of the Church. I will aid you, but I have renounce my title of knight."


"As you said 'lieing awake to giant spider' That is all I thought" half bemused, half embarassed.

"I do hope I am not late for first communion." Shei says as he approaches "I see even the creatures in the waters attend the first church of Chorazin."

Shei-Sher sits on a bit of grass by the coast.
Shei-Sher notes that since Gadriele looks like a lion, maybe he likes fish? "Gadds, here take this" Shei leans back and offers him his switch-cane "A- special sort of fishing rod. You can eat whatever you catch, just don't empty the lake."


LJ is taken aback as you blow his literary credentials out the water. "O-oh yeah!? Like what?" he asks, seeming to be genuinely curious at the same time he puffs himself up with bravado.

"There are many characters at play in this tale," Curses says. "When we discovered Princess Vinland and Sir Osmium, both were possessed by agents of God, and Athena herself had a weapon of God in her possession that she clearly refused to dispose of against Vinland's orders. Can we say with certainty that she is not working with or under the influence of one of God's agents herself?"

Zjetya taps her chin contemplatively.


"I understand such a renouncement, after what you have been subjected to," Gegenschein says. "Then perhaps you would accept an offer of membership into Ecclesia's ranks? I do not intend to bribe or coerce you, as other members of the Choir do by assigning bounties to demon hunters. We offer stability, a home, safety, medicine, arms, armor, a greater purpose – everything that the world outside us seeks to destroy. We ask only your service in exchange. Warriors of your caliber are a dying breed out in this world… people need our kind more than ever, my friend."


"Don't give these people any ideas," Chorazin says. "I'm already a local celebrity just from being chrome and shiny."
A young filly in an Ecclesian-style dress hugs Chorazin's leg, while a pair of ponies, presumably her parents, stand back and chuckle. "Aaaand now I'm stuck here," Chorazin says. "Forget it, raise the cathedral around me, I'm not going anywhere."

Gadds fumbles with the switch-cane, turning it into its whip form and flopping it onto the grass. "How… does this work?" he asks in confusion, swinging it out into the water.


Roll #1 7 = 7


Shei-Sher smiles at the sight of all the affection Chorazin is receiving. "Tempting, a very tempting idea, but the Ecclessians might take it as a token of friendship. As much as I enjoy Lilane's hotsprings I hate to give them the wrong idea."

"Are hotsprings something you can still enjoy?"


"Yes, just because my body is mechanical doesn't mean I'm vulnerable to water," Chorazin answers. "Why, do they have them here?"

Gadds takes several attempts with the whip, splashing it about in the lake several times before he gets a bite, which he then reels in, bringing in a spiny, bright red fish with spines coming up in a mohawk. He whistles with pride, then hacks the fish's head off in a single slash and starts to eat it raw, much to the amusement of the onlooking Ecclesians.


Flaming staggers as he actually dares her to come up with a title, and then curses herself for not thinking that far ahead. Nontheless, she steels her nerve, taking a confident pose. "Well… like… The… Collections and Tales of… Longest Trail." She smirks. "You probably never heard of it, have you?"

As Curses makes her point, Flaming taps her chin, thinking alongside as well. "You think Athena could be being 'controlled' by God? Or even working for him? I guess that might explain how bizarrely she ended up looking in the last vision… and how she could survive Tartarus."

"But then what difference does that make if she's with God or not? She is still the enemy we have to beat to end this story, right?"


"I… can't accept that. I am still a warrior, but I can't be a soldier."
Pryce says flatly.
"I don't know what I'll do after this Tartarus mission is over, but i can't keep fighting."


"Of course, I even did a presentation on it when I was a wee calf like you, enacting the most heroic scenes and coolest battles!"
Zjetya's mouth twists in pure, concentrated skepticism.
"Not necessarily," Curses explains. "We need to identify who's really controlling this, whether Athena, God, or someone else, because that determines what we'll have to do in order to escape. If it's God, fighting off a few of Its servants probably isn't enough."


Gegenschein frowns with disappointment. "Very well. As a former soldier of our most holy Union Church, I shall respect your decision, and keep the rest of the Choir from badgering you to join. Indulge me in one aspect, at the very least. I wish to extend the offer to those in your company, the young and elderly especially. Giving them Ecclesian citizenship is the best way to ensure their survival as the world continues to change between now and the end of our mission."

He gets up and heads for the door. "May I at least offer you a parting gift? It was customary, as you know, for the Union to bestow a treasure upon knights of great valor upon their retirement."


"W-what?!" Flaming shouts, "How could you have done a presentation on it, I just mad-" Flaming stops herself, "-aaaybe may have underestimated you, but I doubt you've even read the…" Flaming pauses, "…the Last Flight of the Rainbow Crow?"

"Well, if it's God, I'm not sure how we're supposed to beat a creature even the Sons couldn't best all on our own, so hopefully it isn't quite something THAT strong pulling the strings here…" she pauses, looking at herself on the story-book page. "Maybe… do you think it's possible at all for us to leave this 'stage' if we really tried? Maybe they're outside of it."


"Well there is not much to do here. And there is a slight lull in my schedule. Why not see the hotsprings."


Pryce nods.
"Thank you again, for respecting that. I'll let them know of your offer, if you can give them the same honor of not badgering them if they decline."

Pryce stands, turning to face Gegenschein as he walks.
"I hardly think I deserve anything of the sort. Especially now, when a treasure would be better off in somepony else's hooves."


"The wha– eer, of course! How could I not, it's the best part! It's not a proper show without the rainbows and the crows!"

"…I'd hope so," Zjetya says. "This God they spoke of seemed very impassive, mechanical, unfeeling, so perhaps we really are stuck here if It is in control. But, I don't think that'd be the case. If It wanted the knights to serve It, there's a chance it'll try again to put them under Its control. Might even want to control us as well. But if it does, then the knights will still be able to help us fight it off and find a way out. I hope, that is."

"In that case, you have but to lead the way," Chorazin says, nudging the filly attached to her leg, who eventually lets go and lets Chorazin get up. Gadds finishes his fish and tags along to join you.

"Hahaha, worry not! Without official Ecclesian citizenship, I cannot give you anything of real power. Still, this is of a… sentimental nature."
Gegenschein takes you back through the busy workshop, through many hallways which are stuffed with Ecclesians hard at work, many communicating intel through Caller Conches to agents out in the field. Soon, you reach a quiet room in the back, which Gegenschein unlocks. Inside is a carefully-kept reliquary, resplendent with treasures, icons, vestibules, chalices, vases, incense-holders and countless other religious artifacts from Accorsia.

He sorts through a chest, and pulls out a gold and silver badge, bearing the Accorsian crest of arms, a phoenix with a sword in its mouth, curling around a map of Accorsia, the capitals of each kingdom noted with a small gem. You recognize this as the Honor of the Star-Blessed Watch, a badge bestowed upon knights with at least ten years of service to their name. Even among those who have no respect for the church, this was something of great renown and respect.

"Will you accept this honor, Pryce Etac?" he asks, holding out the crest.


>Paused, continue RPing among yourselves


Last time on HQ…

Flaming, Amy, KP and Flow were witness to a trio of visions within the story world, displaying three scenes regarding Princess Vinland, the Founder of the Sons of God. In the first, Vinland played with her daughter, Princess Wineberry, as Lady Athena and Sir Osmium argued about the viability of their final expedition into Tartarus to confront its tyrannical and mysterious mechanist, the entity known only as God. In the second, Vinland bid goodbye to her hound, Kerberos, as she left it in charge of guarding the Great Seal of Tartarus, before she departed into Tartarus' depths. In the third and final vision, an older Princess Wineberry furiously confronted Athena, who seemed to have been turned into a godlike entity. Wineberry accused Athena of both betraying Vinland and Osmium, and of lying about what happened in Tartarus, indicating that neither Vinland nor Osmium returned.

Now, they had the ruined city to explore, a route which would deviate further from the story of the mural, which Athena seemed to suggest they shouldn't deviate from.

Shei, Pryce and Flow attended to various business around Lilane. Shei spoke with Buiwong, Mocha and Gadriel about their options for taking down Mudi the Young. They planned on suddenly sealing the power of the Quill Pen by placing Shei's seals upon the source of its power: Buiwong, Princess Laceila, and on the unknown third entity, whose power Buiwong drew from when bestowing Laciela and Yareakh with the ability to selectively edit reality. Buiwong then sealed off that part of their conversation from Shei's, Mocha's and Gadriel's memories, to prevent Mudi from finding it out, either with one of her talents, or with a mind-reading demon. It was set to release when the opportune time came to attack Mudi.

Gegenschein offered Pryce a chance to join Ecclesia, being that he was a former knight of the Union Church. Pryce refused, and Gegenschein respected the vhoice, pressing the matter no further and promising to instruct the rest of the Choir not to persuade him further. Still, Gegenschein insisted on bestowing Pryce with the Honor of the Star-Blessed Watch, a medal bestowed upon knights who had served the Church no fewer than ten years, and had made extraordinary accomplishments.


Post your sheets along with your response.

Shei, Pryce, Vice and Trapper*


"Hahaha, worry not! Without official Ecclesian citizenship, I cannot give you anything of real power. Still, this is of a… sentimental nature."
Gegenschein takes you back through the busy workshop, through many hallways which are stuffed with Ecclesians hard at work, many communicating intel through Caller Conches to agents out in the field. Soon, you reach a quiet room in the back, which Gegenschein unlocks. Inside is a carefully-kept reliquary, resplendent with treasures, icons, vestibules, chalices, vases, incense-holders and countless other religious artifacts from Accorsia.

He sorts through a chest, and pulls out a gold and silver badge, bearing the Accorsian crest of arms, a phoenix with a sword in its mouth, curling around a map of Accorsia, the capitals of each kingdom noted with a small gem. You recognize this as the Honor of the Star-Blessed Watch, a badge bestowed upon knights with at least ten years of service to their name. Even among those who have no respect for the church, this was something of great renown and respect.

"Will you accept this honor, Pryce Etac?" he asks, holding out the crest.


"In that case, you have but to lead the way," Chorazin says, nudging the filly attached to her leg, who eventually lets go and lets Chorazin get up. Gadds finishes his fish and tags along to join you, and Mocha has already gone along ahead. Busta sticks close out of concern for some of the glances that the Ecclesians give him, but looks unenthusiastic.


"The wha– eer, of course! How could I not, it's the best part! It's not a proper show without the rainbows and the crows!"

"…I'd hope so," Zjetya says. "This God they spoke of seemed very impassive, mechanical, unfeeling, so perhaps we really are stuck here if It is in control. But, I don't think that'd be the case. If It wanted the knights to serve It, there's a chance it'll try again to put them under Its control. Might even want to control us as well. But if it does, then the knights will still be able to help us fight it off and find a way out. I hope, that is."

>Amy, KP, Flow

After the conversation finishes, your allies gather themselves, descending from the watchtower in preparation to explore the city. The mood has raised somewhat, after the dark content of the visions, but they remain resolute as they look onward.

>Vice, Trapper

Mocha enters the workshop and approaches you with a wave. "Yo, we're going to the hot springs. Want to come along? Oh, or…" she examines your gooey forms, apparently aware of goo ponies' weakness to standing water. "Maybe we could find a bucket to put you in?"



Flaming's eyes open wide, amazed that some story she pulled from foggy memories of her youth was in Journey's repertoire. She narrows her eyes at him, noting how he only comments on things that are in the title, "Yeah… that's really a good one. What's your favorite part?"

To Zjetya, she gives a solemn nod of her head. "We should continue forward on the assumption we WON'T have to fight It… or at the least, not in a form that we cannot win. There's no point to calling all this a game if it's completely impossible to win, right?"


>Going to say that Amy can restore everyone to full H/W if she wishes

LJ looks back at you and looks just as amazed. He pauses, mouth agape as he fishes for words. "The… the, uh… uh…………………….. battles."
"The battles?" Zjetya asks, rolling her eyes. "How detailed, mighty little scholar. Which bat–"
"It's not a work of buffalo literature without battles, of course I'd like 'em!" LJ insists, flustered.

Zophie laughs at the antics, and nods. "I should hope our foe here has a sense of fairness, at least. People who call engagements like these 'games' have a tendency to cheat for their benefit."



Pryce's expression softens as Gegenschein holds out the crest. After revoking his title out of shame and unworthiness, the Devas and angels deeming him a failure at the moment of Rapture. Acknowledgement of his service, a thanks for his time.
Pryce kneels.
"I will. Thank you for this honor, Gegenschein."
Pryce says with sincere gratitude.

>"So are we continuing the story, or are we going to try and stop it?"
KP asks as they head out of the ruins.


"Then rise, good Sir Pryce," Gegenschein says, offering his hand for a shake. "Now, you'll have to do a bit for me; the usual formalities, you know. You will need two witnesses to stand at attention just behind you as I give my speech – oh, blast, I'll have to write a speech. Ah, well, I enjoy to hear myself speak, and see myself write! Heheh. Ah, and I'll have to invite the forces who aren't currently deployed on missions. Tomorrow morning, around seven, that should work. Bring all your allies, as well, of course. Sadly, we don't have the rations free for a feast, afterward. We're preparing all our stock for the coming invasion and the expedition into Tartarus; we've no idea how long we'll need to hold out. So, once the ceremony is done, you'll be free of my claws, fit to do as you please."

Box trembles, his lid sputtering as he tries to hold back his excitement. He looks at Gegenschein pleadingly, who just laughs. "If Pryce wishes to be congratulated, you may speak at last, dear Box."

Box turns to you, looking like he might explode.


Shei sighs "That's good, I could use this. I've been all strung in the nerves as of late."

Shei-Sher leads his party back in through town and toward the inn with the hotsprings.


You and your little entourage, consisting of Gadds, Busta and Chorazin, head for the hot springs, and find that it is mostly empty around this time, as many Ecclesians are presumably out performing missions. Chorazin claims a clean towel and bucket from the rack at the entrance, and Gadds does the same, watching and imitating her. Busta, however, lingers behind, finding a couch in the lobby on which to sit. "I'll wait here," he says awkwardly.

Gadds looks at you and holds up his towel and bucket. "What're these for? Are we on cleaning duty or something?"
Chorazin chuckles. "You'd better keep a close eye on this one no matter where you go, Shei."


Flaming's eyes light up, realizing she has the buffalo in her clutches now, she squeezes, "Yeah, but you can be a LITTLE more specific! What did you like about the battle, huh? You DID read the tale, didn't you…?!" She says, getting up close.

Flaming laughs along with Zophie as she finally gets LJ on the ropes, and then looks to her. "It's been winnable so far, I should hope they wouldn't suddenly change their minds now just because we're close to winning."

She looks to KP. "We're not sure yet, but for now, I think we should check out the rest of this route before we make a decision about whether we should try and stop it or play along."


Pryce rises, taking Gegenschein's hand to shake.
"Oh, of course. I nearly forgot about the ceremony," Pryce says, lost in the honor, "Tomorrow is perfect. The others should be back by then. And don't worry about the feast, this alone is more than enough."

Pryce looks down at Box and nods.
"You can speak now, Box."
He says with a chuckle, seeing the poor mimic looks about to come apart.

>"I wish this puzzle was more clear like the others."
KP mutters as they still need to figure out which path is correct.



Flow looks out at the ruined city, and crosses his front legs as he passively looks over it.
"Hmph…I hope we find some more answers as we go along. I'm itching to get out of here, this place is…weird."
He quickly glances at the invisible audience, and looks away just as quickly.

Both of the goos' head droop a little when Mocha mentions the hot springs.
>"We uh…don't do hot springs."
>>"It uh…has weird effects on our gooey body if we're not careful."


Shei-Sher sets his Mariposan cloak on a rack and his items and belongings beside. He makes a mental note to himself to put all the extremely dangerous ancient artifacts inside Box next time instead of a linen sack.
Stepping into the pool he is about to find a corner to hang by before Gadd's takes his attention.

"Um no Gadriele. The towel is to dry yourself off when you are done. And the bucket is to pour water over your head.." Shei looks at Gadriele for a moment "People like to bath. Being clean is healthy and enjoyable. The hot springs are even more so. Lounge in its water, soak it in."


"Congratulations!" Box declares, reaching up to hug you. "Oh, I haven't been your ally for long, but I'd always known you were something special. It takes a strong character to keep from getting depressed or jaded in a sorry world like this one. The world would be better off with more folks like you. Ah, we've got to let the others know ASAP!"

Gegenschein pats your arm. "Then I shall see you tomorrow at seven. Thank you again, Sir Pryce."

"The heroism, the chaos, the tragedy, the triumph, of course!" LJ responds vaguely, now at least back on his hooves after the interrogation. "What good battle doesn't have those elements? None that's worth recording in a noble work of literature like that!"

Mocha tilts her head, scratching at the ground with one of her spider-legs. "I was really looking forward to going there on a date, but if you really think you're not up for it, we could go look for bugs or collect rocks or whatever you do when you're not adventuring."

"And what do we do after that?" Gadds asks. The two of you head for the males' section, finding it as sparse as the lobby at these hours. Gadds leans down by the water of the spring, inspecting it for the shadows of fish, but looks disappointed, when there are no fish to be had. He looks at you for instruction.

As you pass the city's tall, shattered walls and enter the ruins, you find that the buildings are very compact and close to one another, as if they had sprung off of one another. The streets are narrow and winding, built into a hillside, as there are many inclines and declines. The city seems to have been destroyed quite a while ago, as you can see a menagerie of plants growing on the outsides of the houses as you pass by. The town seems to be built around a castle, which stands mostly intact, regal, churchlike and imposing as it watches over the city solemnly. Although you can see the whole map, the winding nature of the layout makes navigation tricky. Somethiing about it seems oddly familiar as you go through it.

Roll for navigation and for memory.


Shei follows Chorazin and Mocha into the section of the springs, leading Gadriele as he does.

"er- hm you do nothing" Shei is flumoxed "It's nice sometimes. Everyone needs a break. I certainly need one." Shei takes his hoof and puts its on Gadd's chest and one on his back "Listen- lie back, let your head float on the water, let the warmth soothe your soul. Relax" Shei helps guide Gadds into it.


"Admit it!" Flaming shouts, getting a little aggressive, "You DIDN'T read it, did you… you smarty horns!"

As they take leave of the tower, and enter the ruins of the city, Flaming takes a look around the destroyed buildings and vast foliage growing all over it. "Been like this for a long time… I wonder why no one tried to rebuild this place after it was destroyed? It seems like a very secure place to fortify if you could repair it the damage."

[1d10] Navigation
[1d10] Memory

Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 8 = 8


Gadds follows your instructions unsuccessfully at first, flopping about in the water for a few times before he manages to establish a sense of balance, trembling with caution as he treads the water. "This? Is this it? Am I doing it? It's… not bad. Kinda peaceful, even! Heh… I'm guessing people end up spending a lot of time around here if they get the chance."

Chorazin floats nearby, silent and serene, her eyes shut meditatively. "Shhh…"

"Oh, right, that's the point, innit?"


Pryce kneels down so Box can give him that hug, and also return the enthusiastic applause.
"Thank you Box, truly. And yes, we should. First thing in the morning isn't that far away now."

Pryce smiles, feeling more overjoyed than the show they put on in Fantasia.
"And thank you Gegenschein."

And with that, Pryce heads outside, head held high.

>"Wow, this place was packed, wasn't it?"
KP comments as they work their way through the tight and winding alleys.
>"Hmm, I wonder if there will be more of those visions around here. Maybe in the castle?"
He thinks aloud.
>Navigate [1d10]
>Memory [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 9 = 9


Trapper looks at Vice with a very intense gaze.
>"I…suppose we can go along."
His gaze turns into a wide grin.

Flow keeps a hoof on the Tsurugi for any emergencies as the party navigates their way through the city.
"I don't like these winding paths. Easy to set up an ambush with paths like these."

Roll #1 4 = 4



Roll #1 6 = 6


"I looked at the pictures, same thing!" LJ retorts. "And yes, my horns are quite smart… ya little shrimp! Shrimpyhorns, that's what your chieftan name will be. I dub thee Smoldering Shrimpyhorns," he declares vindictively.

"I knew you'd come around!"
Mocha smiles and offers her hoof for the goos to take, and heads for the hot springs. You find that there are communal and gender-segregated rooms, but Mocha heads for the communal one, picking up a towel and bucket along the way. (Refer to the description in: >>707920)

"If they haven't rebuilt it, the must not have the horsepower or the resources to do so," Zjetya says. "Could be related to what that pony in town said. With demon lords coming to power and being usurped very frequently, things must not be stable enough to risk trying to rebuild… I bet lots of places looked like this around the time and place that this mural was based on."

It clicks for you, as you survey the buildings, and you see that some of the homes, shops and shrines around town are of a totally different architectural style than the ones around you, all in a mosaic of clashing styles. This is Vitral, as it was milennia ago. Even back then, it seems, the city was built by plunder. These buildings didn't spring up from one another, but were placed there like mismatched jigsaw pieces being slapped together.

As you head through the city, you realize that the winding roads are ultimately centered around the church-like castle; the castle looms, ever-present, no matter which path you take, as if all roads sprung from it and lead to it.

"Is it like this naturally, or is that shadowy presence that was blocking out the words leading us there?" Zophie wonders aloud. "What do you think: do we head for it?"


"And then after that, we're back out to adventure, right? We've precious little time left together, and I need the most out of it!"
As you head back out, you see River Spring waiting for you by the entrance. "Pryce, there you are. I'd lost track of you and came here to see what was going on."

She smiles when she sees that you are in quite a good mood. "What happened in there? You look like you've been told you inhereited a million bits."


Vice is much more reluctant to go in than Trapper is, as he eagerly lets Mocha guide him though, whereas Vice hangs back a little.
>>"C'mon lad, it'll be refreshing to get whatever crap we've got on us, eh?"
>>"Yeah yeah, I know. It's just that, factually, purifying ourselves via clean water is a much more efficient way to-"
Trapper smacks him before he can continue.

As the party continues to explore the city, Flow takes more time to observe the buildings while the group strolls past the ruined city.
"Seems like the inhabitants must've had quite the chaotic lifestyle," he chuckles, "Having to move somewhat often must be a drag for those not used to it."


Shei-Sher closes his eyes smiling seeing that his work is done.

The goat dips underneath the water wetting his head, then wading over to one side of the hot spring to lounge. Shei stares off into the sky (or ceiling) for long moments there is just this and silence.

In truth, Shei has been wondering about his goats all this time. Nervous about how things will go over with them, imagining many times in his head chastising them all among the Ecclessians to see as Shei bear's his teeth into every disparage and biting criticism he could offer his would be tribe. On and on taking moments to flip through the memories living among the goats these past years.

"…..Chorazin. What was your Family life like?"


"WHAT!?" Flaming grits her teeth, lowering her head as though ready to charge. "You had BETTER take that back, 'Fluffliest Bookworm', I am *not* shrimpy!"

Flaming nods her head as Zjetya offers an explanation, "Right, that would make sense. After all they just had to deal with Osmium and Vinland fighting not a page away! I bet things are still too hectic around here to manage a restoration."

Flaming looks around the scenery, her mind ticking away as she starts to recollect pieces of memory from where she'd seen much of this place before. Noting the completely mis-matched architecture assembled by centuries of conquering and literally stealing land, Flaming's eyes open wide. "Wait a second… oh by Vir-can, how couldn't I see it earlier? We're in Vitral!" She says, running up to a nearby building. "I don't believe it… this must be how it looked centuries ago."

She looks over towards the castle that seems to be the pinnacle of this 'chapter', and nods her head. "I don't think we could do anything less… let's see what it wants us to see."



Amy is lost in thought after seeing the story in the crystal balls. She walks with the party and looks around, but doesn't say anything for a while.

"I think this is just how the city is meant to be…" Amy thinks out loud. "You know… just not all destroyed. Either way, I want to see it," she nods conclusively as she starts heading toward the castle.


"Yeah!" Amy jumps to Flaming's defense. "She's WAY more than a smolder!"



>"Is this really the same Vitral? I can't believe it, has it really been around that long?"

>"Yea, let's go for it!"

KP says to Zophie's suggestion.
>"The castle is still mostly together, right? It's just like the watchtower, so whatever we need to find must be in there."

"Right. After that we can go get some treasure for you."
Pryce assures Box.
"Oh! I didn't expect you to be waiting."
Pryce says as River is outside waiting for them. As she points it out, Pryce smiles even bigger, a little bit from embarrassment in hoping he didn't end up looking like a goof when offered the crest.
"Gegenschein just offered me the Honor of the Star-Blessed Watch for my time as a Knight of the Church. There'll be a ceremony tomorrow morning for it."
He says, trying to keep it honorable, but it's a futile cause, especially seeing her smile. Pryce steps forward and scoops up River into a big hug.
"I just can't believe it! Me, getting a honor like that! I feel like I'm on top of the world!"


Flaming's eyebrows droop as Amy suddenly comes to her defense, "Err…. that's true too, but, Amy? I think 'Smoldering' is the less offensive part of his insult here…"


Mocha guides Trapper to the water in the communal bath, sighing with relief as she sinks her large drider half into the water. She removes her poncho and sets it aside so that it doesn't get wet, but sinks into the water, out of a sense of modesty. "So… just how far can goo ponies get into the water, anyway?" she asks innocently, trailing a hoof across the surface.

"About what you might expect: strict and military. Both mother and father served in Vitral's armed forces, as head of the night-watch and as vice-admiral of the navy, respectively. Yet, they were not overbearing, nor cruel, as the military's critics so often stereotyped them. I was quiet, and ill took to the lifestyle at first. Obstacle courses, endurance races, weapons training… I was the worst at all of them, when I was first eligible to participate. Ironically, I was my harshest critic. When I dropped my wooden sword mid-spar, or tripped over my hooves during races and expeditions, I'd castigate myself up and down… but I'd always remember my mother and father helping me up. Their voices never got gentler than when they would help and correct me after I fell. Endlessly kind, yet instructive. Protective, yet they let me learn my lessons for myself."

"…I am grateful they passed away before the world could collapse. I shudder to think of what this hellish life would have done to them."

"I'll upgrade you to a 'Sizzling' Shrimpyhorns, but I can't do anything about how small your horns are," LJ teases.

"No kidding. I can only imagine that there's a lot of places all across the country that look like this right now," Zjetya adds. "Rebuilding will take so long… wonder where I'll settle down when this is all over."

River beams, smiling with sadness and nostalgia. "And you've earned every bit of this honor. Fantastic news!" She trails off. "…Just the knowledge that they cared to show their gratitude for your service… it's making me wax nostalgic for our home. Even I'd heard of it when I was living on the streets of Hearthome. What a wonderful honor. A ceremony tomorrow, you say? We'll have to celebrate tonight as well! Oh, I've got to do some laundry too, most of my robes are in need of a good wash."

She looks you in the eyes for a moment, and kisses you, twirling about with you in her arms.

Seeing no other option, you head for the castle. As you navigate the curling and winding streets in your approach, the page turns. On the next page, a curious effect takes place. The scene pans outward, allowing you to see the castle exterior in its entirety as it towers above you. You stand at the stairs leading up to the castle, seeming like mice in comparison to its size. When you get closer to the door, the scene zooms back in, focusing on you again. The castle's great front doors are closed, yet pushing them reveals that they are unlocked.

>If entering through the front, make two perception rolls


>>"Not very much, lass."
He sits by the edge of the water, and dips a hoof inside. He doesn't mention the slight burn in his hoof as it starts to dissolve.
>>"To little, and we dry up. To much, and we dissolve into the very thing that keeps us alive…crazy, innit?"
Somewhere outside, Vice facepalms.

Flow grins.
"All the better for me. I get more places to squat for the evenings."
When the crew reaches the castle, he takes a step back to truly marvel at the old structure. Then he remembers his pov is different.
"At last, our heroes reach the castle," he announces with a weird accent.
The overly enthusiastic goo practically kicks the door open, and goes on through.

Roll #1 2 = 2



"Not at all!" Amy says dramatically. "'Shrimpy' is just a synonym for 'short'. But, 'smoldering' is totally a step down from 'flaming'!"


"She's definitely more than 'sizzling' too!"


Amy giggles and hops around at the amusing sight of seeing herself from far away. She steps forward then steps back to see if the view starts zooming in and out respectively.

"So, does this affect everyone else's view too?" Amy asks as she does this potentially sickening act.


"Stop! Stop, stop stop stop before I assassinate you!" Zophie swears as you zoom the scene in and out, her head spinning. She grabs onto you to try to keep you in one place.


"Keep going lass, she can't stop you!"
Flow eggs Amy on.


>I shudder to think of what this hellish life would have done to them."
"The closest thing I had to father figure vivisected his body, divided every part and under the loyal praises of some cult ascended to god-hood." he says it all with a faint grimace, as he looks on at the stars.

"…Do you- have you ever been abandoned?"


>second roll

Roll #1 7 = 7



Amy gigglesnorts as Zophie grabs her to make her stop. "I guess she can," Amy says to Flow.


Amy finally approaches the door and looks around. [1d10] [1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3 / Roll #2 8 = 8


Flaming turns to Amy, stopping and thinking over her logic. "I… see what you mean, but that's not true! Shrimpy is WAY worse than Shorty! Shorty just means they're a little small, Shrimpy means I'm REALLY small! There's a difference!"

She turns towards LJ, growling, "And you better upgrade me to 'ROARING', buddy, or I'll make your hide 'Sizzle' instead!"

As they approach the long path going up to the castle's great front doors, Flaming lets out a small groan, "Ugggh…. this place is so disorienting with how you see yourself from far away. Can't we get any clo-"

She gets zoomed in on the view just as she goes up to the front doors, letting out a squeal of surprise. "EEE! Oh! Well, uh… thank you book. Castle. Thing." She takes a deep breath, and tries to enter through the front
[1d10] [1d10] Perception

It does indeed, and Flamign lets out another, LOUD groan.

"GGUHHHH… Amy, cut it out, you're making me sick! I can't keep going back and forth like this…"

Roll #1 1 = 1 / Roll #2 9 = 9


Pryce looks up to the sky, thinking back of home.
"Everypony would gather whenever a knight earned it, it was a fantastic sight. If they could all see this now…"
Pryce trails off, looking back to River.
"Oh, right! I should tidy up for this too, I could get a manecut. Or do you think I'm fine as is? And we need to tell the others, let everypony else know."

At the kiss, Pryce closes his eyes, calming down a moment.
"This here feels like celebration enough."
Pryce says, enjoying this moment.

KP rubs his eyes as they see the entirety of the castle.
>"This place is like one of those illusion puzzles."
When they approach and the doors are open, KP pushes the door and slowly steps inside.
>Perception [1d10] [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1 / Roll #2 9 = 9


"Just get a little off the sides and the top, but leave it about this length," River says as she runs her hooves through your mane. "I like this look. A balance of rugged explorer and respectable, upright soldier."

She smiles at you as you say it's celebration enough… then sticks out her tongue. "I'm getting plenty of ideas for far more than just this. Just one kiss for over ten years of service? Come on, live a little! Oh, I hope you can hold your liquor, by the way. Have a preference?"

"Ah, yes, normal and healthy father figure activities," she says with morbid humor.

"In a manner of speaking, yes," she says. "The King and Queen of Mariposa refused to cooperate when I ordered them to evacuate through the secret tunnels, as Princesses Laciela and Yareakh did with their entourage of guards. The damn fools had got it into their heads to stay behind and fight to the last alongside their people, determined to serve as a beacon of hope and loyalty. This was when our intel officers still fathomed that we could survive the demonic onslaught with our forces and our vast armies of golems and other constructs… the demons swept over Vitral like a tsunami against a sand castle. I'd hoped they'd escape, abandoning us to die so that they might live and rebuild. They certainly abandoned me, but instead they did it by staying and wasting their lives… a pair of brave and loving fools, they were, truly. I'll thank you not to share this information with the Princesses just yet. I need to… prepare my report before I share it with them."

Mocha offers a dry bucket for Trapper to sit in, clearly noticing the burns on his hoof. "Here, try sitting in this, and I'll hold you out in the water. I swear on my life, I won't turn you over. I just think you might like to enjoy the heat."

"You don't want to hunker down somewhere with Renee?" Zjetya asks. "I've been hearing her talk about finding a home, every now and again. Somewhere safe and out of the way where she can practice medicine and reconnect with the survivors."

"Grilling? It's the best I can do unless you actually develop fire breath," LJ offers, tilting his head as he weighs the severity of the synonyms.

"Encourage her again and I'll assassinate you next!" Zophie threatens Flow. "I'll toss you in a lake and you'll be breathed in by fishes!"

As you enter the castle, your sight is first drawn to the inordinate amount of treasure pooled upon the floor. As if from an earthquake, a great amount of gold, furniture, armor sets, coats of arms, tapestries, and the like, lay on the floor before you. Brilliant light streams from the stained glass windows onto the treasure, highlighting it like a literal spotlight.

Beyond the treasure pile, the castle lies in darkness, but you notice a dome shape, about the width of a dresser, and a foot high, sitting behind the pile of treasure, greatly obscured by the shadows.

Your allies are taken in by the treasure, but look at the dome with trepidation, ceasing conversation as they eye it with suspicion.



"We should bring the bad guy here!" Amy says excitedly! "We can just make him throw up and win that way!"


"Gaaah… that is if they see the world the same way we do. But if he does then, yeah, that would be a GREAT idea. Now please cut it out!"

"And then I'll fish out the fishes and stomp on them for good measure!" Flaming adds on to Zophie's threat.

As soon as they enter the castle, and are met with the massive, overwhelming mountain of treasure, gold, armors, and the like, Flaming's jaw drops on her character, staring dead ahead at the huge pile.
"W-w-w-w-WHAT?! What… is this ALL treasure?! Where did it come from? Who would just LEAVE it here?" Flaming asks aloud, not attempting to touch it yet.

She looks ahead at the dome, squinting her eyes. "Alright… we're all in agreement this is a trap, right?"


>>"Thanks, luv."
Trapper yanks his hoof out of the water and shakes it off as the goo starts to heal itself.
>>"I'll trust ya on this one. Besides, it's not like we'll dissolve instantly," he thinks about how the water is not only water, but also steaming hot.
>>"…But I think it'd be best if I stay out," he says with a nervous chuckle.

Flow's mouth curls into a worried grimace.
"I…don't know. It's not like me to stay in one place for too long. Hell, just ask this one," he points to Zophie.
"If we settled down, I'd want to be out most of the time. And let's face it, that's not how things should be…"
He shakes his head to clear his mind.
"Ah, I'm sure we can come to an agreement on something. Like a…portable house of some kind! Do they make those?"

Flow is quickly reminded not to infuriate Zophie, and backs off.
"Sorry lass, just 'avin a bit of fun, eh?"
Flow scans the area as soon as he sees the ominous dome, paying little mind to the treasure.
"Speaking of fishes…this seems pretty fishy," he says as seriously as he can.


"A kiss from a mare like yourself isn't something to just overlook either," Pryce retorts, but then feigns a sigh jokingly, "But if you insist, you can lead the festivities."
He pauses to think a moment.
"Occasionally somepony would sneak in something or other after a successful mission, but I've never set on one. I'll follow your suggestions."

Pryce looks down to Box.
"If you'd like, you can run off and tell the others the news."

KP looks at the massive gold pile, covering his eyes from the light.
>"Wow, it's like they dumped the whole treasury into the entrance hall."
As he spots a dome off on the other side of the room, KP goes to circle around to get at it.
>"Hey, this might be another of those memories! Must be a big one too by the looks of it!"



After Zophie's comment about Flow being breathed in by fish, Amy stares at Flow for a while, deep in thought. It seems like she wants to ask something, but she doesn't at first.

Finally, after a few moments of deliberation, she asks, "What do goo ponies taste like?"


"Her horns literally burst into flames!" Amy shouts in outrage.

Amy looks to Flaming. "I think you need to get yourself a better boyfriend, Shoryhorns."


Upon seeing the dome shape, Amy walks around the treasure horde without giving it much mind. She walks up to the dome curiously.


Flow takes out one of his throwing knives to cut out a small piece from his arm. He hands it over to Amy.
"Though, to be fair, every goo tastes different. Zophie over there…uh…don't try it."


"Yeah, I'm surprised a pair like you hooked up," Zjetya comments. "More of a housewife type that one, thought she'd be in a nunnery all her life."
"Moving houses?" Zophie asks. "Oh, of course. The Landripper class of ship can sail about on land with its wheels. I've also seen many traveling circuses will tame giant monsters called Megabeasts, then put houses on their backs. Some will ride on giant badgers and crabs, even on some species of dragons and birds, too."
"Would she be content with rocking the bed on top of a giant monster?" Zjetya asks with a crude laugh.

"I'll see if I can get in contact with the folks over in Fantasia, give them plenty of time to prepare," Box says with a nod, heading back for the workshop.

River scoffs, pushing your chest. "If you're going to be with me, you'd better be able to keep up. Out of me, Sardonyx, Tantra and Light, I was the best at knocking back brews. And, since I'm fully flesh and bone again…"

She traces a line down your chest, then squeezes your bicep and winks. "I'll be able to drink even more. Most of my body being metal was seriously killing my tolerance."

"Hey, let's not get crazy," LJ says suddenly, quickly getting serious once again. After he says that, however, he blushes a little, as if the words had came out before the thoughts could.

"Yeah, wasn't there a rule about this?" LJ asks. "This doesn't seem like what we were looking for."

As Amy avoids the horde of treasure and approaches the dome, she sees the glint of two circles, eyes made out of crystals, set in the brass shell of the dome. Sitting atop the dome, she sees an alicorn pony, an adult mare, and she recognizes this mare as Princess Wineberry, now fully grown. She wears a dark dress of purple and black, in the style of Princess Vinland's garment, and appears unarmed, save for a rose she twirls in her hoof.

"That obvious, huh? Wasn't ever much good at the 'puzzle' part of some of these," she dryly comments. You immediately notice several things. Not only does her dialogue come across in hieroglyphs, but her voice is that of the 'narrator' you heard toward the end of the fourth trial, the one who teleported you to the mural in the first place. "Well, you recruits were doing pretty well, at least for a while. Only one of your group broke the rules: that one over there, calling herself 'Curses.'"

Curses jumps in surprise as she's called out. "The Great Duke Curses knows not what you–"

"Still… you people just do not learn. What part of the last rule was hard to follow, exactly?"


Flaming's cheeks turn bright red on her cartoonish little character, and she turns to Amy. "B-boyfriend?! W-who said he was my boyfriend?"


"I wish I didn't know, that is tremendously saddening. It's a very melancholy feeling, thinking an abusive spirit like Laciela's couldn't manage a harangue because of such news." Shei-Sher thinks to himself that this is more a story about Laciela and Yareakh's parents abandoning them than abandoning Chorazin.

"Hmm That is not quite close to the sort of abandonment I meant.. My mind keeps returning to the thought of my tribe leaving me for Ecclessia. I had done everything for them, I took them from shackles and led them a continent away from catastrophe. And yet it was never as though I was truly their Shepherd. Just in title. But in their hearts -I don't know, they begrudged every moment of our travels. Cooperation, an understanding between them all myself and the things sponsoring us. It has been an uphill battle. Yesterday I told Sh'harel I could not follow him anymore. And that was the final string tethering them to Fantasia, they all dispersed like sand in the wind, in directions. All this time it felt like I was building something, building a real heart within the foundations of a herd. A dream of kingdom, freedom, love for our race. I thought there was more holding it all together than just a god's words and their invisible hooves. When we spoke with Ecclessia's Choir and they brought those two goats. I felt like like bursting only looking at them. All I want to do is round them all in a crowd and rave mad how forsaken they all are, how unloved and castrated, sick and dumb and just how much I hate them for doing this to me after I pledged my life to them all."


"Sounds like even a god either can't or won't build up a spirit of unity within a people," Chorazin comments. "It must have been heartbreaking to see that happen, but I can understand it. When people are terrified, they'll sell anything and everything – their possessions, their dignity, even their faith – for safety. It is only the faithful who will remain after a trial. But, that's the cruel reality of it. You can give everything you have to provide for some people, to keep them alive, to keep them happy, and they will spit it back in your face, complaining all the way. In the end, is it not their fault that their faith was worthless? Some people will never allow themselves to be saved, and if they are dragged along anyway, they will poison the true believers."


"That…seems very uncomfortable. I'd rather be on the open road myself than on one of those. I was thinking something small, like some sort of cart that we can go places with. I don't know, this isn't the time or place to think about this!" he says, clearly getting more uncomfortable.

"All of it," Flow says with a dry tone. He looks to the left, then to the right.
"…are we supposed to be here?" he says with genuine confusion.



Amy snickers. "Well, even if you don't consider him that yet, you should keep thinking about it if he's going to disrespect you like that!"


"No thanks," Amy says, putting her hoof up to deny the offer. "I'm trying to not eat ponies anymore."

Then, Amy does a double take between Flow and Zophie. "Wh-what does SHE taste like?" Amy asks curiously.


Amy cocks her head. "Which rule?"


"Is that truly the reality of it all. Of how people generally are. I brought them up from nothing. If I hadn't taken them they all would have been butchered into rations for Mr'uthgar to stave off the warped country they reside in Accorsia."


Flow shrugs, "Your loss," he remarks as he eats himself.

He leans in to Amy's ear.
"Her goo is toxic. Just like her," he says with a snicker.



"H-how do you know that?" Amy asks, stealing a quick glance at Zophie as if they're gossiping about her.


Flaming growls, "Yeah, I should..! Er… welll…"
She sneaks over a little closer to Amy, "Can you keep a secret?"

Flaming looks over towards Journey, "Right! 'Do not lose sight of your goal'. No one even THINK about touching the gold, it's just there to try and trick us. Don't look at it, just, side-step it entirely. Not a single bit!"

Flaming chases after Amy as she goes for the dome right away, not even bothering to try and stop her this time as she's grown used tot he routine. She looks up at the top of the as the alicorn appear atop the dome, Flaming look up with confusion.

"Who…" her ears perk up as she listens to Wineberry's voice, "You're Vinland's daughter from the orbs! And, that voice… you were the master of these games all along, weren't you?!"

She turns back to look at 'Curses', then up to Wineberry. "You're in charge of setting up all the games out there? And this whole book thing too? Why are you doing all this?"


"I've 'ad quite the adventure with her. She's been eaten whole then spit right out, with her poor victim literally burning on the inside."
Amy is now able to witness Flow's 1000 yard stare as he remembers how effective Zophie's toxin is.
"Also, brightly colored goos tend to be toxic. Something about letting predators know to stay away or something," he says, referring to Zophie's bright green goo.
"If you're not sure, look for that glow in their goo."


>"Oh hey, you're the one we overheard after we got that last piece!"
KP says as he circles around and sees Princess Wineberryand hears her.
As she berates them for not following the rules, KP steps up, putting his hooves up on the dome to better leverage.
>"Hey we followed the rules, but then we got sucked in here anyways! I thought this would all end when we got the pieces back into the mural!"
He counters.

"If I can keep up again demons, I think I can hold myself against liquor."
Pryce counters, though his bravado falters as she traces his body.
"Eheheh…. Maybe we should take it easy to start off. You know… give your body time to adjust back," Pryce stammers, "Well, we could celebrate a little now, for the news. I think they should still have the hot spring here, sound good?"
Pryce offers.


"When do you plan on speaking to them?" she asks. "Lay it out before them, as plainly as you are now. Hold back nothing. Speak with fire and brimstone in your voice, like the doomsayers and prophets of the olden days. Surely, if there's at least one who is truly faithful among them, you'll reach out to them and save them."

"Sour candy," Zophie says with a narrow-eyed grin.

"Then yeah, you should have no trouble finding one with the money you've earned," Zjetya adds.
"Look at you, getting all flustered over a mare," Zophie jokes. "You really have changed."

"The buffalo's got the right idea. Denying all false temptations, and sticking to your mission," Wineberry deadpans. "All you had to do was follow the path laid out for you in this little story, sticking to the roles into which you were dropped, recruits. I put the straight and narrow road all the way out in front of you, and all you had to do was walk in a straight and single-file line – fight the mantis, fight Vinland and Osmium, then fight the Raven, and poof, it'd be over. Check off the checkboxes and fill in all the blanks with the proper answers that I handed to you on a silver platter.

"And yet, you botched it. You went off the road, you wandered astray from your mission. You were so close, too!"

She turns to Flaming. "Of course I'm the one in charge. Who else is going to train new recruits to the Sons of God? Tartarus devours those who let themselves be led astray and who can't adapt to tricky situations. Everything in this temple is meant to build up those skills you need to survive even a moment in that cursed land."

Something odd is in her words, in her demeanor, but you can't place it. Roll for discerning that which is amiss.

River winks again as she sees you flustered. "I would greatly enjoy that, it's been quite the busy week so far."

You head to the hot springs (feel free to specify where you go and what you do based on previous posts).


Flow pouts.
"Sh-shut up, Zoph…"

Flow, as per usual, instantly doesn't trust what Wineberry's saying.
"That's it? That sounds pretty uneventful…"
He squints when she mentions that they had to fight Vinland and Osmuim.
>lie detecting

Roll #1 5 = 5


Flaming blushes again as she's scolded by Wineberry for going off the beaten path, "Now hold on a second: the game ISN'T over just like that, Princess. We went off the beaten path, but only because we thought that was the only true way to win the game. And we don't trust Athena one bit! I figure YOU would know that of all ponies." Flaming says, perhaps taking a chance on a little personal jab.

As she brings up training Sons of God, Flaming frowns. "The Sons of God…? But, they're gone, there isn't any Sons of God left."

[1d10] Checking out her demeanor

Roll #1 5 = 5



"Of course!" Amy says with a smile. "Not. Of course, not. That's what I meant to say. But, I can try!"


"If it glows, does that mean it's magic?" Amy asks curiously.


"Th-that won't work on me…" Amy says nervously to Zophie.


Amy looks back at the treasure behind her, then to the dome. "I don't remember breaking that rule," she says genuinely with a hint of stubbornness.

"Why do YOU get to decide what MY mission is? And, I've DEFINITELY not fallen for any temptations."

Amy gets closer to the dome to try to see what is inside. "I'm here because I want to find out who is hiding something from me. And, I want to know what they're hiding. That's MY mission," she says stubbornly as she curiously observes the dome. [1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3


A smirk stretches along Shei-Sher's face as Chorazin speaks but he puts his face back together "I would love nothing more I think. That! That would feel spectacular. I don't think I could though. As much as I think about doing just that -I don't really hate them.. I'm not a hateful person, just very sad."

"The two goats that were summoned to the tent said they convene at sundown to eat supper. So- that is when." A splash sounds as Shei-Sher's body flings foward from the water "What time is it?"


"…no? Something about bioloomisensis? I forgot."


>"…But if Blessings was pulled in here from breaking the rules, and then we got pulled in after following all the rules, what is the point of all of this then?
KP questions this contradicting logic as Wineberry says they need those who follow rules.
>"We just wanted to, uh… Oh, right! Get that Sun thing from this place, not go through this puzzle! I don't even want to be part of the Sons of God!"
KP says as the princess speaks down to them.
>Discern [1d10]

"Busy everything is more like it."
Pryce says as they head towards the springs.
"Have you kept in touch with them? Sardonyx and Light, that is."
Pryce asks since River mentioned them, since they ran into Tantra recently.

When they reach the springs, Pryce looks between the separated and communal rooms. Before he would have gone for the gender divided ones, but he leads them towards the communal ones, with a flustered look on his face.
He hangs up his robe, taking off his bracelet and amulet, tucking away his belongings in his pockets. He grabs his towel and bucket and heads to the water.

Roll #1 5 = 5


Flaming groans, "Well, I guess that's about as good as I can ask for then…" she takes a qiuck look to make sure Longest Journey isn't paying attention, and whispers into Amy's ear.
"Actually, buffalo bulls you sort of WANT to be brave enough to talk back. If Journey was just talking nice all the time and always backed down when his mate talked back, there isn't a single Climbing Fire who'd be interested in him. So he's *technically* not doing anything wrong…"



"Oh, I DEFINITELY get that," Amy says with a grin. "Still, I don't like him being mean to you. Your fire burns hot! You're not some silly grill!"


"I assigned you this mission when I brought you into the mural. All you had to do was follow the breadcrumb trail, from Curses, who I used as a handy prop, to Vinland and Osmium, to Athena, to the Raven. That's how it was supposed to go. You broke the rule when you went away from the path you were supposed to take. That's what's going to get you killed, if you're lucky, recruits. Tartarus has so many other ways of punishing and torturing those who are lost in its clutches.

"Deviating from the mission, even for something that seems like a good idea, is what gets people lost in Tartarus," Wineberry says. "The mission is what keeps you in the light, it's what keeps you together, it's what keeps you from betraying your allies, and ultimately, yourself. Don't you know that Tartarus has a will of its own, that it'll try everything to distract you, to make you question yourselves, to get you to stray from the path, so it can devour you whole?"

As you listen, you see a glint of something devious in her eyes, and see darkness around her hieroglyphs, just like the blotted-out words from earlier, only less effective. You get the feeling like she's trying to goad you on, and that she's definitely hiding something.

"She keeps calling us 'recruits,' you think she's mistaking us for someone else?" Zjetya asks.

Wineberry squints suspiciously at the two of you in particular, and especially at Amy. "…Where did you get that dress, recruit?" she asks with growing intrigue.

As you get nearer to the dome, you see that it has two lumpy shapes of brass on the side, and they look like the ears of a floppy-eared dog breed to you. In fact, you see that the dome appears to be buried slightly under a pile of gold, indicating there's far more to it below what you can see now. It reminds you of Observer's golem, and if you strain a little with Ego's sense, you can feel a powerful presence within it. There is undoubtly a life inside.

"I'm glad you picked up on that," Wineberry says. She stands up, and the rose in her hoof begins to glow and stir. The stem elongates, becoming a long hilt, and the flower blooms, its petals curving upward and coalescing, forming a sword-like spearhead. "Recruits who can't follow orders have to learn their lesson one way or another."

But, she then cocks her head. "The sun thing? Go on…"

"No… as far as I know, they are dead," River says sadly. "They were strong in life, and blessed by Buiwong, but without any indication otherwise, I can only assume the worst. But, I have made peace with this, and I hope they have as well. They were strong and unyielding, and if they died, they did so with no regrets, having accomplished their goal."

River giggles as she sees you flustered, and slides into the water alongside you. There, you also see Shei, Mocha, the goos, Chorazin and Gadds, floating and talking. River nudges your arm, leading you further into the pool, away from them.

"Speaking the truth to those who are lost and deviant is not an act of hate, but love," Chorazin says. "To hate them would be to callously abandon them to the misery they build for themselves. To love them is to offer them a way out, even if you have to curse and shout and tear down their false idols to do so."

You see that it is late afternoon, judging by the sunlight filtering in from the open wall overlooking the waterfall.


>"Hey wait a minute, you told us that rule before we even got in here! And if you just wanted us in here why make us do all that other stuff instead of just pulling us in this place to begin with?"
KP questions.

>"Maybe she's stuck on a loop? Like she's supposed to train ponies, so that's all she can remember or do now."

KP says to Zjetya's idea.

KP backs up nervously as Wineberry's rose becomes a spear, and not feeling comfortable about her comment on lesson learning.
>"Y-You know, that sun disc that's in the temple outside?"
KP answers.

"Oh, I didn't realize everypony else was here."
Pryce comments as he steps into the bath area and sees the rest of the group.

"I'm sorry to hear. I would've liked to see them again." Pryce says, then nods. "They were. You four nearly had us beat a few times."

Pryce's face reddens as River slides in next to him, brushing it off as just the heat. As she tugs on his arm, Pryce follows her, preferring to get some space for them as well.


"I'd trust me instincts over some slag's orders," he mutters.

While he can't see much, he tries scanning the area for anything out of the ordinary.

Roll #1 1 = 1


Flaming grins, "Maybe… but, at least him being mean shows that he might… you know, BE a guy I wouldn't mind hanging…" she coughs, "Uh… I mean, it's not really that bad. At least he has a backbone, that's pretty good."

Flaming looks up towards Wineberry, "So that's why you had so many instructions laid out for us? So we'd be ready for Tartarus? I thought those were all just to guard the treasures of the vault that we found on the tablet, so the whole goal of these games were to prepare us for Tartarus? How did you know we would be going there next?"

She looks deeper into her eyes, trying to get an idea of what it is that's off about this whole conversation.
[1d10] Insight

She turns to Zjetya, "I think she may be a little confused about what's going on in the outside world… she seems to think the Sons of God are still around."

>"…Where did you get that dress, recruit?"
"We uh… found it. Are you familiar with the Tower of Traitors?"

Roll #1 6 = 6


"I- That is true.. Truth. I can show them, just what they have been doing all this time."

"Being an asset of the Mariposan military, you have experience in this I'd say?"



When Wineberry starts talking about all the bad things that can happen in Tartarus and distract you from your duty, Amy frowns. In fact, a tear even wells up in her eye.

Upon being asked about the dress, Amy looks down at it and smiles. She wipes her eye, then looks back up at Wineberry. "I got it from a pony named Hardspine. It's a long story, but I beat her in a duel. After that, she said she wanted me to have this. She told me a bit about your mom. About what she became…"

Amy trails off and has to wipe her eyes again. "I'm sorry what happened. I wish I could say I know what that's like. I wish I could tell you that it will be alright. But… I don't know any of that. I never knew my parents. I never had anyone to raise me. Everything has never been alright. But, I still try to make it that way," Amy says with a small nod as if she's reconfirming it for herself.

"I know you think you're doing the same, but you can't just tell people to blindly follow you and hope they'll come back this time. People have to be able to figure out what's best as they go. So, no, I haven't been distracted by any temptations. I just saw something bad happening - someone lying - and I did what I could to make that right. That's all I've ever been trying to do."

"I get the sense that you're trying to help us. I appreciate it. But, you won't be able to do it like this. So, let me ask you this: What can you do to make sure we are able to come back this time?"

>Diplomacy with Compassion [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8


"… Cause I designed it that way, that's why!" Wineberry says to your first question.

"Yes, what about it? That's what you're meant to find, recruit. In fact… you can still find it. Maybe it's around here, maybe not."

"This temple, known now as the Temple of Slipper, is a training grounds for the Sons of God," she answers. "So obviously, if you're here, you'll be preparing yourselves for Tartarus – either to capture demons and throw them inside, or to comb its depths, its endless fields, it boundless dark skies, for relics to help you hunt demons."

It becomes clear to you that she's definitely trying to provoke you to justify your decision to deviate from the path. Her fixation upon this single fact suggests something odd to you – perhaps you were meant to 'deviate' from the 'path' by design. A connection forms in your mind between the blotted out text from before and the darkness around her own words.

"Quite! I was renowned for my skill in breaking in new recruits," Chorazin says. "They called me the Tearjerker sometimes for how I could make even the toughest of cookies cry with enough verbal abuse."

River leans against a rock, and opens up her arms for you to hold one another. "Peace and quiet. I'd toast, but I don't have any alcohol on me. Perhaps this will do for now? Let's relax here for a while. To your well-deserved Honor!"

Wineberry pauses and listens intently, first as Flaming brings up the Tower of Traitors, and then as Amy speaks, connecting the dots and discovering the implications in her words. The corners of her eyes grow misty, but her expression is simply tired. Thousands of years' worth of tired.

"…who am I kidding?" she mutters to herself. "You people… there's no way you're recruits, are you? It'd been so long. First, one group came and challenged the Temple, and then yours. I'd really began to hope that the Sons of God were back again, ready to pick up the mission once more, after so many milennia."

"All of you, sit down," she says, dropping her rose spear. "… and don't waste your words, you in the dress. You'e speaking to a ghost, playing out an old, repeating drama, again and again."

"Yes, this was a training exercise for recruits to the Sons of God, now long dead, except, I suppose, for me, now. This was my attempt at making sure people could come back. That mom and dad might be brought back, in one form or another. I built all this to drill it into recruits' heads to just stick to their mission, to finish the fight, to see it through to the end, and not to waver, even in the slightest, not for one reason or another."

"But I suppose you've seen through the last of my cheap tricks. Heh, sorry. Got a little rusty at playing with my dolls over the milennia, haven't I?"

The hieroglyphs of Vinland, Osmium and Athena appear in the air behind her, inert, like statues. Blacked-out text appears above them, indicating she was behind that as well.

"Well…" Wineberry sighs sadly. "Suppose you've got questions, now, haven't you? I'll answer them in full, as best I can."



Pryce wads towards River, pausing as she holds open her arms. After a moment, he turns as comes up at her side, putting an arm around her.
"To my well earned honor."
Pryce toasts.


"And to hope that it will inspire in others. May your example lead the next generation of the new world to be one of chivalry, honor and bravery," River replies, raising in imaginary wine glass up before you.

When the toast is over, River lays there in the springs with you for a while, idly splashing in the water and gazing with a smile at her newly-regenerated wings and limbs.


Mocha looks a little disappointed, but nods, respecting Trapper's decision. Leaning on the side of the pool, she lays next to him and kicks at the water with her six drider legs, making quite a bit of a splash. "Uh… if you don't mind me asking, how separate are you from Flow, like this? Does he know what we're talking about?"


"That will be a great sight to see." Pryce says, clinking her imaginary glass with one of his own.

As they lie in the water, relaxing their woes away, Pryce looks down as River gazes at her restored parts.
"How are they feeling?"


"Excellent, of course. I'm itching to get out there again in the world. I want to run, to climb, to leap, to fly. Simply feeling the earth and grass beneath me, the wind on my skin, to feel water and heat and the cold, it is like being given a second chance at life, as a real and full person, not as a half-burnt living corpse."

She smiles and leans back against her towel, folded neatly on the ledge of the hot spring. "What more, I have a home now, perhaps for the first time. I have a family and a purpose.

"I thought I'd had those things when I journeyed with my former allies, and seeing Tantra again does leave me at least a little nostalgic for those old adventuring days. But, I realize now that I made anger my home, in those days. Anger against the unforgiving Union gods, against the legalistic church that cared more for the favor of the aristocracy than the poor who withered in their streets, anger against those cold and lonely streets in which outcasts and undesirables like me were tossed like refuse.

"Anger is not a home. It is a fuel, a tool, but one cannot be nurtured by it, loved by it, helped by it. It took all my life, but I've found those things now. I've found those things with you, and with our allies, our airship, our family."


Pryce smiles.
"Let's make the most of these next few days then. And after that Tartarus business is done, we'll have all the time in the world to travel so you can feel all of that."

"I remember feeling the same, last time we were at this camp. I was tired of the fighting, but even swearing it off didn't change anything. I was still stuck in my old blind devotions to the Church, to the Devas. It wasn't until Calque brought out that younger version of myself that I saw how much I changed. And then that day on the beach with you, I realized there's more to life."

Pryce props himself up on the edge of the spring, so he can look down and see River's face.
"Such as doing everything I can to provide you those things and more."


River leans against you, looking up with a smile. "Yes. There's far more to life than this. All this dread over angels and demons and war and brutality, it'll have its end very soon. Assuming the plan works, then regardless of whoever becomes monarch over demons and mortalkind, we'll be free to safely travel the ruins of the world."

She pauses, then snorts. "That sounded a bit more grim than I hoped, didn't it? I just want be optimistic about my next career as a traveling dancer! Eheheheh."

Swirling her hoof in the water, she starts to ponder. "What do you think of what it might take to bring peace back to the world? A unity with demons under Ecclesia's watch… the submission of all demons under Amy or Mudi… perhaps even their total destruction… which would you choose?"


"I wouldn't call it ruins, myself. I'd like to think of it as… exploring a new world."
Pryce says to lighten it up.

As she mentions dancing, Pryce raises an eyebrow.
"Oh? Really enjoyed that performance at Fantasia I see."

Pryce looks to the sky in thought.
"I would've said wiping them all out before. But after talking with Busta, Volkama, and Amy, and what happened with Prisca. A unity would be the best choice in the long run. Hopefully under Amy, she at least would want the demons to act nice instead of just threatening them if hey don't fall in line."


"Yes, I'll be a dancing archaeologist! I'll earn my keep with a song and a show, then on the weekends, we'll be rediscovering and relocating survivors into war-torn villages, once they're safe enough to inhabit again."

As you weigh the options for the future, a rubber duckie floats through the water, which River catches and bats about with her wing. "…mmm. That'd be ideal, wouldn't it? I'd hope that it could be her, someone I know and trust as much as any sister. I could even see myself settling down in a province that she ruled. But, if she were to fail, and Ecclesia would rule using Laciela and Yareakh… then assuming they're able to control demons all the same, I'd feel safe enough, but I wouldn't want to stay behind here."


"A magic and dance show. We'll have to get some new outfits for that," Pryce says as they plan the future, "We can even do celebrations once we help survivors set up new homes."

Pryce looks down at the duckie, surprised that someone brought a pool toy to a hot spring.
"She can make it. From what's she said about how she used to be, I don't think anything can keep her down easy. And Shei, despite the issues, is smart. I ave a good feeling his plan along with the others will pull it off for sure."


River nods at your assessment of the future. "Yes… I feel they'll be alright, even without us."

"Speaking of clothing, I'd like to get some new duds soon. Feels a little odd to keep cycling through my ordinary clothes now that I've been made new again. I think a fresh look is in order after my baptism and rebirth. Care to go shopping? I'd like something sharp on you too for tomorrow."

River squeezes the duckie, and it makes little honking noises. She honks it a few times and then squishes it against you. "Mister Duck wants to feast on your bloooood," she says in a spooky tone.


"It would be good to get some new outfits in to change up from my old robe." Pryce admits. "Though I've had that look for so long. It's hard to think of myself in casual attire."

Pryce can't help but burst out laughing as he's 'attacked' by River duck. Her added voice catching him off guard.
"Oh nooo. I knew I should have orders that garlic bread!"
He laments as the rubber bill presses against his vulnerable flesh.


Trapper shakes his head.
>>"Not yet, he don't. As soon as we buggers get back in his body, our eh…experiences carry over to him. Somethin' like that."
He gingerly lays a hoof on the water to absorb some of it.


"I quite like the white look on you, but you need a few more sets. How about a shade of crimson to match your coat?" she offers. She has Mister Duck climb up your side, and makes an outrageous squawking and Donald duck-like quack as Mister Duck "bites" your arm.

"Oh, so you're not quite like a split personality, but a sigil or a servitor, huh?" Mocha asks. "U-uh, no offense, though. It just must be an odd thing to not be too separate from him. Would you want to be your own goo?"


Trapper shrugs.
"Yeah, I'm just a simple clone, eh?"
When Mocha asks her second question, Trapper scrunches his mouth in thought.
"I…can't say, lass. I wouldn't know what t' do with meself, really."

While Trapper is busy in the baths, Vice makes a trip back to the Workshop to revise his order.


Vice heads to the Ecclesian Workshop, and gets directions through the many packed halls of the workshop to a smithy, built within the shade of a hill a little distance from the workshop. The hearth is not fired right now, but Vice can practically feel the heat from the many burn marks and smell of coal on the tools nearby and on the firebricks comprising the forge.

Currently, the crafters, a small group of four rugged stallions and donkeys, are engaged in a discussion on the shape of the mold they will use, and the enchantments they can afford to imbue the sword with. When Vice comes by, they look over inquisitively. "Hail, Savior," the one Vice placed the order with says. "Forget something?"

"Well, what do you like to do now?" Mocha asks. "I suppose it wouldn't be too different, you'd just have your own body, your own core, your own form, memories, thoughts… well, it might be quite the transition. But still, you'd basically just get to do what you do now, only on your own."


Vice respectfully bows as a greeting.
"Yeah, I was doing some thinking after I had left, and I was wondering if you could procure an accompanying sword. A sort of…long sword and short sword combo?"
He takes out the sack of bits.
"I can pay you more, if need be."

Trapper looks up as he thinks.
"Ah well. I don't do much. Pal around with Vice n' Flow. Other than that," he shrugs.


The crafters talk it over for a moment, sketching out designs on sheets of papyrus. Vice only catches snippets, as they are a quiet lot, but sees them pulling out scrolls and models from the Isle of Jibayin, the origin of the sword he requested. They settle on a tanto and wakizashi design, of a similar look to the katana.

"Here's the trouble," the lead smith says. "Most of the metal we've got is already set aside for the coming war. Bullets, guns, fortifications, swords, spears, on and on. Increasing the request size is going to increase the price exorbitantly. But, if we don't take the time to bless it, that would bring the costs down greatly, as well. If there's no blessing, we'll only charge you 100 more for the full set. How's that sound?"

"You should try out more then!" Mocha says. "Just because you're a clone doesn't mean you have to live in Flow's shadow all the time, taking his orders. You could go out and explore, learn those songs of the Watercolor Tribe, compose paintings, earn some honest coin as a monster hunter… it's a big world out there, even if we can only go so far due to the demons controlling most of it."


"Yea, I could see a nice blazing red working out. I will need something formal looking for tomorrow, maybe I'll try a new color there."

Pryce feigns pain as the duck bites into his arm, snickering as he tries to keep composure from that ridiculous sound River made. He slides down into the water, up to his shoulders, holding out a hoof.
"River, save yourself! It's too late for me, I can feel the quacks already rising in my lungs."


River laughs, letting Mister Duck drift away in the water. "Pryce… that's where you're wrong. I'm already a duck!"

Quaking and (moderately) thrashing, River squeezes you, taking care to pull you away from the ledge and the rocks in the spring to keep you from hitting your head on anything. During the play-duck-fight, you get several odd looks from Chorazin, Mocha and a couple of the other patrons of the spring… except for Gadds, who is asleep in the water, albeit face-up.


Pryce gasps in alarm at the news, shocked by such a revelation. He quickly falls under her assault, losing the battle against the duck queen. But as the 'bite' settles in, he matches her back, wings flapping as he gives a few butchered quacks of his own. In all this fun, he has completely forgotten about everypony else in the springs.


You and River wrestle for a little while in a frenzy of hooves, water, feathers, and crazy duck noises, until you are whapped on the head by something soft, yet firm.


You turn and see Busta awkwardly standing by the entrance to the spring, having tossed a couple foam water noodles into the water. River smirks, standing over you with a noodle, and brings it down to strike.


Roll #1 4 = 4


Pryce spits out as his head is bonked, looking up in confusion. He glances at Busta, slight awareness coming in remembering there are others there around them. But as River quickly moves to strike down for a second blow, Pryce quickly grabs a noodle of his own for a counter bop!

Roll #1 8 = 8


You duck to the side, narrowly avoiding her swing, and quickly parry, whipping her with a noodle in turn. River tosses herself back into the water to dramatize the strike, but flops back up with a loud quack, and swings at you once again!


Roll #1 1 = 1


Vice nods, and puts a hoof on his chin.
"I see…"
He puts down 400 bits.
"Would this suffice?"

Trapper scratches his head.
"I unno, lass. I jus' feel like I owe it to the bloke. I am /his/ clone, after all…"
He grins.
"An' besides, what would e' be able to do without Vice and I t back him up?"


"Down to the last," the crafter confirms, counting out the coin. "It'll be done tomorrow, the best quality steel you're gonna get your hooves on for miles, or it's yours for free."

Mocha shrugs. "Yeah, you've got a pretty good point there, but the guy owes it to you to give you a little freedom. I mean doesn't he usually kick the crap out of you two with all those new weapons he's always getting?"


Vice nods.
"If you don't mind…what kind of steel are you going to use?"

Trapper shrugs.
"Not usually. In fact, the lad's been giving us more free time lately. Besides, the more stuff we do, the more stuff Flow gets to learn!"


"Tool steel, of course, the same kind we use for every weapon around here. You want the thing to last under immense pressure, and so do we; can't have it breaking on you like some old replica."

Mocha blinks, considering the implications. "…This doesn't count as me stepping into Sister Renee's territory, does it? Cause I gotta say, I may not know her well, but cheating is still cheating. I don't want to ruin what she and Flow have!"


Pryce ducks into the water to avoid River's retaliation. He swims underneath the surface, to rise back up just before her for a deadly sneak attack of a noodle boop.

Roll #1 7 = 7


The whiffed swing leaves her exposed to counterattack, and you deliver the finishing blow, knocking her back into the water with a boop from your water noodle. River lets herself sink for a moment, then emerges, drenched and giggling from the absurdity of the past few minutes. With an exhausted sigh, she kisses you, then swims back to the ledge and climbs out, starting to dry herself. "Couldn't defeat you on land, can't defeat you by water. I concede: you are the superior duck."


Last time on HolyQuest…

Flaming, Flow, Amy and KP finally reached the end of the mural's secred, unintended path, where they entered a ruined city. Said city was discovered to be Vitral, depicted as it was thousands of years ago. Even then, the city was an eclectic hodgepodge of stolen architecture and land, taken away from conquered city-states via Geomancy. There, they met Princess Wineberry, daughter of Princess Vinland, and possibly the last living Son of God, who revealed that she was the one in control of Slipper, its trials and all those who set hoof in there to train themselves before entering Tartarus.

Having mostly concluded their business about Lilane, much of the other half of the party, namely Shei, Pryce, Vice and Trapper, retired to the hot springs to relax and unwind. Shei still needed to speak with his goats regarding the future of Kingdom Capra, and Trapper was on a date with Mocha.

Post sheets with your response.


"… Cause I designed it that way, that's why!" Wineberry says to your first question.

"Yes, what about it? That's what you're meant to find, recruit. In fact… you can still find it. Maybe it's around here, maybe not."

>Flow, Flaming

"This temple, known now as the Temple of Slipper, is a training grounds for the Sons of God," she answers. "So obviously, if you're here, you'll be preparing yourselves for Tartarus – either to capture demons and throw them inside, or to comb its depths, its endless fields, it boundless dark skies, for relics to help you hunt demons."

It becomes clear to you that she's definitely trying to provoke you to justify your decision to deviate from the path. Her fixation upon this single fact suggests something odd to you – perhaps you were meant to 'deviate' from the 'path' by design. A connection forms in your mind between the blotted out text from before and the darkness around her own words.

>Flow, Flaming, Amy, Shei

Wineberry pauses and listens intently, first as Flaming brings up the Tower of Traitors, and then as Amy speaks, connecting the dots and discovering the implications in her words. The corners of her eyes grow misty, but her expression is simply tired. Thousands of years' worth of tired.

"…who am I kidding?" she mutters to herself. "You people… there's no way you're recruits, are you? It'd been so long. First, one group came and challenged the Temple, and then yours. I'd really began to hope that the Sons of God were back again, ready to pick up the mission once more, after so many milennia."

"All of you, sit down," she says, dropping her rose spear. "… and don't waste your words, you in the dress. You'e speaking to a ghost, playing out an old, repeating drama, again and again."

"Yes, this was a training exercise for recruits to the Sons of God, now long dead, except, I suppose, for me, now. This was my attempt at making sure people could come back. That mom and dad might be brought back, in one form or another. I built all this to drill it into recruits' heads to just stick to their mission, to finish the fight, to see it through to the end, and not to waver, even in the slightest, not for one reason or another."

"But I suppose you've seen through the last of my cheap tricks. Heh, sorry. Got a little rusty at playing with my dolls over the milennia, haven't I?"

The hieroglyphs of Vinland, Osmium and Athena appear in the air behind her, inert, like statues. Blacked-out text appears above them, indicating she was behind that as well.

"Well…" Wineberry sighs sadly. "Suppose you've got questions, now, haven't you? I'll answer them in full, as best I can."


"Quite! I was renowned for my skill in breaking in new recruits," Chorazin says. "They called me the Tearjerker sometimes for how I could make even the toughest of cookies cry with enough verbal abuse."


The whiffed swing leaves her exposed to counterattack, and you deliver the finishing blow, knocking her back into the water with a boop from your water noodle. River lets herself sink for a moment, then emerges, drenched and giggling from the absurdity of the past few minutes. With an exhausted sigh, she kisses you, then swims back to the ledge and climbs out, starting to dry herself. "Couldn't defeat you on land, can't defeat you by water. I concede: you are the superior duck."


"Tool steel, of course, the same kind we use for every weapon around here. You want the thing to last under immense pressure, and so do we; can't have it breaking on you like some old replica."


Mocha blinks, considering the implications. "…This doesn't count as me stepping into Sister Renee's territory, does it? Cause I gotta say, I may not know her well, but cheating is still cheating. I don't want to ruin what she and Flow have!"



Amy sits when Wineberry says to sit, like a good girl.

"What do you know about what happened to your mother?" Amy asks solemnly.



Flaming analyzes the words of Wineberry carefully, contemplating why she seems so obtuse about the deviation of the path, but as she finally breaks down and admits to her machinations, Flaming smiles, sitting down as requested in front of the dome. "Thank you, for putting down the charade. This game was really fun, but I'm starting to get tired. Your challenge was incredibly intense."

As she explains the situation, she bows her head. "I'm sorry, that we weren't what you were hoping for… but, while we may not be the Sons of God, we promise to use anything they deem us worthy of inheriting in ways they would approve. We're planning to descend into Tartarus to stop the demons from ravaging the world. Are you aware that the Firmament outside broke less than a year ago?"


>"So uh… is it in here, or back out in the temple then?"
KP asks as Wineberry remains cryptic about the disc.

As Wineberry falters at everypony's words, admitting the truth and dropping the act, KP looks up, sad at seeing her look defeated and tired.
>"You were just training ponies so you could see your parents again."
KP says in empathy. He climbs up the dome so he can give a pat on the back and a comforting hoof on the shoulder.
>"Is that why those memory spheres were left back there?"

Pryce chuckles from the fun they had, then caught by surprise by the ending kiss.
"You still have the air to try. And you have the advantage there since you've had wings longer than I."
He offers, stepping out of the springs. He floats his towel over to dry off, but also adds in some of his fire magic, giving a nice, relaxing hot glow for both River and himself for a quick dry-off.




"Wait, a ghost? How long have you been here?"
Flow lowers his guard ever so slightly, but remains alert.

Vice puts a hoof on his chin.
>"Not to be a bother or anything, but do you have any steel that's hard, and light? I've been mulling an idea over for quite some time."

The goo clone shrugs
>>"I don't think so. Flow allows us to go out n stuff. It's like we're uh…on-call.


With you and River now dried, River clothes herself and steps back into the lobby, stretching and twirling about. "I feel quite light and refreshed now; suppose I was still holding in much anxiety from that argument we had with Gegenschein earlier."

"Oh, say, Pryce, we have a little time left before the day's up. Shall we go shopping now?"

"We've other blends, but if you keep making new requests, we can't get started on your first one!" the lead smith says with a good-natured laugh.

"Oh, well… I hope Renee's gonna feel the same. I'd hate to be a homewrecker," Mocha offers. "So, uh…" she looks around, fishing for conversation topics. "What's the weirdest thing you can do?"

"…2,300 years," Wineberry answers. "I've been asleep for most of it, forcing my soul into a hibernative state. My soul was like the souls of the plants, and the rocks, and the waters that surround this temple, breathing in the world around me, watching the stars and feeling the life and sights of the monsters that inhabit the nearby jungle. I did it to keep myself from going mad from the solitude."

"…You weren't exactly supposed to find those. I'd been looking at them recently, and just fell out of the habit of putting things back into place. I wasn't expecting a large rush of visitors like what I got recently, so I had to cobble a lot together kind of at the last minute… heh."

"Yes, I'm well aware," Wineberry says. "My soul is bound to this place, but over the years, I have grown to expand my consciousness beyond its walls and gardens, listening to the waters, to the rocks, to the jungles and the monsters that inhabit it. I've tried to keep up with all that has happened in the world since the Sons' disappearance, but it's difficult, being the only 'real' person here, besides the Raven."


"Lady Athena was the only one who came back from their final expedition, and all that I know came from her. As you saw, I was livid, ready to tear her into pieces, but I couldn't so much as touch her. Lady Athena was already a mare of great power, but when she came back, she was a demon as well. She had fused with one of the Princes of Tartarus, and subsumed his power and personality under hers. If she'd wanted, she could have bent every living thing to her will with a mere glance.

"…I'm telling the story out of order again. Let me back up. Athena said that an argument had begun to brew between her, mom and dad by the time that they reached the fifth ring of Tartarus: The Layer of Wrath. Each layer of Tartarus teems with captive souls: dead gods, angels, demons, monsters, and every kind of evil mortal – murders, liars, adulterers, thieves, usurers, and the persecuters of the innocent. Each is sealed upon a layer befitting of its evil, and they are bound there in a perversion of eternal life. When they are killed inside of Tartarus, they are drawn into its soil, and their bodies and souls are reborn in a new form, a twisted caricature, made new and horrible each time they are re-created by Tartarus.

"Athena said that mom began to contemplate the suffering that she witnessed in its endless hellish planes. What is the role of punishment for sin? What is the role of captivity in jail? Is it not to exact justice for crimes committed, but also to rehabilitate, to restore, to redeem after an appropriate purgation and ablution? And if that were true, then wasn't Tartarus a perversion of that? Eternal punishment, eternal death, endless torture for a single infraction, for a single sin… how could it be called justice, and how could the Sons of God be called just?

"Well… that's what mom thought anyway. Athena tried to dissuade her from thinking on this too much. She saw the Sons of God as just, that their acts of capturing evildoers and throwing them into Tartarus was merely self-defense, was perfect justice after the eternity of suffering that the innocents of mortalkind suffered under demons and the evil mortals who used demons powers to persecute their fellow mortals. Mom dropped the argument, but the conflict had already taken root between them: Athena's inerrant attitude toward the perfect justice that God had allowed them to carry out against evil, against my mother's growing sense of mercy and sympathy for those she had consigned to their eternal punishment."



"So where did the demon fusing come into it?" Amy asks, listening intently.


As Wineberry mentions the Raven, Flaming leers. "Right, about THAT next… the Raven was a minion of God in 'this' story you made, right? If you and the Sons of God ended up opposing God… how did the Raven come to be working for you?"

"She fused with the Prince of Tartarus?" Flaming repeats, thinking about the concept. "Isn't that was Shei was wanting to do to Amy…?" She asks those in her group who might remember the goat's earlier machinations.

As Wineberry goes on to explain the inner-workings of Tartarus, she shudders, imagining the sort of hellscape it must be for those who die and are reborn into twisted caricatures of themselves. "It sounds horrible… I cannot blame your mother for thinking that way. I would begin to be filled with doubt as well, had I saw such a thing. And from what I understand of Tartarus from trusted sources, if two ponies of different mindsets like your mother and Athena were close to each other, Tartarus itself would be literally torn between them, do I understand that right?"


Pryce puts on his robe, still feeling pretty elated.
"I knew hot springs were a good idea."

Pryce looks at the sky to judge the time, then back to River.
"Sounds good. We should be able to get a few new outfits before night."

>"You threw this whole place together by yourself just before we got here?! Cooool…"
KP says in awe.
>"So if you made and control this place, then what happened to all the ponies we saw that were trapped in the mural from before?"


Vice nervously chuckles.
>"Ehehe…yeah, this should be the last request. I just want this to really impress Sir Flow."
He sheepishly takes his leave to explore while Trapper is busy.

>>"I'm sure she won't mind…but then again, it'd be a pain to get back together when I'm called…"

He puts a hoof on his chin, and slowly melts into a puddle.
>>"This, probably."

Flow stays quiet as Wineberry tells her story.
He intently listens to what she has to say about Tartarus, and how the three comrades had conflict between them.


Mocha blinks, her skin shifting slightly, then she pulls back some of her fluffy mane, and you see three more pairs of eyes on her head, all tinier than her normal pony eyes. "This here's mine. I think yours is cooler, though.

After leaving the spring, you see a large, red merchant caravan entering Lilane's gates: A very large and multi-floored wagon, carried by a team of four Rumblers. All kinds of bits and bobs hang from its outside, and through the window you can see that it is packed with stuff. Many Ecclesians approach curiously as it settles into a large open lot by Lilane's houses, and its door opens. Box and Busta join you, the latter being very happy to leave behind the spring.

"Curses, uh… recruited them and turned them into demons," she says sarcastically, gesturing at Curses and her entourage of hooded 'demon' servants. Curses waves, and so do her entourage.
"It is true what the demon slayer says, yes!" Curses adds.

"Because I have not abandoned my original mission," Wineberry says. "If there are demons roaming about the world, then it is the role of the Sons of God to slay them or seal them away. Even after all that has happened, if there are still some of God's creations left here, then I shall make ample use of them."

"Only one of the Princes; there are many," Wineberry says. "But there is only one demon who is greater than the Princes, and that is the Accuser."


"On the hierarchy of sapient beings, mortals are at the very bottom in terms of physical, magical and spiritual strength. Even the most naturally gifted and vigorously trained mortal, armed with all manner of weapons, cannot stand before the power of high-level demons or angels, and is helpless before gods and demigods. That is why mortals were so easily subjugated by demons until the Sons of God came around: the weapons and blessings that God gave them entirely tipped the balance of power in the Sons' favor.

"As they got further and further into Tartarus, Athena and Mom began to clash, arguing their points back and forth, again and again. This only drove them further apart, setting them further into their differing views, while Dad had to do all that he could to keep things from falling apart between them, lest Tartarus itself split from their argument, which would have spelled disaster for them and their forces. To avert disaster, forbade them to talk, for the safety of themselves and of the armies they brought with them.

"So, in silence, they proceeded, their argument silently brewing, until they reached the Ninth layer of Tartarus: Betrayal.

"At the bottom of the Ninth layer, there is a long, straight and narrow path, devoid of form, of light, of smell, of sound. They proceeded down it for what seemed to be an eternity. It was not just that they could not perceive any part of the path, but that their very senses dwindled, until they walked forward, unable to feel, see, smell or hear even one bit of what lay before them.

"Some people believe that mortals would die if they ever stood in the presence of a god, that either the sheer awe, or the very nature of divinity, being of a form so pure and alien to a mortal, would obliterate them. Because of this belief, some priests and shamans around the world would try to dim or even nullify their own senses and bodies through ascetic practices, believing that it would bring them closeness to the gods, and let them receive their infinite and unknowable knowledge, and drink of their nature as if it were wine.

"And you know what? They're right.

"As the Sons of God proceeded down that final tunnel to the bottom layer, they drew close to its source, its heart, the voice of God Itself whispered all of God's knowledge to them… it told them everything."


"You can still make use of it? But, I thought the Raven betrayed your parents in the story. Does it not seek revenge against you as well, as their child? As one who is member to the group that betrayed God?"

Flaming listens carefully to the tale, her ears flopping as she hears how their division led to their downfall upon descending further into the pit. "So what we were told was right… one must be very selective about their company when entering Tartarus."

As she describes the final circle of betrayal, Flaming listens intently, as it describes how the creature that dwell there, the one that called itself God, unleashed its nature in the presence of mere mortals, and spoke to them of ancient secrets. "By the spirits… Athena was still with them at the time, right? She somehow survived this awesome power?"


>>"Ooh, I think I can do that!"
He tries forming another eye on his gooey form.

>"Well, looks like someone has eccentric taste. Perhaps they have some exotic spices!"

Vice eagerly goes up to the cart, gesturing for Busta and Box to follow.

Flow listens still, and sits down. He winces when Wineberry mentions an entire layer of hell dedicated to Betrayal.



"But, Athena made it out. So, it couldn't have been THAT bad."



"Verbal abuse seems to be a Mariposan speciality" Shei says blankly

>can we timeskip to evening so I can visit my goats?


KP listens on as Wineberry tells of her story. As she speaks of the narrow path, memories of his sights during the end of the Rapture, his desperate attempt at trying to use the Ember, come to mind.
>Oh hey! I think I've been there!"

Pryce looks over as he hears the large wagon pulling in and setting up.
"Huh. I guess we can start there. I would've though we'd need to head back to Zha to shop."
Pryce says, leading RIver and the others to check it out.

Pryce looks to Busta, noting his happiness.
"Not a fan of hot springs?"

KP looks at the entourage, feeling relieved everypony is in one place, and none looking like a big threat.
>"Quite a big group you got there. Good job Curses."


"If you say 'you think,' you probably haven't."

"I didn't want to get too close to the other Ecclesians while they were without their guns," Busta says. "I thought they might get scared and try to attack, or call for help."

As you enter the shop, you see that it is a packed, self-contained little bazaar, run by a camel who wears a turban, many-layered red robes, charms, pendants and jewels. The camel greets you with a nod. "Look around and tell me if you see anything you like," he says with an affected accent. "My name is Camelzotz. Ask if you require any assistance."


Vice ends up with another eye, and Mocha laughs. "Did you mean to only make one, or were you going for another six more?"

That evening, you are directed to another one of Lilane's long halls, where Ecclesians gather to eat their apportioned rations for the night. After prayers and blessings are said for the food, the Ecclesians dig in, chatting about missions, assignments, battles, scouting, and so on.

Toward the back of the hall, you see a table where all the goats have gathered, eating and talking just as the Ecclesians are. When they see you enter, they direct you to the seat of honor, many greeting you as you approach. "Savior" is a common honorific they use toward you.

"You misunderstand. From where God sees the situation, it was my Mom, Dad and Athena who betrayed It, not the other way around. By turning tail upon their mission and attempting to fight back against It, they were the traitors… and part of me agrees."


"They eventually reached the end of the long and narrow tunnel, entering the final Layer of Tartarus, and beheld the Accuser, the mightiest demon in all of existence. It was not a simple or a single entity. She told me that she saw a new Earth, a new sea, a new sky, a new hell, a new heaven. It was as though all of creation were there, all of the span of existence, all of time and space, flesh and blood, earth and water and fire and air and aether, crashing upon one another in a cataclysm of birth and death, simultaneously decaying and growing, growing dark and bright, becoming old and young, unfolding and unfolding, in a hallucinogenic tumult, a great and terrible engine, perpetuating the chaos and suffering that is Tartarus. It was the ultimate tool of God."

"It was at that point that Vinland and Athena faced one another. Vinland had set it fully upon her heart that what she and the Sons of God had done was wrong, that they had tried to slay evil with greater evil. She wanted to take the power of the Accuser for herself, and wrest it away from God and use it to heal and save all those whom she had trapped in that realm of eternal suffering. Athena, on the other hand, simply could not accept this. She'd thought Vinland had gone mad, that God was tricking her, that she was abandoning their just and noble cause for mere idiotic sentiment."

"Their argument escalated, and the Accuser took notice… it called forth its servants, the Princes, to defend it from them, but Vinland and Athena were far too focused on one another to be bothered… then, their final battle began."

"…that's all Athena told me. Out of all the armies that Vinland brought into Tartarus, she was the only one who returned, having been fused with one of the Princes."



>"Well, I didn't go to Tartarus, but I did try to absorb the Ember of Jalandhara and when I did I ended up on that same kind of road you described."
KP describes to correct the situation.

KP lowers his head at hearing the end of the story. Such a vision, the guilt that Vinland felt, hearing what the Sons of God went through makes that bit of depression Pryce felt over his fall with the Devas seem like a petty problem.
>"S-So, what did she do after that? The Sons of God aren't around, but if she fused with one of the Princes then she could've really changed this world, couldn't she?"

"I'm sure they wouldn't have while the rest of us were around, but I can understand that feeling."
Pryce says to assure Busta.

Pryce walks inside the wagon, surprised at how much is packed inside. He nods at Camltotz's greeting, walking around as he checks his pockets for bits. He looks at the small collection he has, then to River.
"Pick out anything you'd like. I think we can get quite a bit."


"You agree with God? But your parents had good reason for turning against it."

Flaming listens silently as Wineberry tries to explain the sheer horror and wonder that was the Accuser, of the infinite possibilities trapped within and the mind-crushing concept of beholding such a being. She gulps, not eager with the concept of confronting such a terrifying creature herself when faced with such description.

"That's… that's unreal…" she stammers, before listening to the tale of Vinland and Athena's final battle against the Princes of Tartarus guarding their master, and two friends putting each other to the sword. "For what it's worth… I think your mother had good reasons for what she did. She thought she did something wrong, and wanted to make that better. You should be proud she was so brave to come to the decision she did, in the face of it all…"

"What about your father, Osmium? Did he side with his wife?"



Once the story was finished, Amy sits in quiet contemplation for a while. "Nothing good came from fighting," Amy thinks out loud. "Even though Vinland was right, fighting about it didn't help. I know the same thing is going to happen again. I know Shei is going to mess things up. But, fighting didn't help anything. I guess the best thing we can do is just make up for the mistakes afterwards. So, in the end, I guess you're right. I guess we SHOULD just focus on the mission."

"You should know," Amy says, now directly addressing Wineberry. "I intend to find a way to make demons peaceful. I don't know how yet. But, when we go into Tartarus, that will be the start of it. It will be slow and long. But, one day, I hope we can get your mother out of Tartarus."

"No," Amy says, with greater resolution in her tone. "I KNOW we will get her out of Tartarus one day. Whatever she has become, we can make her better again."


Shei-Sher asks Chorazin and his brother Gadds to accompany him to see his goats. He did not want to come alone.

It's painful hearing it each time, calling him by the name him Savior. Assuming this title onto him, thrusting that destiny when the decisions for their tribe have been plainly made by everyone involved. Shei stands mutedly, he does not take his chair.

"I am not your Savior. Do not call me your savior when none of you will even hear my prayers. Because when I returned to Zha Arlakane there was no one there to follow me home. Only an empty nest and here I find you in another nest. A PITIABLE FRACTION OF OUR FAMILY!" Shei-Sher scans the goats present at the table. Wondering if they will even offer him a response.



Vice's eyes light up at the vast assortment of goods Camelzotz has to offer.

Trapper sinks it back into his goo.
>>"Aye, I ment to get eight more," he says with a nervous chuckle.
>>"But ye get the point. We blokes can form into whatever we want! And if we ave' molds, it's even easier!"

"…so this lass walks out of Tartarus, fused with one o' the Princes. Some of the strongest demons we know of."
He shakes his head.


Vice approaches the pets Camelzotz has, and peers at the Deviljo.
>"What is this?" he asks with genuine intrigue.


Busta nods and pats your arm. "Yeah, I do feel a lot safer when I'm 'round you guys, but… still."

"Hmm… if Flow destroyed his body, but moved his core into one of you, would that make you into him, or him into you?"

"It is a tiny deviljho, a terrible monster from the country of my birth," Camelzotz says. "I captured, tamed, and shrank it, and it needs a good owner to take care of it. Are you interested?"

Wineberry grits her teeth, and a churning of darkness can be seen in her eyes. "Why should I care about the suffering of those in Tartarus?" she asks. "If God thought that Tartarus was the appropriate punishment the demons who ruined the world, then so be it. Throw every last one of them inside… young, old, male, female. The only people I care about now in Tartarus are my mother, father, and the last of the Sons of God. My purpose now is to get them out."

"Athena did not tell me what happened to him. Knowing him, he would've led their armies into battle against the Princes and the Accuser to protect Vinland… as for what he felt about the captives of Tartarus, I do not know."

Wineberry examines KP for a moment, then sighs with exhaustion, turning away. "Then I am sorry."

"Athena told me that, by right of succession, I was now the head of the Sons of God, and that she was duty-bound to give me this report. After she delivered it, she told me that she would leave this world, wanting nothing more to do with it. Now, she is the ruler of the Purgatorium Colosseum, a world of her own creation. It is nothing but a hollow imitation of Tartarus, capturing mighty warriors from across the myriad worlds, forcing them to battle and compete for her amusement, as in the days of old."

"…Thank you," Wineberry says, wiping at the corners of her eyes. "I appreciate that."

"Now, you did come here to learn about Tartarus, and to train for it. I will do all that I can to assist you, but for lack of a physical form, I can't leave this place. Oh, and, if you wish, I can bring us out of the mural. This test, and the rules, are now void."

The goats look at you in intrigue. "They've taken to calling your group the Saviors after what you did for Vitral, all those lives you saved. What, you thought we were calling you that?" one of the goats scoffs, to much scorn from the others.
"Calm down, calm down," an older goat says. "What's this all about?"


was the appropriate punishment for*



"Well…" Amy considers whether it's a good idea to ask. "In case it wasn't clear, I'm half-demon. These tattoos on my face help solidify the bond with my demon half. And, it makes me stronger. If I'm going to have a chance in Tartarus, I need both of those things. Do you have a way to add to them?"


Flaming looks ready to raise her voice in argument, seemingly frustrated with how Wineberry seems to be disregarding their suffering down below, but for a brief moment of clarity, the usually eager-to-fight buffalo takes a breath, and lets it out. "I didn't come to argue their ethics. But, you didn't see what happened to those trapped within Tartarus. Your mama did. There must be a good reason she made that decision."

"At any rate, I'm not looking to try and free all of them either. I'm looking to go in there to stop the demons that are already out here. But, like Amy said, if there is anything we can do for your Mama and Papa while we're down there, we will. I promise too."

"Yes! Please, ANYTHING you can tell us about Tartarus will help, we'll take every lesson you have to offer. And… I think I would like to head outside. This story book thing is… really kind of disorienting. What exactly made you go for something like THIS for the final test?"


Trapper extends a tendril to where his chin would be.
>>"If I remember…we're basically just extra goo for the lad, so…yeah, we'd turn into 'im."

>"Hmm. It certainly looks interesting…but I doubt Flow would want a pet around."

Flow looks downcast, and he picks himself up.
"Aye lass. We 'ave business down there."


>"You don't need to apologize. Things turned out mostly alright afterwards."
KP says as she turns away.

>"Purgatorium? Hey, some ponies from there came to us a few weeks ago! We were fighting some demon and then they showed up trying to capture him for their colosseum before we finished him!"

KP says at recognizing the name.
>"So she took her power and just set up another Tartarus? That's… why would she do that?"

>"You're welcome."
KP says politely.

>"And thank you,"

KP says as Wineberry offers to help them.
>"Oh! One last question. So was that you that was talking back when we finished that third trial up in the tree area and got the last piece?"


A nerve goes off in Shei-Sher's head. He is thinking something along the lines of These fucking Goats.

Shei-Sher's wings spread wide as he stamps his staff onto the floor. "You Daft! Daft! Daft! Goats! I have brought you from the pit of hell - from shackles! I took you and now again I find you all in shackles once more in a place that will become hell. Because I will not be here to guide you past ruin once Tartarus's gates open, and neither will you have the blessings of the gods who cleared the way." Shei-Sher admonishes them all anger wrinkling his brow.

"Who is your patriarch! Or the person with the longest horns that is all that matters to you lot in the end. Show Yourself!"


"Wow, you guys really are handy! How many of you could he possibly make?"

Camelzotz nods. "Take a look at the rest of the wares, perhaps you will find something else for yourself or for a lover."

"So you did, and you've our gratitude for it," one of the goats says. "But shackles? Hell? In comparison to what? We're armed, clothed, clean, surrounded by walls. What – are you saying we're supposed to view this as another slave pen? That's absurd!"
"We're here because we chose to serve the Choir," another goat pipes up. "We fight, they give us everything else. What are you yelling about? Calm down and articulate yourself if you have some kind of issue with us being safe. You're making a scene, compose yourself!"

"So that they would be in her grasp, where she could be in control of their fate, and not left to rot in Tartarus," Wineberry says. "I knew Athena very well… even a zealous crusader such as she had a spark of mercy in her."

She examines the tattoo, then sighs, though this time in nostalgia. "…I recognize that calligraphy. Even now, they're still passing on the old traditions. Yes, I can improve this, and deepen the bond between you and your demon. I picked up your name from watching you in the temple earlier, but I will need to know this demon's name as well."

"I thought it looked cute," Wineberry says without a hint of insincerity or sarcasm. "I even enchanted the words with the Tongue of Fire so anyone could read them… even illiterates like you."
LJ snorts, but flicks his horns at Wineberry. "I'm the only one who gets to make fun of her illiteracy."

"Yes, actually, and that crash you heard was also me. You surprised me for getting through all the trials, and I knocked over a bunch of things trying to get ready at the last minute."

She gestures to the piles of gold and teasure. "These were stacked a lot more neatly before you gave me that fright, and I just didn't feel like setting them back up again."

Wineberry raises her hoof and waves it to the right, as one does when shutting a book they are finished reading. In a flash of light and a swirl of color, you are lifted up, your stomaches rising and hair standing on end…

…and you are brought back out of the mural, and placed in the central temple hallway. Behind you, the wall with the mural starts to shake, and it starts to sink into a compartment below it, opening up the hallway for you to proceed further inside. "That treasure you were after, the sun diskos, is just ahead," Wineberry's disembodied voice says.


Pryce walks through the wagon for a new outfit. Something more formal and fitting for his ceremony than his traditional robe. He keeps River's suggestion in mind, looking through the racks of outfits until he finally finds something that looks fitting enough in his mind.
As he goes to purchase his new outfit, Pryce stumbles across a few other things that grab his interest. He picks up the Hymn of the Cedar-Tree Shrine, reading over the scroll. It would be nice to practice more songs to put the gift from Qirash to better use, perhaps this is a sign.
Pryce also sets his eyes on some furniture. It would be nice to make his small room look nicer, and not so drab. He looks for a dresser, for storage and placing things upon. He also gets some candles for light so he won't need to keep his horn running. And he also looks for a new bed, something to be a big improvement over his conjured one.


File: 1547098638179.png (717.1 KB, 1024x1240, dissidia__red_mage_of_ligh….png)

>Forgot the outfit picture


>Outfit + Song + Big Furniture + Medium Furniture + Small Bauble = 210 Bits
>[1d10] [1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 10 = 10


File: 1547099544890-0.png (107.71 KB, 300x491, Example 1.png)

File: 1547099544890-1.png (106.24 KB, 358x531, Example 2.png)

River comes back with two new outfits of her own, the first, a comfortable, slightly oversized black dress, with leggings, boots, and a large bow, and the second, a more eye-catching dress, a red one with a slit in the side and a floral pattern on the front. She also has a flower pot and a telescope with her. Initially she reaches for her coinpurse, but after you offer to cover her purchases, she smiles with gratitude, wagging her tail.

Your total comes out to being 232 Bits. Camelzotz looks at your haul and raises an eyebrow. "Will you require assistance carrying all this?"
Box scoffs and opens his mouth.
"Ah, I see," Camelzotz says.


"I-ILLITERATE!? Hey!" Flaming objects, standing up from her sitting position ready to do away with her earlier civility and take up horns against this insult, but is caught off-guard as LJ stands up for her defense. She smiles, moving closer to him as she bonks her head against his. "Nice try, but you're supposed to say NO ONE can make fun of my illiteracy."

She turns towards Wineberry again. "I guess it IS pretty cute… but, I wasn't aware a Son of God really cared a lot about that sort of thing. What does cute have to do with combat training?"

As Flaming feels herself pulled back out of the book, shifted away with a lurch and back into the mural hall that they found themselves in earlier, she quickly looks aorund and makes sure everyone got out (including Blessings), as well as seeing if any of the others trapped in the mural on the wall earlier seem to have been released.

As Wineberry speaks to them, and the hallway opens up, Flaming gets up and prepares to move. "Wineberry, we had another question to ask you: all those people who got sucked into the mural before we arrived, are they still alive?"


Trapper shrugs.
>>"I unno, like…three or four?"

Vice does some hard thinking, and goes over to the clothes that Camelzotz offers. Once he finds a deep red poncho, he goes up to Camelzotz, stopping when he spots the snakeskin whip.
>"Oh my. Is that…snakeskin?"

Flow blinks and shakes his head to get his bearings once more.



"We decided her name is Ego," Amy answers with a smile.


>"Oh. That does sound better when you put it like that."
KP says.
>"I hope we don't run into her again. If she's got that kind of power, seeing her around can't be a good sign."

KP laughs as she admits it.
>"Heh, I guess we gave you a little scare getting through so quick."

KP holds his stomach after Wineberry starts to send them out of the book. He looks around to make sure everypony is back outside and all safe.
As the wall opens and the path the the disk is reveal, KP looks up to where he hears teh voice coming from.
>"Thanks Wineberry! Hey, is there anything else we can do for you? You know aside from the Tartarus stuff."

Pryce looks down as River comes up with her goods. His eyes linger down at the red dress, before he quickly breaks and offers to cover her goods.

Pryce chuckles as Box interjects with the offer to carry, using his magic to help levitate their goods down for Box to take care of.
"Hope this tides you over for the time being."
As they start to walk out, Pryce stops at the pet collection.
"What are these?"
Pryce asks, the small size of such foreign looking creatures begging to be questioned.


"That's more than enough for me. Not sure what I'd even do with five clones of myself."
Mocha then climbs out of the water, drying herself off. "Well, sorry you couldn't get into the water. Where do you want to go now?"

"From the needletongue, creating a most powerful weapon," Camelzotz says. "Care to buy it?"


Flaming looks around at the large group of new faces that accompanies Blessings back out of the mural, the buffalo quickly running up to give the zebra a hug. "It really, REALLY is good to have you back, 'Curses'." she teases, before looking around at all the rest of the group.

"Are all these guys still going to follow you? How longer were they all in the mural, I was thinking earlier we could use some extra help back in Fantasia!"


"Oh Yes! And and you deserve it all too, without a hoof to lift. It is a cardinal sin the world does not serve slices of the earth on platters made from angelic metals, to the so esteemed goat people." Shei lingers in each word savoring the sarcasm for them all to hear him enjoy "AHAHAHAH, You stupid Goats, it is no wonder the people of Zha so scorned you. When they see the women, and young, and elderly loafing about in their inns as you the able bodies loaf about in the fields. And YET! You trade a kingdom for servitude under Ecclessia, gleeful to be their shields when Tartarus brings its war to Huoli! I am being literal if you could not notice. The Gates of Tartarus are opening the morning after two days from this night. And I am among those who must walk into it's belly."

"Was that articulated well enough for you slobs?" Shei very condescendingly gesture. "Do you not like what I have to say? Then take me by the horns and throw me from Ecclessia's halls. I challenge the Patriarch of the daft, stupid and damned goats of Ecclessia! And please, I do not hold any measuring sticks for you all to sort this one out." Shei implies the equivalent of dick measuring neccessary for them all to sort out who the patriarch of their tribe is.

[1d10] to provoke

Roll #1 3 = 3


Trapper's form morphs out from his goo with a sheepish grin.
>>"I doubt e' could either."
He scratches the back of his head.
>>"Er…I aven't the slightest clue, lass… We could walk around n' find something."

Vice puts a hoof on his chin.
>"Hmm…it does look quite exotic…I'll give ye 85."

Roll #1 2 = 2 / Roll #2 4 = 4


The goats look simply confused as you rant and ramble on. A few of them mutter to one another, trying to decipher what you said. "Mind must've been broken out there."
"Are you lost? Do you want to fight the Choir?" one of them slowly asks, exaggerating each word, apparently concerned for your mental aptitude. "Or just Gegenschein?"

"These are monsters that I have captured and tamed myself, now looking for a good home," Camelzotz says. "There is the Pukei-Pukei, the Kecha Wacha, and the Deviljho," he says. "Are you a proper and careful caretaker? I will not entrust them to someone abusive or neglectful."

"…A unique name."

Ego forces you to bark, eliciting a laugh from Wineberry.

"Return alive."

"I cannot accept less than 100, I am afraid."

"Ah… uh, yeah, I suppose we could!"

Mocha walks along with Trapper, heading outside. She looks a little bored of the date, but she wears an optimistic smile nonetheless.

Blessings sheepishly removes her cloak, setting it back down around her shoulders and neck, and hugs Flaming as well. "Tis good to be back, but perhaps if I'm feeling crabby, I'll bring out Curses again.
LJ runs around the rescued people, finding several among them who are buffalo and Buiwong cultists, speaking with them in joy of reunion.
After speaking with the crowd, you gather that they've been trapped in there for about a week's time, but they seem to be alright.
"We'll gladly go back there and do whatever we can to help!" one says as you ask. "I think I speak for all of us when I say we've had our fill of the outside.

Wineberry coughs awkwardly as you stand in the hallway. "Um… go down the hallway now, please, past where the mural was," she says. "I put the real treasure back there. You can have it. It's yours. It's meant for recruits who complete it but I'll let you have some. Go on, get going. I am still this dungeon's master, you know, I could throw another trial at you if you just stand around!"


Shei-Sher stares at them blankly, feeling unbelievable embarassment for these daft goats that he has led for about 3 years.

He steps forward, slowly and calming, his hooves enunciating each step onto the floor "Are these goats who I once called family. So cowardly that they would drag a member of the choir into a fight for their honor. Are you truly so lost that no patriarch led you to these tents. Was it the scent of bread and gunpowder?" He says it all mute of emotion, as though stateing an objective fact despite asking a question.

He stands there with antipathy and sorrow brewing inside of him as he glowers the long table of pathetic goats.
[1d10] Intimidate

Roll #1 3 = 3


Vice pouts.
>"I suppose that's fair."
He pays for the whip and the poncho, then walks out, looking for Box.

Trapper is cringing internally at himself.
>>"S-so…what do you usually do for fun?"

Flow sighs and heads down the hallway.
"Aye lass, no need to hurry."


"I am. I have a pet frog I've been taking good care of."
Pryce says as he's questioned, looking at the pets.
"Looking for a good home? River, what do you think?"
Pryce says, looking between the Pukei-Pukei and the Deviljho, both reptiles looking appealing and possibly good friends for Hopper.

KP nods, crossing a hoof over his chest.
>"We will, I promise."

As Wineberry coughs as they all check on each other and the saved ponies, KP quickly turns back to look down the hallway.
>"Right! Just wanted to make sure everypony was okay!"
He answers up to Wineberry.

>"Come on guys, let's get that disc!"

He says to the others, running down the hallway.



"If you knew us, you'd know it's a good name," Amy laughs in response to Wineberry's own laughter.

"Okey dokey!" Amy says happily when she's told to go down the hallway. "You're a good princess," she says before she goes, giving Princess Wineberry a vigorous hug.


Flaming smiles up at Blessings, "Let her come back then. I'll just ask 'Chief Inferno Stampede' to finally settle the score with that nefarious demon lord." She quickly knocks her head (gently) against Blessing's chest, "But really Blessings, I'm so, so glad you're alright! You won't believe how scared we all were when you just disappeared into the mural."

As LJ speaks with the buffalo in the crowd, Flaming is quick to join with him, eager to reunite with her brethren as well. "Brothers! Sisters! It's good to see you all unharmed. If you're willing to join us on our way back from whence we came, to a sanctuary getting on its legs called 'Fantasia', I know they would greatly appreciate all of your contributes. I'm not gonna lie: it's in rough shape, but no challenge is to great for our kind, is there?"

She looks up to the disembodied voice as they head down towards the treasure, "Thank you again for all of this, Wineberry. If you don't mind my asking, is there you could come with us as well? Once we take the treasure, there'll be no point for you to remain here, right? Why not leave this place!"


"Well, I've been trying to meditate a lot more, lately, and praying, except to myself. You know how gods require prayer to maintain their strength? Demigods don't really need that, but they can still benefit from it. It's like an added bonus they can have. But what about demi-demigods? I have no idea, so I'm trying to find out by praying to myself."

"What part of this don't you get, imbecile? There is no patriarch! We have joined Ecclesia, we follow Ecclesian law, which puts the highest authority in the Choir!" the first goat says. "If you insist on fighting someone today, take your complaint to them!"
"Oh, I recognize that one," the second says. "He's the one who had the wet rope tied around his skull, and was left out to dry in the sun."
"…So he's just damaged, then," the first says, getting crude laughter from some and light scolding from others. "I can't believe we really followed someone like him. Doesn't that make us the damaged ones?"
"We're more pathetic than someone that can't even form a coherent thought!" another laughs.

"Oh, dear, pet shops have always left me feeling rotten… could we take home all three? Sugar and Spitshine could take care of one as a lesson in responsibility for another's life."

The buffalo are quick to cheer their assent, just happy to be finally out of the mural and not caring much where they have to go.

"I cannot leave this place behind until my work is done," Wineberry asserts. "Just because you passed does not mean that others will not need my help in the future."

You travel down the dark hallway, and it widens as you go. Torch sconces on the sides of the walls automatically light as you pass by. Soon, you reach a set of stairs heading downward. Past that, another hallway leads forward to an ornate set of double doors.

Upon opening them, you enter a solemn, large and well-lit room with a stone brazier in the center, and four marble stands which surround it at a little distance. The walls of the room are decorated lovingly and immacutely with ancient icons, hundreds of them, each of them depicting a soldier of the Sons of God.

There are four treasures atop the marble stands, surrounded by an aura of magic: a collar, a staff, a badge and a scroll.


Your allies stand in awe of the icons, looking all about the room in reverent curiosity.


Shei continues staring at them. Brooding, overflowing with anger as he stands there simply staring.

First the silverware heat to glowing hot temperatures and then the Stone holding the table together. Immediately collapsing thereafter at Shei-Sher's glower

>CURSE OF IRON+1: Recharge 3; Heats up the weapons and armour of the target to a red hot blaze, burning those who touch them. Disarms the target as well as deals damage, and makes their weapons impossible to pick up for a turn afterwards. Autocrits heavily armoured targets.


Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10



"Oh oh oh!" Amy bounces up and down excitedly upon seeing the collar. "Can I have that? I want that! Now, THAT'S clothes I understand!"


Trapper puts a hoof on his chin.
>>"Ave' ye ever asked a mortal to pray to ye?"

Flow hangs back from the treasure, allowing the others to go up and appraise them.


Flaming frowns, "I understand, Princess. It's just I feel bad knowing we're leaving you alone down here again… I've learned a great deal how nice it is not to be alone these past few weeks. Are you certain?"

As they enter the treasure room, Flaming looks up and around the massive chamber, staring in awe at the vast collection of icons depicting the Sons of God in their glory, bowing her head solemnly to pay her respects to the previous safeguards of ponykind against the demons. "This is a very sacred place… I'm honored that you deemed us worthy of coming within."

She looks at the four treasures, staring at them curiously as she looks around the scepter, scroll, collar, and badge. "Amazing… now we just need to figure out how best to use them. Any one of them seem strong."

"The collar? You want the collar most?"



"Yes, yes, yes!" Amy says while excitedly bouncing.


"That does sound like a good idea. It might help Sugar open up too."
Pryce looks over his bits, only 98 left. He sighs
"I wish I could, but I can only afford one. …Maybe two, if I work out a deal"

"Camelzotz, could we work out a bargain? You said they need good homes, right? I am a showpony, I could help attract attention to your shop while you're here if you need anything extra."
Pryce suggests, calling over Camelzotz.
>Bargain/Make a Deal [1d10]

KP pauses as they enter the massive room, admiring the impressive decorations in awe. He starts to pace around, looking for the disc, wherever it may be.
>"…Does anypony see a disc?"

KP looks over each treasure, but when he reaches the scroll he stops.
>"Hey, Zjetya! Look over here! It's a song!"
He shouts, calling her over.

Roll #1 7 = 7


Love and reluctance channel passively through the action. Without thinking the stones are caused to caused to extend outward burning and slicing the middle, breaking across a line from one end of the table to the other causing gravity to make the end section of the table fall first to the ground and avoiding dramatic injury. (If there are no stones positioned this way, then all across each leg of the table segments are cut for the table to fall like large rectangular dice.)

>I Dream of Alchemy+2: Instant; Thrice per session; Forge a small- to medium-sized object out of a natural elemental source, such as water or earth. If this object is a weapon, it carries the elemental properties* of the material it was made from and is +1 quality on a critical forging roll. Objects made with this skill disappear after a few hours. 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. Forging an object requires access to an amount of source material equivalent in size to the desired object.


Roll #1 5 + 3 = 8


Flaming points over towards the Scepter of the Thunder Gods, and the disc situated on top of it. "I think it's THAT one, right? The one that's attached to the staff?"


KP looks up at the scepter.
>"…Maybe? I thought it'd be its own thing, since it's called the Sun Disc."
KP says, thinking.


Camelzotz chews the cud a little, wavering as you bargain for the other pets. "Erhm, no, I must insist on having money up front."
River goes through her coinpurse, and then puts about 80 Bits onto the counter. "A little over half now and the rest in publicity?"
Camelzotz gives you a good luck. "Well, I did hear that your performance in Fantasia recently did quite well… very well. Take very good care of them."

Camelzotz briefly explains the monsters' dietary needs, as well as various hoof gestures you can do to get them to sit, lay down, and stay.

"My answer will not change until my mission is complete."

"By all means, you've earned it," Zjetya says with a scoff. "Figured you'd be into the collar-and-leash lifestyle. You eat out of a bowl too?"

"No, but you should give it a try! Maybe I'll be able to answer it."

Zophie takes the brass staff and gives it a twirl, showing off as a cloud flows from its tip and settles before her, being sturdy enough to set hoof on. "This could be useful for either of you two, couldn't it?" she suggests.

Suddenly, the derision of the laughing and mocking goats turns to horror, confusion and anger as their silverware and table heat up, and they toss their searing-hot plates and utensils onto the table and back away before it collapses, shattering and shaing the hall with a thunderous bang.

The goats glare at you, and many eyes in the room are on you. "Out! OUT! We'll never follow you anywhere, you idiot! You've nothing for us!"
Ichimonji is slowly walking your direction, her expression icy, and you recall your jail sentence from before.

"I…" Wineberry begins as KP points out the lack of disc.

"Uh, congratulations on passing the sixth, secret trial, KP!" she dramatically intones. "There wasn't even a rule and you passed! If there was a rule, it's now null and void!"

A fifth marble column manifests with a poof of smoke, and there is a sun-shaped disc atop it, about two feet in diameter. An abstract face is carved into the sun, much like those in medieval illuminated manuscripts.

"I can't believe I forgot to put that in there…" Wineberry mutters to herself. "Oh, shit, they can still hea–" her voice cuts out.




"We will, don't worry."
Pryce says as Camelzotz agrees to the deal.

Pryce watches intently as he explains all the care needed for each pet, making sure to keep note to pass them on for the one they give to Spitshine and Sugar.

Pryce steps outside with River, letting the pets out of their cage to let them move freely, but not straying too far while he quickly plans up a small show.
"Have any requests you'd like to do?"
He asks River as he scopes the area around the wagon to have an idea of his boundaries.


Before you go, Camelzotz provides you with small pouches of food you can give to each pet, as part of the cost of buying them. Seeing dried fish, lizard meat, bugs and various wild nuts and fruits in the bags, you realize you could probably buy this from the merchants in Fantasia as well for a good supply, or hunt for it yourself in the wilderness.

The pets wander about, sticking close to you but still strutting around this way and that, full of energy now that they're out and about freely.

River hums as you survey the area. It seems like you have free space ranging about 20 meters in every direction from the caravan. Beyond that, the Ecclesians are hard at work, constructing arms and armor, checking supplies, fortifying buildings and the like. "Well, let's do an exciting tune, something eye catching and flashy that will drag people over here to take a break from what they're doing and come pick up supplies."

She looks over her two new dresses, holding up the two for you to check. "Which should I wear for our impromptu show here?"


Pryce notes the area they have, a decent amount of size for some more minor tricks. No supplies on hand so they'll need to stick to magic and performance acts.
"A song and dance routine, I like it."

Pryce looks over at the two dresses as River holds them up.
"I do like the red one, but the black one would pair better with my robe to contrast the white."


River nods, trotting off to the springs to go change into her new dress. "Whip it up into shape before I'm back, or else I'm in charge!" she calls as she heads off.

Box and Busta look over at you. "I wanna pitch in as well," Busta says. "Never really tried this whole performer lifestyle before, and I think I can take a fair guess that Box wants to give it a try too."
"Yep! St. Prominence's Tutelage was a blast!" Box adds. "Though, apart from carrying things, I really don't know any magic. I can turn invisible, too, but that's about it."


"Sounds like a plan, next show is on you!" Pryce says as River heads off to change.

Pryce looks between Busta and Box.
"The more the merrier. Hmm…"
Pryce thinks for a moment.
"Do you have any talents or anything unique Busta?" He asks the demon, "And Box, I have some ideas. Can you go ask Camelzotz if he'll let us bring some spare wares of his out here for advertising?"

While he waits for River and Busta and Box, Pryce slips off his bracelet. It'd be a little intrusive to get a big stage out here, but that doesn't mean they can't have a platform. He tries to conjure up some simple clay tiles he can lay out to make a flat plane for them.
>Hat Magic[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7


"I can fly, I can take a beating, I can stir up the wind with my wings, and… hmm, what else…" Busta ponders, growing red in the face as he realizes the limited scope of his abilities. "Sorry, I really don't have much. Mudi was supposed to awaken my demonic strengths, and bestow one of her stolen talents upon me, once I became her lieutenant, but that never panned out, so I'm just stuck with my basic punches and kicks. I don't even know basic magic… I'm not really suited for being a demon, in all honesty."

Box nods. "Sure thing, we can even use those for demonstrations!"

He trots back into the shop to deliver your message, and while you wait, you make a modest stage out of tiles, enough to designate it as a place of importance, which catches the attention from the Ecclesians. You hear a few of them chatting about what you're doing, and you hear the word 'Savior' a few times.

River comes back in her new dress, twirling about as she walks to show off its long sleeves and skirt. "All set! What shall we do to earn our new pets?"


"Don't sell yourself short Busta, you can do a lot with that. It's not about how many different abilities you have, it's what you can do with the things you have," Pryce says to lift his spirits, "I've seen a lot of demons these past few days, so let's see if you're a performer type."

Pryce is caught off guard as he hears the Ecclesians refer to him as "Savior". He knows they've done a lot to help, but being praised for his knight work instead of show work is something to adjust too. He tries to keep stoic as he sets up the little platform.

Pryce turns as he hears River coming, that knightly composure he held while setting up broken as he sees her twirl in her new dress.
"I-I, uhh…. Ahem. I had an idea for a dance routine to how off some of the wares. The best way for publicity would be to show what's being sold, right? Box and Busta will be helping out, and I think it'll look great."


"Right, right, but I want to expand my powers before we enter Tartarus," Busta says. "Our group's going to need as diverse a power-set as we can just in case it sends something our way that can't be dealt with head-on, like how you guys usually do things."

River tilts her head at the "savior" term. "Oh, I heard that earlier. They've started to call us that after we brought those survivors back from Vitral. Remember, as far as anyone knew, all of Mariposa had been wiped out, so for the Farms and all the other captives we liberated, and for all the people out here who had been looking for friends and family who were out there, we really brought a lot of hope to them."

She smiles as you check out her dress, having caught your glance. "And you've got the best-dressed pair out here to do the advertising."

Box comes back, his lid ajar, his storage stuffed with various magical baubles, as described in https://pastebin.com/54gtJFzs

"I've got the goods!" he declares. "What should we do with all this?"


"Right, there's still that. Well, then I hope this can turn into a good lesson to show some creative thinking. One of the best things you can have on the field is being able to work your traits for any situation."

"I'm glad we did, but I'm still surprised. I guess it's just been a while hearing ponies thanking for a job well done."

"It will be hard to keep eyes off yo— er, us."
He says, nearly stumbling his words.

He quickly turns to Box as he comes over with some supplies.
"Ah, good. Ok, gather around everypony."
Pryce says, ushering over River and Busta.
"So, my plan for this will have River and I out front, getting everypony's attention and selling up the store. Box, since you said you can invisible, I want you to do that and spit up an item for Busta every… minute or so. We can talk it up while Busta, you can fly it up high and show it off for the crowd to see. Maybe get them to float around if you can make strong enough winds for it, or juggle them around. I think that should be nice enough to help him sell out his whole stock."


River blushes slightly, having caught the flub in your words. "I don't think the fine merchant Camelzotz will appreciate if you spend the whole show sneaking glances at me. Funny what a costume change can do to a disciplined knight of the church!" she says, clearly teasing you.

Busta and Box nod once you give them their assignment. "I should be able to handle that," Busta says. "Just look out below in case I get a little stage fright and drop something."
Box begins to squat and stretch, warming up his muscles before the show. "Oh! What if we got your new pets in on the show, what can they do?"

Your three pets are still scuttling about, having fun with a bit of rough play-fighting, but they refrain from seriously injuring one another. The Deviljho lets out a tiny roar after bowling over the Pukei-Pukei with its tail, while the Kecha Wacha swings from River's tail, which she twirls about for its amusement.


"I-I'm not sneaking glances!" Pryce defends, flustered nearly immediately, "It's a nice dress, is all. It compliments you very well."

Pryce nods, excited as they both agree and prepare for their roles, and trying to get his head back in the game.
"Right, we should get them in too. They were from his homeland, they'd be great to show the kind of stuff he has."
Pryce looks down at the pets as they rough around and hang about.
"I think we could include them in the dance. They already look plenty eager to do so."
Pryce crouches down to speak to them closer.
"Does that sound good little guys? Want to dance around with us?"


With a chuckle, River cursys. "A magician's lovely assistant should always look her best, shouldn't she?"

The three monsters approach you as you lean down, and the Deviljho nips at your forehooves, apparently expecting a treat. Being monsters, of course, they don't literally understand your words, but their horseplay and energy suggest to you that, with a little micromanagement, you could get them to play along in the show, though you'd have to be careful to keep them reined in.

"I think that about does it, then!" Box concludes. "Let's get it started while we still have a little sunlight out."
"Oh!" Busta exclaims. "Will I need a costume? I don't want to look out of place."




"R-Right. Though you're always at your best, I'd say."
Pryce stammers.

Pryce clears his throat as the pets come around, nipping around for food. He levitates a snack for each of them to give them a treat.
"Alright, this seems like it'll all work out."
He stands up, looking over at Busta.
"Hmm, it could work for some uniformity with us, but you could draw some attention as you are. Might help people be more familiar with you seeing you out of costume act around with us."

"Okay, everypony ready?"
He asks after making his last checks on the act.


"I guess you have a point," Busta says, taking nervous looks out at the Ecclesians, many of whom have taken notice of the stage you've set up. "I would like to walk around in the open without having to worry about what the mortals are thinking… okay, no uniform needed!"

"I'm ready!" Box declares.
"So am I!" River adds.
"U-uh," Busta starts to stammer. "Give me five min–"
"Nope, we gotta put on the show before it gets dark!" Box counters.
"I'm nervous!" Busta protests, clearly in a case of last minute stage fright.
"So am I, but we'll be fine once we get into it!" Box says, and you notice that he too is starting to shiver, not immune to stage fright himself.
"We did great in Fantasia, we'll do great now," River affirms.
The three of them look to you for the signal to start.


"Don't worry Busta, once you get moving you'll forget all about it. You guys will be great."
Pryce says to ease the two from their fright, turning and facing forward out to where the crowd gathers.

Pryce's horn glows, firing off a bolt into the air to burst into a shining display of fireworks to gather attention, while also keeping low on the sound to not disrupt any sort of lessons or delicate preparation that might be being done for the invasion.
>Fireworks Attention [1d10]
"Good Evening ladies and gentlecolts! Tonight I bring your attention to this wonderful emporium owned by a fine camel named Camelzotz."
Pryce says in a loud, announcer voice.
"I have gathered you all here to share of the generosity he has given myself and my companions. Just look at these fine pets he has brought over from his homeland," Pryce says, gesturing to their Deviljho, Pukei-Pukei, and Kecha Wacha, gesturing for them to pose or show off, "He graciously let us adopt these fine creatures to give them a happy home. And to repay his kindness, I'll be showing off his wares for all to see to witness the gifts he has brought here from all his travels!"
He says, holding a hoof high as he finishes his introduction to help spur the crowd and draw them in.
>Introduction Hype [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1 / Roll #2 8 = 8


Busta grows apprehensive in spite of your words, and launches himself into the air, trying to get ready to take his mind off his anxiety. When you launch your firework into the air, Busta is too busy looking at the growing crowd to notice, and the firework flies right into him, exploding against hid back but not greatly hurting him. Many Ecclesians laugh, either thinking that it was a comedic start, or from the sight of a demon being burned. Busta glares down at you as he rubs his side.

The pets seem a little daunted by the encroaching crowd. The Deviljho and Pukei-Pukei roar to assert themselves, much to the crowd's awe, and the Kecha Wacha climbs up over you for safety, and its bright orange against your white robe makes an eye-catching flow. Now, you've gathered the crowd's interest, and a few sit to watch the show.

With a twirl, River holds up an illuminated manuscript, a spellbook for beginners, illustrated with monsters, magic sigils, recipes of spell components, and wands and robes. "First, we have a novice's book of spells, fit for any young wizard or cleric!" She takes the book and passes it up to Busta, who flies above the crowd to show off the colorful images and arcane knowledge. The crowd is a little off-put by Busta's presence and demonic body, but seeing that he answers to you and River, there is no commotion over it.


Pryce winces as he accidentally hits Busta, giving an apologetic gesture to not disrupt the show too much.

Pryce chuckles as the animals roar. As the Kecha Wacha crawls over him, he fans out his wings to give it more room and something to hang from, as he saw it do with River's tail.

Pryce smiles as the first showcase works out well, motioning for Box to spit the next item out for him.
"Next, for the philosopher's and dreamers out there, we have models of the world beyond ours!" He declares in a mystical force, holding out one of the models of the universe. He adds a magical glow as he floats it before him to add to the act. "Imagine what the heavens may look like, what lies beyond the sky above!"
>Awe and Wonder [1d10]
He continues, handing the object up to Busta to fly around and show off for the crowd.

Roll #1 8 = 8


Busta passes the book to Box, who quickly swaps it out for the model of the universe, forming a very handy and efficient prop rotation for the show. The model is very elaborate, stylized like a Renaissance-era imagining of the world, a flat disc covered by a dome tended to by pony-like angels wearing halos and red and blue robes. Fanciful, though not necessarily accurate, depictions of the continents are sculpted into the disc, complete with raised portions to indicate mountains and valleys. The crowd is taken in by the performance, with only one dissenting voice, way in the very back, who wrongly claims that the earth is round, not flat.

Busta takes it around for another wave, growing slightly more comfortable as the Ecclesians take his presence for granted, tolerating him as they look at the items. Box passes the next item, a brass telescope with adjustable scope, to River. "And for those who wish to see the stars in their glory for themselves, you've no further need to search; Camelzotz also has the tools for studying the constallations! Fun fact: this month is best for viewing Athanasius' Crown, the Ocean's Mitre, and the Sarissa of Gerasimos."

Many in the crowd nod, surprised at her grasp of astronomy.


Pryce even gives an amazed look at River, mouth open in surprise. He quickly catches himself, hoof out for the next item of the show. He sets out a cauldron on the stage, horn sparking as he makes a show fire underneath.
"Tools for all kinds of occasions and hobbies can be found. Perhaps you just need some good cooking supplies, or take it a step further for some potion making. Who knows, these may have come from regions to give you that extra oomph needed for your concoctions!"
Pryce reaches into his robe, tossing in some of the snacks for the pets and some other assorted tiny objects he has. He waves his hoof over the cauldron, stirring up the fire with his magic. A large plume of smoke shoots up as a large rose forms out of the pot. The rose twirls and shimmers before fading away, laving the cauldron free for Busta to show (while Pryce sneaks the snacks and other stuff back out).
>Hat Magic [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2


As you try to sneak out the props you "used" in your alchemical sequence, the Deviljho raises his snout, sniffing at the air hungrily. Seeing you with a piece of meat, he bites down onto it, and tugs greedily, pulling you forward into the sight of the audience. Most simply laugh, mistaking it for an intentional gag as the Deviljho turns your show into a game of tug and war.

A few people in the back don't seem to be interested in the show per se, but start to head into the shop nonetheless, having at least been drawn in to see what Camelzotz has on sale. At this sight, Busta and River smile, and cycle out the next prop after the cauldron.

"From familiars, to alchemical supplies, tomes, astronomical tools and tomes, there is little that cannot be found!" River declares. "But, more importantly than that, no wizard, oracle, priest, shaman or soothsayer is comlete without the proper garb."

She twirls about in her flowing black dress, then pauses, and in an elegant flourish, removes it, revealing that she was wearing the sleek and form-fitting red dress underneath it, and stands in an assertive pose, head out and high as if she were an aristocrat surveying their serfdom. Many ponies applaud as she walks over to stand beside you. "I think we've done a fine job," she whispers. "Shall we move to the finale?"


Flaming looks over at Zophie as she twirls the staff, pausing to look at it as she thinks it over. "Maybe… I'm not that good with weapons but it DOES look pretty strong. I was actually looking over at this badge on this column, or maybe they disk…"

She pauses, looking around for Little Journey. "Journey! Get over here, I need your help."


Little Journey trots over as you call him. He looks thoughtful, and a little conflicted too. "Hmm? Whaddya need help with?"

You notice that his earlier banter and teasing has stopped.


Pryce is surprised at how strong the little deviljho is, but as ponies laugh Pryce plays it up and finally relents the meat to the tiny dino.

Pryce watches on as River moves on to the next item, but she she reveals her other red dress, he freezes in place, wings springing up. If the last dress merely made him stumble, this throws him completely out of the loop.
("….O-Oh, right!")
He says, pulled back in as she whispers. Pryce takes her hoof, starting to lead her around the stage as he floats out the objects from Box, levitating them about a foot in the air to re-showcase everything.
"Everything and more can be found here, all that you could ever need!"
He announces as he sets them up. He then takes flight as he twirls River around, bringing them up in the air so the objects can be seen clearly. He gestures for Busta to grab Box, bringing him up as well.
"And remember, that's all at…"
He starts, leading the others in so they can all say the final line in unison.
Pryce ends the dance, holding River out as they pose, with Busta holding Box below them in the air. He fires off one last firework, forming the name as the last bit of attention to pull in for a finish.
>Finale [1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10


Flaming looks around at all the items collected on the pillars, "I'm trying to think which one would best suited for me. They're all pretty strong, but Amy seems really fixated on the collar, and the staff is incredible but-"

She pauses, looking at Journey with a peculiar stare as she noticed his conflicted look. "Uh… are you okay?"


River's face turns a shade red as your wings react, and she slides them back down into place. "Compose yourself, you've got a show to finish," she whispers back.

Box whoops with excitement as Busta scoops him up and brings him around, dropping his invisibility so that all the tools and gadgets and other wares can be shown. You float out a colorful parade of mage's arcane tools, ranging from those for the simple alchemists and geomancers to the more learned occultists and wonder-workers, earning the attention from a wide cross-section of Ecclesia's magicians.

At once, you stick the aerial pose and time it perfectly with an elaborate show of lights and the crackle of fireworks. The people claps and applaud, throwing you some daisies and other wild-growing flowers, as they only have what's close at hand rather than bouquets. River chows down on some of the flowers as they're tossed, even catching them in her mouth.

With that done, Camelzotz comes out, a very lanky and tall camel, as you can see. "An excellent performance! This far exceeded what I was expecting for the deal we struck. My books will be well within the black by day's end. For this service, I shall permit you to take one more item, free of charge."


"Oh, uh…"

Journey kicks his hoof bashfully. "Just thinking about what I saw in my dream, remember what I was saying about it? How I was living out lives of fellow Buiwong cultists, in all their mundane day-to-day moments. No battles, no demons, just things like having dinner or working apprenticeships, or studying in monasteries and cloisters. It just came to mind as I was talking to all the cultists that Blessings rescued."

He looks over at the treasures. "The badge one would look good on you. What's it do again?"


("Wait, what do you mean?")
Pryce starts to question, before continuing with the show.

Pryce gently lands back down after the applause dies down, heart pounding with excitement over another amazing show.
"That was incredible! You all were so amazing," Pryce praises River, Busta, and Box, "I couldn't have done it without you."

Pryce turns as Camelzotzcomes out, bowing at hearing how well received they were.
"I'm glad we were far and above expectations. You deserve it as well, for running a great store."
He says in gratitude, raising his head back up to the offer.
"Oh, you don't need to do that," He says, before thinking a moment, "Though it would be nice to pick up something for our friends. Thank you again, Camelzotz."


Flaming sweats, remembering her own, fairly harrowing dream that Vir-can delivered onto her that same night as Journey reminds her of his. "O-oh… did you meet anyone that, seemed familiar to the dream? Someone you 'lived' through for a bit while you were in it?"

Flaming looks over at the bade, "The Tikkum Olam. It lets you talk to literally ANYTHING. Plants, rocks, people you don't even understand, all of them." Flaming closes her eyes. "I guess it'd be pretty useful for an… 'illiterate' like myself, huh?" She says, clearly a bit sore about that.


Busta, by far, is the most ecstatic after the show, breathing heavily from his stage fright and the exhilirating praise they received afterward. "Neither could have I!" he exclaims.
"If you find nothing you wish to buy, then at least allow me to extend the offer to them as well… though I mean only one item for free, not one for every one of them," he chuckles, then returns to his caravan to tend to the customers.

River winks at you once he's gone. "I suppose you wouldn't know, being formerly apegasus, but when wings stick out straight like that, it tends to be understood as an indication of… strong desire," if you understand."

"No, it wasn't any of them," he clarifies. "But, I sized up all of them. Not a one of them was half as strong as me or your party. I don't say that to brag, but it strikes me with worry. Is the situation so bad among Buiwong's faithful that we'd have to send out those who are unprepared into such dangerous lands? I don't want to see anyone who is too weak for a task to have to risk their lives regardless. It is an utter waste of life, don't you think?"

He winces slightly as you bring up the comments on illiteracy, looking a tad guilty. "Yes, that was also on my mind… that, and what I heard Amy said to me after I taunted you earlier, about your size and strength. Is that a touchy subject for you?"


being formerly a unicorn*


Pryce gives Busta a congratulatory pat on the back.
"Told you you'd be great. They loved you out there!"

"Heh, I'll think of something before they all come rushing in."
Pryce responds as Camelzotz returns to his wagon.

"Strong desire?" Pryce questions, unsure. Then, his face goes deep from embarrassment as the pieces come together. His eyes glance out to where the crowd was. He steps close to River, lowering his head to whisper in privacy.
"Y-You mean, I just…. I-In front of everypony? In the middle of the show?"


Flaming frowns. "Ooooh… THAT'S why you're worried. That buffalo… or really any creature, are being sent out on such dangerous tasks unprepared." Flaming grunts, "Well… it could be that Buiwong's followers are that desperate… or maybe he *intentionally* chose someone weaker to go out and do this for some reason."

As he asks about her size and strength, she flops her ears down. "Y-you don't have to get all sappy about it, it's not like my feelings were hurt or anything dumb like that. But, since you asked… I was the smallest buffalo in my herd. I got picked on a lot for it. J-joke's on them though, look at where I am now… I bet I'm stronger than most full growns in the clan."


"Y-You mean, I just…. I-In front of everypony?" He says, giving a quick glance back at his wings, "Th-That's a thing that can happen?"


"I should hope it's the latter; perhaps he knew that this place would be a good training-grounds, but still, there is no sense in putting a newborn out on a battlefield, as they say," he says, referencing a common phrase in the Climbing-Fire Clan for not sending someone unprepared to peform a dangerous task.

"Ah!" he says, clearly feeling relief as you provide context. "W-well, what Amy said just got under my skin, is all. Not that I'm apologizing, mind you! We Clan-mates must make sure we're pushing one another to be our strongest! Though… sometimes we can do it in the wrong way."

He traces his hoof along the ground, awkwardly trying to express his feelings.

"Yeah, but you were the real star!" Busta adds, offering you a hoof-bump.
"Oh, no doubt; you killed it," Box says. "Just goes to show we've got to bring back peace soon, so you can go back to performing like this on the regular."

River laughs. "Well… yes. But it's not like they could see anything. They just got an idea of uh… your feelings. Towards me. Not that I'm embarrassed by it, though I don't plan to share any more than that with others."