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 No.721253[View All]

Last time on HolyQuest…

Trapped in Regina's realm of illusions, housed within the infinite Library of the Sacrosanct, the party had no choice but to play along with her malevolent games. Her primary method of testing and provoking the party consisted of trapping them within various stories recorded on scrolls. She abducted their allies under their very noses, replacing some with Replicas made in their image, and forced them to participate as actors within each story. Volkama played the role of Hodgson, a mad warlock attempting to unearth an ancient power, the Earthvein, for his own use. Rus Tea was transformed into a savage, mindless lamia, and made to endure the trials of a snake temple built among the branches of ancient, towering trees in the Onuma Swamp of the Starchart Plains.

After freeing Rus Tea from Regina's mind-altering magic, they were about halfway through the story of Cobraskin. In order to advance, they would need to complete the tale or else find some way of sufficiently disrupting the story, as in Earthvein.

Meanwhile, Flow and KP, exiled temporarily from Lilane after Flow's episode of Magatsuhi Overxposure, had to return to Fantasia. The city, once crushed under Orcus' maniacal, mechanical subjugation, had become a respectable fortress under the guidance of Easy Doesit. The city-state was sealed off by a high wall of stone and metal, armed by many guards: Ecclesians, Zha Arlakanians, Fairies, and refugees still able and willing to fight. There were still difficulties with farming and other food production, the threats of overpopulation and the mind-corrupted refugees that had been dumped there by the Treibheanna, but things seemed to be turning around, for now.

Flow and KP retired to one of many inns, populated with day laborers retiring from the heat of the late afternoon sun, and got some food, finding that they were quite hungry after all they'd done that day. Though Flow had gotten back his memories and sense of self, Renee still wanted to conduct a thorough examination of his mental and physical faculties to see if any side effects of the Overexposure still lingered.
1008 posts and 10 image replies omitted. Click reply to view.


"Hmm! Good he's safe and sound. All the more reason to trust her, then," Chorazin says.
"You're taking it awfully well, this sudden change," LJ says.
"I'd be a hypocrite otherwise, after the welcoming I got," she responds.

The conversation almost immediately drops when Shei makes his announcement. Volkama takes flight, while Vortigern and Chorazin take ahold of Tantra and LJ respectively. "Point us in the right direction, will you?" Volkama barks as he flies ahead.


Zjetya laughs, looking away. "I hope the irony's not lost on you. I was the one who came on strong, came on like a burning battering ram, back at the Witchbone Forest. Now I'm the one digging my hooves into the dirt."

She breathes calmly. "It's good to hear you say it, though – say it when we're clear-headed, that is, not all hopped up after a battle. Can actually handle hearing it now."

She doodles idly in the dirt with her hoof. "So what are we gonna do about all this, then? I don't want to hurt River, or the rest of you. And especially not you… but I'm not getting hurt again. I'm not going to break something beautiful for my own gain. I've seen it happen enough to know what it does to people. What you and River have is beautiful, you know. I'm confident you two really love each other."


As soon as the words leave your mouth, the three gods act as one. Ba'drel and Cer'rog take you by the shoulders, pushing you into the water, while taking care to not actually enter it themselves. At the same time, Buiwong floats forward, pushing the flame into your chest at the very moment that your chest makes contact with the water.



And at the moment that the three intersect, you feel yourself falling. The world around you starts to break apart, separating into very fine crystalline fragments, resembling stars, or shards of colored glass. Even the darkness itself seems to break away and fragment, piece by piece, until you are left with naught but a void, even without darkness itself.

And yet you fall further still, the world of fragments floating ever further away into the beyond. Tiny, infinitesimally tiny cracks start to appear on your paw-hooves, as your body starts breaking away, falling away from you. There is no pain, only a sense of deep loneliness as more and more of your body breaks up, sliver by sliver.

And soon there is naught of your body, naught but your mind.

And the cracks start to form there, too. Your mind starts to split and break apart, a thousand different thoughts, memories, feelings, impulses, regrets, joys, cravings, fears, victories, losses, all trembling apart and falling away from one another, slivers of multicolored light.

And you fall, and fall, left only with a senseless vision of the lights above you. Millions upon millions of lights, as clear and bright as the stars in the Beyond.

And these pieces form lines of a sort. Millions, upon millions of lines, small and thin, like tiny, golden strings. Each of them leads to a different place somewhere in the sky – a million different trajectories, a million different possibilities.

And there is a presence beside you. A weight beside you on cool, damp grass. A familiar presence. Your presence. Your presence, and yet not your presence.

Hey, Princess, says Ego in a kind of transmission that beams directly into the remnants of you. Not words, not even thoughts – just pure, shared being. …Been a while since it was like this, isn't it. You and me, separate.



If Amy had eyes, she'd be crying. If she had lungs she'd be hyperventilating. If she had feelings, she'd be panicked. If she had a mouth, she'd respond to Ego.

Yet, despite all these truths, she still finds the will to speak to Ego. She still finds it in herself to be… herself. For what may be the last time ever.

"Have we ever REALLY been separate," Amy manages a laugh. "Well, maybe YOU have. But, I don't know how to be without you. Even our shared memories suggest that we've always been together."

Then, there's a long pause. Then, Amy asks, "Why do you call me princess?"


"East of here, follow the dirt path until you see a brick wall lined with trees. You will find a staircase leading to the shrine. Buiwong leading the ritual, Cer'rog, and Ba'driel are there as well. Make haste!" Shei-Sher leaves the house in a hurry, running back to the shrine.

When Shei-Sher arrives at the Shrine, he opens his witching lantern, it ensures that it is empty without souls and lights a fire inside it. Ready for when it is needed


I… I don't really know, Ego says. For some reason, it's always been the first sort of thing out of my mouth with you. Others, I'd have called Sunshine, or something crass if I was in a bad mood – which I always was. With you, though, 'Princess' always felt like the right thing to say. Never felt like I had to question it, either.

…Got any theories why?



"I… I feel like it has to do with Vinland. But… I can't imagine how that could be possible."


Flaming nods, "Like I said, I have a hard time believing it too… but she's already changing. We just, need to give her a bit of time to figure things out. She's not as bad as we thought."

As Shei offers direction, Flaming nods her head. "Right, I'm on it. Come on, let's go!" She shouts, racing off to see her sister's ritual and give her support.


Hah. Get real, Princess. Why would someone like that, someone who hated demons more than anything, ever care about people like you and I? A couple of nobodies like us. It was one of her peons who cast me into Tartarus… and if you were born back in those days, they'd have probably gotten rid of you, too.

If she could, Ego would sniffle.

…Why would anyone like her care about us?



"That's not the story I've heard at all," Amy's voice says softly. "The way mortals tell it, they act like she betrayed mortals so she could be with the demons. Why does everyone hate her? All she had was love for everyone. It sounds to me like she wanted to help the demons because they had no one else who loved them."


"Y-Yea, I remember that."
Pryce coughs, a slight bit embarrassed at recalling that night.

He looks back to Zjetya.
"I don't know. I do love her, truly. I can't imagine a future without her at my side to be honest. But, I can't see one where you're not there either. Volkama and Vortigern have been talking to me, giving me advise on these matters and feelings… Some of it has helped, but the ponies I need to talk to are you and River."
Pryce steps forward, reaching out to take her hoof scratching at the dirt.
"I don't want to see either of you hurt, ever again."



[1d10] perceive the unseeable

row row fight the power

Roll #1 10 = 10


Shei guides your group back to the shrine, and you see Box standing at the base of the grand fountain that the three gods are using for Amy's baptism of fire and water. What you see in the fountain is extremely alarming – standing just outside the fountain, Ba'drel and Cer'rog hold Amy underwater, while Buiwong floats before her. A brilliant flame, a soul-flame, rests above her, mingling at the point where her body breaks the surface of the water.

"Buiwong! Lord! It's you!" LJ cries with fervor and reverence, but looks with alarm at Amy, submerged in the water. "Is-is she…"
"Quiet, boy," Buiwong says. She will come up when she is done."
"She… doesn't look like she's breathing," Tantra hazards, uncertain and nervous around Buiwong.

Zjetya looks down at your hoof. Part of her mouth twitches, on the verge of pouring out emotion, but with a strong breath, she steadies herself.
"So. Who's it going to be?"

As you speak, you see many of the millions of small threads begin to spin and weave together, binding themselves and coming together into stronger and larger bands. At the same time, the remnants of light that you left behind in the sky start to piece themselves back together too, as if they'd never been broken.

That's what I sure as hell don't get, Ego says. If Tartarus… if all that death… if all that destruction… if that was supposed to be love, I sure think she had a damn funny way of expressing it… and even if that were true? How are we supposed to forgive her? How are we supposed to return that "love?"



Overhead, you see Vortigern silently pass by your clearing, and then circle back around. She floats in mid-air, looking down at you and Zjetya. She gestures for you to come along, but the expression on her face suggests she knows what's going on down there, just from a look.


As Flaming and the others arrive inside the chamber, her eyes open wide with shock at what she sees happening to her friend. "AMY!!!!"

As Journey calls out Buiwong's name, she glares at him, every old grudge she holds against the spider-god boiling up intermingled with concern for Amy's well-being. She huffs, and puffs, and her horns take on a light glow, before she takes a moment to settle herself.

"Shei… is what's happening to Amy right now SUPPOSED to be happening? IS she in any danger…? Cause if she is…"



"I think that… whatever she meant to do got broken. Becoming a demon broke her and she lost her way. I don't think this is what she meant for everyone - for herself, her family, the demons…"

"If we want to return her love, we should fix her. But… I'm not smart enough. I don't know how to do that…"


Pryce's eyes glance up, seeing the twitch of Zjetya's mouth. He simply holds her hoof, standing with her in silence for a moment, before finally pulling her into a hug, holding her close.
"Before I say anything more, I want the three of us together to talk. For now, let's try to enjoy what little of this trip remains without demons or witches antagonizing us."
He says softy.

Pryce glances up as he faintly hears the flapping of wings, spotting Vortigern. He sees her look, and her gesture. He gives a slight nod to show he understands to follow, but he let's this moment continue until Zjetya decides to end it.


Shei-Sher, watches the ritual intently. His eyes a'light with intensity. At Tantra's comment Shei iterates solemnly "Nobody will intervene. Understand."


More and more of the threads start to bind themselves together, yet there are still too many of them to take hold of, to bring together.


You think anyone's smart enough to do anything like that? Ego scoffs. We're not smart enough. Not strong enough. Not brave enough. Not wise enough. Not fast enough… I could keep going. Doesn't matter, though. We don't need to be 'enough' of anything. That's something I've learned, with you, Princess. For everything you do that's fuckin' annoying… you sure teach me a lot of right, too.

It's because we've got those we love. We don't need to be 'enough' of anything, when we're part of a much bigger whole. It's okay to rely on others. It's okay to come together with others. To need them. To be needed. To love them. To be loved.

More and more of the threads start to come together. They seem almost low enough that you could reach out and touch them, in a way. To take hold and bring them together into one.

These people, all trying to force a change upon the world… that's what they've forgotten.


"I done TOLD you to keep it down out there," Buiwong calls, only a mild annoyance in his tone. He doesn't move, instead holding the fire in place at the point that touches Amy. "I have a very hard job, you know? You want me to slip up and lose my focus? We could lose her forever if I dooooo!"

Volkama and Chorazin take ahold of LJ and Flaming, urging them with somber eyes to follow Shei's advice, even if they distrust Buiwong and the two gods holding onto the inert Amy.

"Oh, fuckin' hell," Zjetya laughs. "Thaaaaaaaat's gonna be an interesting talk. Can we draw up a contract, too?"

She shares in the hug, not resisting at all. You can feel the fear in her grasp.

"Just… make sure you can accept the outcome, alright?"



"The world doesn't need a change, but the dying DOES need to stop. There's too much death. It's not going to get better unless we do something. Otherwise, there won't be anyone left to rely on or love."

"We… don't need a leader. We just need a fix. But, how do you fix thi-" Amy stops talking. Her broken attention is focused on the innumerable broken strands mending themselves 'above' her.

"THIS was Vinland's plan…"

If Amy had eyes, she'd be crying right now.


Pryce chuckles, smiling for probably the first time in this entire library.
"I don't think we'll need to go that far."

Pryce holds onto Zjetya, wanting to keep her close until the feat leaves her. But, if somepony came out to find them then they must be gathering for something. He still keeps the embrace for a good while, before loosening his grip to signal they need to move.

"…I will."
He answers, though his nervousness can be felt in his voice.
"But for now, we should hurry. Vortigern is calling for us to follow."
He sys, gesturing up towards Vortigern, and then calling Lockjaw over to carry so they can all fly together.


Flaming keeps a silent, deadly glare at Buiwong, her teeth grinding with every word she wants to share with him, face to face… but closes her eyes, tears forming at the sides, as she takes the others' advice to hold off for now, for Amy's sake. She shakes her head and backs off of the ritual, standing as close as she can without being disruptive as she lays down on the ground, her heavy samoorai armor clinking as she touches down to wait, keeping a sharp eye on Amy for anything funny.

"…alright. I'm alright."


Shei-Sher takes out Pupil, allowing himself to absorb every bit of Pupik's vision, maybe even learn a little something.
[1d10+1] appraising the ritual for insight into fusion.

Shei-Sher puts his lanter down and offers Flaming his hoof, silently. If she holds it Shei-Sher transmits whatever he's seeing through Pupil to Flaming.

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5 / Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8


As Shei offers her his hoof, Flaming turns away, trying to look tough as she stoically watches the proceedings herself. However, after a moment, Flaming bites her lip, reaching over to grab at Shei's hoof as a source of comfort (before realizing its secondary purpose of allowing her to view through Pupil's vision.



Even Lockjaw seems nervous, looking over to the east with apprehension.

Pryce and Zjetya land with the group around the same time that Shei attempts to share with Flaming a vision of what might be happening to Amy. But for all his power, Shei, Pupil and Flaming can only glimpse a small, brilliant grasp of light…


And more and more of the strands come together as you make that connection. As the truth of it sets in, those millions of distinct paths, every single one of them leading off into a different point in the sky, start to blend as one, weaving themselves together in glimmering trails of heavenly gold. In the sky high above them, those seemingly infinite pieces, broken away without any hope of repair, find interlocking spots together with one another, each single tiny piece finding its place with all the others.
And as each of these golden threads, these infinite paths, join together, and as the each of these fragments, these infinite pieces, repair themselves into one, a heavenly vision unfolds above you.

And it is a world of peace, a world of light and life, of beauty and power. Swords, axes, spears, shields, unneeded, rest in the hills, propped up as a memorial of what once was. Bombs, poisons, shrapnel, nerve gases, diseases, disasters, all the terrible instruments of demons and mortal and angel and god, have a place nowhere but in memory, their function and destruction only a distant nightmare. Death and darkness are inescapable, to be certain – but death is only a door. Life is lived unto its proper end, not extended unnaturally, nor cut short before its time. And beyond that life lies a true piece, a dream of calm and happiness and satisfaction.

[i]And everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

Ego turns your way as the myriad paths and pieces come together. C'mon. We got work to do.




She bursts from the water, gasping for air. She looks around the room, her soaked face hiding the tears streaming from her face.

Once she's caught her breath, she absentmindedly climbs out of the water. She shakes off the water like a dog. As she does, people can note several differences in her appearance. Her tattoos glow subtly on her face, now completed.

Her snout is more wolflike, the teeth permanently sharpened. Her ears are more like that of a wolf as well. Her tail is now a wolf tail. Though she has a coat of wolf-like fur, it's still crystaline. Her body still has the shape of a pony's, but from a distance, it's hard to tell the difference.

She looks around the room with a pensive expression on her face, not saying anything.


As Amy comes bursting free of the water's surface, Flaming's attention is immediately brought to her, prompting her to let go of Shei's hoof to come running over to the newly forged wolf-pony.

She shouts, running up to grab her and help her climb out of the water. "A-are you alright?! Say something!"



She looks toward Flaming as Flaming shouts a name at her. At first, her pensive expression is what meets Flaming. But, after a moment, a small smile breaks out.

"I…" her voice cracks. She has to clear her throat - cough and hack to get the water out. But, that's only a part of it. It's like she's speaking for the first time. She tries again.

"I… understand… now…"


Pryce lands down, shocked to see Amy held underwater, and more importantly Buiwong floating over her. His gut instinct wants to draw his weapon, but with everything else that has gone on, he is unsure of how to take things. Looking to see everypony else sitting idly by and watching, Pryce holds himself.

Pryce watches as Amy suddenly bursts from the fountain, her form now almost indistinguishable from a wolf, though still in a pony shape.
"Amy? Are you… alright?"
He asks, unsure of what word would be the best to use.


"Shh… shh… don't talk, JUST breath. Catch your breath…" Flaming says patting her back, helping her to cough up any water from her lungs.

"How are you feeling? Dizzy? Can you hear me fine?"



She laughs at the question and his hesitation at the word choice. "I'm as confused as you are."


"I feel great. I can hear great. I've never felt better," she says as if all of this is new to herself as well.

"I'm more me than I've ever been in my entire life! I'm finally free!" she laughs. She keeps laughing for a while. It becomes uncomfortable, almost menacing.


"What happened? You… You've changed, even more than you usually do."


Flaming looks at Amy with a concerned look, laughing (VERY uncomfortably) for a few moments before switching back to just being unnerved.

"Uh… A-Amy? You SURE you're feeling okay?"



She stops laughing instantly and looks at Khazard.

"I'm me now," she answers as if it should be obvious. "The me I've always meant to be."


"I feel GREAT!" Amy says with an excited grin. Then, her grin fades to a frown.

"I'm sorry, I'm scaring you. It's a big change, I know. I've always wondered why everyone was so scared of fusing with demons. I mean, of course, I get it. I was scared too. But, I didn't get why everyone always said that usually the demon just wins. 'How could that be?' I thought. 'If they're strong, they'll be fine, right?'"

She shakes her head. "It's so much more than that. Strength of will is just a small part of what just happened. All the memories, all the feelings, all the thoughts, everything that makes up a demon and a mortal just mixed together. How can you even compare it? It's over two millenia of memories that make me what I am. How can you compare the tiny two decade life of a mortal to that? What small part does a mortal add? Of COURSE they get lost in the fusion. The math just doesn't add up!"



She stops laughing instantly and looks at Khazard.

"I'm me now," she answers as if it should be obvious. "The me I've always meant to be."


"I feel GREAT!" she says with an excited grin. Then, her grin fades to a frown.

"I'm sorry, I'm scaring you. It's a big change, I know. I've always wondered why everyone was so scared of fusing with demons. I mean, of course, I get it. I was scared too. But, I didn't get why everyone always said that usually the demon just wins. 'How could that be?' I thought. 'If they're strong, they'll be fine, right?'"

She shakes her head. "It's so much more than that. Strength of will is just a small part of what just happened. All the memories, all the feelings, all the thoughts, everything that makes up a demon and a mortal just mixed together. How can you even compare it? It's over two millenia of memories that make me what I am. How can you compare the tiny two decade life of a mortal to that? What small part does a mortal add? Of COURSE they get lost in the fusion. The math just doesn't add up!"



*looks at PRYCE


"You… weren't you before?"
He asks, it not being obvious to him, as well as being a bit unnerved but her sudden changes in emotion.



"Is anyone who they were before?"


Flaming lets out a sigh of relief, "Okay, thanks… the laughing was… yeah it was a LITTLE scary." She reaches up to hug her neck, nuzzling her. "But I'm just glad you're okay."

After nuzzling for a bit, she pulls back. "Huh… yeah, I think I get what you're saying. Demons live forever but mortals are lucky to live anywhere close to a hundred. So I can see why the mortal gets lost. But why are you bringing this up, what happened to you in the pool?"


"Well… yes. You're always you, no matter what."



"I mean, think about you from five minutes ago. From five days ago. Five YEARS ago. Think about you when you were five! Can you really say that's the same you you are now? Has nothing changed?"


"Flaming…" she says, sounding a combination of annoyed and sad. "You're not making this any easier."


Flaming shakes her head, "Well, I'm sorry but I'm so lost! I-I don't know what you went through just now, or how this helped bond your demon and mortal halves more, or what ideas you got! All I saw was my sister drowning and being told I couldn't do anything to help her! I can't think straight right now."



She hugs Flaming tight. "I'm trying to tell you that I don't know what to call myself," she says softly as if she's telling Flaming bad news. "'Amy' is such a tiny blip of who I am. Why would I use that name?"


"Well, things change, yes. But that doesn't make you, not you. My personality may have changed a bit, but look at KP, you can tell we're both Pryce."



"You're both so different, though! You even disagree with each other sometimes! What makes Pryce, Pryce? How am I supposed to tell that?"


Flaming freezes up as Amy hugs her, slowly reciprocating the hug. She returns the embrace, feeling the wet matted fur's chill as she thinks of what to say.

"…well, remember when I told you about how buffalo change their names when something important… life-changing… happens? And how I was thinking of changing mine? You said I'll always be 'Shorty' to you."

"So, no matter who you are, or what you are… you'll ALWAYS be Amy to me too."



She keeps hugging Flaming as she starts to laugh. But, the laugh slowly turns into crying.

"I've done so much bad. Even worse, I made HER do so much bad. She was so pure… so perfect… and I ruined it! I've eaten many things I shouldn't have. But, now worst of all, I just swallowed HER up! Using her name… it just feels disrespectful!"


Pryce thinks a moment at the question.
"My magic, mostly. We both enjoy doing tricks, entertaining ponies and making them happy. There's some minor differences between my younger self and I, but the core of who I am still is here."


Flaming keeps the embrace tight, gripping her close as she fails to fully comprehend the situation at hoof, "I-it's okay, it's okay… I can't imagine what you're going through right now, but… you've done so much GOOD too. You helped her - you - do so much good. A-and she's not gone… only Amy hugs like this. You've changed, but you're not gone. You're still my best friend, my sister."



She tears up more, but this time it's with a smile. She lets go of Flaming and wipes the tears from her eyes. "Thanks, Shortyhorns. You're right. There might be a lot of me that isn't Amy. But, that core is still there."

She laughs and looks up at the ceiling. "I've been alive more years than I can count or remember. But everything good about me… everything I WANT TO be is just from the last decade."

She laughs like someone who is impressed by their opponent they just lost to. "It's amazing. It's beautiful… It's Amy. I am Amy. Calling myself anything else would just be making the world a less beautiful place. THAT would be the real disrespect."

"I can look back and see how much I've changed over 2000 years. But, the lessons I've learned now make me who I am now. And that makes me Amy."

Amy closes her eyes, still facing the ceiling. One last tear drops from her eye.

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