At last, the final sight of the Tartarian Descent Team is engulfed by the interminable darkness. 697 posts and 1 image reply omitted. Click reply to view.
The Great Seal rends the earth with a deafening quake, as it slides nearly shut, open only by a hairsbreadth. The Loyal Kerberos, ten thousand Umbral Hounds strong, holds one end of Shei's Black Thread in one of his mouths. He leers at it contemptuously, but holds it nonetheless as agreed.
Most of the others accompanying Sir Pryce cannot look anymore at the Great Seal, ready to direct their thoughts to anything other than the fates of their friends… and foes. Sir Estuary is the only one who seems composed. He looks to Pryce, and with a slight bow of his head, says, "Perhaps we should make for the surface, milord. We have no further business here."
>SSC: 2 hits>Sparks: 8>Conjured Weapon: Flare, Single, Shield>Seneh Aegis: 15 / 20 HP>>765194
Pryce looks down at the griffon as he caws out commands. His focus is peeled away, giving them a prime opportunity for one solid play. Pryce's horn glows white as he takes a breath, steadying and focusing himself. Then, he flies up high, looking over the two armies clashing. Looking at the field, his horn glows brilliantly, wings spread as the light glows over the battlefield and washing out the commander's voice.>Prayer for Deliverance [Self] [Instant] [1d10+1]>Mass Hallucination [Commander's voice is silent] [1d10+1]
PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE
Effect: Double the Target's Max Hits and restore them to full Hits; This lasts until the next time they go Helpless; This does not stack.
Recharge: 3 Turns
Attribute: Mind; Buff/Debuff
Effect: Cause all Targets to feel a certain way, believe an idea, or share a convincing hallucination. DC for Social rolls against them is reduced by 3.
Duration: Until the end of Combat
Recharge: Once per dayRoll #1 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7
As your light engulfs the sky, you see a great number of the soldiers below stagger and space out, the battle momentarily forgotten. Grant'z soldiers seize the chance, striking spears and axes from their foes' grasps, and throwing about chain bindings to apprehend the stunned dracoknights.
The commander snarls, then himself appears confused, seeing the tide sweeping his forces. Without hesitation, he draws a horn from among his weapons– side, long, curling and ornate, marked with several characters you don't recognize, evidently magical in nature. He raises it, and with a deep breath, blasts it!
[1d10+2] DC 10 against Mass Hallucination
River sends a blast of light against him!
[1d10+4] WrathRoll #1 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #2 9 + 4 = 13
>SSC: 2 hits>Sparks: 8>Conjured Weapon: Flare, Single, Shield>Seneh Aegis: 12 / 20 HP>>765213
Pryce eyes the horn, and with the quick movement of a skilled magician gets to work. With a flourish of his left hoof, his bracelet slides off and is flicked in the air. Meanwhile, his right tucks under his wing and pulls out a glowing deck of cards, shuffling them before tossing them to his left. As he catches the cards, his pumps his right hoof up through his falling bracelet to conjure over the commander's horn, while at the same moment giving a flick with his left to send a burning card down at him.>Hat Magic [Commander's Horn] [1d10+1]>Blind Shuffle [Flare] [1d10+1] - Suit [1d4]
Tags: Ranged; Spell
Effect: Pay 1 Spark as a Cost; Deal Damage; Roll 1d4 to determine Suit (1-Shield, 2-Sword, 3-Rose, 4-Acorn), and on crit success, roll 1d3 to determine Face (Jack, Queen, King); Additional Effects vary by Suit and Face; If a card is drawn a second time, reroll for a different card.
Shield: Counterattack damage and critfails from this Target to Pryce are reduced by half until the end of Combat
Sword: Deals double damage
Rose: Targets all Enemies in Pryce's Range
Acorn: Reduces all damage the Target will deal this turn by half
Jack: Shuffle the deck, refreshing all cards
Queen: Choose the suit the next instance of Blind Shuffle draws
King: Pick the exact card Blind Shuffle draws, and make it AutomaticRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
Contrary to what one might expect from a horn of that design, no blast issues forth, but instead, a series of overlapping tones: countless phonemes, vocalizations from a female singer, overlapping in a cacophony. As the sound reaches you and River, you are dazed, and plummet from the sky. You would crash-land, but River's spell strikes true, and disrupts the commander's blowing.
With the cacophony disrupted, you manage to touch down onto the earth, and try to steal the horn from afar. Yet, the commander's grip is stronger, and he shakes you off. The commander whips at the air, though he fails to hit you or River.
>Helpless this turn due to Wrath
River invokes a blinding light, to devastate the morale of the foe!
[1d10+4] Mass HallucinationRoll #1 9 + 4 = 13
>SSC: 2 hits>Sparks: 7>Conjured Weapon: Flare, Single, Shield>Seneh Aegis: 12 / 20 HP>>765221
Pryce staggers from the slightly rough landing. Whatever that horn was, they can't let it be blown again. As River emits a blinding light, Pryce steps forward towards the commander. With a flick of his hoof and a sweep of his wings, the sides of a large box spring up around the griffon to seal them up.>Magic Box [1d10+1]
Effect: Pay 3 Sparks as a Cost; Form a 3-section box around the Target, covering Head, Torso and Limbs; You can separate one of the boxes without dealing damage to the Target, with Effects based on which part was separated; Head: The Target's Actions are applied to random Targets; Limbs: Target cannot move or use non-Spell Tagged Skills until reattached; You can pay 1 additional Spark to completely separate all three boxes in a single Action, incapacitating the Target until someone puts them back together.
Duration: Until Dispelled
Recharge: N/ARoll #1 5 + 1 = 6
As the commander rages, more and more of the dracoknights are felled, losing their weapons and their coordination as confusion and panic overtake them. More are captured, while others break formation to flee, or even to surrender. The nail in the coffin is the sight of the peculiar boxes forming around the commander's body, sealing him from view. He thrashes about inside, and it's a struggle to hold him steady!
[1d10+2] the commander tries to break free!Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
>SSC: 2 hits>Sparks: 4>Conjured Weapon: Flare, Single, Shield>Seneh Aegis: 12 / 20 HP>>765227
Pryce glances away for just a moment, concern over the dracoknights breaking to flee. But his focus snaps back, trusting Grantz and the soldiers to take care of them. For now, his focus is the commander. With the box shaking to contain the griffon, Pryce quickly swoops over to it. With a glimmer of light sparkling over the ornate container, Pryce grabs the middle box and slides it back, breaking the commander down to pieces.>Separation [1d10+1]
Effect: Pay 3 Sparks as a Cost; Form a 3-section box around the Target, covering Head, Torso and Limbs; You can separate one of the boxes without dealing damage to the Target, with Effects based on which part was separated; Head: The Target's Actions are applied to random Targets; Limbs: Target cannot move or use non-Spell Tagged Skills until reattached; >You can pay 1 additional Spark to completely separate all three boxes in a single Action, incapacitating the Target until someone puts them back together.
Duration: Until Dispelled
Recharge: N/ARoll #1 10 + 1 = 11
The doors and sides of the box thunder, threatening to break from the commander's thrashing, but in a dramatic flourish, you slam the panels down, and twist the three sections, splitting them apart. Though the commander is unharmed, the display and the disturbing implications are all that's needed to dissolve the dracoknights' morale. Grantz's men capture the rest that they can, but a few manage to flee, with pursuers hot on their tails.
>SSC: 2 hits>Sparks: 3>Conjured Weapon: Flare, Single, Shield>Seneh Aegis: 12 / 20 HP>>765231
Pryce sighs in relief after the trick is finished, glad he was able to act in time.
"He'll be good like that for Alloy to get to. Let's help get the rest," Pryce says, spreading his wings to help chase down the last free escapes.>Pursue [1d10+1]Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
Over the course of an hour, you aid the hunting effort, combing the skies with Grantz's forces to pin down the dracoknights. Each time you find some, you and River corner them with flourishes of fire and magic, until Grantz's soldiers are able to restrain them. Not all of them go quietly, and both you and the soldiers get your fair share of nicks and bruises in the process of capture.
When the last of the trails goes cold, you and Grantz's forces regroup upon a plateau within eyeshot of the village to which the dracoknights had been flying. The prisoners are gathered, bound and gagged. You don't count any corpses on either side… but this has come at its own cost. All the combatants have their share of injuries, some much graver than others. Deep gouges, broken limbs, head trauma, made more plentiful due to the order to capture, rather than kill their opponents, a factor that no doubt prolonged the fighting. River has joined the auxiliaries in treating the injuries, but the work will take many days to be complete.
Pryce settles down after they regroup, finding his legs wobbling a bit after the extended battle. While longer than anything he's done for quite some time, he also feels some strain after extensive use of his new power, even his magic feels drained. If not for Sir Estuary's training, he'd likely be in with the more gravely injured as well.
"…Did we get them all?"
He asks, looking to Grantz, hoping this decision to capture will be better for the long run.
"We got enough," Grantz says as he floats over the plateau, surveying the scene. "Anyone who did manage to slip away is in for a difficult hike home. That's good, of course. News needs to reach the capital that the tribute ended in an ambush, that almost everyone…"
He furrows his brow. "…got captured."
A haze of confusion is visible in his eyes, still distant– for now. You see Alloy looking sidelong at Grantz…
"I suppose you're right, knowing it was an ambush would make them rethink any retaliation for some time at leas," Pryce surmises.
Seeing Grantz trail off, then seeing Alloy keeping a look on him, Pryce steps over to the drider with a slightly judgy look
"How are you holding up, Alloy?"
He asks, not making it direct on calling out any influence, while also trying to keep his composure after what happened last time.
"Oh, I'm fine…" Alloy says, a bit too loud, before his voice drops like a brick."It's wearing off…"
("You've been doing that this whole time?") Pryce whispers, concerned both over the continuous influence but also the outcome if such.
("What exactly will happen when it does?")
["No, it's left over from when I used my power earlier,"] Alloy whispers. ["It would have lasted longer if I was more practiced, but I've only done this a few times. He'll get really confused here soon. He obviously remembers that the plan was to kill the whole tributary force, so it won't be long before he realizes that he changed the plans at the last second for no apparent reason. Then, he might ask some really bad questions…"]
He looks to the southwest. ["Vortigern said she would talk to him when it did, but the fight took too long, we're too far away…"]
He leans in. ["Should I…"]
("No, no. Shouldn't put any more fog or strain on his mind.")
Pryce thinks, looking a bit grim at the possibility of things going south very quickly.
("I think I can take care of this, hopefully.") He says, before going quickly to get River.
You catch River during a gap between the patients. She's having trouble, it seems; the tribesmen are leery of a healer from foreign lands, but they aren't in much of a position to question her treatment, especially in light of her efficacy. As she turns to greet you, wiping at her hooves, her eyes suddenly turn upward.
"Sir Pryce," Grantz says.
He hovers above and behind you, and slowly floats down closer to you, though he does not land.
"Think you could lend a hoof with helping the injured?" He chuckles. "Looks like we should have brought more palanquins. I… didn't expect we'd have this many passengers for the way back."
River clears her throat and goes back to treating the injured.
Pryce is about to speak, until Grantz interrupts. He turns to face him.
"Of course. I'm glad to help in any way I can," He says, glad that it wasn't too bad.
He steps beside River to help assist her, and leans in to whisper.
("Can your corridor reach the village? We need to get Vortigern quickly.")
["Yes, but I'll have to hide. If they see me using it, there's sure to be an uproar."]
River excuses herself from the auxiliaries and heads up the hill, making for a grove of bushes and trees.
As you aid the [relatively] able-bodied with loading the wounded and captured onto the palanquins, it's quickly obvious that there isn't enough space for well over half of the would-be passengers.
Your ears burn… Each time you glance his way, Grantz stares at you. His expression for the first few times is puzzled, but… that's quickly wearing off. If nothing gets him off this subject soon, this is not going to end well.
Pryce grows more and more anxious each time he meets gaze with Grantz. He'd hope that maybe he'd be welcome to this idea now that the battle is done, but all they really have is defenseless targets if he's still fixated on the slaughter.
As their palanquins quickly fill, Pryce steps back and attempts to conjure some more to help cover the rest of the injured to make it easier for the return trip.>Hat Magic [Palaquins] [1d10]
He then gets an idea to hopefully by some time.
"So, Grantz. You mentioned before your people prefer ritual based magic. How did that come about?" He asks, hoping a different topic might keep his mind at bay.Roll #1 6 = 6
You only manage to conjure one. It's of adequate construction, but it won't be able to hold more than a few more passengers.
Grantz's expression is blank, and he doesn't respond.
Just as you might be inclined to do or say something else, just to cut the tension…
Grantz laughs, again.
Pryce looks over the palanquin. Good enough, he must be more exhausted than he thought.
Feeling the tension built with Grantz, Pryce's concern grows, until he laughs.
"Eheh… uh, what's so funny?"
As he laughs, Grantz practically pulls you in for a side-hug, clapping you on the far shoulder.
He lets his arm remain there for longer than he should.
"Well obviously, *you* aren't the one who hypnotized me! Had me paranoid for a second."
He continues to laugh, and doesn't let you free. He looks straight ahead, at the captive soldiers.
"Question is, then… who did?"
In the distant treeline, you see River and Vortigern emerge from the groves.
"H-Hypnotized?" Pryce repeats, now knowing the jig is up. "I-uh…"
He stammers, until seeing River and Vortigern off in the distance.
"Things didn't go bad, did they?" He asks cautiously.
As Grantz sees Vortigern and River zipping down the hill toward you, he scratches his chin with intrigue. "Ah… your group's bringing all sorts of powers to the table."
As Vortigern flies in, she skids to a halt on the plateau, and moves in to give Grantz a hug– in so doing, forcing him to let you go.
"The battle…" Vortigern begins.
"…went great!" Grantz says and gestures at the captives. "See for yourself."
"I see… good, good…" Vortigern says. Her expression of disbelief and concern suggests River painted a much more dire picture of things.
"Couldn't have done it without the warriors," Grantz says. "I think this calls for a feast. And, we'll have to give especially high honors to…"
He looks back at you. "Well, that's what I'm trying to figure out now. Say, Sir Pryce, tell it to me straight: Who do I have to thank for changing my mind on the battle plans?"
Pryce steps aside as Vortigern moves in, glad to have some distance in this moment.
"Just in time," He says to River.
"You're… not upset?" Pryce questions as Grantz seems to be very upbeat about the situation, hesitant to say anything yet.
"Upset?" Grantz repeats, and scoffs. "Over what? Not only do I have my wife back, I apparently have new allies who can not only cover vast distances in short time, but can also completely obliterate and rewrite somebody's iron-clad resolve – almost – without their notice. These are going to give us an edge over our adversaries."
He looks down the hill, toward the village to which the dracoknights had been heading for the tribute collection.
"Now, I need to get down there with some of my warriors and announce the terms of their surrender. I'll have the rest of you move back the captives and the injured to our village so they can be treated and given their quarters."
Vortigern's expression becomes troubled as she pieces together the parts she missed…
"I'm glad to hear you're alright with it," Pryce says with relief. "I should also apologize on behalf for that, things were kind of tense."
"Ah, don't worry," Grantz says. "I'm sure we'll figure out a way to set things right."
On that ominous note, Grantz gathers those of the warriors who are hurt the least badly. They commander your new palanquin, which contains one of the captive commanders and his subordinates, and they pull it down toward the pegasus village.
"Grantz!" Vortigern calls. He stops, and turns her way. Vortigern says something in the native tongue of the people, in a grave tone. Grantz's face betrays no emotional reaction, and he replies in the same language, before continuing on.
"Tch…" Vortigern grumbles. She turns to you and River. "Let's take a dark corridor back to our village. I'll have to go with you. You've proven your loyalty to our people, but ferrying the warriors through such an ominous means of transport would only disturb them."
Pryce has a nervous chuckle, worried about what Alloy might have to go through to make amends.
"What was that about?" Pryce asks on the grave sounding exchange between the two.
"At least it'll help in carrying everypony back, I imagine we'd be working into next morning doing it otherwise," Pryce comments on the eeriness the corridor would add on. "I'm just glad it worked here. With the flight we had to get in here I thought we'd be stuck out here having to handle Grantz's realization alone."
"I warned him not to escalate anything he didn't have to," Vortigern says. "He agreed."
Over the next few hours, you and the able-bodied accompany Vortigern through the Dark Corridor, loading the injured and the captive back to the hidden village.
Although you don't stay long in the hidden village, during your time there you are able to tell that there was some fighting here as well. There are injured among Grantz's people; the damage is not severe, but the introduction of prisoners, along with Grantz's own injured warriors, is going to strain things.
Eventually, you get back to the plateau, ready to make the last transport run as sunset comes… but the last group of prisoners is not there.
You see Grantz approaching from the direction of the tributary village.
After the first trip back with the injured and captives, upon seeing there was fighting back in the village Pryce takes a moment to check on Zjetya and the kids to make sure they're alright.
As they get to the end of the the task, Pryce pauses when the last bit aren't around. He looks around, wondering if they were able to escape given the time, possibly enough to recover. When Grantz approaches, Pryce waves out to him in greeting, and tries to keep calm.
"How did things go with the village?"
Out of your party, only Onion has any harm, but it's just some bruises. Since he and the others are occupied with other tasks, you keep your reunion short. You gather that some of the brigand tribes indeed took the opportunity to skirmish with the hidden village, but it wasn't long before the brigands were driven off.
Back at the plateau, Grantz waves back.
"They accepted their surrender without too much dickering," he reports. "And – I don't even know how I didn't think of this sooner – I've made them take their share of the captives."
"…Good," Vortigern says. "Are they going to contribute any fighters to the cause?"
"Oh, they'll give us plenty," Grantz says. "Now, Pryce."
He holds out a horn, similar to the one that the Dracoknight commander you fought carried. "Don't suppose you grabbed one of these yourself, did you?"
He's relieved to see no pony got seriously injured, but a tinge of guilt that he couldn't protect them still sits on his shoulders.
"Ah, I was wondering where the rest of them went," Pryce says to the news. "Good idea, it spreads out the responsibility and won't strain the village too much."
Pryce looks down at the horn.
"I tried, but he he was holding onto it tightly and things were getting hectic."
"Well, hopefully they can wring it out of him intact," Grantz says. "Alloy recovered this one, while the commander I fought destroyed his after it was clear he wasn't going to beat me. If all three of them were armed with this, and they were adamant about not letting them fall into enemy hooves, they've probably got some enchantment. Take this, and see if you can't appraise it, will you?"
"Shouldn't be too hard in his current state, at least," Pryce comments on how his commander was left.
"It's definitely something powerful. The commander we fought blew his for only a second, but it disrupted almost everything."
Pryce takes the horn, looking it over to see if he can pick up anything else from a close look.>Examine [1d10]
"Do you think it has any connection to the dragon empowerment they had?"Roll #1 2 = 2
The horn is intricately designed, and not reminiscent of any culture you've seen before. If it is from Yongning-si, then perhaps Zjetya may be able to shed more light on it.
"Must be," Grantz says. "They started pushing us back pretty good after the horn sounded. If Alloy and I hadn't been so quick to take out our targets, this might have ended very differently. Speaking of which, we should be back ourselves. If I miss any of the feasting, I'm taking it off of your plate, Pryce."
The cordial joking puts Vortigern at ease, at least a little bit.
Pryce tucks the horn away in his robe for now.
"You'll have to be quick then. I haven't been in a battle like that for some time, and it works up quite an appetite," Pryce jests as they head back to the village.
As you get back to the hidden village, you see that the preparations for supper are under way. Near the communal dining hall, large cauldrons hang over stone-ringed pits, where cooks' assistants bicker as they try to start the fires. Knives clack against cooking boards, and vegetable chunks are moved from board to bowl.
In the distance, you see your allies, relieved of their guard duties, making for the airship to get cleaned up before they eat.
Pryce is surprised at how they're already in the process of dinner prep as they return. The village must be a well run machine.
Seeing the rest of their group heading back to the ship, Pryce makes his way over to reunite, and to flag down Zjetya.
"Hey, Zjetya. We found this horn on some of the dracoknights, have you seen anything like this before?" He asks, showing her the commander's horn.
Zjetya stares at the horn with recognition, and disdain. "These markings in particular, no… but the style is definitely straight from the Yongning-si aristocracy. This was made by the nobility, for sure. Probably imbued with power by the dragon priests. They wouldn't just give these out lightly, though. I'm surprised you found it in this battle."
"A commander of the dracoknights had it," River says. "He tried to blow it when the battle was turning against them, but we countered the enchantment before it could take effect. The others who had them broke them when they lost."
"Huh…" Zjetya ponders.
"Made by nobility and enchanted by priests. It can't just be for status, they went to use it during the fight when things weren't going well," Pryce ponders, wonder what it could mean. "…Could they have expected retaliation today, or is it just coincidence?"
Pryce looks to Zjetya.
"Would there be anypony who could decipher the markings that isn't aligned with the dragons?"
"We'd need to know more about their plans, and their intelligence, to say decisively either way," River says.
Zjetya nods, and then looks back at the horn. "Well… I could give it a try. Or, shit, quicker way would be to just blow the thing."
"Hopefully Sir Estuary finds out some of what they're planning on his scouting."
Pryce looks over the horn.
"Couldn't hurt I suppose, though we should go to the outskirts of the village just to be safe."
River conjures a dark corridor. "Let's be quick then. Vortigern mentioned it was borscht night."
"Every night's been borscht night," Zjetya says.
"You complain like you haven't been at the front of the line for every one."
"Yeah, and I wanna be at the front of the line for this one!"
The Dark Corridor puts you near the trailhead you took some time ago, when you hiked to the waterfall.
Pryce chuckles. "Alright, just a quick music practice then."
After they corridor to a more distant location, Pryce peers around, wondering where to blow the horn. He turns to face the waterfall, figuring the water would be good to see the sound. He holds up the horn like the commander did, and blows.
A discordant cacophony blasts from the mouth of the horn, every phoneme, from the mouth of a female vocalist. Screaming, chanting, begging, crooning, wailing, humming, raging. Notes and chords plucked by the handful from the very sheet music, and flung into the air, clashing like glass, stone and metal tossed about by battle. Yet, in the very next instant after the initial attack, a serenity and clarity of purpose settles upon your mind. You feel full, your strength revitalized, and yet, distant, outside your own body. At times the feeling is too much, a cup running over, needing to be discharged– in battle.
Just before you reach to conjure a weapon at the impelling of this feeling, you regain control and tear the horn from your mouth. River stands nearby, her ears flattened, her hooves pacing and stamping at the ground. She unscrews her eyes, and looks at you– then her eyes dart back to the one standing before her.
Zjetya stands in a state of shock, her eyes cast upward toward the great mountain, at the top of which perches Yongning-si. Her face is blank with horror– and recognition.
[View All] (697 posts and 1 image reply omitted)
Pryce looks down at the horn, breathing heavily as to correct himself from the urge to fight. He almost drops the horn out of instinct, to distance that feeling further, but stops against it out of fear something worse would come out if it broke. He sees River, having a similarly harsh reaction from it. His look follows hers as she turns to Zjetya.
Seeing her face, struck blank like that, he steps forward, putting a hoof on her shoulder.