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Sir Pent slithers off of your arm and crawls over to Sparkler, and bumps his head against her arm until she relents and gives him a pat. Sir Pent soon bites off an old scale, one already on its way to falling off, and holds it out to her. Curious, Sparkler takes it, and after some deliberation, starts to mash it in a pestle while her healing takes its effect.

*Click click* the beetle continues, patiently awaiting your questions with its forelegs folded up together in a professional posture.

Your shark senses tell you there's something worth taking in this room… but it might be a nap.

Juniper flings herself into the pool outside the room, and Cycle follows suit. Juniper then climbs out and steps through the doorway with no issue.

"Looks like the Mechpriests would have had to purify themselves with a ritual bath before entering here," Juniper says. "But for our purposes, just stepping into the pool is enough to enter one of these kinds of chambers, I suppose."

"Yeah…" Chiu mutters, but she does not sound very sure.
542 posts and 2 image replies omitted. Click reply to view.




"That's not really helping you know," Cloud comments on the description, gesturing to the assortment of limbs that've been disconnected as of late.

"One we're done with all this then I'm taking plenty of time off to ensure this soul damage is fixed."

"I can see that. …Does it burn at all? Or do you not feel any heat since its you?"

Taking a moment to ensure everything in place, Cloud is good to move.
"I'm alright, for now at least."




Gathering together your weary and much-in-need-of-a-bath comrades, you make for the primary vomitorium of the Ruby Round. Finding the gate closed, you halt for a time, while Willow and Two Tons figure out the mechanisms of the gate's operation. When they raise the gates, you continue your escape. In the distance, you hear sparks of metal upon metal, and the occasional gleam of lightning.

You make your way back through the jungle and earth, until you are back in the little shelter that Schnitzel, Make Believe and Sir Diamantaire carved out.

Lookin' a bit crowded here now, innit… Diamantaire gripes. I'll get us goin' on some more rooms. Schnitzel, gimme a paw.
"Yessir, mister boss-gem."
Make Believe gestures north-east. It's nighttime, but… there's a shallow stream not far from here, if you wanna wash up. Though, you probably shouldn't let that stuff run off into the ocean.



A smile flashes across her beaten up face as she sees Schnitzel and Make Believe. "Is everyone alright?" she asks them optimistically.


"No I feel no pain, it's as natural as my mane because it is my mane." he said with a nod, floofing the green puff.

Willow for his part just took a seat and sighed, setting his gear down and letting his lanky form rest.


Cloud takes a seat once they reach shelter, glad to finally be in a safe place.
"I can make some rain clouds if we don't want any runoff."


"Mmm, everyone is certainly not alright. Please, give me some time to work." Alder notes, trying to tend to all the injured as he gets the time, which is… well, more or less everyone.

>Heal/Natural Remedy across the board?


Has a very relieved look on her face as she takes a moment to rest in the shelter.
"Phew…hey, next time we go on an adventure, can we go somewhere actually under the water? All this walking is still kinda exhausting."


Despite everyone's exhaustion, you manage to pool together efforts for everyone to eat, get clean, bind wounds, and find decent enough shelter for a night's rest. Most of your allies are asleep the moment they lay across the bedroll…

And with that behind you, the night passes uneventfully.

…Some time later, you are awoken by a little liveliness in the common area – the smell of coffee, of fire, and the low rumble of arguing voices.


Willow awoke with a long groan, desiring something fried with his breakfast and some juice. Two Tons meanwhile began to brew up some coffee that Willow kept on him.


Cloud awakes, but does not move from his spot, continuing to lay.
"Can somepony hand me a coffee please," He says to nopony in particular, though his ears flick up to pick up on the arguing voices.



Cutlass wakes up groggily and stumbles in the direction arguing, her favorite pass time.


"Give Two Tons a minute and he'll have a fresh pot!" he called out having been close enough to catch it.


Alder awakens somewhat sore from all the work mending people the night before, but at least it's not a bad kind of sore. The arguing doesn't sound very reassuring, though. He'll slink out to take a look.


"Ah, good. Thanks!"


Cerulean grumbles a bit and turns over, trying to go back to sleep. Her tail limply hits against the ground in likely morning crankiness.


In the common area, those of you who choose to venture out there, anyway, see Make Believe, Schnitzel, Colobok, Ossie, Sparkler and Droplet being quite bothered by none other than Kukulcan.

You see, the cups and plates, containing their fresh-made breakfast (toast, fish, berries and herbs) and coffee, are all made of metal. Wielding electricity as he does, Kukulcan commands also a deft control over magnetic forces. This all gives Kukulcan just what he needs to play quite the convoluted and twisting game of keep-away from the others, levitating and spinning plates and cups in complex rhythms; within reach one second, just beyond it in the next. Of the participants, only Schnitzel, Ossie and Sparkler seem genuinely annoyed. The others are quite enthused, but keep up the act nonetheless.

When Schnitzel sees others waking up, however, he makes an evil sneer.

"So, Thunder Serpent, you regain your long-lost divine power after so long and this is what you use it for?" Schnitzel asks.

"Tchaaaawk!" Kukulcan squawks, his head-crest flying up. He catches his hat as it bounces off the earthen ceiling. "What did I say about the surprise!?"


Willow simply quirked a brow and yawned a bit as Two Tons trotted out with an awfully hot coffee pot and begins to pour two cups, adding a bit of cream and sugar he swiped from various establishments and kept for this.

Cloud was free to take and alter his coffee as he pleased, as was anyone else who wanted a cup of high quality coffee.


Cloud takes his fresh coffee, feeling much more refreshed after a sip.
"Ah, that's good."

Perked up, Cloud follows after the others towards the ruckus.
"What's going on in here?"


"Ah! It was as I thought, then." Alder says, mostly to himself. However, being a performer, he doesn't want to steal another's moment. He will accept his food and watch the moment unfold, giggling a little.


>et al

With an annoyed huff, Kukulcan distributes the food to the rightful owners, and sets about putting together more plates for the other early wakers. You see that he is still dressed as crisp and clean as he was when he parted ways with you the previous night, no wrinkles, nor dirt nor even sweat or other evidence of struggle has marred his clothing or the outermost of his feathers.

"Good morning to you all, then," Kukulcan says. "I believe reintroductions are in order, though I've already alluded to this before. My name is Sir Kukulcan; a god of Cuauhtemoc, the Thunder Serpent. Having regained a little of my lost divine spirit, I am now in more of a position to call myself that."

>roll perception (social)



Cloud sits down for his share of breakfast, more concerned with that than Kukulcan.
"How'd that happen?"
He asks, not quite awake enough to question deeper.
>Social perception [1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7


"Willow Wisp." the tall kirin said nodding

"Two Tons o Fun!" the automakirin added with a flourish.

[1d10] Willow
[1d10] Two Tons

Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 4 = 4



"THAT'S the surprise?" Cutlass asks with a deadpan expression. "What did you think we thought happened in the colosseum?"



[1d10] social perception

You'd think Cutlass would have something for this… I mean, you might argue that Master Thief might qualify…

Roll #1 7 = 7


About two weeks ago, the Vola floating before you, Captain Kukulcan, hired you all as a secondary and tertiary crew to assist with the excavation of Cuauhtemoc, a long-lost Island Turtle imprisoned at the bottom of the Sea Below the Sea. Using experimental magitechnology, your ships dove beneath the waves of the Ribcage to reach the island.

(Unbeknownst to you, an unconscious Two Tons was onboard Kukulcan's ship, stuffed in the cargo bay, while Willow Wisp was busy searching for him on Agyl Island. Two Tons had been kidnapped by unknown assailants, deactivated, and sold to Magoja, one of Kukulcan's crewmates through the Black Market. Technically, through a deal negotiated by Kukulcan, Two Tons is now part of his crew.)

After around a week of navigating the depths below, you found Cuauhtemoc, encased in a strange marble of a golden smoke, the likes of which you had not seen before. Beyond the golden smoke was an island that was in the process of being stolen straight out of time. Time flowed erratically here, as a result of a long battle of attrition between the guardian deities of the island, and the forces of the Vault, an eldritch phenomenon located at the south end of the island. The guardian deities protecting the island had lost much of their divine power, and with the native population of the island gone, the faith which strengthened them had run dry, and the deities had lost even their own self-conceptions, dwindling to little more than husks.

Captain Kukulcan eventually named himself as the Thunder Serpent, one of the guardian deities of Cuauhtemoc, who had escaped long ago with his fellow goddess, Vice-Captain Two Reeds, who was once the Smoke and Mirrors.

Kukulcan's claim was dubious to be sure, but he had the knowledge of the pre-sinking life of the island to bolster it. Still, that claim was thrown into question when Cerulean, in the course of exploring the Skull Temple at the north end of the island, met a faint remnant of a spirit, who claimed to be the Thunder Serpent, and had no knowledge of Kukulcan. Kukulcan himself went into the Skull Temple to investigate these claims himself… though you do not know how that went, you do see him here now, augmented by a tremendous power he did not boast before.


Kukulcan hangs his head in dejection at Cutlass's retort. "Pardon me for not bringing cake, streamers and fireworks. But yes! Consider this my official announcement of returned divinity. The Skull Temple… I had squirreled away some fragment of my divine spirit there, now recovered past these o'erlong years."

The reactions of Hollow Promise and Auspicious Sign are those of muted surprise, you notice. They seem to have been out of the loop on this. Really, only Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire seem to be taking this in stride.

"But with this," Kukulcan continues. "We have fulfilled two of the three conditions we needed to meet to breach the Vault."



"I don't recall you mentioning that you secretted away a part of your divinity. A curious thing to do, to be sure. Even more curious to not mention it…"

Cutlass ponders for a moment before using Soul Sight on him to see if anything has changed.

>Soul Sight on Kukulcan


"What's the last condition?"
Cloud asks as he sips his coffee.


Willow let Cloud ask as he had the same question. He sipped his own coffee too.


This one… this one hurts.

A pair of scenes overlap in your mind's eye, as if projected from two film reels onto the same canvas. And yet, the two scenes are so strangely similar, and also yet opposed, as if to show two halves of a whole…

As you examine his soul, a brief shivering overtakes your entire body. You are reminded of the time when you attempted to peer into Magoja's, only to be met with chaos and endless, impenetrable mystery. But your gaze, tempered by experience, does not waver, as you peer into the unknown.

You catch brief glimpses of a vibrant land / a land overflowing in a storm / a country awash in color.
In the morning sun, / under clouds black and bright with lightning / flowers and fruits glimmer like rainbows of stars,
nestled in dew-kissed foliage. / A war has been recently won / Stone architecture is woven into the green,
comprising great bridges / captives and the spoils of war are taken / connecting across the breadth of mighty lakes.
They are fastened with vines / prisoners are inducted into the ranks of servants / shaded by trees growing / their home tribe plots their terrible revenge
from the waters. Statues of great warriors / Towering glyphs of wars won, an archive spanning centuries / kings of the Krikral race
Arches, pillars, aqueducts, roads / From above, councils of gods dictate grand strategy to both sides / all are hewn with an immortal beauty / so it has been for eons past, since the Singing concluded / only in artists' glimpses of the divine.

Unlike the first time you beheld this vision, Kukulcan, now dressed in divine regalia, is at last present, watching over the diametric realities, holding them equally under his power.

He takes some time to answer, his face plain and earnest all the while. "To tell the truth… I may have forgotten. Whoops!"

He *doinks* the side of his head and sticks his tongue out. "The abandonment of the island was a chaotic affair, and centuries past, to boot. I was gravely wounded, and spent much time in recovery afterward… my memory of that fateful night was always murky."

"The three conditions I sought to meet were these," Kukulcan says. "The first, to obtain control over the Watchkeepers. My regained strength and the Staff of the High Mechpriest, in Cerulean's possession, enable that. The second, to obtain as many godray crystals as we could. Although the raid on the Capital for its crystals was unsuccessful, we have obtained a few, nonetheless. The third, to make contact with the Sun Serpent. Now that I have regained some of my divine essence, I may be better able to link with what remains of the Sun Serpent's divine spirit, where before, he could not hear me, or perhaps I could not hear him. I will have need of your aid to summon the Sun, however."



Cutlass stares down Kukulcan, wondering how to approach this strange set of possible lies.

"And what would you have us do to summon this sun serpent?" Cutlass asks finally.


"Summon the sun? That seems a little… like, that won't mess up where it is and let those Metal Men have more room to walk around, would it?"
Cloud questions with some concern.


Kukulcan floats out the coffee-pots to refresh the crews' mugs. "My people have long since calculated the most auspicious time and coordinates for sun-appeasing rituals. There is a place westward that will serve our purposes. Miss Two Reeds will lead us in the ritual; you'd have to go out of your way, and evade her notice, to screw it up under her tutelage."

"It's true," Two Reeds affirms. "I took few students as the goddess of magic. I've not had one fail me yet. A few even made a game out of trying to fail, against my teachings."


"A bold desire but how?"



"Ah, succinct but vague on details, what a wonderful little puzzle you've given me." he sighed rubbing his temple with a hoof as he sipped his coffee.

Two Tons snorted "Willow taught me everything I know and look how I turned out." the excitable mech declared.


"This isn't going to involve a sacrifice or anything, is it?"


"Are you certain that what remains of it will be able to speak with you? Or, that, it will wish to? I cannot claim to understand the nature of the divine, but it has been… some time, yes?"



"What? No! Of course not!" Cutlass says sarcastically. "Why would the ritual he's tactically not telling us about involve anything that might hurt us!?"


"Well, the ritual does call for one batpony, but only when done at night," Kukulcan says with a sinister grin.

"In the morning, it calls for a vola," Two Reeds adds. "Fortunately, we've got one right here."

"A-ah, yes, I think I saw our spare somewhere around here…" Kukulcan stammers, nervous.

"In fairness, he did not respond to our previous attempts at making contact," Kukulcan says. "But that was when we were only but mere immortals, devoid of divine spirits. With mine back… I cannot say for certain. But, even if the worst should be the case, and the Sun Serpent be too far gone from his divinity to hear me, then I may be able to direct him, as one would a beast, if you will forgive my sacrilegious description."

"In any case," Kukulcan says. "The purpose of such a ritual is to command the Sun Serpent's aid in the raid upon the Vault. Our foes are undone by sunlight, yet may hide under shadow, or behind the Vault's doors, during the day. Therefore, an assault that begins at night, and turns to day at our mere word, shall prove an effective approach. Unless, you have disagreements?"



"Would it be possible for us to simply bring the Sun Serpent inside with us? Then, he could shine on our enemies without having to lure them out."


"I'll just keep my distance then. Cheer on from the sidelines," Cloud comments. "Sun stuff is out of a bat's forte anyways."

"I guess we don't have much other choice, unless we can get a lot more of those godray crystals to not need this ritual."


"A… Vola? What exactly is a Vola?"

"Mmm… well, hopefully that does not present an issue for us, then."

"Mmm. I could perhaps attempt to take some, but I do not think it would be fast enough, or in a high enough quantity."


"In theory," Kukulcan admits. "However, we do not know entirely what may be beyond the doors of the Vault, nor if they could simply slam shut behind us, even with my power concentrated on forcing them open. The Sun Serpent is mighty indeed to persist over these many long years, but to risk his safety, walking into the domain of the enemy… I don't believe it a worthwhile gamble."

"That would be me," Kukulcan whispers. "We birdfolk of the upright variety, distantly related to griffons, but hold the cat."

"When you are ready," Kukulcan says. "Those of you who wish to be part of the ritual can come with myself and my entourage. Though, I'm obvious not captain to the Beesting or Hidden Dagger crews. If you have other preparations you wish to make, or perhaps to espy out the southern end of the island, I cannot hold you."



"I'd like to speak to my crew and prepare a bit before we go. I've barely even had time to eat breakfast. Can't fight on an empty stomach, you know!"

With that, Cutlass exits the conversation. She finds some food and then finds someone from her crew to eat with who isn't eating within earshot from anyone within Kukulcan's crew.


"Ah… I did not know the name for your kind, sir. I apologize. Who is your… backup, that you mentioned? Is there a reason we need more than one?"


"Hmm… I'll lend a hoof with this ritual. be the safest spot from anything else on this island at least."


With a disbelieving expression, he leans in. "…Miss Two Reeds and I were cracking jokes. The ritual does not call for a batpony sacrfice, either."


So what roles do you have in mind for us?"


"O-Oh. Uhm, ah. Apologies. But, ah, what would you have us do?"

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