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File: 1659658239173.jpg (Spoiler Image, 175.26 KB, 1024x1024, Moon.jpg)

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>Iron King Ischyros, the Far Seeker, sets down the fourth and final Report of the Agatecastle Investigation, and sips the coffee Sister Root had set before him. They are the only ones to occupy the conference room on this Cycle.

>Mabin, High Director of the Lux Deorum, is uncharacteristically absent.

>"Sister," Ischyros says, keen to take his mind off anything other than his confidant's absence. "Make a note about this Concord program. It desperately needs some security updates. I mean, have you read this Report? Seems just about everyone's exploiting it one way or another."

>"Yes, sire," the Sister says. She casts another glance at the conference room's sealed and enchanted door. "…Th-this Report was late in coming, I note. Do you think Mabin's absence may be–"

>Before she can finish that sentence, the door flies open. With quick and long strides, a lanky white Diamond Dog, his clothing ruffled and stained by dried blood, enters the room. Sister Root gasps, fishing for the medical supplies she always carries in her saddlebag.

>"You must forgive my tardiness, your Majesty," High Director Mabin says as he takes a seat, taking care to not let the dried blood flake off as he fishes his cigarettes from his coat pocket. "I had an unexpected rendezvous with a certain Noble and spent the past hours in a most gripping discussion."

>Iron King Ischyros scoffs. "Surely we have known each other long enough that you do not need to hide your personal affairs behind euphemisms!" he says. "Truly, it seems the missus was–"

>"No, no," Mabin interrupts. "I speak plainly, but allow me to be even clearer. The Noble who accosted me was none other than Lady Offbeaten Path, of House Titanite."
939 posts and 6 image replies omitted. Click reply to view.


Deadweight remains in a defensive stance in case the fight's not over, but after a few moments pass, her legs give in, and she finally gets to breathe. Tears well up in her eyes as her bloodied self lies in the rubble.


As Conflagration looks for Mogao, he finds him standing at a distance, his head turned upward. Most of the few Agate Alters and Ironcastle soldiers remaining are looking upward with him.

The head of the staff, once as brilliant as the orb in the sky, is now dark, covered all over by the shadow that began to surround it midway through the battle. As for Mogao himself… upon closer inspection, most of him is limp, and in fact, he is leaning upon the staff, which stands aloft independent of the pressure he puts upon it, as if it were a pillar rooted firmly within the earth.

As for the Moon– it is near to eclipsing the entirety of the ceiling.

It isn't growing– it's getting closer.

A rumbling begins– not merely the shaking of the ground, nor the ambient vibrations of concentrated aether, but a quaking of the very atmosphere… nay, the very Castle about you.


>We need to go now… he's bringing that down. Or we need to bring him down and hope it stops…

she said into her comm


Deadweight hears Lost's voice in the comms, and without a word, she gets up, walks over to Firmgold's pile of medkits, uses as many as she needs, and unsheathes her claymore once more. Finally, she says firmly, claymore between her teeth, "Mogao!"

Roll #1 2 = 2


+The magic has been cast, and we are too far within the castle to escape.*


>At least I'm trying!

What should we do Dhampir?..


Then with you, I also will try

I unsheathe my greatsword and speak out to Mogao
"What have you done?"


I angrily wave my staff at the moon.
"Hey! Get back up there and shine your light on everyone! Nobody likes getting crowded!"


>Pause this track at 2:16


Mogao, muttering glossolalia, drops to one knee, no defense or power left in his body to call upon. He leans upon the staff, and tries to rise… but an eldritch vapor, twisting, dark and dancing like smoke, gleams forth from the darkness concealing the orb. The vapor twists about his chest and head, streaking up around his arm into the orb. Mogao shudders and gasps as the staff drains what little energy remains in him… until he collapses to the ground, losing his grip on the staff at last. And yet, even with his collapse, the cosmic sphere continues to fall. Iron forces beat a hurried retreat, carrying those too wounded to run.

"Let's go!" Huitlapan shouts, but as he turns to run, he double-takes at Xu.

Xu is glowing with the eldritch vapor, the very same that incapacitated Mogao. She stares vertically upward, eyes wide at the Moon. The Agate Alters around you are glowing as well, and they are beginning to hover toward the sky, toward the approaching Moon.

As for yourselves–

Deadweight, Conflagration and Lost feel a strange giddiness, a giddiness that facilitates– nay, compels speech. Something about the Moon now appears so fascinating to them, a pure, intoxicating light, yet somehow within, containing a vast darkness. And yet, even deeper than that, a kind of… paradise? The gentle rocking of an interminable sea, beyond light and darkness, beyond life and death, the sweet peace of silken dream, the moonlit palace of immaculate rest, washing away even samsara and nirvana…


>Deadweight, Conflagration, Sapphire, Lost and Xu have gained LUNACY


Attribute: *$?@#(??
Tags: ^*%#23
Recharge: q#$^&?@08

Your visors fill with static, visual glitches and strings of nonsense characters, as Sapphire projects herself from Conflagration's magicomp, gazing at the moon, enraptured as the others are. As for Ruby, you see no trace of her– still trapped in Mogao's comp.

The desperate pleas of your brother drown beneath the waves of the holy Luna-sea.

>you must roll to fight off LUNACY before you can perform any other action; DC 9. No effect can remove Lunacy
>For Conflagration, however, the DC is 7



Lost began to sway, trying to hold onto the cries of her brother but she was being drowned "It's so pretty up there in the sky…"

[1d10] Break Free

Roll #1 6 = 6


Praise the sun!

Roll #1 5 = 5


"No… NO! Steadfast! Grab them! Grab them and run!"

I will pull on Conflagration [1d10], Steadfast grabbing Lost and Deadweight to get them out of here [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1 / Roll #2 9 = 9



Roll #1 2 = 2


Firmgold grabs hold of Conflagration, and Steadfast takes up Lost and Deadweight, as Huitlapan grabs Xu, and Cautaa, Mogao's inert form, still holding onto the staff in a death grip. You turn to run, but your legs, no matter how fast they turn, fail to take you more than a pace's length. Like running in a nightmare, you move your legs until they burn, and yet, flight is impossible.

For you, at least.

Conflagration, Deadweight, Lost, Xu, Mogao and Sapphire are floating toward the sky, taking you along with them. Steadfast hooks one hind-leg about a nearby streetlamp, slowing his ascent, yet the others are assumed upward, unto the Moon's embrace…

>Conflagration, Deadweight, Lost, Xu, Mogao and Sapphire lose 1 Wound

The eldritch vapor spreads from Conflagration onto Firmgold, embracing her hooves with a deathly cold air…

A private voice chat request pings in Steadfast's visor.


"no.." I shake my hooves to get rid of that strange vapor [1d10] and shout "No! Rid yourself of this madness!" as I let go of Conflagration.

Steadfast wordlessly taps the [accept] button

Roll #1 10 = 10


Deadweight's claymore clatters on the floor, and she, too, begins muttering glossolalia as she stares up at the moon above.


Roll #1 5 = 5


I keep trying to shake this off.

Roll #1 9 = 9


Lost felt everything go fuzzy, but she managed to get one last thought out before everything went black.

Dhampir, can you shut my brain off for a moment? See if that fixes it?" she said, ignoring everything he said before and after

[1d10] Break Lunacy

Roll #1 4 = 4


>Conflagration, Deadweight, Lost, Xu, Mogao and Sapphire lose 1 Wound

As Firmgold drops to the ground, the lunar corruption spreads to the edge of Steadfast's armorsuits, and to Hui's and Cautaa's. The two grab onto anything they can reach, pulling themselves along the ground with knees and elbows, to try to escape the collapse of the Moon.

All at once, static flashes across the face of the ground, and through the air. Again and again, it blinks, even when viewed without a visor. As if the very world around you were a malfunctioning TV screen… between the flashes, an image of another, very different landscape layers itself onto the landscape of L-8, F-4, blending with it a very different geography, like CGI models clipping together…

>The skies above […] as the Moon begins its final approach, long since past the point of no return as the celestial body passes through […] the perspective of one on the ground, the scale of the sight is […] cannot see the curvature of the moon's glowing surface as it […] the sky itself […] to molten rock and falling down to crash around everyone's ears. The […] with howling winds as […] the path of the oncoming satellite, […] marking its inevitable landing zone.

>[…] the otherworldly terror awoken from its millennia long slumber, stands at ground zero, its multitude of eyes pointed upwards in blank recognition […] The black and green monstrosity stands an impressive 120 meters, […] from the Earth's crust. One could mistake it for a gnarled, twisted mutation of […] far more alien and sinister […] as it simply stares up at the sky […]

>As the moon begins its […] igniting the lands for thousands of miles away […] In the middle of it all, […] stands […] unfazed by the […] somehow […] as the […] trillions of […] erasing it […] sight as [……………………….]

Like lenticular images, the two realities overlap, that of Agatecastle, and that of the towering monstrosity, awaiting annihilation by the Moon…

Like shaking yourself from a dreadful dream, you awaken through great force. The Sun Staff, held tight in your hooves despite your earlier mania, is glowing, trembling, and baking with solar flames. It is coaxing you, signaling to you to take refuge within it… but perhaps you may draw that protection out to save the others.

>Banishing the Moon using the Sun Staff is DC 15.

>The Sun Staff can apply a bonus of your choosing up to +9
>However, the higher the bonus you apply…
>The more you will vanish into the morning sunlight.

…Way ahead of you… sis.

Your mind plunges into oblivion.


The voice is double-layered, male and female. The female side is that of Lost, speaking with the eerie calm of those afflicted by Lunacy. The male side… it is as if Steadfast has heard it in a dream, thought long forgotten, and now recognized.

…is Dhampir.

I'm a parasite… living inside… Lost. The source… of her powers.

Indeed– the chat icon is that of Lost's Concord profile. Despite Lost's calm, this male voice is drenched in panic, barely restrained.

Listen… there's a way… to wake her up… you… need… to inflict… a mortal wound… that will acti…vate… emergency failsafe… and save… her…



Lost drifted floating, looking like she was already gone if not for the occasional swaying and the slowly growing weaker breathing as she slowly drifted up.

HAd she any thoughts left, she would find them drifting to the family from the dream she once had, to her friends, and to Deadweight… the mare she loved. Her eyes moved to her for a faint moment, perhaps sensing those feelings in her heart even if she couldn't any more. They lingered for but a moment before turning back to the moon.

[1d10] Break Lunacy

Roll #1 5 = 5


I watch, helpless from the ground as Steadfast wraps a front leg around Lost's neck and pulls his head back. He unleashes all his strength into a headbutt against Lost with the same violent force he used against the Necromancer.

Slam [1d10+2] Crit 8+

"*Steadfast, what are you doing!?*"

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3


Deadweight continues speaking unintelligibly, the tone of her voice getting unsettlingly louder.

Roll #1 5 = 5


Deadweight instinctively feels eyes on her, and she turns to where they're coming from. Seeing Lost, although she isn't completely present, she quiets herself as though in reverence. When the eyes leave her, her eyes, too, turn back to the moon.


I rear up to lift the staff high overhead with both hooves. Everything we have to give is bundled together and hurled at the moon.

I was made for this.


Roll #1 10 + 9 = 19


Just as Steadfast slams his head into Lost's, a chunk of debris, ripped from its resting-place by the gravity of the Moon, careens into them, severely injuring the three.

With the state that Deadweight and Lost were in…

>Conflagration, Deadweight, Lost, Xu, Mogao and Sapphire lose 1 Wound

>Steadfast, Deadweight and Lost lose another Wound each

>Deadweight 2/0

>Lost 2/0

That… works… Dhampir mutters…


Nice going there, Steadfast. You just fucking murdered her. Fell for my words without even asking for proof. Hahahahahaha! How's it feel to have killed a helpless mare!? Ahahahaha!!!


Hmph… well, I was telling the truth about one thing. This *was* the only way that I could think of.


Hey… sis. I never finished explaining myself back during the battle. I suppose it isn't that we'd be swapping names. 'Lost Hope' isn't your name… but it isn't mine, either. It's more like… I was born from someone named Hope.

My very earliest memory is of that mare from the laboratory… from Mom. It was her giving me a mission.

"Go, and see the sunrise."

Never explained herself… and it was so surreal I suppose I never bothered telling you either. But, every time the Necromancer almost killed you, I remembered more and more of just what I was supposed to do to see that sunrise.

You see, in the event that you died, I had… a choice.

Option A… I could go around wearing you like a skin suit! Hahaha, pretty *Dreadful* after all, aren't I?

Option B…


I've got a mission to fulfill, things to see, people to fight. So, I guess this is goodbye. Hahaha!

Yeah… I'm leaving you behind…

While I go see what awaits us on the other side of death.

Gotcha there for a minute, didn't I?

Nah… if either of us has to keep on living and suffering in this world, it should be the one who still has a little 'hope' left.

The images of your party swirl in the haze of your dying mind… the others vanish, leaving Deadweight in the center of your vision.

Her, huh… not really my type. So if you two are going to be making out or filing your taxes jointly, I suppose I'd have been looking for my exit one way or another.

Take care of each other, alright sis?

Go, and see the sunrise… together.

Hmm… okay. E-enough delaying… the inevitable.

Time for the emergency failsafe that that mare… that Mom taught me. That weird prayer.



>Part 1/?


File: 1686918784271.jpg (71.17 KB, 707x1000, 61D5GEn30 L.jpg)

In an instant, a figure clad in a most peculiar, bespoke armorsuit blurs across the battlefield. Defying the Moon's gravity, she bounces off shattered buildings and flying debris alike, as she grabs every member of your party. With claws of silver light, she cuts with inhuman precision, slicing through the lunar corruption that chokes out her allies. When everyone is at last gathered, she makes a break down main street, seeking now to save what remains of the Ironcastle forces…

…Until she notices that she has lost one.

She turns back, and sees Conflagration has slipped, intangible, through her grasp, and is clad in a golden radiance, stronger than any armor.

They make eye contact but once, and share understanding without so much as a word or gesture.

They turn away from one another–

Lost, to save the evacuees.

Conflagration, to set the Moon.

>Part 2/?



Conflagration brandishes the Sun-staff with a natural, kingly might. Eight ethereal gemstones manifest about it. Each one, in its own strange way, briefly reminds Conflagration of his allies– Firmgold, Steadfast, Deadweight, Lost, Dhampir, Cautaa, Xu, and Ruby and Sapphire.

Together with the eight, he brings the Sun-staff down like a mighty morning star. A cosmic ray erupts from the orb atop it, rocketing toward the falling Moon. The ray impacts with its surface, and Conflagration is flung back through the air, before he gathers himself, and pushes back, holding the Moon in a standstill.

The glossolalia of the enraptured Lunatics grows louder, the higher and higher they float toward the Moon, Agatecastle and Ironcastle alike.


With singular focus and purpose, Conflagration pours all his power into the Sun-staff, becoming one with it, not to be consumed, but to unite with it! The cosmic ray grows in intensity and size, until the Castle shakes not just with the approach of the Moon, but the warmth of the very Sun itself! All around Agatecastle, a dreadful wailing echoes out, as the Dreaded drawn by the battle of the Necromancer are annihilated beneath the light of the Lamps which once glowed upon the entire world!


What may have been in the Sun-king's mind in those last moments? Perhaps of his allies, of his family, of his Castle… none may truly know, except for him. Yet, for innumerable years after those moments, his radiance would burn eternal in the minds of all those who witnessed it…

With a deafening, holy roar, and a quaking as such to rend the entire Diskos… the Moon rockets back into the illusory sky. As its awesome curvature recedes, darkness at last closes in around it… until the Moon, reduced to the size of a coin in your eyes, falls below the western horizon. A streak of golden radiance follows it– and the witnesses to this would swear that the Sun, for but an instant, went to follow her sister.

The illusory sky fades, and the Moon, the Sun, and Night with it. There again is the ceiling of L-8 F-4, and all the Castle above it. All is silent, and still with awe. In this silence, you can hear the clattering of a metal staff to the ground.

The Agate Alters have vanished… and Conflagration with them.

>Part 3/3


Lost ran, she ran faster, and harder than she every did, every single member of her team literally being carried upon her back, her armor immaculate in it's silver looking like she was a knight of the once benevolent moon. Tears stung her eyes under it, her mind clear but so very very empty. Her brother was gone, he saved her so they could both live, but now… she wondered if she was ever going to be able live with that emptiness inside her. The person she had spent every day of her life with that she could remember, her friend, her partner… her brother was gone, and he would never be back.

She began to sob a bit but she pushed on, running with all her might, those riding upon her could feel her body began to become racked with sobs, hear the gasps and cries of anguish, and yet she ran on, seeking those of Ironcastle who had survived this desperate battle.

"HU…" she quietly said with a sob as she pushed on "Please heal them if you can." she said before a few more cried of anguish slipped through her lips.


Who knew that Deadweight’s demise would be not the Necromancer, nor any of his lackeys, nor any Dreaded Ones, but a speedy piece of debris to the head.


>for all

Huitlapan nods, and motions for Lost to set him, Cautaa and Deadweight down.

Huitlapan's hands tremble as he produces one of the defibrillators. Using the emergency armorsuit override controls in the kit, they remove Deadweight's armor, apply the electrodes, and charge paddles. Time and again it takes, shock after shock… until a spastic gasp shudders from her mouth. Barely conscious, barely alive… Deadweight's thoughts, lingering at the edge of death, are only of one person. And yet, in that feverish, limbic boundary, she can, for but a moment, see another. A stallion, calm and confident– perhaps even crude and arrogant, but with a soul of true Iron.


Gasping prayers of gratitude, Huitlapan leaves Deadweight in Xu and Cautaa's care, as he runs to join the triage effort. Meanwhile, Lost, Firmgold and Steadfast, with the latter providing a brief explanation to Firmgold of what he did, split up to search for more survivors of Ironcastle. Lost, her every sense and ability enhanced to their apex by this new Armorsuit, is by far the one to rescue the most. With claws capable of shredding rubble like wet paper, she uncovers many who had been buried under collapsed buildings, pinned by upended sections of floor, and impaled upon rebar and glass. The injured are brought to the slapdash triage stations established around the Floor. Estimates made weeks later held that, if it weren't for Lost, and her enhanced powers of detection and excavation, the casualties of that cataclysm would have easily been tripled.

Many hours later, when the injured are stable enough to be moved, Knight-Brother Mountain issues an immediate evacuation order for the entirety of the Ironcastle forces. Those strong enough to move carry all the injured that they can, as they make for elevators and stable stairways. Tensions run high as all eyes keep look out for the Dreaded, and for the undead, but none are to be found. The only remnants to be seen are scorch marks and ash– obliterated under the awesome light of the Moon, and the Sun. A parting gift, from Conflagration and Mogao, it seems.

After an entire Cycle of travel, the last of the Ironcastle forces have made it back to Layer Nine, the Observatory, of Agatecastle– the headquarters of the Ironcastle Expedition Team. The support teams who remained behind rush to aid in the treatment of the injured, bandaging and blessing you. Poultices, holy water, bandages and incense are applied as freely as the air. A notice goes out via Magicomp– those still able to stand are to meet in 18 hours' time, in order to compile a report of the events so far. Those still too wounded to leave treatment are given a dispensation to submit a written report instead.


Lost was as lost as her name in every sense of the word. She had spent some time ensuring that Deadweight had been well since they're return, and while she genuinely appreciated the praise from all of those she helped and fought alongside… She felt hollow. So truly truly hollow. Like a piece of her was gone and it could never come back again.

She missed her brother. Sure they may not have bee literally siblings, but she had known him every day of her life and to not have that comforting voice alongside her own internal one was devastating.

She found herself asking for him again and again and yet silence was all that greeted her. It just made her more and more desperate. She didn't know what to do without him alongside her.


18 hours of desperate work, light sleep taken against free walls, and dodging the gazes of ironcastle workers who've taken notice at how much of the black market has opened up in aid. Firmgold sits next to steadfast, hunched forward and sipping water from an aid-supply ration through someone's stolen straw as she stares at the meeting countdown as the stallion has his crushed helmet sitting between them as he eats dry ration cubes that usually go with self-heated coffee- the coffee needed elsewhere.

They will show up when the meeting is to take place.


Once Lost Hope rescues the last of the survivors, Deadweight finally awakens. She shoots her head up and immediately groans. She holds a hoof to her head and scans the war-torn surroundings for Lost.


Lost was in her tent for now, secluded, she looked to her magicomp quietly with a sigh. She sent a message to Path. She had no clue if she would get it but it felt nice to let her know.

>Dhampir is gone.


The message queues for delivery. It won't be until you next return to Ironcastle, and connect to its Intranet, that it will be properly sent.


Deadweight asks the closest creature to her where Lost is, and once she gets directions, she walks over to Lost's tent. Lost sees her walk in for a split second before being practically tackled by her. "Lost, you're okay," she hears the pegasus say into her ear.


I continue to walk it unburdened by how strange this path feels.


Lost wheezed a bit, still tender, broken from her ruminations by Deadweight tackling her "Ack!" she cried as she sat up before she hugged her back "YEah, you were the one who died, not me." she said a bit bluntly as her emotions remained a bit muted.


When Lost yelps, Deadweight loosens her grip and says, "Oh, my bad." She chuckles when Lost makes the remark. "Guess that's true," she says, "Y'know, when I was dying, I thought about something. You remember when you asked me if I ever kissed anyone before?"


That pulled her back a bit more as she made a thinking face "Did I? I… I can't remember asking honestly."


Deadweight's eyes drift. "Yeah, it was when we were at the locksmith's shop, I think. I said I did, but I gotta come clean…" Her eyes meet Lost's again, and she smirks. "I lied. You were the first." Her eyes fall down to the floor, then come back up as she asks, "Wanna be the second?"


She went bright red in the face, words escaping her… but she nodded gently


Deadweight smiles, and does what she was afraid she wouldn't get to do again. When she pulls her head back, she takes a better look at Lost. "Wh… where's Dhampir?"


She paused, looking to her suit, far more advanced than before as it sat on the ground, the burnt orange saddle like mark that she normally had on her back gone.

"He's… he's gone. He sacrificed himself to save me and the rest of us."


When the words reach Deadweight's ears, her lips quiver. She hugs Lost again. "I'm so sorry," she says with a shaky voice. She starts sobbing; you've never heard such gasps ever come out of her. "I never thanked him for taking care of you all this time," she says in between gasps, holding Lost more tightly.


"It's like a part of myself is gone, and I'll never get it back." she said quietly as she began to grow a bit more distant once more.

She squeezed her tightly


Deadweight nods, still hugging her. "I'm so sorry," she says again, this time in a trembling whisper, "If you need me to do anything, just say the word."


"Just… stay with me for a while please." she said softly, so softly Deadweight could barely hear it.


Deadweight nods again and continues holding her paradoxically firmly and gently, comforting her the best she can.


Lost leaned in, and gently pecked her on the lips before just relaxing into her hold until they had to go to the meeting.

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