Following an encounter with an icy visage of Azawakh the Cruel, sister to Vizsla the Kind and Mudi the Young (the three Witches of Gehenna that Miracle and Blessings warned the party of), Amy, Flaming, Dania, and Observer retrieved the Sun Piece, one of the two keys needed to open the sealed door. A force within Amy, perhaps strengthened by the strange environment they were in, unleashed an attack on the party, mildly damaging each of them, while melting the ice wall which blocked their path.
Shei rescued Flow from some pink bandit-like goblin monsters, who were attempting to steal him. After this, the Phomesa opened a hole in local space, bringing them to where Amy and co. were. After which, Amy led the way to the right corridor to retrieve the other piece. They were momentarily marred by some skull traps in the right corridor, which resembled landmines and bit whoever walked over them.
Pryce found Spitshine in the Ayakashi Salon, nauseous from a spiked drink and the effects of the blood moon. He searched for whoever gave Spitshine the drink, but instead left, deciding it not that important. He met with Ecc. A and F, huddled on a rooftop with Ichimonji, while a horde of dancing, raving demons filled the streets below like a raging tsunami. Ichimonji, looking fairly injured, informed him that she and Spitshine had rigged the Hypnagogium to explode, which would help in their escape from the city by blocking the road and preventing demons from chasing them.
With the path clear of jumping skulls, you enter a medium-sized cavern. Simple and straightforward in layout, it has a lower and upper level. The two are connected by sloping ridges on either side of the room. By the base of the right side is a large, quadrupedal reptile, its body completely cased in heavy, armor-like scales, even its helmet-like head, which has no visible eyes. At the top of the rightmost ridge, you see Ecc. G, her right arm bleeding and broken. Two unconscious JOY addicts lay next to her, as well as Ecc. D, who looks quite bloody and bruised, semi-conscious.
Behind the creature is a pedestal containing a wooden crescent; the Moon Piece.
The beast looks up lazily at the Ecclesians, not noticing you. Despite their injuries, the beast is completely unharmed, no dents or scratches in its armor. Ecc. G looks up at you, and her face lights up in shock and fear. She mouths the word 'Go!' and points at the Moon Piece.
>>26089333 Regarding her injuries, Ichimonji says, "Shit happens. 'Specially round explosives. No time to dwell on it. Round up your crew, because we're leaving. Where are they?" she barks.
Spitshine looks downcast and greatly guilty as she brings up 'explosives'.
>>26089675 "I'm not sure, we separated a while ago while I got the infected ponies. Now, show me your injury. We need to give it some treatment and we won't be leaving this spot anytime soon anyways." Pryce says sternly, more caring than demanding.
He glances over at Spitshine's reaction to Ichimonji's explanation, which only makes him more concerned with treatment and about what happened.
>>26089560 >>26089675 >>26089322 Flaming gasps for breath as they clear the last of the jumping, biting skulls, turning down to nurse her nicked spot from earlier but finding herself still quite repulsed at her own scent, the rotten water still seeping into her favorite/only tunic and fur.
She chases after the wolf-form Amy, stopping in her place as she's growled at,
"AAAH! A-Amy, please, c-can you stop this? Why are you running away from me?!"
>>26089675 Running into the room with the injured soldiers, the joy addicts among them, Shorthorns gasps as she looks at their grievous injuries. She turns and eyes the monstrous reptile that presumably did the deed, her nerve faltering as she takes in its rather impressive natural armor and massive size.
She eyes the Moon Piece behind it, slightly nervous as to how to get past this creature. As the soldier gives her the signal to move, however, Shorthorns nods her head, mouthing 'Okay!' to the solider as she starts trying to tip toe past the creature, hoping it doesn't notice her OR start moving towards the soldiers.
>>26089675 Shei-Sher rides the Phomesa into the room. "What has gotten into Amy?" He asks anyone listening. His attention shifts to the ecclesians and addicts above and observes their gesture toward the moon piece.
>>26089840 "Wait Flaming!" Shei whispers loudly "Don't just go. We should devise a plan, maybe distract the armored dream monster before getting near it."
>>26089743 "Ay ya." Ichimonji curses in exasperation, before shrugging off her coats. Her right side is heavily burned and raw, with some dirty skid marks and cuts. There will be some extensive scarring even with strong healing magic. "Will I still be pretty?" she scoffs, as Ecc. A and F cringe at the sight.
>>26089840 The lizard does not stir as you creep around its back. You reach the pedestal containing the Moon Piece, and pull it out with a heavy 'kthunk'.
The creature turns its head slightly in your direction at the sound.
>>26089877 The nail beast has 4/4, and awaits your commands.
>>26089938 >Siege Engine, 180/200 Hits >This heavy lunk can only retaliate; it can never attack unless it is struck first. It hits just as hard as the attacker did. Its enchanted scales never show damage or weakness, to intimidate and demoralize prey
>>26089977 >>26090012 Inspire succeeds! 'Help distract, so I can move!' Ecc. G mouths in agreement, pointing at the wounded Ecc. D and JOY addicts.
>>26090028 >>26090104 "I wouldn't attack it if I were you. It can repel damage back at whatever attacks it." Observer says, making his way over to try and go around the beast to obtain the moon piece, without harming the beast.
>>26090012 She whispers back at Shei as she begins to sneak, "I HAVE a plan: grab the moon piece!"
>>26090028 Shorthorns gasps with joy as she takes out the heavy key, but then turns in fear as she realizes the loud sound she made. She gulps and, as Amy begins her attack with her creature, she leaps off where she grabbed the idol, and tries to make it back to Shei and Novelus and Observer
>>26090028 Pryce can't help but take a winced step back at the sight, a mixture of pain at the sight and surprise at how she's still standing and seemingly ignoring it. "Well I've seen worse, but I'm sure you'll find someone who likes battle-worn mares." Pryce's horn glows white, followed by a white blanket glow covering Ichimonji's side as he mixes both his curative magics to heal up burnt, raw skin as much as he can and clean out any possible infections. >Mantra of Purity [1d10] >Prayer for Deliverance [1d10]
>>26090028 >>26090127 Flow had his hoof on his claymore right when Observer made his remark. "Wait, so it only attacks if we hit it?" He looks at the Ecclesians. "So I assume that's why they're all messed up..." He waits for the others to make a move.
>>26090104 Stings wrack your jaw as the creature's armor does not give way. It shakes you against the wall.
The barrage of nails peppers the creature's faceplate, leaving no mark. The creature ambles forward and headbutts the Nail Beast.
[1d10+1] (yours was as well from inspire) DC 4+
>>26090142 The creature heaves its weight over, positioning itself between you and the exit, forcing you to skid to a halt. It snorts and snarls at you, but does not attack.
>>26090199 You clean and patch up most of the wound. Starting to get a bit wobbly and pale, Ichimonji sits, rubbing her knobby knees. "They'll have a bit more to stomach than just that." she jokes with a wink. Ecc. A and F share a grimace and uncomfortable shuffle.
"So, report. How many were your people able to get out? Has that Volkama given you any trouble? Anyone lost?"
>>26090207 >>26090227 "Wait... what? What are--" Ecc. G begins, before seeing the creature get distracted with Flaming. She stirs Ecc. D, who wobbily stands. The two of them then drag the JOY addicts to the exit, limping and bleeding. "I thought... so we're all screwed up because of me, huh? Figures... never shoot giant metal reptiles first! Lesson learned." she says, looking highly apologetic and ashamed.
>>26090127 The creature attempts to block the way to Flaming, but you float over it. It approaches you and snarls, but does not attack, merely brushing its snout against Golem in a challenging fashion.
>>26090371 Observer ignores the beast, instead he tries to grasp the key with his TK to bring it over to him. "There, should we wait while the others are cared for?" He asks the party, making his way back to the others.
She gasps as it completely cuts off her path from Shei, skidding to a halt and staring at it with fear and determination as it snarls at her. She watches the monster as it cuts her off, then shouts over to Shei behind it
She tosses the key up slightly, then headbutts it to land on the other side of the creature in Shei's horns
>>26090309 Pryce takes a step back to give Ichimonji some pace after he finishes his spell. "I managed to treat eighteen ponies and bring them back outside the city. I didn't have enough to work as a trade for seven ponies, but they looked lively when I left and Splitz sailed off." Pryce pauses for a moment at the mention of Volkama, sitting himself. "Volkama... We gave him mercy to bring him back here and all he did was delay us by stealing the antidote and attacking those who stayed in the ship. Haven't seen him since I grabbed the sure back, and hopefully I won't anytime soon."
When the Siege Engine shifts its weight to block the exit Shei-sher tells Flaming "Maybe, we should ask it nicely?"
Shei-sher approaches the large armored beast "Ahem, Mister Siege Engine sir. May we please gain passage from this room. We have friends waiting for us. I-I'm sure you have friends too -waiting for you, where ever conjured dreamed entities abode. In exchange for your kindess I will give you -erm" Shei begins digging through his bag for something to give the armored beast. He searches through the bag for an uncomfortable long while "Jus-just one moment." until he takes out a rag and some soap
"I will polish your shell." Shei-sher begins polishing the Reptile's armor like scales. Buffing out all the marks made from the ecclessian's attacks.
>>26090478 Ecc. D nods his thanks after you administer the potion, but not long after, you slump over, helpless, from your own injuries. The creature headbutts back the nail beast against the wall, and afterwards drags its front leg across the ground, trying to goad you into attacking again.
Amy 0/2 Nail Beast 3/4
>>26090564 You don't have any marks to buff out. The creature's scales tint themselves to hide damage, to intimidate prey. You polish its eye-less head, making it nice and clean anyway. Whether the creature appreciates your gesture is unclear; it merely shifts its weight about, making heavy grunts, displays of power, that would challenge any non-sapient creature.
"Okay, no point in us sticking around now-- how long have you been here? Where the heck are we?" Did you check out that other path?" Ecc. G asks rapidly, with a hint of desperation.
With Shei distracting it, the creature turns, leaving a gap for Flaming to squeeze through.
>>26090492 "Hrmph. Damn. Dr. Galton would've killed to get her talons on that thing's body. And I don't like how easily I can say that. You didn't hear this from me, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that an organization jointly led by a church, assassins, and former rulers isn't a well-oiled machine."
"Sir Ichimonji, the Choir doesn't authorize sharing those det--" Ecc. A stammers.
"I am the Choir." Ichimonji quickly shuts him down. "And I'm sharing nothing that isn't already plain. No point in unnecessary secrecy, especially among potential allies."
She looks down at the demons in the street. "No organization. No leadership. I'd assumed they'd tear us apart by now, but they're passing around us, like a rock in a stream, more intent on tossing each other around than us. Too many mortals out there are acting just like them."
>>26090656 >>26090403 >>26090574 She takes steady breaths as Shei continues to distract the Siege Engine, watching as its body shifts about to give her enough room to slip around it. She quickly takes the opportunity while she has it, moving around it with a nod towards Observer as he catches the piece.
She stares at Shei, "I... I don't understand. Does it like having its scales shined...?"
She gasps as she sees Amy's slump form, "Oh no! S-shei, hurry up and finish cleaning it so it can leave us alone, we have both keys no we are leaving!"
>>26090478 She quickly trots over to the wolf form of Amy, but steadily slows down as she gets close to her intimidating form, instinct to run away screaming at her.
She fights the urge to turn from those gnashing teeth, and tries to help pick Amy up, "Amy! H-how are you feeling?"
>>26090656 >>26090606 Shei beckons Flaming to squeeze by the Siege Engine "I analyzed it with my Pupil, it is completely harmless, unless you strike it first. It only holds appearances." Shei pets its shell "Now I assume that moon piece is a key of some sort. Now, do you know where that belongs? Because if to be forthright I barged into this predicament without much of a plan to get out."
>>26090656 Flow stands up and clinks his claymore on the ground. >>26090793 "If we're leaving, then let's hurry it up. I wanna find just where the Inheritance and Der Schlangenschwert have dissipated to."
>>26090656 "From what I've heard I wouldn't argue that either."
Pryce looks off into the sea of demons. "I was going through them earlier without an issue. Things were a bit fuzzy, but they all seemed to be having a good time instead of the whole crazed ravaging it sounded like you said would come. Passed through a bar to find them all listening to some music. ...Was pretty good from what I can recall. And I found Spitshine in there too, mostly okay."
Pryce looks over to Spitshine, putting a hoof on his shoulder after the guilty look he had earlier. "You feeling better, stomach doing alright?"
>>26090734 >>26090729 While the creature makes more gestures and displays of challenge, Flaming helps Amy up. The creature continues to wait for your next attack eagerly.
>>26090720 "How about no." Ecc. G deadpans, gesturing at her injuries and those of Ecc. D. "We've had our fair share of being in the front. Besides, our orders were to scope out you guuuyyyaaahhh... I wasn't supposed to share that last part so I didn't say it." she corrects herself.
>>26090855 Ecc. D puts his hoof on your shoulder, nearly falling as he does. He reaches into his bag of holding, and pulls out the Inheritance. "Belongs to you. Picked it up after we got separated in the dark." he grunts, voice strained with pain.
>>26090903 "It came at us like it was gonna, but it didn't." Ecc. D says. "We shot first. Got wrecked. Got played."
As you leave the cavern, the Siege Engine tramples slowly in place then lays down. You return to the middle passage, with the floors now returning to an intact stretch of cobblestone. Instead of cylindrical, the tunnels have taken on a more square, orderly architecture, though they are still squishy and damp-smelling. As you reach the middle tunnel with the circular and crescent indentations, you note that the door is no longer dripping seawater. Instead you feel a faint sense of vertigo, and an icy chill.
The Phomesa raises on its tip-hooves, prancing nervously.
>>26090902 "It was only a prediction. Demons' aggression climaxes when the moon is full and bright, but wanes during the new moon. Wasn't a stretch to imagine a phenomenon that sends hornheads into a tizzy would send them into a frenzy. Still too early to say, I reckon."
Spitshine doesn't respond, instead looking at the roof glumly. Ichimonji leans over and pops him on the shoulder, roughly. The two lock eyes, Spitshine looking fearful and angry. Eventually he lowers his eyes again. Ichimonji leans back, drawing her pipe.
>>26090983 She stares at Amy, face turning around to the burn marks from her earlier attack and her scorched fur. She winces looking at it, but then shakes her head.
"I don't care about something stupid like that. I'm a warrior, I'm supposed to handle stuff like that. Why would I leave you behind just because of an accident?!"
>>26091014 She gasps, "Oooooooooh! It provoked, goaded, tricked." She looks at the Siege Engine's tactics, smirking, "A very interesting strategy, but one I will not fall for!"
She looks at the creature and sticks out her tongue, "Not falling for it! This victory is ours. Your loss."
She smiles, helping the wolf Amy hoof along back to the original middle passage. Shorthorns looks around at the orderly, structured cobblestone and architecture, feeling much more at home as they make their way back to the final crack. She shudders as she feels the cold, "T-this must be it! I can feel outside!"
>>26090720 She grabs at her Sun key, and looks to Observer who possesses the Moon. "Ready Observer?"
>She reaches up towards the Sun Chariot, placing her key within the indention
>>26091014 Flow takes the Inheritance and puts it on. With an ecstatic smile, he embraces Ecc. D in a gooey hug. "Thank you very much, my friend! I felt naked without it!" Without a word, he hoists Ecc. D onto his back to carry him. He brings out his two buddies as he follows the others, still wondering about where Der Schnalgenschwert could be.
>>26091014 "Did the moon go down already? I was feeling something for a while, it felt... good. But it faded, it couldn't have been that long has it?" Pryce remarks on the moon talk as he looks up to the sky.
Looking back down to catch the exchanged stare between the two. "What did happen, between you two. I can only imagine the moon is at blame if it caused you two to separate so far." He asks with concern.
"You shouldn't-" Amy begins to say before cutting herself off. "Thank you," she says after a pause.
However, she quickly pushes Flaming away as they enter the middle room. "Oh, I hate this part..." she says woozily as she crouches down and begins gagging.
However, instead of puking up all the black goo like she usually does, she only manages to dry heave, coughing up some of it. As she does, her body changes back mostly into her pony form, but she remains a darker shade of purple and slightly furry and woof-like.
"Oh, this is so much worse!" she coughs. But, behind the cough, there's almost a tinge of laughter. "I hate blood moons!"
>>26091261 She pushes herself right up to his face, snorting,
"Say that again and you'll bump horns like a REAL buffalo, too, Shei! Buffalo do NOT smell!" She says, sounding upset.
>>26091210 Flaming wretches at the look of her dry-heaving, watching the little bits of black goo piling up on the floor.
"I hate that part too.... eeeeeeew." She taps her hooves nervously in place as she stares at it, then watches as Amy only shifts back part way towards a pony from her wolf form, making an odd hybrid. She relaxes a bit, however, recognizing the pony part.
"I'm right with you... the sooner we're out of here the better." She taps her hooves a few times. "Hey... Amy? About what you said before.. with the witch?"
>>26091130 Though the moon is still in the center of the sky and still red as before, something is odd about the sky, like a near-transparent filter over it, though you are not sure of the bounds of this filter or its cause. Your head feels much clearer than before, despite the moon still being full.
"Nothing." Spitshine says.
"We talked, about his father and his future. Tensions were high. He mishandled some explosives, and I dived in before he blew himself sky high. Then he ran off. Am I forgetting anything?"
Spitshine looks away again. "Not how it happened..."
"No, you're still here and so is most of me. So I think you're lying."
>>26091144 As its body alights, the beast snarls and charges toward the exit, but its head becomes stuck as it rams into the opening, unable to pursue you.
>>26091110 You summon your pals, while Ecc. D sighs with relief at not having to walk.
>>26091210 >>26091144 >>26091185 >>26091110 >>26091333 You slide the keys in, and the drawings of the twin chariots spring to life, whipping at their reins with triumphant cheer. The doors slide apart as an aperture. They open to a starry landscape, more vivid, colorful, and close than you've ever experienced. The stars congregate into a spiral directly ahead of you. A feeling like light suction comes from the end of the tunnel, which is too dark for you to identify the end of. The distant sound of a broiling sea is all that you hear.
Some cobblestone bricks form a small patio-like structure a few meters in front of the door.
"Careful where you step, my little ponies... and friends." an older, female voice says. Beyond the door, reclining on the patio, is a crystal pony, in a sackcloth maid's outfit. She is quite old, with pale blue skin with cracks where there would normally be wrinkles. "A false step here would likely drag you off to the other end of this ravenous, nightmarish Anomaly. It's already taken quite a bit of this World already."
>>26091356 Observer makes his way to the patio, staring into the giant swirling light. "What is that?" He asks, attempting to scan it first with his Fourth Eye to see what magic it may be made of and way may lie beyond it.
>>26091351 She growls, "Yeah, OKAY!" she nods her head, having won her argument fair and square.
>>26091298 She bows her head, thinking back to both her tearful confession of having willingly killed, and ate, that pony that haunted them. "Well, between what you said before, and, the fire hurting us..." she looks up. "You know I don't hate you, right?"
>>26091356 Shorthorns marvels at the beautiful, shining, colorful display of stars splayed out before them.
"By the flames..." she steps out onto the patio, staring deep into its infinite, starry void with wonder. "It's... it's so pretty. I wasn't expecting that." She looks up and around the spiral, "Did we do something to this place?"
As the female voice sounds out, she looks at the patio pony with a shock. She jumps up, pressing her horns in a battle-ready stance towards her. "What?! Who are you? How did you get here?" She looks around, attention drawn to the spiral, "An anomolomoly? You mean, like the one Spike came from?"
>>26091356 Pryce is silent as the subject is explained. He looks back up to the moon. "...That is something that need to be talked about." Pryce looks back down, looking to Spitshine. "Can you tell me what happened?" He looks up at Ichimonji for a moment. "Privately, if need be."
>>26091439 It is an Anomaly, similar to the one that took you to this World. But, unlike that one, which was benign, this one is actively looking for parts of the World to devour. No information about the World on the other end comes back to you. If you got too far, you'd never return.
>>26091443 "Oh, I went upstairs to check on the young Wishful, but... well, I must've taken quite the left turn, haven't I? I don't recall the young dear's crib looking quite like this. But, yes. an Anomaly. Quite convenient, as I came to this country looking for one, though I'd not anticipated such a close encounter with one." she leans back, picking her teeth with a toothpick. "Quite the dangerous environ. Best not to stay here too long, dear."
>>26091484 "You have got to be kidding." Ecc. F protests. Ichimonji raises her hoof. "We leave nobody - Ecclesian or otherwise - behind. We have time."
"Too bad for you, I'm not talking." Spitshine says.
"He'd been contemplating returning to his father's ships." Ichimonji says. "I offered him an alternative-- three guesses what it was."
"This is why I said no - am I even getting any say in this? You're already doing everything for me as it is!"
"I'm here too." Box says, fading into sight next to you.
>>26091559 "Forgot one." Vizsla says, holding up Der Schlangenschwert. "Oh-- and who is this little gem?"
Renee shambles forward, her eyes fixating curiously on Vizsla. "Oh, oh dear." Vizsla says, approaching and looking over Renee. "Yes. I recognize something like this. A kind of... sickness, if you will. Caused by a sorceress inexperienced in handling magic. I can see you're fixing to just kill something like a vapid brute, but consider that I have more to offer you than a fight - not that this is a prime spot for you to fight anyone in the first place."
>>26091356 Shei-sher is mersmerized by the starry lights, he looks at them fondly. He tugs lightly on the Phoesa's fur to follow and walks along his party to the patio.
"Auntie Vizsla!" Shei-sher is both excited and anxious to find her. The goat is overcome with the instinct to hug her but stops himself before doing so. "-er I mean, Vizsla! Return the Hypnagogium to sanity. No one appreciates it."
>>26091653 "Oh, hello, little Shei! I didn't see you there - here, you look like you could use this." She reaches behind your ear and produces a square of chocolate. "But, I'm not the gal to ask on that - your friend is." she points at the trembling Phomesa.
"Here, in the borders between our world and that one-- space is quite thin. Your little friend can use this to make a portal back to our World. Would it be too much to ask for you to rescue me as well? You've already got quite a few guests, what's one more?"
>>26091621 Shorthorns smiles, lowering her head, but the smile fades into a frown. "You mean a lot too Amy. You're my sister now, remember?" She flattens her ears, "But sometimes, I'm... what I'm afraid of is YOU hurting you. I mean, I know you must have felt really bad, after all that happened, but," she shakes her head, "I-I don't like it when you just run away, or, tell me to run while you stay behind, or that I should blame you for things like that witch..." she taps her hooves rapidly, her head held slightly lowered, "I don't want to lose you too, I can't. I-I was terrified when you jumped in those limbs, I nearly lost it!"
>>26091650 She looks around the starry scape, eyes lost in their brilliance. "It... was, at first, this place was absolutely horrible. I hated it here, nothing made sense and it was all, ALL, wrong." She looks out at the stars, "But, this part... this isn't so bad. You came here looking for a foal? Did you find it, we need to go now!"
>>26091653 "Wait... VIZSLA?!" She stares at the cracked mare, growling, "This is the witch!"
She points her horns at the old mare, getting between her and Renee, "Give back Renee's head! Where's your snow monster?!"
>>26091650 "And it's good to see you." Pryce says to Box as he pops into sight.
"I don't want to be one to get between family. But, that did not feel like a suitable place for a child. And you didn't sound like you enjoyed the kind of company either when you talked about them before." Pryce shifts so he's facing front to Spitshine. "Tell me what you want to do. What you really want. Let's here your say."
>>26091786 "B-but she's allies with that Nightseed monster, isn't she?! The one that took Renee's head!"
She growls, "AND the Ecclessians said SHE'S the one that brought demons here, Shei! DEMONS! She's the reason everything is wrong, I bet!"
>>26091777 "No!" She turns her head up, eyes a little puffy, "No it didn't! It almost made you disappear! I almost lost you, just like I lost everything else! You were red and disappearing and, if I had missed my charge, o-or if I had gotten dragged in to, we'd... you'd..."
>>26091760 >>26091762 >>26091792 >>26091767 "That stinky little hatchling is simply having a bad dream. Unlucky for her, that dream became the subject which this Anomaly sought to devour. It doesn't just take streets, or buildings or even people - it won't be satisfied unless it has stripped memories, colors, light, even logic. What should be, what is, what might be. Part of whatever you've seen and fought here is here because you wanted and expected it. What is here is what I expected and wanted. It took that logic and devoured it, and it hungers for more. That is why this gap-between-worlds is so... useful. But, I'm rambling. Nobody wants that."
She gestures at Renee, who sidles forward and wraps herself around Vizsla, eyes trembling. "Take me along for the ride, agree to leave me be while your Ecclesian friends scurry off for the night, and I'll administer a brew which will undo Nightseed's shoddy magic on your friend, here." Vizsla says.
"Sounds good to me. We've got wounded and addicted here." Ecc. G says. Ecc. D shrugs and nods. "Ain't a sin to take an offer like this."
The Phomesa scurries away, jumpy and terrified at Vizsla's presence. It peers into the empty space and begins to part its front hooves from one another, very slowly.
>>26091793 "Heheh, yeh. I got to carry." Box says.
"I want to leave this city. Get back on the weather factory, I don't care what direction we go." Spitshine says.
"He wasn't planning to stay. He was going to confront his 'father'. Alone." Ichimonji says gravely.
>>26091880 "This place... eats our memories and dreams? I-I don't think I understand..." she looks around the more comfortable setting, "But... I didn't want ANY of this. This place, I-I've thought it was wrong from the start, except for a few places that weren't so bad. W-what part of me made this?"
She shakes her head, "N-never mind, you're right, I don't want to hear you talk about this awful place. What I want is for you to fix Renee!" As she explains the potion, Shorthorns stands ready to fight still, "Wait, you just need to make a potion? Don't you need her head? And where does that leave Nightseed, I won't just let her get away with this!"
She turns to the Ecclesians, confused, "Are you sure it isn't? I thought she was the reason any of this was happening in the first place when she brought the demons to Circadia."
>>26091849 "That's Renee!" Shei yipes, having wondered what it was all this time "What happened to her??" he says apparently grossed out
"To be frank Flaming, even if she did do all that, which she likely did. There is absolutely no way we could possibly defeat her in a straight forward bout. So, at least she's polite." Shei comments again after Vizsla offers to bring back Renee "And see, she even offered to bring back Renee. She is polite."
>>26091880 "Hay! Where are you going! This is what we came here for." Shei-sher follows after the Phomesa, he splites the chocolate bar in half and tries to put it in the Phomesa's lanterns. [1d10]
"A lot of things almost do a lot of things. But they don't do them. If they did, then it wouldn't have been almost. I was somewhere else for a little while, and it felt good. It wasn't bad. I'm sure I could have gotten back."
"It's weird... So far, all the demon's we've met... I feel like they just need help. But, they're so lost and confused and angry and powerful that it's too difficult to try. It felt like all that demon needed was a hug. I don't regret it."
>>26092021 Shorthorns sniffs, "So just because it only almost happened I should act like it didn't even happen!? W-what if you COULDN'T have gotten back? Don't you ever think about what 'might' happen?"
As she mentions the demons needing help, she looks down, angry and still a little misty. "Some of them... Orcus felt like that before he died. But that doesn't excuse what they're doing to our world. Just because they need a hug doesn't mean they deserve one."
"Spitshine, I'm here to help. We all are." Pryce makes a gesture to Ichimonji to be quiet for a moment. Then, he lifts up Spitshine's face so he can look him in the eye. "I was raised with the belief to spread happiness wherever I could, my whole family worked together to do as such. When I joined the church to become a paladin, we acted as if we were brothers. It wasn't until recently, when I thought I could do things on my own and left my friends, that things went bad." Pryce pulls his hoof back. "You're dwelling on something, but you don't need to do it alone."
>>26091916 You are given a brief sense of plunging into deep seawater, refreshing and cool. You are light and free to move, as you were in the Void. Overwhelming salt taints your tongue and nose. A dense constriction grips you, in two places in your chest. Your moments slow as you grow heavier and sluggish... before it gets any farther, you come back to yourself, with a sudden craving for what those in Ecclesia's world call 'air'.
>>26091937 >>26091976 >>26091980 >>26092021 "Whatever the rambling slime told you is but one version of her remedy. I wouldn't take the word of one without a brain too seriously. I'm known for being a bit of a miracle worker among my sisters. Newsflash: decapitations don't really give goo ponies too much grief. I'll make some instant surrogate goo pony, just add water. From my analysis, it looks like that's already been done to her once."
As Shei drops in the chocolate, the Phomesa shivers uncontrollably, but opens a thin passageway before her. It is empty, and dark, but has a certain solidity and security to it. The Phomesa stands beside it, ushering you all in like an attendant.
"Handy." Vizsla chuckles, while Renee latches onto her.
>>26092078 "Oh, you guys are gonna help me, huh? Yeah, with your great track record I'm sure that'll go awesome." he sneers.
Ichimonji sits back and listens, but then turns back toward the Hypnagogium in confusion. You hear odd sounds coming from its direction, like something creaking open, like curtains parting.
>>26092109 She grunts, putting up a pouty face. "9 to 1 are still pretty good odds..."
>>26092117 >>26092162 She opens her mouth, but pauses trying to think on the question exactly. "Because... because it's not worth it... the risk I mean. Any demon you try to help is one that could be trying to kill you. I can feel sorry for them sometimes I guess but, if I have to choose between the ponies, goats, and sheep I know that are still here, or somepony I don't even know that may need help but is trying to hurt them, I will choose my friends and family."
>>26092128 "....that's it? You can do it, just like that? You WOULD do it just like that?"
Shorthorns looks warily at the witch, still unsure of her motives even as Renee latches on. "Well... alright, but I'm watching you. W-we'd best get out of here quickly one way or another, Ichimonji could be bombing the city any second! We've gotten out all we can, now it's time we leave. Come on."
She looks at Phomesa as it opens up a passageway, carefully stepping into it. "Thank you Phomesa." She nods to the fairy-like creature.
>>26092128 Pryce expression falters a bit, thinking of past failures. "I may have messed up things in the past, but I've learned from them. And one of the most important things I learned is nopony should be alone when facing tough times." His eyes glance to the Hypnagogium for a split second, but turn back to Spitshine, more concerned on the colt.
>>26092128 Observer takes a deep breath after looking too deep, only more questions filling his mind. He then takes a slower breath before moving his gaze away from the anomaly.
>>26092128 Observer turns his attention to Vizsla. "Vizsla, I wanted to meet you about one possible thing." He says, making his way to her. "You may have valuable knowledge I could use. I wish to learn whatever secrets you may have about demons and souls, I know very little outside of what I have learned coming to this world." He says.
>>26092211 "They call me 'the Kind' for a reason, dear. I've been in the witch business for a while, and while an ailment like this is... unconventional, I've had enough hooves-on experience with its cause that I know a trick or two."
>>26092247 Spitshine fumes, then turns away. He scoots off a few inches, more or less held prisoner with you by the demons flooding around the buildings.
>>26092249 Vizsla looks puzzled for a few seconds, then creases her face with a warm smile. "Why don't I just bake you something instead? Even one such as you must be getting hungry by now."
>>26092345 It presses the tip of its muzzle against the top of your head, clinging on a few seconds longer than you do.
Soon, you are back in the ground floor of the Hypnagogium. Ecc. B, D, and G look immensely relieved. They set down the JOY addicts and rush to the door, stopping to search for wherever Ichimonji and the others have gone.
Vizsla is there as well, idly wandering toward the dining room. The door to the kitchen seals by itself. She begins to leaf through the cabinets and drawers, various ingredients and poultices jumping out by themselves onto the counter. She clicks her tongue, and a cauldron appears by itself beside her, a white fire igniting beneath it.
"Would one of you hand me the slime's core?" she calls.
>>26092345 You slowly wake in Volkama's study, in the chair. The headset automatically raises and lets you out. Volkama himself is at a nearby window, scanning the horizon. He seems quite lucid and coherent, not noticing you yet.
"I didn't eat him," Amy says wistfully as if she is looking back on an important memory. "I was hungry. I happened to run into a traveling family. I don't know why they were there. I didn't care. I smelled food. I asked them if I could have some. The stallion didn't even object. He just gave me some food. Then I ate it and demanded more. He just gave me more. I kept eating. He kept giving."
"Then, he ran out of food. I got angry. I said I was still hungry. He apologized. He said that he would never let a pony stay hungry. He offered himself as food."
"I... I remember his family crying. I remember staring at him, confused. No one ever OFFERED for me to eat them before. I saw his fillies in tears."
"I don't think it was pity that made me run away, not at first... I think what I thought about first was how much of a waste it would have been to eat him. He was so generous. If he had more, he would have given it to me. If I came back later, I could get more. But, then I realized it would end the same way. I realized I would make his fillies cry again. I started getting scared when I started thinking about the cycle I would create - the cycle I WAS creating. I spent... I don't know how long... just thinking. Eventually, I got to be how I am now."
"It was his generosity that made me start thinking. It wasn't some magical thing. It was just a little push that got me going the right way. I didn't deserve it. But, he helped me anyway. Wouldn't you say things worked out better because he did it?"
>>26092415 Observer makes his way over to Vizsla again. "My greatest hunger is my hunger for knowledge. You created the Demon Controlling Lamps, did you not? If you did, you would have at least some knowledge on demons, possibly souls. Correct?" He asks.
>>26092415 Pryce follows, sitting down next to him but angled, letting him face away still. "I just want to help. I've been carrying the weight of this world on my shoulders... for far too long. I don't want to see anypony have to hold anything close to even a fraction of that." He says somberly.
>>26092415 Flow extracts Renee's core from his body, and looks to Vizsla. "I swear, if this doesn't work..." he shows his teeth, "I won't hesitate to rip and tear you to shreds." He holds out his hooves, one holding Renee's core. "Mein Schlangenschwert?"
>>26092379 She holds her head down, defeated. "I'll... I'll let her go if she helps Renee. Just this once."
>>26092415 >>26092273 Shorthorns is relieved at the sensation of reality coming back to her, looking about the ground floor of the Hypnagogium with joy matching the Ecclessian soldiers as she looks about, smiling,
"We're back... we're back we're back we're back!" She cries out, stomping her hooves in glee. She runs around in circles about the ground floor, hopping and skipping with near tears in her eyes, before she stops herself, red in the face as Vizsla asks for the core.
"Oh! I'm sure Flow has it..." she turns to Flow, "You didn't... 'touch' it, right?"
>>26092457 Shorthorns sits quietly, and listens to Amy's tale as she hears of the kind pony who selflessly gave to her until it hit home what the cost of her voraciousness was. As she makes the final point about how the thing that turned her from a monster was the simple act of kindness of others, even for those undeserving, she just sits flat on her rump, thinking.
"I... y-yeah. Yeah, they definitely worked out better, but..." She stammers, trying to think of a counter. "I-I can't do that. That pony was going to let you eat him?! I'm willing to give my life for my clan but, that's too much for me to just, let the demons take what they want. I don't know HOW."
"I know," Amy says solemnly. "I can't do it either. I couldn't just give my life to some evil... thing... like that."
Amy turns her head and smiles at Flaming. "But, I think he knew. I don't know how. But, he must have known I wouldn't do it. I don't think I can be as smart as him, so I can't do what he did. But, I can give a hug. It's just a hug. No one dies from a hug. And, if it DOES put me in a dangerous position, well that's why I started studying how to heal."
>>26092487 "Wait. Wait wait. You--" Spitshine laughs. "Are you ACTUALLY telling me that you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, when YOU'RE one of the most well-off people I've seen in my life? Quit acting like you're some perfect guy who can't get mad, who's never gonna cry, who's always gonna rise to the challenge when he screws up - stop!" he snaps.
>>26092521 "That's just the thing!" he snaps. "It hasn't! It's bright as day out there and I should be snapping and turning all sorts of crazy upside-down colors and painting the town purple-- but I haven't! There's-- there's something covering the moon, I think. Translucent, but still there! Perhaps it is the Phomesa already working some miracle?"
As you look outside, you see that there is indeed some barely-visible translucent sheen in the air. The Sefer Yod shivers slightly.
>>26092487 >>26092521 You notice that, on the sides of the Hypnagogium, two bright symbols carve themselves into the air. Shei recognizes them as that of the Phomesa's lanterns. As they appear, the visual distortion around the towers halts. It begins to turn backwards, with the towers becoming more distinct, clear, and detailed as they were earlier in the night. In addition, great portions of the ice encasing the towers snaps and melts off, falling to the ground in great heaping chunks.
The demons outside seem to take notice of this, halting their spread and creeping toward the Hypnagogium with a new, singular mind. Ichimonji stands up sharply, drawing her sword.
>>26092536 Through the door, you notice that great, great quantities of demons, who had been out raving in the streets, are now approaching the palace plaza.
>>26092534 She gives you back the sword, taking a miniscule wooden spoon and taking off a bit of the silvery core. She dumps it into the concoction and stirs, humming all the while.
>>26092461 >>26092475 "Those are words, that in that order, form a true statement." Vizsla coyly states with a smile.
>>26092568 She look up at him, nodding her head, "Woooh, okay, good. Just, I know it could be tempting with it right there and all and since you two like to go on dates, right?"
>>26092576 She lowers her head, "He sounds a lot smarter than me too... and you're a lot more brave." She takes a hoof, and wipes her eyes. "I don't know what I can do. I can't hug demons, I... I still hate them. I know it might not even be their fault, but, all I need to do is remember everything I had before all this and I just can't stand the sight of them again. I can't hug them and have it be genuine..." she chuckles as she wipes her eyes, "That's so dumb, isn't it? I'm brave enough to try and crack them open but not brave enough to put myself at risk to help them... warrior's aren't supposed to fear anything. But I've been nothing but scared all day."
>>26092602 Her eyes drop as she looks outside the door, "Oh no. No. No no no no, too many..." she hurriedly closes the door, then turns to inform everyone in the room,
"There's an ARMY out there! We have to leave, now! Witch, how long will this take, can't you do it any faster?!" She taps on her hooves rapidly.
>>26092602 "You're right, it is the Phomesa. Those are it's symbols." Shei-sher stares out the window, admiring the Phomesa's magic "The Hypnagogium is being restored to its rightful order. I hope those frozen ponies are free now"
Shei notices the demons approaching "Oh.. It appears we've earned the attention of the town's folk. I'll be leaving now to regroup with everyone." Pheo flies over to perch on Shei's horns and he starts heading down the stairs.
>>26092602 "You are toying with me." He states, but shows only small signs of annoyance. "I sought you because I had thought you would be above these creatures. I do not wish to be strung along for empty answers, if I must complete a task to earn my answer then I shall."
>>26092602 "Well-off? Where did you get any of that?" Pryce questions in genuine surprise. "I was there when the Firmament was shattered and let all the demons lose over this world. I fought against the ponies I used to call friends inside the the serpahim as they abducted the populace. I was under the pressure of being tasked by the Devas themselves to prevent that from happening and stopping a god for who knows what reason, and I ERASED myself from existence just to try and do something close to doing that task." Pryce stands up, his tone picking up in a tensed ramble. "When I got mad last time, I turned on ponies I shouldn't have. I failed a task from the gods that caused untold destruction that if I were to cry over it I'd be stuck for my life in that sorrow. I don't even know if my family is alive, ponies that travel the lands with no shelter to protect them. Not that it'd help much when even Hearthome fell." Pryce's tone raises to near shouting. "I was practically comatose until we had to deliver that JOY antidote, and now with that done I have no idea what to do now. The only reason I can keep rising is because that's all I have left! All I can do is just follow orders or chase after some problem now!"
>>26092640 Trapper finds a scrap of parchment and a stub of charcoal on a nearby table.
>>26092666 "It depends on quite a few factors, actually. In the Accorsian religion, a demon was thought to be the soul of a willful or powerful mortal who got in good with the right gods. If that god was so inclined and wanted himself a new pal of unchecked will and uncapped power, all they would have to do is touch that soul, which would otherwise have gone to the Ocean of Souls. But this is just one account of how they are born - how do you account for demons of origin from without Accorsia? Your group has gained a little notoriety these days. Some frilly girl - Easy Peasy or whatever - has been singing your praises about your victory over the demon Orcus, via Caller Conch. That Orcus, he was never an Accorsian demon. So how did he become a demon? That's what I aim to find out, in part. Not that he was much of a demon in the first place. Stubborn bastard insisted he was mortal! Never tapped into those powers of his, what a waste, what a waste."
>>26092695 "Any task? Oh, I've got the best one in mind. I will answer what you wish if you wash up, sit down, and have a supper I'll fix for you in due time."
>>26092798 She rubs her eyes, "Thank you, Amy... I-I just don't want to lose you. And I don't know if I'm strong enough anymore to make sure I can always stop things that are going to hurt us."
She looks outside at the growing army, "Can... can you make one more promise for me? I know you want to try and help, but..." she points her towards the massive army, "PLEASE don't hug every one of those."
Many things in the study fall to the floor as the ground quakes. Through one of the windows, you see that a curious object, a bright white metal wheel, thick and covered with chains, has landed in the plaza before the palace, stopping the demons that approach the tower. The Sefer Yod's quivering grows, as if fearful.
>>26092791 Spitshine is white, nearly flipped onto his back as he inches away from you, mouth tightly clenched. He doesn't move, wide-eyed.
Suddenly, a high-pitched whistle shrieks through the air, and the ground quakes as an enormous object strikes the earth. It is a gargantuan wheel, bright white, and made of metal, covered in chains. It radiates heat and lingering flames. It landed in the plaza in front of the palace, an inch before the demons that were approaching it.
The translucent filter in the sky begins to dissipate, replaced with a brilliantly-glowing shape.
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