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Posts posted by Dio

  1. "No, we already tried that. Cross it off the list."


    Admittedly, his response was more brusque than he'd intended. But Daedalus was a bit high strung after hours in the lab wrestling with anomalous test results, hardware-breaking aetherochemical reactions, and a less than adequate supply of coffee. He'd never really scold Kyanaster with any malice. Instead, his sharpness was a product of his frustration. The familiar had become invaluable for her assistance to him since their... acquaintance.


    Kyanaster beeped in a disapproving tone. Daedalus sighed and tuned back to the list floating beneath her, half-expecting a lecture on attitude. Instead the followup series of beeps and tones indicated something even more vexing. "What do you mean there's no list?"


    He looked at the list he had been checking off as he'd worked. He blinked. He blinked twice. He rubbed his eyes and squinted at it. "Give me that!"


    Seizing it with his magic, he floated it directly to his face. It was not a trick of the eye, nor was it a product of his exhaustion. The flowing script simply stated:




    A swirling bit of flourish at the end of the text was looped into a cartoon facsimile of Discord's face. Daedalus glared at it. It winked at him.


    "Discord, no." He cursed.


    The text changed, the lines rearranging themselves on the page and leaping off into empty air. They flashed neon pink in front of his face before both they and the letter were shredded by the swirling shear of twisted reality around him. As he was sucked into the portal, he made crude simulacra of pegasus wings, each flashing a rude gesture at the sign; the sign reading:



    • Like 3

  2. Four hours. Four hours wrought with frustration, aetherochemical misfires, and otherwise general unpelasantness. Daedalus slouched in one of the recliner seats in the Keep lounge, the still-steaming mug of Quagga Dark coffee floating by his head courtesy of Kyanaster’s gravity field. The stellar fragment chirped and flashed blue briefly as the foyer hatch opened.


    “Yes, I know,” Daedalus groaned in reply to Kyanaster. “No rest for the wicked I suppose.”


    He rolled upright, taking the mug from his familiar and taking a sip of it before trotting to greet Twilight with a rather haggard smile. “Welcome home! An update, yes. But not of the satisfactory kind. Last few leads have been a bust. I do consider myself an expert arcanist, but the amount of expertise and machinery required to reverse engineer some of these relics and trace their origin points exceeds what I can accomplish in a timely manner.”


    Daedalus returned the mug to Kyanaster, motioning to Twilight to accompany him and starting toward the lab. “Nevertheless, I feel it best to report what I’ve been able to discover thus far. I’m hoping your fact finding trip was more productive?”

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    Feeling… something… being plucked from her roused Qing from her torpor. She glared at the source of the voice, completely oblivious to its true nature. Momentarily satisfied that her warning had been heeded, she laid her head back down on the floor and closed her eyes.


    Her eyes snapped back open as the realization struck her like a hammer to the snout. Someone was here. In the bathroom. With her. Her mane stood straight up as she felt a claw run through it.


    She slowly turned her head around, eyes wide as dinner plates, her pupils constricting as they set sight on the visage of the lord of chaos. A croak that started from the bottom of her gut, escalated in pitch and intensity as it rose through her until it became a piercing scream. Her shrieking was immediately accented by flailing hooves, fluttering wings, and wildly thrashing tail slamming into various bathroom fixtures as she fumbled the door open. Slapping, screeching, and shoving, Qing clumsily marehandled Discord out the door and slammed it shut behind her.


    Qing’s back slammed against the door, her breaths clearly audible through it. She slowly slid down to the floor, the coolness of it moderating her breathing slightly and staving off hyperventilation for the moment. When she was calm enough to properly reply, she took a deep breath and leaned back against the door.


    “You could have at least knocked! W-what if I w-wasn’t decent!” She huffed, voice still shaky.

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  4. Sunset Shimmer
    There are other worlds out there, just waiting to be explored...


    Name: Professor Sunset Shimmer
    Sex: Female
    Age: Mare
    Species: Unicorn

    Body Color: Golden yellow, the color of the midday sun.
    Mane/Tail Color and Style: Fiery orange-red, with a single yellow streak
    Eye Color: Cyan
    Physique: Average for a mare of her age and profession, though she does her best to keep fit because adventure is demanding!




    Residence: Canterlot
    Occupation: Adjunct Professor of Aetherology at Canterlot University, specializing in planar travel and multiversal navigation. Theoretical, of course. Part-time adventurer.
    Cutie Mark: A fiery sun with its disc marked by interlocked orange-red and yellow swirls in the approximate shape of a yin yang.





    Unique Traits
    Walking Arcane Encyclopedia. What Sunset lacks in raw magical strength she makes up for in quick thinking and such a comprehensive, internalized well of arcane knowledge that she can virtually craft any spell in her head and execute them with surgical precision, aimed at just the right spot for maximal impact.

    Education Nonpareil. Having grown up in Canterlot to enthusiastic parents and in a climate that demanded academic excellence, Sunset Shimmer is a peerless intellectual. While her primary focus is in planar travel, she has spread her net wide and caught knowledge of many things. If there is anything that could potentially be an academic field, Sunset probably knows of it, or has at least heard of it, even if she is not an expert or direct practitioner.

    Portal Specialist and Planar Theorist. Sunset’s expertise is in portals and planar travel. Not so much instant teleports, but deploying precise portal entres and exits for traversing hazardous terrain during adventuring or simply getting from one place to another. She is also an expert in deploying and maintaining teleportation circles and assessing artifacts that facilitate teleportation.

    Daydream Shimmer. Rumors abound that Sunset conceals the true magnitude of her abilities. Such hearsay is dismissed as the idle daydreams of her students. As the good professor herself would say, “I would prefer not delve into the bottomless abyss that is my students’ fantasies of me.”


    Character History


    Sunset Shimmer was always a precocious child. She enjoyed learning, voraciously devouring any book she got her hooves on. The ones that she found the greatest taste for, however, were those of magical practitioning. Some ponies were content with theory, but Sunset wished to put her readings into practice.



    Her interest in teleportation magic manifested young. Shortly after she had learned to levitate things, she began attempting to send objects across the room without being in between. This resulted in quite a few exploded or lost test objects. But nonetheless, Sunset persevered, eventually creating a small, stable portal entre and exit that she could use to move books and toys across the room. It was here that she earned her cutie mark, emblematic of her burning passion for her art and the balance of magical forces required to make it so.


    Sunset’s parents enrolled her in the School for Gifted Unicorns where she quickly attracted the attention of Princess Celestia for her talents. Sunset proved to be a veritable prodigy. She received high marks in all academic subjects even while pursuing her own portal project on the side, all under the watchful tutelage of the Princess. Unfortunately, Sunset’s personal pursuits left little time for socializing. Furthermore, Celestia began to notice dire signs in her prized student.


    Sunset refused to work with other students, even taking on the entirety of group projects solo. Meanwhile she continued with her portal studies without regard to safety of herself or others. Her attitude toward her peers only worsened as the school year wore on, going from aloof to reluctant to outright hostile. She treated Celestia with respect and kindness, but no others.


    Celestia finally put her hoof down when she caught Sunset skulking through the library’s forbidden texts section. It was clear Sunset’s complete and utter disrespect of others and obsession with improving her portal spell made her unfit for the school, let alone Celestia’s personal protege. Thus it was with heavy heart that Celestia expelled her.


    Furious and heartbroken at her mentor’s perceived betrayal, Sunset opened a portal and disappeared into it. It is unclear where she ended up or what happened on the other side and even now, Sunset seldom speaks of it. Public knowledge is that Sunset returned to Canterlot with her parents several weeks later. Gone was the precocious, arrogant, temperamental filly. In her place was a much more sober, somber Sunset.


    Though she never re-entered the School for Gifted Unicorns, Sunset quietly made her way through regular school, eventually graduating with honors from Canterlot University and later taking an adjunct faculty position to continue her portal research.


    Since the portal incident, Sunset has softened her image, though she is still well known for her sarcasm even in research circles. She can always be counted upon to respond to dangerous situations or unexpected lab results with an exasperated eye roll or wry quip. She is unflappable under extreme stress and level-headed in the face of danger.


    Despite the mask of the jaded, hard-boiled researcher she wears, Sunset has a soft spot for those who genuinely put forth effort but still struggle. Building her academic career from the ground up when challenged by both her peers and titans of her field before her was no easy task; indeed it was overwhelming at times. She is willing to sit down with students who need a bit of extra help. She has little tolerance for troublemakers and this is perhaps where she gets her frosty reputation.


    Sunset sees her teaching job as penance for her terrible treatment of her classmates in her youth. But even with most of her time devoted to teaching, a fire for hands on experimentation, research, and adventure still burns within her, the same drive that led her both to her calling and her fall. Given the opportunity, it is conceivable that she might be lured out of her lab and back into adventuring in the wide world of Equestria!

  5. “The unknown is dangerous, Princess. Power is dangerous. Unknown power, compoundingly so.” Daedalus took a moment to indulge in drink. It seemed hydration was needed in copious amounts after their latest escapades. “Of course, that does not quench my need to study it. But care must be taken lest we find ourselves out of our depth. Benign as its intent might be, it most certainly has its own agenda. And should we find its goals in opposition to our own, I would find it difficult to place the artifact’s needs above yours or mine.”


    The usual lilt vanished from Daedalus’ voice, the gravity of his pronouncement seeming to suck the color out of him for the moment. A bit of edge was clearly present, accompanied by a subtle bristling at his own words. Were one unacquainted with him, it might be easy to assume fear. But Daedalus would sooner indulge in hubris before he would allow fear to rule him. Pride and envy, it seemed, would kill him before cowardice. He would not allow an artifact to outsmart him, however prodigious its power.


    "I must, however, concede to your suggestion." Just as quickly as it came, the proverbial dark cloud dissipated. "I would be happy to pick up analysis at a later date, after we've completed our… convalescence. Perhaps over a long soak in a tub, perusing wine and olives at our leisure?"


    However sour his mood had been a moment before, that smile was genuine. After handling warp anomalies and roughing it half dead, Daedalus  could use a bit of self indulgent relaxation. Perhaps Twilight felt the same.

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  6. “And here I thought it would be wine and olives,” he said with a wry grin.


    He nodded in acknowledgement to the other Keeper as he passed, trotting to a seat opposite Twilight at the table. Shedding what remained of his tattered robes and traveling gear, Daedalus breathed a long sigh of relief and soaked in the cool, dry, air of the Keep. For the moment he could enjoy a modicum of safety to relax.


    Kyanaster detached from her armor socket and idly floated by Daedalus’ head, making a soft chirp to indicate she was ready to receive commands again. Daedalus placed his saddlebag on the table next to him and gestured with his head. “Kyanaster, catalogue remaining reagents.”


    Daedalus withdrew a notebook from the main pocket of the bag and opened it to a blank page with his magic. Kyanaster glowed blue, letting out a beep to acknowledge the command. A stream of runes scanned over the saddlebags, a second one reaching out to the tome and transcribing item names and quantities into an arcane ledger. While she attended to the mundane task, Daedalus finally turned back to Twilight; for the moment ignoring the food.


    “I would at this point prefer a long soak in the tub. The warp sickness seems to have expired, but that does not change the dirty and sweaty part. Being thrown down a mountainside can be such a hassle.”


     lock of hair fell in his face. It was onlythen that he realized his usual braid had all but come entirely undone. With a resigned sigh, he began slowly putting it back together with a combination of hoof and magic.


    “I would be entirely happy to retire for the next day or so to recuperate. That said, I cannot let the mystery of the Anchor go un-pursued. I have a hard time believing that there was not some intelligence to how it attempted to interact with you. I aim to find out why.”

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  7. Kyanaster sounded a soft tone and shifted her emitted color, turning a bluish-green. The runes on the teleportation circle flared brightly and fired bright beams of light into the middle of the circle. What appeared to be a miniature sun ignited in the midst of the rune ring before quickly fading into quiescence. In its wake remained a floating sphere with mirror-smooth surface, holding an image of the receiving room of the Keep.


    “Yes. Safety before discourse with regard to these matters.” Daedalus said.


    Key words from Twilight’s musings lingered in his mind, however. Distant sun. Parents. Observing. Manipulation. Aether erasure. Dark energy.

    Uncertainty gnawed at Daedalus. The Anchor had brought them to the cusp of untapped potential, potential that they could unlock if they only but tried. But the Maretonian in him warned heavily of the watcher, whoever they were. Being comfortable around someone was a privilege that had to be earned. That Twilight would feel comfort around an entity she knew nothing about --  that Daedalus knew nothing about -- tripped all of the warning alarms in his head.


    “The portal is ready. Shall we?” Daedalus forced a smile and gestured toward the portal.


    Cold scales lay on colder tile. Fur and feathers did little to hold heat against the shivering wreck that wrapped itself in loneliness and soft sobbing. Limbs, tail, and wings splayed, Qing was a right mess.


    The cool floor of the small bathroom down the hall was momentarily soothing to Qing’s aching stomach, but only just. The feeling of malaise lingered long after the offending allergen had been disposed of. Physiological ailments Qing could recover from. She had encountered many in officer school and while growing up. But the wounds which continued to weep and fester were not inflicted upon her body.


    She had failed in her service to the empress. Where a flawless party was to be planned and executed, she had let one thing after another derail her, resulting in the debacle she now had on her hooves. Then there was the matter of Discord. God of Chaos, Prince of Puns, Monarch of Mischief. Whatever he chose to call himself he had disrupted the proceedings with all the graceful elegance of a typhoon in a vase shop. Except the evening was not ruined by Discord.


    It was ruined by Qing’s failure to adapt. She could choose to blame the spirit for his antics. The court might even believe her. But in her own mind, she knew the truth.


    Her stomach rumbled one more time, but Qing was far too tired to move herself from where she languished. She would pick herself up and return to her apartment when she had gathered her strength. But until then, the cold floor was what she needed… what she deserved.

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    The explanation was about what Daedalus had expected. The elder Princesses were inscrutable to even the ones who had lived with them for their entire mortal lives. That even Twilight herself did not know them in their entirety was neither surprising nor distressing. His ears perked up and turned in distinct interest at the mention of extradimensional entities.


    The epiphany struck like a meteor impact.


    Dimensional entities. Dimensional anchors. Dimensional princesses in dimensional dreams. If the magically inclined were wont to project their souls into an aetherically charged demiplane during their sleep, then perhaps Luna was merely interacting with it in a conscious and lucid manner. But if Luna could enter it and do… whatever moon princesses did in dream… then it would stand to reason that something -- or someone -- else could as well.


    “Dimensional entities,” Daedalus muttered, mostly to himself but still within earshot. “Twilight. I don’t believe I ever asked you properly about the artifact. Do you remember anything strange about it; any unnatural aetheric signatures, any live auras, anything perhaps… extradimensional?”


    Stonewalled. Daedalus was nonplussed, but did not show it, instead nodding before going about clearing away volcanic ash from Twilight’s selected site. The entire situation spoke of clandestine activities and half-hidden truths. Celestia was clearly suspicious of him, even if she chose not to immediately act. Specifically mentioning his lack of presence while scrying and Twilight’s scrambled signature must have been a play. While this had been their first meeting, Daedalus was certain the Princess of the Sun was no naive filly.


    Kyanaster detached from her socket and chirped as she circled the ritual site. Laying down the initial outer ring for a portal. Satisfied with site selection, she beeped twice and dropped low to the rocky sand. Spokes of aether reached out from Kyanaster’s position, connecting with the outer ring. The spokes began a slow, methodical rotation, a series of runes flashing as the aether was collected and arranged.


    “She agrees. Kyanaster, dial coordinates: The Keep, primary teleportation circle.”


    Given the circumstances, it would likely take some time before the primary location could be dialed in and after that it would require manual fine-tuning to ensure that transport would not encounter the same issues as their last attempt. While Kyanaster went about her work, Daedalus slowly pondered Celestia’s words and Twilight’s mannerisms. Well, if he was unable to get a direct answer, perhaps he could figure out something indirectly.


    “I will admit, upon first hearing about Princess Luna’s dreamwalking abilities, I was skeptical.” He finally said. “I thought perhaps it was a certain empath’s link spell or modified scrying sensor blown out of proportion, but from what I hear, it is something entirely different.”


    As the individual runes began to take shape, Daedalus lit his horn and carefully anchored them into the aether manually. He continued, “I am still uncertain as to the mechanism of its operation. I’m also uncertain as to when I’ll be able to seek an audience with Luna or if one for research purposes would even be granted. With how well you know them is there any insight you’re allowed to share, Twilight? If only to sate my curiosity!”

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    Daedalus had half expected Celestia to catch them up in a whirlwind to bring them back to Canterlot. Thankfully, this was not the case. Her curiosity sated and the safety of her protege assured, Celestia departed for home, leaving them alone again. Daedalus brushed the sweat from his brow with a fetlock. Was it Celestia’s glare or the dawning sunlight? Or perhaps they were one and the same?


    “I’m ready to return home and ensure void exposure hasn’t scrambled my insides yes.” As if to drive home the point, Kyanaster woke from her armor compartment and gave an animated chirp. “Kyanaster is ready for portal generation. We just need set up a proper ritual site.”


    He could almost smell the wine and olives. Just the thought of hors d'oeuvres and drink brought his thoughts back to the strange dream and the stranger implications. Was it merely subconscious lusts playing out in sleep? Celestia’s earlier remarks about dreamwalking led him to believe otherwise.


    Daedalus began taking down camp and cleaning up after his attempts at cooking the previous night. It wouldn’t do to litter a pristine beach after all. “Twilight. I have to ask. Were you feeling alright last night?”


    Daedalus released the breath that he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding. Confident as he was that Twilight would manage to talk them down, having weapons pointed at him would never be a comfortable scenario. As the guards backed off, Daedalus stepped forward, stopping just short of Twilight but being careful to remain mostly behind.


    The mention of dream-walking made his ear twitch. Ah yes, the constant nightly panopticon. Statistically, it was of no threat. Powerful as Princess Luna was, she was still one mare whose reach was limited by the fact that she was still an individual pony. That said, the ability to be nearly anywhere at anytime, even if it was not specifically in his head, gave the illusion of omniscience, which was enough to present as practical omniscience. On levels both pragmatic and philosophical, it was unsettling. That native Equestrians would see it as an everyday occurrence was beyond him.


    There was also the subject matter of the prior night’s dream and the admission that they had been located via the dreams. Daedalus did his best to keep a straight face, but it was clear he preferred not to revisit the dream in polite company. At the addendum of Twilight appearing to be solo, Daedalus cocked his head. If they were both in the same location -- presupposing Celestia’s honest and accurate recounting -- why would only Twilight be detectable? Daedalus ran through a number of possibilities in his head but arrived at the conclusion that dreamwalking was outside his area of expertise. He sighed and filed a mental note to investigate further at a later date.


    Twilight on the other hand seemed to react with much more apprehension. Perhaps she had not had nearly as much practice play-acting before a court? That would certainly explain the nervous posturing, but the blush threw him off. She couldn’t possibly have… could she?


    Daedalus’ tail flicked in a nervous tick. Perhaps he could discuss it later with Twilight, but preferably not in front of the reigning monarch of Equestria. Daedalus was not quite that comfortable or shameless with Celestia just yet. Celestia -- old gods be praised -- seemed content to let her initial inquiries hang as empty musings.


    Daedalus bowed his head at Celestia’s offer, masking his discomfort with displays of deference. “Your magnanimity knows no bounds, Your Majesty. I cannot speak for Princess Twilight, but rest and a proper meal would be most welcome to me.”


    He glanced briefly at Twilight, anticipating that she would take the lead when dealing with Celestia.


    Daedalus’ half-slumber was disturbed by shouting outside the tent. It had been no more than a day since their displacement and not long after their expected return; indeed they were still within their arrival window. Even if word had returned to Canterlot and Stalliongrad that they had been left behind at the crash site, there would still have been lead time for a decision to be made and search parties to be assembled. That a rescue party would find them so soon and with such precision was… suspicious to say the least. Now might be a good time to wake up Twilight.


    “Twilight,” he whispered, rolling back over. “Twilight--”


    The space that Twilight had blissfully slumbered in mere moments ago was empty. Daedalus froze. The murmurs outside continued. Quietly, with as little movement as possible, Daedalus reached out an aetheric tendril to check the front flap of the tent. The wards had been undone, an act that could only be done from the inside. Seeing as how there was also little sign of struggle, Twilight was not forcibly extracted from the tent.


    By all accounts it was safe. But Daedalus still didn’t feel right and something had to be done. He sighed and donned his harness, leaving the tattered remains of the cloak behind. If Twilight was being debriefed by a rescue party he supposed it best to show himself so that they would not assume him hostile. He nosed open the makeshift tent flap and stepped outside.


    Blinking back the brightness, Daedalus stopped dead in surprise. Standing before him in all of her solar majesty was Princess Celestia herself. Though he had yet to meet her in person, Twilight had gushed endlessly about her mentor and reigning diarch of Equestria. This was certainly a treat -- just not after the escapades of the previous night and the tribulations of the previous day. Having a shower and the opportunity to groom himself into something less disheveled would have been nice.


    Having the opportunity to collect himself more would have been nicer. One glance at Twilight was enough to put a twinge in his cheeks, partly out of the still-fresh memories of the previous night and partly out of the egregious self-awareness that such a thing was happening. This wasn’t like him. He didn’t get emotional, attached -- infatuated. It was a jumble of emotions and racing thoughts that Daedalus was not used to at all. He had little time to hesitate, however.


    Twilight embraced the princess warmly, leading Daedalus to dismiss the last of his doubts about the nature of their rescue party in spite of his suspicions. He put on his “game face” on and stepped forward. The sudden clink of metal and shuffle of hooves stopped him dead in his tracks. In an instant, the guards had formed a spear wall between him and the princesses.


    “Now, now, let’s not be too hasty,” he said, holding up a single hoof in a halting gesture. “Princess Twilight? There appears to be a… misunderstanding here.”

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    Daedalus’ words were silenced by the press of Twilight’s lips against his own. His eyes went wide with surprise before closing in bliss. The prior realization that it was a dream only further dissolved his inhibitions. Indulgences here would reflect little on the real world unless he made it so. With the last of his shackles released, Daedalus dove deep, meeting the kiss with just as much enthusiasm. Wisps of incense seemed to reach out from the haze and goad him onward, steam bearing his hooves until he was literally floating alongside Twilight. Bodies pressed close and hooves already wandering, Daedalus drifted into the Princess’ chambers entranced.




    Daedalus awoke with his face buried in the partly caved face of the coconut he had brought into tent the night prior. He coughed and sputtered, spitting out strands of coconut husk as he finally shook himself fully awake. The cool aftermath of evaporating sweat and heated breath lingered in his coat. This wasn’t the sweat of fever or sickness. It was earthier, healthier, as if he had been on a long walk for pleasure rather than trying to save his own life like the previous day.


    He felt strange inside, a lingering warmth that floated in his chest. This was not illness; the nausea from warp sickness was long gone. No, the warmth he felt was something else altogether -- a feeling that had eluded him since the last days with Acantha before his final departure from Kastrot: belonging.


    Consciousness’ return brought with it other revelations; specifically that he was not in fact face first in coconut. He was instead face first in Twilight Sparkle’s mane. Their limbs lay intertwined, bodies still pressed against each other in satisfied afterglow.


    His first instinct to recoil was countered by the fact that Twilight herself had not done so already. Checking himself over quickly, he found both he and Twilight seemed to be whole and hale. The wards of the tent were still in place and there were no signs of anything untoward that had happened the previous night. Everything was, at the moment, in order.


    Daedalus wasn’t about to do anything to Twilight without her express consent. As raunchy and frivolous as the jokes and teasing were, he knew he was not entitled to her affections, physical or otherwise. The dream was an indulgence he could afford to make but little else. When Twilight awoke, it would be back to the status quo -- back to just business.


    With a heavy sigh. Daedalus rolled over, separating his body from Twilight’s and feeling the pang of sudden loneliness when her scent finally left his nostrils. Next dream, perahps...

  15. Subtle enchantments? It seemed more than subtle now. With uncanny speed, the noise of the party-goers faded to a dull murmur in the background and the room became curiously indistinct, dissolving into a warm haze of incense and steam that hugged the floor. Despite his peripheral senses twitching in discomfort, the sight before him grew ever more inviting.


    Twilight led him forward by the hoof, stars in her eyes and honeyed words flowing from her lips. When he looked in her eyes, Daedalus’ suspicions melted. It was his dream and a lovely one at that. Indulgence in the deep of his subconscious would kill neither of them; not tonight. He downed his glass in an instant, the collected alcohol and flavoring instantly seeping into his body, sending him into a dizzying moment of delirium. The glass behind him dissolved into nothingness but Daedalus cared not.


    “There is no Kastroti royalty,” he laughed. “Well, not by name! The Assembly is meant to be representative of the ponies it governs, but they may as well be kings and queens of the isles of Kastrot. They could very well raise their own sun if they felt it was in their best interests. If only I could be so grossly incandescent!”


    The incense tickled his nostrils and left a buzzing in his head and a ringing in his ears. The steam gently caressed his hooves, immediately evoking thoughts of a long soak in hot springs with Twilight by his side. “This… seems like a great spot. I could go for a soak.”


    “But to answer your question, subordinates are not merely there to sate the materiel needs of their employers. They are also privy to more… intimate needs.” His voice dropped in tone, a twinge of somberness creeping in. “More than just carnal needs. Deeply emotional needs. It’s… rare that true confidants can be found. It’s amazing that in a land with so much physical contact, very little true intimacy is had…”


    Maybe someday he’d go over with Twilight in real life. Maybe some day he’d not have to hide behind a mask of snark. Maybe.


    A veritable typhoon of activity erupted around Qing as guards scrambled, retainers panicked, and the entire court gawked at her. Tears dribbled down her cheeks, partly from the reaction and partly from sheer embarrassment. Oh what a scene she had caused. Oh what horrid luck this had been; the ceremonial role of poison tester suddenly becoming an actual tester!


    Suddenly, she caught a shadow upon her and looked up to see Discord towering over her. Qing shrank even further, her tall frame seeming to telescope in on itself as she looked up in wide-eyed terror. Everyone was watching and now she was finished. A lone sob caught in her throat as she closed her eyes and involuntarily took a step back.


    At least this horrid delirium would soon end whether it be by being rent in twain or corroded from the inside out by poison. She waited a beat, but neither came. She opened one eye to find Discord standing over her, a single shrimp in claw. His speech was not directed to her, but to the rest of the court. He casually flicked the shrimp away.


    Shrimp. Of course. Shrimp. This was the classic reaction of a shellfish allergy. Oh if only she had known ahead of time. How had she not encountered this as a child? Or even in academy? Qing’s cheeks burned hotter if it were even possible. Her own ineptitude had fired a cannon into the Miss Yue’s evening. She didn’t know how she was ever going to live this down but she knew needed to get out right now!


    Her stomach suddenly rumbled as if in agreement and Qing knew that departing sooner rather than later would be necessary before she left a mess in the dining hall.


    “Your M-Majesty,” she rasped again. “I-I feel very ill and must take my leave. My deepest apologies for everything that has happened!”


    With the hurried apology, Qing rushed out the door as quickly as she could muster and made a beeline for the nearest washroom.



    • Like 1

  17. As if the universe itself were framing the moment, the background chatter and music slowly faded away. The river of time crystallized into a solid glacier. Wine in hoof and fuzzy feelings in head, Daedalus trotted -- nay, drifted -- toward Twilight. How perfect a moment it was!


    Too perfect. It had to be a dream. Though the lucidity in dream meant he supposed he could take some liberties… so long as whatever transpired remained in dream only. It wouldn’t do to wake the actual Twilight Sparkle in the tent next to him with delirium-fueled ramblings and wandering hooves.


    He raised his glass. “A most excellent time, yes. Despite almost being waylaid by one of Pinkie’s party decorations on my way in, it’s absolutely lovely in here.” He plucked a bit of confetti out of his mane that had escaped prior inspection and sipped his wine.


    “Subtle enchantments to enhance the flavor. Interesting.” he mused.


    Subtle enchantments indeed. His eyes fell upon Twilight yet again, and this time she seemed to positively glow in the chandelier-light. Her half-lidded eyes straddled the line between coy and ferociously unlady-like, an enticing, sultry smolder that tugged on all the right strings. “Believe me, I've been enjoying every drop...”


    While he was never one to stumble over questions about certain kinds of entanglements, Twilight’s presence changed things. Twilight changed things. It had been a very long time since Daedalus had felt the kind of tugging he felt now. He was not serving her in an official capacity. He was not tending to her needs for coin. Without obligations weighing him down, he still found himself drawn to her.


    Twilight was no lavish wine to be consumed in a night of debauchery, nor was she a delicate flower to be locked away and protected behind glass. Despite her seemingly naive appearances, nothing could be further from the truth. Nay, the youthful spark was not the glint of doe-eyed naivete but a touch of passion yet unsullied by cynicism and resentment. The tug Daedalus felt was that of a yearning for bygone days when he and Acantha felt they could take on the world -- together. Now was his chance to reclaim that feeling, that security, that sureness in his place, something that had been absent for many long years.


    “I’m afraid I don’t know anypony quite as well as you, Princess,” he simpered. “So I’m afraid nopony has accompanied me. Unless of course you’d like to accompany me for the rest of this evening?”

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  18. Hey I meant to post earlier, but I kind of let it slip.


    I have few far east characters, but of note are Qing and Merit.


    Qing is the Empress of Long Guo's personal assistant. She may not have much in the way of contact with Chiasa at the moment, but it is conceivable they might have met during her academy days or through a third party during that time.


    Merit may be a yokai, but he's also a real estate magnate in the Far East. Chiasa's family could have met with him or one of his associates if they purchased any land or built upon land sourced from him. Whether such a relationship is amicable or antagonistic could be discussed later.

  19. Daedalus was no stranger to parties and high society functions. Maretonian politics involved many a function for both pleasure and business. That being said, it has been a long, long time since he had gotten to enjoy such finery. The life of a freelance mage and now the employ of a Princess made sure he was either in the field or in the lab for much of his time. As often as Pinkie Pie threw parties, he found himself often absent.


    He took a sip of his wine. “Solstice Riesling. It’s no Hipposton 398, but it will do. I suppose I shouldn’t look a gift in the mouth,” he mused.


    Daedalus savored the taste as he glanced out the window. The glint of the chandeliers in Twilight’s castle partially obscured the stars; less so to the faint glow of residential lights in Ponyville outside. While the rest of the town was likely preparing to bed down for the night, the area around the castle was still buzzing with activity.


    “Well, if there was one thing Twilight’s an expert at, it’s planning events,” he chuckled. “Though perhaps we have Pinkie to blame for some of these rooms…”


    He glanced at the streamers and other less formal elements included as he passed through a vestibule on his way to the main hall. The cider mug floated lazily next to his head as he entered the room. Out of the corner of his eye, Daedalus spotted the unmistakable silhouette of Twilight Sparkle.


    Threading his way through the crowd, Daedalus suavely maneuvered alongside Twilight. Flashing his best smile, he greeted her with his usual humor. “Fancy meeting you here, Princess!”

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