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Ciraxis

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Everything posted by Ciraxis

  1. Roleplay Type: WoE Name: Gleamflare. She is somewhat called 'Prismwing' or 'Aurora Dragon' by her kin. She goes as 'Flare' for friends. Gender: Female Age: Young Adult Species: Dragon Eye colour: Gold Character Color: Deep red, garnet colour scales that tend to give opal-like glimmers at certain angles of light. Her yellow coloured horns and claws give similar effects, with clawe also being half-translucent. Glare's wing meanwhile, deserve a description of it's own. Physique: Flare is slim, serpentine being - her adult size more invested into sheer length and wingsize then bulk other wyrms posses, with with long neck and even longer tail (which is twice the length of her torso). A noticeable ridge bisects her underside, with two smaller ridges coming from the arms to fuse with this center ridge to form a diamond shape on her chest. A row of spines run from her head to tail, stopping near the hips. Flare's body is also incredibly flexible, and if not for her ribcage, pelvis and limbs, it wouldn't look that much different from a snake. Her head is also long, narrow and tapers to a point, at the tip of her lower jaw. She have a pair of large horns, plus additional ridges and spines, making her more 'dangerous' and 'feral' looking then she really is. Residence: Unlike most dragons, that tend to keep to one place (unless Dragon Migration is happening), Flare is migratory by choice, with consistent path going from southern part of Harridan Mts., to Gallopocus , followed by Ironwreck Island and finally Cavern of Rainbow Dream in Hesperia's central desert. Flare is able to get away with this, because her slender body and flexibility allow her to access deep caverns that other dragon's can't. Her route is not set in stone either, and dragoness tend to make side-trips to investigate things catch her attention. Also, recently, Flare found herself stopping more at Crystal Empire lands then Harridan, due to the realms crystals being to her dietary liking. Occupation: Unique Traits: History: Character Personality: Character Summary:
  2. 'Jade Beaker': 'Jade' tilted her head when Berry poured out her grievances - this time directly - and while on the outside her face was focused and attentive inside the unicorn mare was in full panic. 'Curses, curses, cursescursescursescurses! I messed up!' she thought while trying to work out how to best tackle the damage control... As such, when Berry was done, 'Jade' gave out a heavy sight before replying. "I guess I could word that better Berry Dear. It's not that you should be alone - frankly, nopony deserves that - but that you manage to be so strong and reliable despite that ache in your heart." 'good doctor' explained "I find that very....attra....admirable." 'Jade' swapped the word in last second, before turning her muzzle slightly away. To her own surprise, she could feel heat on her own face. Was she...? Like a schoolfilly?! "I....I just can't fathom how mare like you could still be alone after so long." unironic decided to soldier on and ignore luminosity on her cheeks. Thankfully, she was saved by actions of one of the brides. When Dunnie prepared to spike the flowers, 'Jade' stood up too. But not to catch the banquet, but Berry - who decided to leap towards it like cat to mouse. She barely had time to register familiar stallion's presence.... "Tiger..." 'Jade' acknowledged his presence, in quite warm voice. She was very grateful for his sudden presence. After all, he saved her from picking up that awkward conversation. And then the magic happened. Literally. 'What now?' 'Jade' thought in annoyance, as she felt her hindquarters slowly raise from the ground. That made her eyebrow rise in surprise. Oh....OH! Was this involuntary aether discharge due to allergic reaction? Been a while since she been in a same place with pony suffering from these. After all, it was usually very hazardous for anypony's help. Fortunately, effects right now seemed very minor. Well, nothing that couldn't be fixed at least. Her only wonder why the mare whop sneezed and caused this, didn't had Seal of Arcana put on her. This wouldn't fly even 200 years ago. After all,that mare that sneezed and started this whole mess was bound to kill somepony, with some random magical effect. Sooner or later. Well, not rally her problem, this was for up for 'Sovereign' of this nation to clean up, and decide the course of action. Instead 'good doctor' pinned herself to the floor with her magic, while reaching upwards Berry and Tiger, starting to pull them down as well. "Don't worry." 'Jade' reassured the earth pony mare as unicorn's magic enveloped both her and Tiger "Not a dance, but I did say I will catch you Berry Dear, didn't I?" bespectacled mare said with a smirk, referencing their first exchange of words today. "And look, I caught quite a hunk, to make our time spend here more pleasant. Ain't I am great?" 'Doctor' said in waggish tone...only for her smile to drop when Discord revealed himself in Berry's bouquet, before moving to harass the groom. This filthy chaos wyrm dared to even jokingly flirt....! 'Beaker' took a deep breath. Seems her enemy did not suspect a thing. Good, good. She wanted to have as little to do with him as possible. Especially since she didn't really brought anything to hurt him. "Now we only have to wait till Princess there fixes all this everything and we can continue towards the evening. I am looking forward towards what Prince prepared for the banquet." bespectacled unicorn continued, apparently either very confidant, or completely nonchalant about situation that was occurring. The same couldn't be said about Disocrd, but she wasn't about to show it. Swift Squall: Swift Squall looked down apologetically when Fire reminded him that her childhood and adolescence weren't exactly rosy either. "Sorry Dear. When I see how vibrant you are now, I tend to forget. I guess that with such messed up young years, we just had to get together." he lampshaded while complimenting his love. "But if Blue, Start and Dunnie will do their job at continuing the royal bloodline, our Little Jewel bound to have friends to play with - unlike us." When Fire mused further about Celestia's chosen title, Squall found himself pondering. "But is she really a 'majestic' pony as you say Dear? Or did her position forced her to appear as such? Perhaps she just....wanted to be closer to her subjects? Chains of commanding are very heavy - found that firsthoof since I found the TEMPEST Corp and found myself longing to just wave my sword again. 'Upgrading' her title to 'Queen' and having to double down on projecting an 'royal image' could be the last thing she wanted." noblepony theorized. The further mulling around being a royal, and responsibilities it brought were interrupted by all too familiar sneeze. Squall found himself slowly levitating towards the far-away wall, as his gravity was changed from it's usual 'vertical' to the 'horizontal' direction. Noblepony didn't even appeared surprised, instead muttering "Just once. A normal wedding. is that too much to ask?" under his breath. When he moved over Presteza he addressed her... "Pretzy...be so nice and send us list of your allergens before our wedding, alright?" he requested. He knew better then assume that there will be no shenanigans at his and Fire's ceremony, but at least he could lessen them. When Spoiled Rich threw accusations at Discord Swift found himself irritated. Oh everything just HAD to be Gramps fault, did it? Well he didn't mind to politely call her out. Especially since - as one of the ponies actually wealthier then the Filthy Rich - he could get away with it. And both he and she knew it. Business world was small after all. "Miss Rich..." he started, looking his best to look dignified while floating towards the wall. "I know Discord, and I know his magic. And he isn't as crass as to interrupt a nuptials unasked. And if he did, he wouldn't do something so...unimaginative like nudging gravity a little here and there. It just not his st...." And then Discord HAD to add an ambience music. Squall just hid his face in his hooves and sighted dejectedly.
  3. They still haven't noticed her. Good. Ironically, for being an 'umbrum' , Sombra wasn't good against those skulking in the shadows. Of course 'He wasn't a fool' Shuren thought as she squinted her eyes. As much as she hated the wasted potential he represented, and his loathsome...apathy for most of things.....when it came down to purely intellectual exercises, he was very quick stallion. Her stealthy approach right now wasn't a best method of dealing with him right now - it was a only approach Hou could take at the moment, in her exhasuted state. For his limited toolbox and her repeatedly degrading him during their last encounter in Whitetail Woods, Sombra was one of few creatures alive that wasn't an alicorn, capable of lasting more then two minutes against her. At full strength. Right now? Right now he would roll over her in direct confrontation. No.... Hou had to rely on her wits, and his ignorance of things outside of Equestria to outdo the fallen king.... Which was problematic too, since Tongue Twister - being apparently very knowledgable mare - was a perfect partner for the warlock to alleviate that weakness, being a walking exposition piece for him. She could also at least distract sorceress if things get more physical the Shuren wanted. Right now Hou's only hope was that the pegasus (That was apparently altered somehow. She had to investigate who toyed with her experiment later) will be kept bust by the shadow beasts - and if not, that her degree of knowledge hadn't covered Neighpon and Long Guo obscure (from Equestria's point of view) mystic arts.... When Sombra was walking towards the stage, she was already on the top rail, clad in illusions of her own. A slight nudge of telekinesis and...one of massive stage reflectors was sent falling from the rail, straight onto Sombra's head. Of course, alert, he dodged it easily....straight into the spot she expected he would. For Hou has already thrown a pearl white kunai. It's colour - a result of being dipped in the sap of white, moonwillow tree - a perfect tool for dealing with various shadow yaoguai....capable of pinning and hurting them them even their immaterial form, and forcibly making them corporeal...And well...Sombra's skill-set was close enough to logically work against him too! Each dagger held power for but one cut, but each of these cuts would destabilize his control over his shifting power. Five cuts would probably enough to shut down his shadow-form completely for a dew minutes.... And this will be long enough for Hou to pummel the fallen king and snap his neck! 'For a 'Seeker of Knowledge' you certainly are ignorant of your weaknesses, Sombra!' the white mare thought. That what happened when you drew knowledge from only one place - it became rigid and stale.
  4. Swift Squall: Swift looked down at the rubber goose Fire was holding. When she finished, and Dunnie has gone to the altar he murmured. "You might not had toys like this, but you had something much more worthwhile Dear. I had all toys in the world, but with nopony to play with they didn't matter." noblepony mused, before delicately placing his hoof on crimson mare swelling stomach. "She can't have her young years like yours or mine. We have to find balance for her." swordstallion said. "But if anything...between you and me, I don't think she will be a shrinking violet type, id she inherits anything of our temperaments." Fire then mentioned School of Friendship. Squall visited the place, back when Sparkle was still it's headmare. "It's not only exterior that's good to look at. The place seems...different - not that I was in lot of schools. You could tell that Sparkle was really passionate about it. As if it was her real dream job. It's kinda....sad that she's shackled with new one. But I guess somepony has to do it." he said with a grimace.Doing something because it was right thing to do, despite your passions being elsewhere...he could sympathize. When Fire questioned the Equestria's choice for it's sovereign/s titles, stallion squinted his eyes gave her something to think about. "Would You want the same title she-cockroach had?" he asked, just before organs started playing.... * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 'Jade Beaker': 'Jade' squinted here eyes while Berry opened up to her a little. Punch was a mare that everypony in Ponyville liked, but one that was starved for kind affection her daughter couldn't give, as well as for some positive reinforcement. Of course 'Jade' was an expert on pony psychology, so she could provide the later right away. As for the former....? Well....'Jade' was nothing if not patient. "...You know...few years back I started to make some field research about ouces in Long Guo. I plan to finish book about it few months from now..." she started, mentioning her 'job' as 'ethologist' "It was then, that this one female that got mine special attention. Three consecutive litters. Ten cubs overall. But what's more important, none of them perished. I would say it was remarkable, miricalous even..... if not for the fact that I could actually observe female in question efforts. It was....nothing short of heroic, really." 'Jade' paused. Not all of her stories was woold over the eyes, and this was one of them. "When I came back to those mountains two years ago, the female was no longer there, but her spawn were all going strong. Berry,You might not be a cat, and you might only have one child, but you remind me of that snow leopard. You might wish to give Pinchy other parent Berry Dear, and it's nothing wrong with that - it would be nice for her and it would be good for you. But don't think your daughter will be in any way lessened if you never will. Because she already has You as a model, and I am certain that if anypony would ask your Pinchy, she would certainly tell she wants to be like her Mom." unicorn mare said. Punch mentioned honeymoon, at that made 'Jade' wince inside, but her poker face was perfect. Instead she replied. "I take your word for it Berry Dear. I might even be there to make sure you keep it." she murmured, as the ceremony started. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Swift Squall: Swift smiled at his friends made vow to each other, with the pleased smile of his face. Ahh if he could always be happy for his friends. He had an urge to mouth 'About time.' , seeing that it was indeed about time for Blue, Dunnine and Crusader to marry somepony, but he managed to tactfully resist. Instead - silently - she passed to Fire one of her favourite punch daggers that he also brought along. Others might have forget, but this WAS both Royal AND military wedding. And Swift liked to uphold at least some of noble traditions. He hoped his Dear would agree with him on that. The stallion drew his own weapon, and when the last of vows was passed, he stiffened and raised his blade up and forward in the knightly salute. "Amor Vincit Omnia." she recited, before relaxing and re-sheathing his sword, and that was that. "You know...I could play that thing." noble-stallion said while pointing at the organs. As Crusader urged Dunnie to toss the bouquet, he added. "So...are you gonna...?" Swift asked. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 'Jade Beaker': "Well not everday you see three-way marriage." 'Jade' said while still clapping. "I am very grateful that I could be your extra for today Berry Dear, but how did you earned an invitation for such ceremony? You must have know at least one of those newly-weds quite well." unicorn mare inquired.
  5. Well, well, well....this changeling queen attempted to outdo her in a conversation? Rose words carried much gravitas, but Hou wasn't known for her silver tongue for nothing. "Then she's a wise mare indeed. I keep those words in mind...." sorceress replied to the queen while adding a nod "However...." unicorn paused, rising one of her hooves slightly for emphasis. "For every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it." Shuren said "And to quote one form my homeland ''What flows, breaks not.' " sorceress said. When Rose revealed her name, Shuren only mouthed 'I know.' under her breath,but quiet enough to not interrupt the changeling. When the parting came, white unicorn came with farewell of her own... "Guard your heart well, nascent queen." Hou said, while Rose ended her projection. Sorceress waited for a moment, to make sure she was alone, before speaking to herself. "Cursed...yes. And how fitting....a name of many-headed beast, for an existence that is one but many." she mused before pausing. "I prefer not to use it, if possible. Foolish risk is that, foolish." Hou added. "That said....if all Roses are this sea beast....then who is 'Charybdis' in this equation?" she wondered.
  6. Deep breath...then another.....Alright, good. It's not like this was the first wringer she found herself in. It wasn't even definitive end of her plans here. But Hou had to admit, Twister put her into situation where she had to choose. Cornering Shuren like that, was something worthy of respect.... And something that brought sorceress ire. "...Lesson one. Basic, fundamental methods...." she muttered, as dark aura spring to life around her. "...Are usually two-way street." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Tongue and Sombra didn't even manged to go ten meters, before Shuren's counterattack hit the pegasus. It wasn't really harmful.....In fact despite everything, Hou was still too invested into corrupting Twister body and spirit as her little 'pet project' to really harm her. But she could hold her in place for a while..... And make it unpleasant while doing it. Not unlike well known 'Evil Eye' set of curses. But without actual eye contact. It came without warning. A sudden pressure falling on her mind, body and soul, simultaneously. Outside,Twister looked fine, still upright, still blinking, and still breathing. But if one could feel like she did, they could experience how hard suddenly everything became. Her heart was filling like it was wrapped by a set of chains, preventing it from doing it's job. Her blood, dens, and moving through veins and arteries at seemingly glacier pace. Her lungs and diaphragm, heaving with effort, as if they were weighed down by whole Canterlot Castle. All of this sense - fooling illusions. And yet all of those signals were enough to turn her legs into unmoving pillars. Twister's mind was whole other matter. It was like a steel fortress - unbowed, unbending, unbroken. Shuren's dark magic could all but siege it, unable to break those mental defences. in fact, most of the magical energy sorceress was expanding, was used to keep Tongue's mind from regaining control of the body..... And yet....it was less spent magic then she anticipated. As if this great wall had to weather pressure from both inside and outside.....Curious. Twister's soul meanwhile...here chances was evenly matched. Like two equal rikishi, grappling with each other. Neither gaining an advantage, but neither getting ground either. Hou held no false hopes. She knew that in mere moments, Sombra will come to help his guide with his magical counter-counterattack. She had....seven...no...five minutes top before her attack is repelled. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * It was this concentrated state that Dox found his colleague in. The white mare didn't stop her assault - apparently skilled enough to keep it going while multitasking. Shuren' noticed the latest book that Hei brought. "It better be this one. We have been traced..." she said, before clarifying. "...or rather, I have been traced. That little squirrel is even more resourceful then I gave credit for. Right now I am holding them in place, and borrowing her sight but...at this distance, I can only buy few minutes doing so." she explained. "Hei, you have to finish here without me." she asked. Not only the changeling had to make all the important notes, he and his minions had to clean after the search, to obfuscate what information they were searching for. "I will be bait and stall them further. Doing so in person will be more...efficient..." Hou said before cutting herself short. Fighting in city was not battling in uninhabited woods. She will have to limit herself, and she will start with less then half of her usual energy at best as well. Converting souls to mana took time. Meanwhile Sombra will start almost fresh, and had an ally who can serve as the distraction. Without word, Hou reached into her pocket space and hoofed to Dox book she took from Xuanwu Temple. Then - after a moment of hesitation - the golden scarab depicting disc, ripped out of the cover of the said book. That and.... "...Just like in Maretonia." white unicorn mused, while she hoofed to Dox an enchanter earring. Close or not, keeping in touch was vital. And this little trinket allowed just that. And not first time either, just like Hou mentioned. The second earring, matching first one, was already clipping around Hou's own ear. "...I have three minutes to prepare. For Dark Preservation, do what you can...." she said, while trotting to female bathroom. Sorceress didn't had to mention for changeling to make haste. Shuren knew she didn't had to. Because they were caught by surprise, Hou's toolset was limited. She slowly relived as much tools as she could from her pocket space. It was all she could do under the circumstances. Twelve throwing daggers made from ghostly white metal. A jian 'sword'. Vial of her favourite tool. Four small soul gems. Three pellets with highly compressed 'tear gas'. One scroll of pre-cast support spells. "...Let's do this...." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * If they weren't occupied by Hou's magical attack, Sombra and Twister might notice that compass needle stopped pointing to palace of Thought, instead snapping to their right... * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "Crowd. Good, very good. How nice for some spectacle to happen today." sorceress mused, now perched on corner nearby souq, setting sun behind her back. There was more then one way to teleport, and one minute was especially easy, if you had a waypoint in the form of your own magic present at the destination. It was way less flashy too... Of course she could not afford to keep Twister in place anymore. Instead she needed to formulate a new plan. Oh? Wasn't there some show happening? A concert. Shuren could see a respectable gathering of ponies and other creatures, waiting or a songstress... "It would be a shame if...all this audience starts to panic...." she mused to herself and Dox alike, crushing three of four soul gems while doing this. Normally summoning was crude and inefficient, unless one took much preparation. Drawing summoning circles took time, maintaining the connection required much energy, and spawning more then one familiar from portal while maintaining control was difficult. How convenient that all of those sticklers could be brushed aside, by throwing some souls as offering into the mix! Three circles, one for each gem, and each in range of hearing. One on the roof, one on the wall, and last one in dark, damp alley. A panther resembling....things...started to crawl from the circles, responding to the sorceress call. Not creatures of flesh and blood, but of negative emotions and darkness....Almost like umbrum, amusingly enough. "Terrorize, hurt, maim...but not kill...No, let the panic last as long as possible. You can only rip Fallen King to shreds, if you able, that is...." she ordered dozen of 'panthers' that managed to come so far. "Now, citying a clever playwright..." she straightened herself, brandishing her 'jian'. "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war..." Hou said, as she sicked demonic 'felines' on concert the pair that was hunting her, and audience alike.
  7. Sorry for that, I will be more communicative in the future! Regarding quest itself, we closing to it's climax. HOWEVER, it's only first thread of this three-parter! After final post in Saddlon, it will be followed up immediately by opening post in Part Two!
  8. Going to be honest, I expected Team Twist-Sombra to be in Saddlon already, seeing that first thread is going to wrap soon. I assume Bellissima is performing there, and lack of viewers is due to cultural differences.
  9. "[....They build easier, but not smarter. Few centuries ago, when you wanted to rise a monument, you had to spend whole hill of gold and twenty or so years toiling over it. But because of those costs, they were made to last. Serpent's Wall stands for 20 centuries (it's doubtful usefulness notwithstanding), some pyramids from this realm for over 40. Which modern construction has expected life that's half length of that?]" sorceress scoffed. She didn't exactly belonged to the crowd of old, dry pensioners that rambled that everything was better in their youth, but when it came down to architecture, she really believed that building method of the past were much more solid. Being old enough to see many of those methods turn from 'new' to 'classic' probably helped. And speaking of classics.... "[Hei....I have an idea...before we dive head-first into more books and volumes...]" * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 2 Hours Later - Roof of the Ziggurat. "Finally" Hou exclaimed, after they were don scribbling two large magic circles on the building's roof. They used twelve pieces of enchanted chalk, but with their combined expedience, they were able to avoid and mistakes that would require them to re-write the symbols. They were even sure to choose correct chalk color, so the circles were almost invisible from the air. "This should be enough of an insurance. Now, back to..." unicorn mare sighted "...reading." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Many Hours Later. 6 P.M. - Inside Palace of Thought Hou - still under illusion of earth pony secretary rubbed her hurting temple. Next to her, on the reading table, was a pile of books about Ancient Arabia. It was two hours before library will be closed for a day, and all their work yielded no results so far despite search volume after volume. She didn't knew if Hei had similar problems, due to them splitting up to conduct more effective search....but judging how he still was somewhere in-between the shelves, that was probably the case. "[......If that keeps going, I am about to kill somepony.]" sorceress murmured in Unyasi language. Somepony like say...Sombra. Of course, fallen king was far, far more durable then normal equine....but at least he would be good target to vent her frustrations right now. As it was, she had to elude him for as long as she could. Hou only hoped that he and Twister will be stalled enough by Saddle Arabian forces. At least both her manechaurian agents planted in them, and bribed officers should be enough to prevent them from talking their way out of the situation. Her thoughts were interrupted by a sting. No, that was the wrong word for it. It was more like having your flesh pulled by a pincer, but painless. Pulled by her own magic, but from outside. How in the....? Hou straightened up when realization came to her. Law of Contagion! She didn't put up any jamming spells, and that little squirrel was using it to get her location! So...not only and linguist and historian, but also educated enough about arcane despite being pegasus and daughter of the street rat. "Clever girl....." Shuren growled under her breath.
  10. She's a pop star. And music stars go on tours.
  11. Well, if any of your characters would find themselves in Saddle Arabia, then I feel Sombra and Tongue Twister could use backup....And I not gonna lie, I would love to see Stella pushed out of her comfort zone. OOC And thread proper....
  12. Shuren squinted her eyes for a moment when Rose proclaimed her anteriority. This just asked for a correction. "Not many 'moments' come before me Miss Compass. For example....I roamed this wetlands long before first ponies came here. I arrived as a pioneer. Long before beginning of the Marais villages, animals, trees and even ruins on the coast that are here now." she explained in calm, almost soothing voice. "No secrets of this place are unknown to me, because I am older then all of them. Every tree and root knows touch of my hoof, and every beast is wary of me, with their fear as primal as that for storm and fire. When Maretonians came here to build their colonies, I showed them the best spots to do so, and I was there when griffons turned them away with fury and sword." for most this would be boast. For Hou it was statement of the facts. "You may have the memories, comparable to that of this world elder beings, but you not one yourself. Not yet." sorceress said "That and....those memories are imitations...copies....just like yourself. However..." white mare gave changeling queen a studious look, while raising her hoof during this dramatic pause. "...there is no rule that says an imitation cannot defeat the original. Use those loaned gifts, and the life you given, to create your own pearls of wisdom." she said, before turning around. No longer interested in hydra, she attempted to leave - with her 'Condors' already disappearing from sight. However when Rose spoke again, sorceress stopped and looked over the shoulder. "...You judge based on but one sample. Like a surgeon that picks tool for specific procedure, I call upon servants for specific task." she clarified. "You and I may be examples of renaissance....mares, but most are not as gifted. Therefore, servants...or helpers, need to have to be assigned to tasks they excel in." unicorn advised. "Being able to apprise talents of others is burden of both leaders and teachers alike, Miss Compass." Then changeling queen gave Hou an proposition. The benefits might be great, but with long-term commitment she would have to relinquish way more of her own secrets then she was comfortable with. No...she always kept cards close to her chest, and she wasn't about to change this now. "No. Not like this. I am not some hound to be at anypony's beck and call." Hou denied initial proposition, hiding true reason behind her 'pride-fullness' "Favour for favour, with each party can accept or deny each request on individual basis. As how to get with touch with me..." Shuren reached into a pocket dimension. She pulled out what was Long Guo-looking, metallic lantern, that she then thrown towards Rose to catch. "Copper sulphate. Light it up with copper sulphate, to get in touch with me regardless of distance. And other flame will have no effect. Now, are we truly done here? Or do you want bring forth a first request?" Hou asked.
  13. Aaaaaand Twister was gone. 'Jade' was honestly split about her departure. One one hoof, Tongue Twister was was very intelligent young mare, and her presence would mean she herself in turn would have to engage in intense mental gymnastics - something unwelcome tonight, when she wanted to enjoy herself. And on the other hoof....well, she lost her chances to milk her for information about her background, and for insights into her personality.... As such, it her physical reaction was at least partially genuine too - adding to it's authenticity. Bespectacled mare inhaled through her teeth, before making a regretful sight. "I came too strong...." 'Beaker' herself stated while closing her eyes and running her hoof through her own mane in 'embarrassment'. "Through whole evening, I had a feeling that despite her exterior she was...strained, wary of something. I felt pity, for such a cutie to feel this way during such nice evening, so I though, the best course of action would be to help her break the ice and show her how to unwind. But looks like I both overdid it, and it's gnawing at her deeper then that....." 'Jade' explained herself, looking 'ashamed'. "....I have to apologize to her in the morning. The next train to Las Pegasus is at 9:30 A.M. so I can catch up with her." she added, before promptly turning towards other three ponies. "....I....guess I should apologize to you too. For breaking the mood..." 'Beaker' said while fluttering her eyelashes. ".....I think I know how I can make it up to you...." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The rest of the evening was true whirlwind of 'apologies'. Wingaporean way. First Jade showed how 'regretful' she was to Berry - seeing that she was their host and all. After displaying how her 'sincerity' left Punch breathless, bespectacled mare proceeded to 'apologize' to Midnight and Tiger in turn. Then Midnight and Tiger at once.....Then Berry and Tiger together.... By the late night all three other ponies were tucked out by both the drinks, and how 'sorry' the white unicorn was. As such, 'Good Doctor' put them into beds, allowing them to sleep off all the world-rocking, while she cleared her glasses and took the shower. She didn't joined them in the rest of course, instead simply breaking down some souls within her to deal with both the exhaustion and all the cocktails she downed. As such, when first of the other participants came to their senses, and crawled themselves to the kitchen, they found 'Jade' already bustling about in it. The unicorn mare showed no signs of the late 'meeting'. Quite opposite in fact - she hummed some exotic song under her breath, while preparing what appeared to be fruit cocktails, and some easy digestible salad. Completing the image was the fact that 'Doctor' traded her scandalous evening dress, for what seemed to be a Berry Punch apron. "And now some ginger..." 'Beaker' said to herself, as she added some seasoning to her fruity 'Hangover-Remedies'. She appeared so focused with this task, that she was oblivious to who entered the room.....
  14. Hou just scoffed when changeling queen expressed her doubts about her further development. "You expect me to tell you how? I may very well, try to answer 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' or 'What is truth?'." sorceress mocked. "Nopony alive will tell you with 100% certainty. I just can tell you what I adhere to. And I believe we all make our own purpose in life. So stop moping and make yours." Shuren 'asked', not bothering to soften her words. "And honestly, you were transparent for me, but don't try to be literal with it. But worry not, for me everypony is see-through. It's...a hobby. You pick more then few of them like me, if you live that long." white mare mused. Compass's words of 'appreciation' were met with hoof-wave. "Good for you. And as long as your 'ideas' will not be in line 'Bring Eternal Night' I doubt I would care about things you do or want. That is...unless you give me a reason to do.." sorceress said, in tone that made it unclear if it was a threat, invitation for a bargain or both. Rose proposition extended towards hr 'Condors' made Shuren rise an eyebrow for a second. "You mistake 'disciples' with 'servants'. And since they are the former - and have no choice but to be happy with it - resignations from service of Hou Shuren is not accepted. If you want some proper recruitment for that...." unicorn managed to stop herself from saying 'Waste of time'' aloud "....project of yours, print some flyers first." she 'advised'. "Now, unless you want to bring something...important, I will take my leave. As much enjoyable it is to scoff at others faults, I have schedule to adhere too."
  15. "Oh those documents are more then useful. They will grant us even greater potential to move discretely, and we will exploit that potential maliciously." sorceress said with a grin. "After all, Twister and Sombra are looking for myself accompanied by a stallion...but what about a pair of newly-weds? Elderly Professor and his assistant? Two mares on vacation?" she asked, fully aware his potential for disguise was greater then hers, and thus, not limited by gender. "Of course this brings us to the next advantage we have over them.....they may know that I may search for secrets of the Stone......but they unaware about Stone's connection with pharaoh Teti-Ra...." Hous said, before showing Hei what she found in basement of Xuanwu Temple. This in turn, was followed by lengthy explanation about the ancient book, the golden disk, and Stone's relation to ancient ruler. "....So, as you see, there is no way they could know what we seek. No to mention I doubt that copies of the book I found - if they exist - would be available to public. Besides, Teti-Ra is both half-myth and final goal, but it's his grandson tomb we seek to point the way to it. And if I recall correctly, he is one of Twelve Kings who's final resting place is still to be discovered. Of course, unlike those other aspiring vultures and tomb raiders, we have the disc. With yours and my magic find Theth'Ka resting place in Pharaoh's Vale would be but a formality.....but I would like to find more information of this king first. And even more so about the priests and magus's who's spells undoubtedly protect that tomb." the mare mused, before pausing. Then, an a deceitful flint appeared in her eyes. "...And speaking of protection......I honestly doubt that Saddle Arabian authorities would be fond of having known warlock, Dark King Sombra on their territory. And it's very dubitable, that he has valid visa either...." she said with a smirk, before throwing one of the ID's at Dox. It depicted a pony that - according to the document in question - was local. "I guess some dutiful and concerned citizens should...bring his presence to...attention....." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Two Days Later: The Palace's Of Thought - Shatt al-Iblis North Bank, Hanging Gardens Forty-eight hours later, an inconspicuous pair was walking on the massive open-air trotway linking the four ziggurats. The broad shouldered, muscular zebra that looked like Clawifax business-stallion, and bespectacled mousy mare that appeared to be his assistant. "[This search is more challenging then expected....]" Hou said, In one of Unyasi languages, to keep the appearances. "[At least our other effort are bearing fruit.]" sorceress mused before looking left. One of the locals was just now glueing the wanted poster, depicting Tyrant of Crystal Empire to the notice board. After Hou and Dox got their resource's from Shuren's followers, the got to work intimidate. Using the ID's, the sinister pair rented rooms in eight different hotels - all under different disguises -with resolve to rest at different one each night, at random. This should make them untraceable. Using the ID's showing local equines, the two then made report of their sighting soft foreign dark magic user. Separately, and further confirmed by those of Hou's servants who were shortly ago travelling. And since Saddle Arabia had good relations with Equestria's - and 'Sombra's' attempt to subjugate it a year back - were well known already, this resulted with warlock king being assigned a bounty for him, and anypony else who was aiding Sombra. Of course Hou's servants planted in Minister of Public Safety and in in Arabia's army greatly speed up this process.... Hou of course had no delusions of Saddle Arabia officials or military to detain Sombra for long, if at all. But he will surely be greatly inconvenienced. What's better, any attempts to fight back will surely make his situation worse, and Princesses of Equestria won't be able to help him (if they helped him at all earlier. Hou still wasn't sure about that) without losing credibility. One day they say he's great danger, and next he's an ally? This would make it appear that Equestria's is fabricating danger's to gain political advantage. Of course, as brilliant constructed this plan was, it didn't helped with their search for any writings about Theth'Ka at all. The first ziggurat, despite it's massive size - was very scant with information about ancient pharaoh's life and royal court. Spending day and a half there, Shuren and Hei moved to the next one, with hopes it's archives would be more informative. "[I still remember when they were building them...]" Hou mused about the Hanging Gardens they were traveling through "[Not the first Hanging Garden's, but certainly the most impressive. Longri-la - if they could see them - would get their scales green with envy.]" sorceress expressed with satisfaction. For Dox - being most privy to Hou's backstory - her enmity towards dragons of the east was no secret.
  16. "Oh? It's a rare and useful technique indeed. But while each of your copies can have full access to you knowledge, your aether capacity and magical power is split with each use. Every considered the situation when each of them came upon two beings on brink of death, who only can be saved by your full potential? Would you be willing to choose which of them lives or dies?" Hou presented Rose with another hard question. "No matter how much you try, there will never be enough copies." Of course watching Rose squirm over hard philosophical questions wasn't as much a treat as hearing that changeling queen will a parent soon. Interesting.... "Congratulations. Although I do find it amusing that you plan your children's futures before they are even born. And without other parent's input." sorceress made another jab at Rose 'control freak' tendencies. But as Rose kept going about building a kingdom, and she started to speak about herself as a gift to Equus, Shuren's smirk grew wider and wider. "Careful Rose, your 'Template' is showing. She wanted to bring him back by 'Her Own Power', with her own way, just as you want to bring this new 'Golden Age' on your own and according to your vision.....I am sure I don't have to remind you what atrocities she resorted too because of that attitude, do I?" white mare mare said, making another stinging remark. "You are a refugee here Rose. This is not your world. And it won't be for a really lonooog time. And yet you are already making designs for it. This isn't a mindset of a healer, but I saw it before. It's very ambitious...most often displayed...in conquerors...." Hou mused with %$&#-eating grin. "You may be wise for your age, but you still naive! You are foolish to think that one can be always prepared for every opportunity. I lived for very twelve centuries, and no matter how careful I was, there were situations again and again that left me blind-sided, and only survived due to adaptability. And - as we already established- you are your own worst enemy Rose. Do you really think, that your Love and children will call you out on your worst tendencies? Fool! Don't only they won't know what those issues are at first, when they do, they will care too much, be too revering to hurt your feelings!" sorceress continued with harsh lecture. Hou had to admit, when she woke up this morning, she didn't expect to have to what amounted to a therapy session with dimension-displaced, cloned changeling queen. .....That wasn't a phrase you think everyday. "And besides, how do you want to help the world if you cut yourself from the influence of the world? You know what I think about your plan? What I see? A queen that - based on memory of one of her genetic templates - withdraws into her small, self-built community, afraid of the larger forum, to avoid outside extinction that will never come. You will stay in your little pond, leaking whatever 'world-view' suits you into growing cesspool of society at large. And this 'truth' will neither mesh or clash with other opinions. You won't be invalidated, but neither you will be right. This is existence of a mare ruled by fear, surrounded by yes ponies. On in your case, yes-changelings. And finally extinction WILL come, but not from outside, but from your own inflexibility." she summed out with a smirk. "You can't help this world, invest in it, without submerging yourself into it first!. How can you heal what you don't understand? And this understanding will bring shift in yourself. As much as you wish to avoid it, change will come. It is unavoidable, undeniable. Your only hope is, that it will go into opposite direction that your Original had gone. What refuses to change, dies. I am not a mare I was two hundred years ago, just like she isn't a mare I was five hundred years ago and so forth. And if you wish to help the world, you have to change along with it Rose!"
  17. Swift Squall: "Dunnie...contain yourself." Swift said gently in regards of his friends outburst., adjusting his shades. "First of, I don't think that your future authority extends that far, second...well it wouldn't be wise thing to do on the first day, even if it did..." noblepony explained. "....You must remember, you have PR to consider now. Fire know better, Blue know better, I know better....but if you start throwing order as the 'Princess' before the ceremony even begun, how would media view you?" he asked, and second later immediately provided the answer. "Seeing that my Pop's is basically Press Baron I can tell you. They would smear you as a gold digger, seducing the Prince to get her hooves on noble title, wealth, power etc. And I bet diamonds against coconuts that jealous noblemares from Canterlot would do their best to only en-flame the issue. That wouldn't just hurt your reputation, it would hurt Blue's reputation. And PR is very valuable currency to him. He can't ride the 'Multiple Times Saviour of Equestria' wave like Sparkle does, or enjoy 'Long Reign' card like Celestia did." unicorn explained."I don't want to see you smeared by tabloids day after the wedding Dunnie. I could stop many, but not all of them." he said with worry. "So please...allow Fire to deal with this through proper procedures alright? Today you should think about yourself and your...herdmates - Good Harmony that word feels so weird! - alright?" "Right Dea...." Saqull turned to his love, up until now oblivious to gift she received....only to hear.... “WAAAGH!” Which made swordstallion skitter to the nearest wall, and press himself flat against it, eyeing the rubber goose in Moto's grasp as if it was bomb. His shades were dropped in this mad dash, and irises shrunk in terror. After few seconds of pretending of being wall ornament, Squall visibly relaxed, after flash of realization appeared on his face. Noblepony allowed himself to exhale in relief as he spoke. "O..Oh...it's fake. And goose not d-d-d-duck Definitely not d-duck. I though for a second...." he started, before cutting himself. The next few minutes Squall pretended - and failed miserably - that the whole scene didn't happen. Discord must've had a field day with this..... Unicorn distracted himself from the thoughts about this small incident, by turning towards conversation Bevel had with that shrink of a mare from before. Miss Gear expressed the readiness of taking whole project under her supervision, however.... "That's all and good, but unless Princess Sparkle approves, the whole work will be for naught. We will need to make an official presentations on firing ranges in Painted Pinto and on Crimsonrine Sea. I can't stress how important it will be to make a good impressions on Her Highness and Navy and REA top brass. As long and you fulfil your contractual obligation of being present during both demonstrations, I don't mind whatever side-projects you take in the meantime Miss Bevel." Squall said, both to reassure her, and reminding her that contract she was under came first. Miss Fluttrshy was listening to that conversation too and she was quite puzzled about how Discord introduced the inventor mare. Squall fought off his desire to tear out Gramps tongue and instead answered. "For now it's classified Miss Fluttershy. I am sure that in due time, and if you still will care about it, Sparkle will tell you all about it, when she gives it a good look-over herself." he explained, before giving Discord a look, that was in equal measure dirty and pleading. But of course the royal who was star of today was not Twilight, but Blue. Squall initially wanted to further argue about the sphinx, and how his friends was way too trusting and arrogant.... But he reined himself in, recalling the meeting with ice during Heartwarming Eve. He called her out on the very same issues and it ended...well....deeply damaging his friendship with azure mare. As such noblepony swallowed his protests and instead let out something in-between sight and grumble. "Fine....I just hope that you are right and I am wrong in this case. Just...be vigilant. And if you ever need help, any help, with this or otherwise...you have my hoof Blue...or at least, my ear." Swift offered. Count didn't knew what kind of advice he could give to Prince, but at least he could be confidant if Bluey wanted to get of something off his chest. ".....But please, stop interrogating the kid already? His day seemed enough of emotional roller-coaster as it is." Swift asked. Indeed, in that regard, unicorn stallion could empathize with Gallus. After that Squall stepped back and looked around. he noticed the absence of Lady Fluttershy. Oh horseapples....was it him again?! It was him again, wasn't it? "<Sigh>.......and I thought I got better with shy types..." he said to Fire as he carefully huddled to her (still wary of the goose plushie) "....I really need to speak with somepony that could teach me how to hoofle delicate ponies. I seem to scare them off almost all the time. Do I....frown too much?" he observed before making a question to his fiancee. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 'Jade Beaker': "A shame. I assume you...don't really have anypony to leave her with?" 'Jade' asked carefully. When she was at Punch's place, she noticed distinct lack of stallion's on family pictures. It was always Berry, Pinchy, and - on some of them - a pair of ponies 'Beaker' could assume were Berry's parents. It didn't required a genius to put two and two together. Berry was a bartender, and that meant that she was - out of necessity - part of intense carousing more then once. It took one lapse of judgment during a youth, to put a mare of such profession in a place Punch as now. Heck, you didn't had to stand behind counter for that! There were enough collage-age mothers to serve as a proof of that. "Your smiles when you talk about Pinchy means you have no regrets, but.....it certainly took some sacrifices to be as best parent as you could be, isn't it?" 'Jade' asked, while playing with her bangs. This conversation reminded her of her own life choices. "I am yet to met her, but from your stories about her, she seems like a smart girl. Do you really believe your daughter will think less of you, if you do something for yourself once in a while?" 'Beaker pointed out. While she let Berry to mull over the question she gave her, Jade shifted her attention to Tempest. While she already had some measures of the Shadow, they were surface at best. Sooner or later, she would have to include this mare in her plans. Her capabilities were secondary concern. What worried 'Jade' was her knowledge about Stormlands that she could pass to the Equestria. Of course Shadow's recognition of situation there was waaay out of date...but even her information of the continents political structure was troublesome on it's own. She will have to alter her memories of the place the moment she unlocks the full capabilities of the Memory Stone. 'Jade' realized that she visibly frowned. Berry was bound to see this. As such she muttered... "Acroneighose...." Her distaste for the city state wasn't a complete lie. It was a big sky barracks, and as such, it was much harder to do some political manipulations then other places in the world. When sorceress wanted to achieve particular results there, she more often then not had to pull the strings in other parts of the Maratonia, to enforce desired results. Not only this was inefficient, but it also wasn't foolproof, even with her Manechurian Agents. Of course if Berry asked, she will receive quite a different explanation for her antipathy... "Also Berry Dear, about drinks....I feel that you underestimate my home. Do you really think such place like Wingapore - a place that lives cause of tourist - would not have signature beverage? Oh Berry Dear, every restaurant, bar and honky-tonk have one to call there own! If you wanted to try them all your would be find yourself completely sloshed, everyday, for two weeks!" she 'boasted' with well practised 'patriotic pride'. "And speaking about sloshed, unclear things.... I noticed that you mentioned your expectations about this Spoiled mare, but not her character. Why is that?" 'Beaker' further inquired.
  18. Sorceress just stood there, with inscrutable expression, while changeling had her little epiphany. But when Rose finally finished, and it was her turn to speak, it became obvious... "My, my.....gratitude? I last saw such open-mindedness during 'Battle of Chilly Creek' 700 years ago. So many ax wielding caribou, and not enough helmet wearing Equestrian's..."....that she was only doing her best to mask her surprise, with both stoicism and black humour sarcasm. And underneath all of that...a hint of respect? "Mind you, while I am not agreeing entirely, I can see you are already wiser then most....Rose." Hou continued. "So many refuse to listen to things they find...unpleasant. The fact that you do, without rejection if telling enough." she added what - probably - could be considered a compliment. "Also, no." Shuren quickly rejected Compass proposition of working together. "Allow me to disperse your misapprehensions about what I am. While I seek to repair the world, I am not a healer Rose. Right now I am a predator, one that seeks to clean up and improve her hunting grounds. And if I have to sacrifice the few eggs while making this omelet? So be it. These that will survive will prove their merit by just that, surviving." white mare said, revealing her social darwinist's views. "I am not interested in this 'population' of yours, only exceptional members of it. That said, do as you will. I wont impede your work if you don't impede mine but....consider this..." Hou said. "Give mare a carrots, and she will be hungry tomorrow. Teach mare how to cultivate a carrots, and you feed her for a lifetime." sorceress recited an old Long-Guo proverb. "I don't know what you did for your 'work' so far. Perhaps you spoke with Princess to seek aid, perhaps you will. This is not what you should pursue. What you should do, is becoming a side of your own. Not tied to me, not tied to Sparkle's nor anyone else. But your only one entity, no matter how much skill or power you have. What you truly need is followers..." Hou glanced tellingly at the 'Condors' that were still patiently waiting for their Mistress. "Or, in your case, disciples...." she advised.
  19. "Hhhh it should stop him yes....But should we allowed him to know that we could?" Hou mused before grinning. "Sombra works best when he has time to prepare. However as far as social interactions go...he's lousy. And one who knows this, can run mental circles around him by playing mind games." sorceress pointed out, before lowering her canteen. Water, obediently came back into the flask, cutting the spell short. "They would be on guard right now, so us watching them right now wouldn't amount to much. Not that I don't appreciate an helping hoof with it Hei." she said with slight smile before her expression turning serious. ".....The surely know that you are with me. We been together since my departure from the ship. This mare...her name's a Tongue Twister. From what I learned during my last visit to Ponyville four months ago - time well spent by the way, very relaxing - she's...historian and translator of sorts....no...perhaps 'omniglot in training' would be a better description. Her presence here is no surprise, digging through ruins is a passion of hers. This however, implies that she knows Saddle Arabia well. She certainly fluent with local language, customs etc. Not much combat ability however, at least compared to us. Either you or me could break her over the knee like a twig. This means that in their duo, she will be the face, doing all the talking and investigating, while Sombra will just stand there, adding the intimidation factor...." Hou shared with her colleague what she knew about the mare. "This means she will notice things that are...out of place. But unfortunately for them, I have many local servants...and thuse we can turn her perception against her." Hou grinned evilly. "We have planning to do." she announced and turned back towards the Saddleon. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Three Hours Later - Hotel Saddleon Al Jaddaf "So...." Hou said, as she stepped out from penthouse bathroom wrapped in towels. "We should review our advantages and potential strategy." white mare said as she sat down on very luxurious couch, opposite to Dox. Of course her changeling colleague probably arrived to pretty much the same conclusions as herself, but it didn't hurt to say all of them aloud. "The biggest one would be of course you Hei. While Sombra knows me at least a little, you are complete enigma to him. He knows nothing of your true nature nor capabilities. We should keep it that way as long as possible. Perhaps you can pretend to be entirety that is powerful, but with known weaknesses? Thus those two will waste time and effort on useless countermeasures. Jiangshi perhaps?" she pondered, before waving her hoof "Well, you will be the one playing this role, so I leave the exact choice to you. Second..." Shuren tried to continue, but was interrupted by knocking to their door. The two didn't order any hotel service, so that couldn't be the staff. However knocking had..pattern to it. One that Hou recognized and smiled upon hearing. "Enter." she said, as she used telekinesis to unlock doors from afar. "Lady Shuren..." said the bearded saddle arabian stallion, with his head lowered in reverence. His hair where half grey with age, while garb traditional. Overall, ordinary citizen from Saddle Arabia. He could be anyone, trader, craftsman, or even retired soldier. What was important was the suitcase that he brought with himself. "Did you brought what I requested?" sorceress asked, while taking off the towel around her head. "All that and more! We even gathered accessories to go along with them." the stallion confirmed, while setting the suitcase aside. "Good, I approve your initiative Umair Ibn Khaldun. What about preparations for Him?" Shuren inquired. "We carved image of Fallen King into out minds, hearts and souls Lady Shuren! We will not fail in our efforts to stall him!" Umair confirmed. "Good. Remember, don't try to fight him, or outright lie to him. He is perceptive when it comes to blatant lies, and too strong for you to slow him in battle. However, there is another difficult obstacle that cropped out...." sorceress announced, as she reached into her luggage. What she pulled out was copy of commemorative photo made after Running of Leaves. Hou quickly pointed at the mare with '1st Place Medal' before hoofing her servant the photo in question. "This mare is named Tongue Twister, Equestrian, and she is travelling with Tyrant of Crystal Empire. She knows your language, your customs and is very quick of mind. You all must be trice as careful when deceiving her. Better to tell her that you saw us, then pretend to do otherwise. But make sure you responses are detailed and has flawless logic. Spread around information about her to our network.Also.....Despite how easy it could appear to be, don't hurt her or kill her, understood?" "Of course Dark Lady. Is there anything else we can do for you?" "Actually yes. Make sure to include our inside equines in the gaur and the military. I very much doubt those two - or STAR for that matter - act with approval of the local government, and I am certain they would not approve of known tyrant and dark warlock...." Shuren smirked at the irony "...sniffling around the country." "As you command Lady Shuren." Umair said as he bowed out, correctly recognizing his mistress tone as a sign that he was dismissed. As the doors closed, Hou turned her attention back to Dox. "Before you ask, she is...pet project of mine. Let's just say I pumped her full of raw, dark magic, and now I am waiting to see where this will go." she said. "I prefer...to keep her around, so to see the fruit of my 'experiment' on her." Shuren admitted. Her gaze shifted towards the item Umair brough along. "Now...about our second advantage..." Hou opened the suitcase, to show her travelling companion dozens upon dozen of ID's passports and other documents confirming ones identity. "I even gone for extra and included some disguises your made in the past, around this area." she said, as she rummaged in those documents. She smiled as she saw few familiar masks Hei used to wear over the years. And many that she wore herself. Ahhh, nostalgia!
  20. With dedication to Aisede!

     

     

     

    That greatest fun I have RP'ing since...well, Black Sands.!

  21. The moment Rose mentioned 'Immortality' Hou froze. And she stood motionless all the way until 'simulacrum' mentioned how useful sorceress could be for that goal. And then... "Heh...haha...Ahahah...." unicorn mare started giggling. And as much as he wanted to contain herself, she couldn't... "BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" "A....AHAHAHAH...MY...MY SIDES!" she wheezed, while one of her hooves moved up and down in mirth, splashing the swamp water. "You...You still stuck up on that idiotic, impossible dream?! BWAHAHAHA!" Hou kept laughing, as if she heard the best of jokes. "Okay...okay, I...I am fine now..Bwahaha!" teary eyed, white mare did her best to rein her amusement. "Alright..let's..haha...let's assume your plan worked and you gave everypony eternal life...hahaha..." sorceress still struggled wit few rebellios giggles. "How long you think this world would be able to sustain ever-growing generation of immortals? Ten generations? Eight? I calculated an answer for that question once, in boredom...." Shuren revealed with a smirk. "Two. Two measly generations! Oh you naive, short-sighted queen! You so stuck with abolishing death itself, that you didn't though about logistics of that plan! Even if you would prevent everypony from dying, soon you would be left with malnourished world full of living skeletons, begging to perish!" Hou pointed out. "Second...they wouldn't be grateful for it! Oh sure they would sing you praises for it at first.....but soon..soon enough it would become...normal. Expected. They would demand eternal life." she explained. "And after few centuries too soon...you would find them performing the most sickening of atrocities. Not out of malice, no. Out of sheer boredom." sorceress continued. "...And that's because most sapient minds aren't able to bear the burden of immortality Compass! For them, life is worthy living because there is an expiration date! Every second is precious! They wouldn't know what to do with themselves, if infinite time was dropped on their laps. So they shouldn't get it. No...eternal life should be something that one has to earned! Through fights, scheming and struggle! And even that should only shield them from ravages of time. To not get complacent, to keep their minds and bodies sharp, always at peak performance." unicorn mare paused, her stare suddenly becoming vacant and lifeless. "I glimpsed the world like that once Rose. World when life finally, unrecoverably defeated death. One of ever growing mass of cancerous flesh! Instead of void of space, endless ocean of rotten pus, whole planets and starts mere tumours in it! Fanged circular maws, tentacles moldy suction cups, bloodshot eyes, filled with putrid blood! It was greatest horror I could have witnessed. It was worse then most accursed depths of Tartarus!" Hou voice never raised above whisper during that description, the nightmare she witnessed apparently still vivid in her mind.. But as soon as she finished, Shuren's glare was again sharp, and cold. "Some call me monster, and I don't care about that label. But even I would not condemn universe to something....something like this!"
  22. " You assume too much. It would be generous if I gave you a choice." Hou said with haughty expression. "Your desires or compliance aren't a factor, Rose Compass. I am too....fond of the world to let your potential, future, insane self rend it. It's damaged enough as it is, and I WON'T tolerate any attempts for it's restoration. Even if the reason is 'Love'. If you start behaving like rabid mutt for sake of restoring you beloved, I will do ANYTHING to foil you. Even if I have to. whistleblow Harmony Chosen or...." sorceress eye twitched for a moment, before she spoke the next name with utter contempt... "...Discord to do so. So be so kind to NOT give me reason to get to such extremes. You tolerate me, and I tolerate you." unicorn mare said. 'Nautilus' giggle earned the 'simulacrum' another disapproving squinting glare. "Yes they are. They are renewable resources as well...If you take care NOT to over-gather and over-hunt. Something you should take special take care with. After all, most changeling have...bad record when it comes to reining-in their wants and desires." Shuren's voice was once again smooth, but with subtle hint of warning underneath it. The tension was interrupted by creak of suddenly burdened branch. Hou took her gaze away from the Rose and smirked. On branches, roots and trunks of swamp trees, were masked ponies of all races, at least six dozen of them overall. Wearing black, all encompassing clothing made the identification all but impossible. Hou's 'Condor's' have arrived. It was that moment , 'Nautilus' chose to perform her disappearing act on the slain fire hydra. After a stunned silence Hou spoke again. "...I see. An innate resistance. I have to improve upon design then..." and she surprisingly sounded...much less angry? Brooding? 'Condors' however, turned their masked visages at the 'simulacrum'. Half of them started to unsheathe weapons that could only be described as unholy spawns of sword and bone saw. Before they could ponce at 'Nautilus' however, sorceress extended her hoof and shook her head to stop them. This made her servants return to expectant perching on pieces of environment. They will be no butcher work here today. "So you not as wasteful as I thought. Still...." white mare calm exterior turned into smug grin once again. "...You will find that your quarry is missing few key pieces. Liver, among other things I assume? I didn't had time for closer inspection earlier." she mused, before quickly adding "And before you extend the accusing hoof - no, it was not me. I believe there is some....third party here who pulled a fast one on you. Who or what it is, I don't know and I don't care. It was at least sentient, no bite or scratch mark on the carcass. You should keep a closer look on your game in the future." Hou added with a scoff coming along with her 'advice'. When 'Nautilus' proposed to extend their discussion, Shuren tilted her head. "Is there anything else left to discuss? I don't believe there is. That said..." Hou smiled again. "...You are welcome to prove me wrong. Or, to change the topic." she added, focusing her full attention on Rose once again.
  23. Hou scoffed when 'Nautilus' mentioned her other 'template'. "There is no point in power if it consumes itself. Your original, in her mad quest, doomed herself. Either her mind will further unravel, making her descent into insanity so deep she will become harmless..." Hou mused. "...Or she will earn one grudge too many, making multiverse dog-pile her. She might think she will be untouchable due to all her safeguards....but we both know there are fates far worse then death, aren't we?" sorceress added with a smirk. But not at the though of other Rose potential fate...instead Shuren smirked at magical display before and around her. "Regardless...I am not worried about the mad-mare, and I am not worried about you. As you said, you are mere 'shadow' of her..." Hou said while taking a few steps forward. "And what apt description it is! Like a shadow, all your life is shaped by Her. Your very creation, your species, your capabilities. Even your resolve to distance from your template...to become Her antithesis...is defined by Her existence. You can't escape that." sorceress kept talking. Her voice was venom, her teeth were swords, and her tongue a spear. And worst of all, her words were undeniable. "And you are terrified of Her. Not that She would do anything to you physically, no.....By disposing of you, She shown She wants nothing to do with you, and You know that. No...what you really fear...is turning into Her." white mare mused. "Ahh you probably tell yourself that you different, that since you saw how She ended, how She now IS, you can avoid the same pitfalls! But deep down....deep down, you can't deny the similarities. Same soul. Same mind. Same HEART! For all the experiences you by now made yours and yours alone, You are still carved from the same cloth! Each day you fight to be Her as She was, not Her as She now IS.....And since now you allowed yourself to love, you shudder at the thought that - just like Her - all it can take is one bad day...." Hou paused for an effect. "....One bad day, filled with sorrow.... And that it could be ALL that it takes, for You to to begun journey towards that same downward spiral into abyss...and before you even notice..." as sorceress said those last words with emphasis, her eyes shifted downward, at the stagnant waters they were standing in. On it's surface, was a small metal cylinder. It had green light. The light was blinking. Second after both of their eyes laid on it, the cylinder exploded! Filling the air with black dust, and metal fillings gilding in the air, glued all over their surface with the same dust. And all magic in large vicinity shut down. Immediately. "One Chrysalis legacy, that's not complete waste of time..." Hou explained. "Any magic in the area that doesn't come from magical items is now cancelled in the vicinity. That 'simulacrum' you are now hiding behind technically falls under that, so that's why it didn't shut down and fell like a rag-doll 'Nautilus'. Good luck however, casting any spells through it before swamp's slow air, and even slower water currents don't disperse the material. But of course you already know all of this." sorceress laid the facts in detail. She could right now, probably walk next to 'simulacrum' in question and rip it to shreds, but instead she opted to keep talking, not moving further from where she was. That to, was a massage. "....As I said, I am no worried about current you. I am however understandably....cautious, about what You can become. But I also a reasonable mare. And instead of...I dunno... - sending a assassin to end any possibility of you turning into omnicidal maniac, and instead hurting that spa mare during the attempt?.....I simply won't give you that bad day...." Hou stated the simple solution with a cocky smirk. "What I WILL do, is give you Three Promises. First, I promise to not irreplaceably damage that little town we both found so charming. Second, I promise I will not touch that little earth pony mare you have your eyes on.....perhaps I even go out of my way to make her and her sister safer then they are now?" unicorn mare mused. "And Third...." Hou's gaze turned sharper, and her voice deeper and more threatening "...IF by some chance...you would start that downward spiral regardless.....I will put you DOWN, before you will get to deep into that insanity, and get too much power. And I will move Heaven and Hell to do so. For all three of those, you have my word." sorceress vowed.
  24. Time slowing heh? Temporal magic was complicated, but it rewarded it's difficulty with sheer advantage it provided in various situations. However, even those that mastered it to greatest extend found it taxing. Hou called into question usage of such spell as a show of force...when all those energy could be useful later. But it wasn't her problem.... "Oh child...." sorceress begun closing her eyes, and shaking her head with bemused smile. "Do you think you are the first...'expatriate' I came along?" she revealed. "You wouldn't in fact make it into first ten. That, and subspecies of one of your templates did exists here at one point. They just simply went...extinct." Hou added, opening of of her eyes. They showed 'amusement' rest of her face displayed. Shuren ignored the questions about her background. Most would see a mare that tried to label her conversation partner. However.... "You stalling. And you avoiding answering my question." she cut through all the chaff with this simple observation. After a pause, she added. "I know your world Miss 'Nautilus'. One does not have to enter, to observe it. And I also know that your realm have no direct counterpart of me. I also saw the mare that was template of your soul. Do you know what I found?" Hou asked.
  25. Hou spend few hours following the aether trial. Whoever this mare was, her journal was quick chaotic, even going back and forth in places. This only could mean that the mare was franticly searching for something..... So it was even more surprising when the trail seemingly started to turn around and started to aim at the direction she found the slain hydra...could it be that....? That was odd. This could only mean that the mare that slain the hydra with a trap, and a somepony that removed some body parts were NOT one and the same. In short, 'Nautilus' (and there was no way in Tartarus it was real name. Unless you were sea-pony, siren or kelpie that is) set up the trap, it ended up killing the reptile, and some third party came along and stole the prize of somepony effort. That would make Hou's irritation abate....if not for a logical fact, that without help, 'Nautilus' couldn't make use of all hydra parts either! This made her as guilty of the wastefulness as the 'Third Party' (which Hou decided to call 'Pony W' from now one). Sorceress started to reach out into her back once again, to fetch another artifiact to confirm that 'Nautilus' was really heading to, or already was at the hydra carcass. However, the beam of silvery light shooting into sky, became a conformation enough of that suspicion. "Mafalda Barrier...." she identified the spell on sight. Despite the name, it was not a barrier. instead, it was a powerful perception filter spell over large area. When cast it would remove ability to perceive certain object or objects by those to that wander into it's range by any of their senses. One could even step on what they were searching, and still will be unable to recognize it as something they were searching for. Aside from initial cast, it was also very subtle, invisible to the naked eye (aside from rare gift of arcane sight, but it was 1 in 400 000 000 occurrence so....). The only limitation was no being able to act violently towards those affected by the spell, otherwise the masquerade was broken. Luckily Hou was outside of initial range cast, otherwise she wouldn't know it was used in fist place, and would be helpless until 'Nautuilus' was long gone. And since she knew the spell, she also knew how to break it.... " "Nautilus' doesn't want visitors...." Hou realized, as she reached into her pockets, for two vials, containing silvery liquid.... "...Unfortunately for her, I don't do 'Requests'...." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Few minutes later, 'Nautilus' could feel that Mafalda Barrier was dispelled..... No, not dispelled....saying so implied some subtlety or stealth...or at least, care for such things. Instead, it was SHATTERED. 'Rakh'noh Breaker' was the most brutal and forceful way of dealing with the Barrier, and that in itself was a massage. 'I know you are here, and I am coming', that was what the usage of it implied. While 'Nautilus' couldn't hear it's caster just yet, the flames of the swamp itself served as it's harbingers. Slowly, more and more of them - first in in the distance, and subsequentially closer ones - turned from natural red-orange, to ghastly greens or purples. And soon enough 'Nautilus' found herself surrounded by that unnatural light. Almost at the same time, a squelching noise of somepony wading through the swamp could at last be heard. Not long afte, a mare came into the her sight. Raven black, long mane and tail, snow white coat, and black dragon leather duster on her back. Few pouched along legs and waist, containing useful tools without a doubt. She didn't seemed to emit any magical aura....but that only implied incredible mastery of her arcane powers, being able to stop natural aether leakage. And last of all, her stance......it was one of somepony that was confidant in being the most dangerous thing in her surroundings. The white mare stopped, sizing 'Nautilus' up with her violet eyes.....and...taking a whiff? "One from Andalusia....? Nooo...something's not right." she said before whiffing again, few times in fact. Her brews were furrowed as if she was puzzled by this strange mare before her. "And your Soul.....Ah.....a copy then! And twofold one at that! You are far from home." sorceress exclaimed in realization. After a pregnant pause she continued. "I am a reasonable mare. Could you...enlighten me, how did you planned to salvage four ton carcass, from an environment where biological matter degenerates even faster then in humid Unyasi jungle?" she asked, ready to judge every word of 'Nautilus' answer.
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