Diamond_Dancer marches along, grinning sheepishly. "Right, Right. Dat, is why we brought Nettle along! She knows all about da unspeakable horrors of da undaworld! Also, she brought snacks! Hey, you'se guyse remembah when we was in da forest like, a year ago, and we found da huge Roc, and it tried ta kill me?...Pony...dat was awesome!" She reminises cheerfully. Of course a LOT of things have tried to kill her since then..
Solar_Eclipse trots along with the others. His steps are probably more noticable since his legs are shorter and he has to walk twice as quickly to keep up. He seems pleased, going on an adventure! Nothing can go wrong. Of course, his weird powers are acting up now, the shadows worried about him so they stack in around his body, making him start absorbing the light around him. An odd effect, to be sure.
Firefly laughs and nods to Diamond. "And you imprinted thy face into a large tree, yes, I recall." then perks an ear and floats backwards along the line to hover beside Nettie. "Oh, any lemon snacks in there Good Steward?" looking curiously towards Nettie. "A good snack is essential when storming a demon hive hole.
Nettleglum has seen the Everfree Pointy Jumping Rocks, of course, but didn't think they got as large as Diamond seems to suggest. Curious. She stays close to the young prince, ever watchful for her charge. "Lemon. Lemon. Let me see. Toadstool, clam, henbane, cinnamon crisp... oh. Oh dear, I'm sorry, Squire. Would banana-borscht do?"
Ohhhh and Scope brings up the rear looking none too pleased, skulking along after the group with angry eyes locked on the ground infront of his hooves. Whatever's on his mind he's still ready for combat for as he walks a bright point of light remains at the tip of his horn, pulsing every minute or so.
Diamond_Dancer tilts her head thoughtfully. "I like Cinnamon!" She announces to nopony in particular, however, before she can gobble any of the tasty (see horrifying) treats down, she comes to a pause towards the enterance of the demon hive. The hell hole. The terrible forsaken place no pony in thier right mind would ever dare to go...so Nettleglum is perfect for this sort of thing! "Alright...dis...uh...dis looks like da place! "She announces- an indeed, a smallish sort of clearing with several large stonehenge like tablets lay before them. "...Is dare uh...a door, or a spell of sight seeing or...uh...a key or somedin? How do we get in?"She squeaks.
After a few moments, Eclipse skitters to a stop beside Diamond Dancer. He nods a little, "Yes...I'm sure...that's it." His tail swiff-swiffs about again and he pushes the helmet back off his eyes after a moment, the oversized headpiece dipping and bobbling about on his head. He looks up to Nettleglum and gives her a big grin. "Hi there."
*THUD* *THUD* *THUD*. Step by step, a house-sized shape steps through the broken metal gates edging the cave entrance. Cerberus, the gigantic black dog, steps into the gap. Two heads growl, fangs as big as a pony's leg bared, while the leftmost head lifts up and sniffs the night air solemnly. Oh, and there's a tiny little fourth head behind the other three, but it's nibbling on fleas. It's budding season for Cerberus.
Firefly makes a face at bannana somethings and gets distracted as Nettleglum points out the entrance area, then Diamond also says it. She takes to the skies, up high, about eighty feet or so, circling to get an idea of the area and have a good look at those stones. A good look she gets. She banks over and circles, pulling into a tighter flight path, preparing to make an attack run from behind. Besides, they brought the bia...shakes her head. Prince. Along. It was sure to focus on them first.
Nettleglum gives the Prince a reassuring... er... deadpan. She then lurches forward, a sudden dank and sour wind rising. She stands in silhouette, outlined against the pale, chalky uprights of the circle. "There is but one path into the heart of the underworld, dears, and it is paved with broken souls and battered ponies and Byzantine floor tiles. The guardian of the gates cannot be tamed-- except by Fluttershy, I think-- but it must be passed. Also, I think my left hoof just crushed a snail. Excuse me."
Scope sighs, rolling his eyes and moving through the crowd and stepping straight up towards the three (lol four) headed dog. "Hey, I got somethin' for ya." The orb that WAS at the tip of his horn suddenly launches and hovers infront of the cave guardian. "Here ya go boy, y'want it? Huhuhuhuhuhuh?!" The glowing green orb wiggles from back to forth, looking awfully like a wonderful tennis ball.
Diamond_Dancer watches that bright glowing orb with eyes wide. Oh, she wants it! Yes she does, yes she does! She raises up on her hindlegs, hooves in front of her like paws!!
Solar_Eclipse's eyes widen just a bit as a giant monster dog appears. His whole body suddenly just goes jet black and he hops back a few steps, letting Scope get all Blaster Ray Gun on him... only then it's just a tennis ball? Eclipse quirks a brow and shrugs, skittering over to his lurching guardian.
Two heads continue snarling. One continues sniffing. The Black Beast steps forward again, its paw crunching on the path kicking up an ancient horned skull. Its second step tosses out a flat piece of broken ceramic, circle and square patterns printed on it in faded colors. The snarling heads go right past the floating green ball, ignoring it entirely... when 'yip yip yip yip!' sounds behind them. Cerberus pauses so its two heads focused on duty can roll their eyes in exasperation. Behind them, the tiny little bud is straining at the end of its short neck, biting at the green ball.
Firefly banks hard left and circles, keeping high up and behind the four woofed creature, maintaining a holding pattern for the moment. If Scope could take care of that creature there may not be a need for her to attack it. That and she reaaaaalllly didn't want to tell her friend Fluttershy she had to stomp one of her critter pals into the mud. She calculates her attack just in case.
"Awww, at least the puppy wants it!" As Scope is controlling the first one another, larger orb appears on the tip of his horn and this one is no ball. Oh no, the energy spikes that emit from the core indicate it's one of his torpedoes that he's got locked in the chamber, launching out at bliding speed at the giant Dog's chest.
Nettleglum looks down just at the horned skull lands at her hooves. Oh. So /that's/ where that went to. And here she was accusing Cousin Vague of wandering off with it. ._. She keeps herself between Cerberus and Prince Eclipse, cautioning, "Please keep clear, young master. The guardian is unpredictable, and sometimes his fleas carry a virulent plague which is not nearly as relaxing as the usual kind."
Diamond_Dancer glances down at the giant skull, and then at Firefly, and Scope. Hmmm, She's not much for combat, which is NOW just dawning on her and slowly, she pumps her wings to lift her up into the air. "YO! Hey...Uh, Cerberus! ...C, can you talk? Is dat someding you can do? Hey, SIT!" She shouts suddenly, at the top of her lungs. She doesn't think that's gonna work, but hey, it's worth a shot...
Probably a good thing he was given the warning. The big guardian looked so happy and...sort of. He might've tried to pet it. Ok, probably not, Eclipse does have some sense. The foal gives Nettleglum a quick nod or two, saying "Yeah ok. I wouldn't want to have some plaque." His head tilts as he watches, helmet again wobbling about.
It turns out, the Guardian of the Immortals' Prison was not chosen casually. He is immune to Diamond Dancer's sweet reason. Slightly more impressively, he is immune to magic. At least, Scope's disruptor torpedo strikes him square in the chest, and while there's a fizzling and Cerberus yelps, no visible damage is done. It must have hurt, because the tiny fourth head snivels and whimpers as two of the main heads open their jaws, snarling in fury. The whole bulky body bunches up to spring... and the leftmost head whacks the middle head hard. The snarling stops. The two guardian heads look at the leftmost head. It jerks up towards Firefly. They all three look up, sniff the air, and suddenly the collosal beast rears up on its hind legs, tongues hanging out as it pants in apparent joy, trying to follow Firefly's flight path!
Firefly is startled a little, not at all expecting this reaction. But the objective was to clear the entrance, so...." she barrel rolls and waves to the large puppy and lazily flies away from the entrance, to the east, leading it, if it follows, around one of the large stones so it won't see the party. She remains high enough to stay safe, yet low enough to keep its attention. "Who's a good puppy?" grinning and looping off a ways, looking back now and then, waiting until everypony was inside before making her next move.
It didn't work against Diamond Dancer when she was "infected" and now it doesn't work against Cerebus? ... That's it. "I quit." The armored stallion grumbles as the the guardian follows Firefly apparently in pure dog-like joy, Scope dropping to his flanks and sitting there with an angry grumble.
Diamond_Dancer Rolls her eyes. "Hey, you'se didn't git eatten' right? In my books, anyday dat ends with you not gittin' eatten' is a plus! You'd be surprised how often I ended up eatten when I was out here. "She trails off and sighs, shaking her head. "Come on, path is clear! Lets head into da pit! We might not git a second chance!
Head creaking back, Nettie watches as the Squire loops away, trying to lead the giant beast. How nice, a new playmate. She wonders if she should mention the chew-marks he tends to leave on his playmates, but why spoil a nice surprise for the Squire? "Now, young master, remember, to speak politely to the dead, and never bring up any gaping mortal wounds they may still display after their demise. Some of them can be easily embarrassed. Oh. And if we see Sisyphus, do not fall for his little, 'oh, can you watch this boulder while I grab a quick lunch' line. I lost an entire summer vacation that way."
Contrariness seems inherent in Cerberus's nature. First he resisted distractions, then physical force. Now Firefly tries to lead him away, and he takes two 'little' steps on his hind legs, but follows no further. It might be the chain running from his collars back inside the gates, but he doesn't pull against it. Instead, after a little panting and waving around to try and follow Firefly, the leftmost head whacks the others again and he collapses onto all fours. Butt raised, shoulders and heads against the ground, he starts shuffling rapidly to turn this way and that and always bow facing Firefly. It DOES leave the gateway open!
"Can I stare at the mortal wounds?" asks Eclipse. "Because I might not be able to stop." He keeps pace with Nettleglum as the others distract the new playmate. "Mmph, well I'll try not to anyways. It's goign to be totally gross isn't it?"
Firefly loops around and returns, seeing the thing was chained up. She hovers a few meters out of potential lunge reach a bit off the ground. "And how has our Guardian been today hmmmmm? Is the good puppy watching the gate all nice like?" baby-talking to him, while inwardly trying not to barf.
Nettleglum simply lurches through the gate as if heading up the front walk of her own house. It might be noted that the two paths are similar in many ways, though there are fewer clutching tendrils here in Tartarus.
Diamond_Dancer motions for the other ponies (+1 diamond dog) to hurry and follow her into THE GAPING MAW OF HELL. Seriously, she's gonna need back up here ponies. "Scope, quit bein' a baby! You're a royal GUARD for Celestias sake!" She announces, narrowing her eyes. "Come on, come on, dat dog isn't gonna be tied up all day!"
Nettleglum doesn't see what all the fuss is about. It's only the corkscrew-turning hell-maw that exhales the fumes of abyss and draws deep the poisons of Equestria, the very wound eternity has gouged to fester with the bacillus of pain and rage and eternal, unending torments. She's got snacks. What's the problem here?
Cerberus shows no further signs of stopping anyone. It's the only sign Cerberus doesn't show. The left head insists on remaining bowing to Firefly. The other two swivel like searchbeams as Nettle leads Solar close, and remain crushed to the ground, staring fixedly at him. The tiny fourth bud head looks around this way and that in bafflement, until Scope gets near. Then it whimpers and hides behind the middle neck. So, you know, congrats. Through the broken gates the way lies open into a cavernous tunnel sloping down into the inky black depths of the Earth.
Problems? There's no problems. Eclipse is armored up and ready to go. He adjusts his helmet and delves in through the mouth of the underworld with all his fantastic friends. He makes a brief mistake of taking in a breath and then makes a few muffled coughs. No one told him how bad this place was going to smell. As he nears Nettleglum, the weird shadows that linger on him cling to her too, mostly because they're too lazy to walk. )
Firefly waits for a while until everypony is inside, then swings around and lands, just out of reach, on the path into the tunnel, waving a wing. "Will thou allow me to pass?" she asks, staring at him matter of factly.
Scope quietly stalks by the canine guardian and tosses a sharp glare towards the fourth, smaller head as he passes. ...But then another orb appears on the tip of his horn, launching outwards and bouncing across the ground before coming to a stop closeby. .. It doesn't vanish right away either when he enters the cave, apparently a parting gift for the younger of the heads.
Nettleglum seems to inhale, deeply, like somepony coming home again. She neither coughs nor sputters on the sulfurous stench, if indeed she's actually breathing at all. "Oh, my goodness, I had forgotten how simply /cozy/ this place is. It's like Mother always said, home is in the details. Mind those puffballs mushrooms, young master. The spores tickle in your brain as they grow."
Diamond_Dancer trots slowly into the darkness, and takes a breath, trying to vibrate her wings fast enough to give a buzz like Scootaloo, and not enough to drift her up into the air. The end result is a soft glowing light that shimmers from her body- her contrail held in one place. She's her own personal flashlight- and something she might want to see a doctor about one day. "Alright! So, dis is Tartarus...gotta say...this is terrifying. So uh, okay Eclipse. You're time to shine! Which way to Luna!" She asks excitedly! This is really happening, this is it! Adventure, excitement!
There is at the moment only one way to go. Down. Down the crude path along the center of the tunnel, made out of bits of bone and old hide and intricately patterned ceramic. Down towards the big, dark lump that moves and squeaks, just barely visible to those with really good dark vision. Down leaving behind the huge dog, which tucks its heads underneath itself reverently as Firefly passes, showing off the moon symbols imprinted on its metal collars. Actually, only three heads do that. The tiny fourth head is yipping spastically, bouncing furiously against the leash of the giant body, biting at the glowing ball Scope left it. Kids, you know?
"Uhhhh," says Eclipse, looking back and forth. "D-down?" he suggests. With any luck the land of Tartar Sauce is just a big, long, deep tunnel with no offshoots at all. Yes. That's certainly bound to happen. "This looks...yeah great. Totally the right way." The kid's a terrible liar. Even when he's lying by pretending he knows what he's doing, his eyes shift back and forth.
Firefly keeps her wings flared, but sees the marks on the callar and makes a face. Duh. She should have seen that earier, or guessed at it. At least she knew there would be less trouble getting back out now. For her anyhoofs. She has to grin a bit as the littlest head tries to play with Scope's gift. She folds her wings and walks on into the tunnel to catch up with the others. "I trust, good Steward, you know the lands here well, because I know nothing of it."
Nettleglum is moving ahead, as blase' as ever. She shambles down the tilting, wild tunnel, approaching the lumpen, misshapen mass at the first dip. "Hello, Prometheus, dear-- still taking a vacation I see? That's splendid." As far as Nettie remembers the story, he held a barbecue so popular that they awarded him with a lovely retirement rock and a pet eagle.
Diamond_Dancer nods her head. "Yeah, Dis is uh, dis is all greek ta me! So, uh, Nettie, Eclipse, it's show. Just lead us to da princess! "she explains, and draws in a deep breath, gags, and chokes. "Dis place smells like da royal laundry room! Ugh! Ok, So I've got no idea whats down here. I tried to like, borrow a book about Tartarus from da library right...but den I got distracted by someding shiny. "She admits quietly.
Nettleglum is speaking to the giant pony chained to the rock. He is big. He is as tall as Celestia, but with Big Mac's build, although his face is more sleekly handsome. Shackles on all four hoofs chain him stretched out on his belly on a huge rock in the middle of the tunnel, and he fills the path because he is one massive piece of stallion meat. 'Meat' being a particularly appropriate word, because sitting on his plot is an eagle as big as any regular pony, picking wet scraps out of the wound where his cutie mark should be and gulping them down. The wound doesn't seem to be getting any deeper. Guy can heal.
Eclipse takes a moment to disregard what Nettleglum said earlier. He stares at the wounds, the oddities of things, the...is that a bird? Oh man, it would make an awesome pet if it would stop nibbling on that pony's gaping wound cutiemark. He blinks a few times and clears his throat, moving to walk with Nettleglum again, "Who's your friend?" he asks, brow lifting up a bit.
Firefly follows along as well, almost last in line, giving Scope a slight glance. Not a bad one, just a 'yeah, we can talk later, I have a feeling it wil help' kind of look. As they pass the large chained up pony, all she can do is mrf, then glide up and over. "Wow. Sucks to be you." landing on the other side.
Clara emerges from the umbra to one side, preceded by the chink of schist flakes under the handle of her familiar pick-axe that doubles as a cane when the Diamond Dog chooses to walk bipedally. She seems to be in good health, her fur shiny if not well kempt, her expression hopeful if not cheery. She has a new vest on--purple and red, with small round gems inset. She peers at the group, and then at the bechained sufferer, and then back at the group. "YooU haVve mAaAde It," she declares in a voice as gravely as the terrain.
Diamond_Dancer pauses to look at the pony chained to the walk, glances at the other ponies, and coughs quietly. "Uh...Hey dare...uh... fella. Dat looks uncomfertable! So, uh, I'm diamond, and uh, Dis is, uh, everypony. We're lookin' for a princess. Uh, deep blue in colah, her hair is da universe, and she always talks realy awkwardly. Like da kid in mathclass who always talked way too loud? Yeah dats da one. Oh, oh, and she has a look in her eye, like she might go insane at anymoment....you seen her around here?
Sotto voce, Nettie leans low over Eclipse and murmurs. "This is Prometheus, young master. As I recall, he held some sort of bonfire party for some Earth Ponies, a long time ago. It was very popular." She raises her voice as she stiffly totters up. "Prometheus, dear, you /must/ pardon us, we are in something of a hurry-- would you like a clam biscuit, dear?-- we're looking for Princess Luna."
The enormous stallion stirs, his head turning a few inches and a deep brown eye swiveling to regard his visitors. His voice is remarkably even for a guy with an eagle eating his butt. "I endure," he answers Firefly, his voice echoing down the tunnel. Then his gaze moves to Nettleglum. "Luna is down below, in the farthest reaches. Proceed with caution, my children. She hath laid low Atlas and chained him again in his place, but has not yet caught Tethys." The eagle, profoundly indifferent to company, continues gnawing.
"Good to meet you," Eclipse says, remembering manners when introduced to giant ponies being constantly eaten by eagles. He listens to the direction and nods, "Ah...thanks a lot," he grins, then hmms, wondering why his grandmother is mucking about down here anyways. He gives a glance to Nettleglum, then to the others, and then back to the big pony. "You...uh, maybe want us to shoo the eagle off your backside?"
Firefly ponders to herself mostly, but audibly as well. "I always wondered if there was anything to that whole 'having your backside gobbled' story. Seems so." then lands beside Clara. "So, dweller of caves, it seems we are once again joined on a common mission." looking over to Eclipse. "This is his punishment for whatever he has done, decreed by the Princessess. it would be wrong to interfere."
And there's Scope, quietly watching the scene unfold from near the back of the group. <.< He doesn't really bring anything to table in this quest, only there for his unique firepower! .. Which has already failed with that canine guardian back there so his hopes are not very high right now. D:
Diamond_Dancer points forward. "Okie dokey! So, danks for da directions...good luck wit da boid, we'll see you on our way back!" Diamond announces, slowly edging away from the benibbled pony. "And I thought I had issues." She mumbles quietly, wings still vibrating and flittering, lightning up the cavern ahead and behind them. "So, uh, Nettie, what can we expect to find down here?" The white pony asks, pausing when she comes to a rather large fork. "...Also...left or right...your call here, Clara."
"Oh, it's most charming, Diamond, dear... let's see, I do remember dear Scylla-- she's one of the lifeguards here, watches over a large whirlpool bath-- I do did try everything to get my mane to look like her's as a foal. I didn't have enough scales, sadly. Once we pass her station, things are a little looser. There are fewer councilors and a lot more of the inhabitants amuse themselves on their own terms. Arts and crafts days are Wednesday. Do not go near the popcicle sticks without armor." Nettleglum had some interesting Summer vacations, apparently.
Clara approaches the group, and especially Clara, showing slight surprise in her body language that they aren't surprised to see her. Still--she did arrange to meet them, after all. She isn't at the fork yet, having lingered by the spectacle of torture that is Prometheus. "Hello, SquIire of The mOoOn," she says to Firefly with a little jerk that might be half nod, half bow. "TelL mE...what Are tHis poOny'S crIiimes?" It looks like the sympathetic Diamond Dog isn't comfortable seeing anyone, even a Titan, trapped like this.
Firefly tilts her head to Clara as the canind catches up. "Given this particular punishment, I must assume is had something to to with his behind. Perhaps he bent over to look at a flower as the Princess was approaching. I imagine in his time mooning a Princess may have been very bad indeed. And he does have a lot of behind to have offended with, but if you trule wish to know, you ARE free to ask him yourself." and keeps an eye out for wayward popsicle sticks, to avoid them.
The gigantic stallion lowers his head to the stone again, closing his eyes. "My crime was to side with thee, my children, over my brothers and sisters the Titans. When the creatures thee call princesses emerged victorious, I chose to remain in my exile unto the day my siblings learn to share the world. I must, for if my mark heals, great Cronos will use it to escape his bonds." A brief sigh that gusts around the tunnel like the Royal Canterlot Voice, and he adds, "Proceed with caution. The Flesh Foals have bred beyond belief, and they respect not even the Grimdark clan. But it is good to see thee again, Nettie."
"Ok, mister. If you say so. Looks like it hurts. Be careful it doesn't get infected." Eclipse gives a big grin, he so wants to be helpful, and his tail swiffswiffs again before he looks to Nettie and follows along once she starts down the path once again.
Diamond_Dancer glances down the left chamber, then the right chamber. Her wings stop flickering and fluttering and her contrail goes out, leaving the place dark. "Yo, you'se guys gotta light? My wings are gittin' tired. Alrighty, So, uh, Clara, you'se the cave expert. Which way you dink Luna went? Please tell me she went down da chamber without da terrible monsters in it?
Bringing up the rear once more is the armored stallion, head turning to cast a curious gaze on the chained-titan.. at least until he gets a closer look at that eagle, lips pulling tight and hurrying onward after the group and looking somewhat perturbed.
Clara shudders at the words of the stentorian Titan. The gravel beneath her weapon shifts ominously and her eyes seem to change. After a few moments, she speaks. "The lEgeNds of mYy peOpLe are diFfeRent froM whAt you sAay, gREeat oNe. I wiLl preSume that Time llies, and YoU do noOt. But if tHis ExIle be yoUrs to kEeEp, and you woulD not bE freEed...then know. NOt aLL of uS woRshIp tHose with the tItTle 'PrinNCeSs.'" The Diamond Dog bows her head. But she can't resist one last question before moving on. "...WhaT waS yOur mAaRrk?" She glances toward Diamond Dancer. "I ExpEect the oPpoSite, deAr DanNCer." She looks up and sniffs the air. "I SugGest the DowWnwArd canTing slOope."
Nettie looks flatly troubled. "Oh, dear me. And here I didn't think to bring any Flesh-foal repellent. How awkward. If you should see any, perhaps it would be best to walk the other way. Their gnawing can be terribly troublesome, particularly when they are in large groups. Scope, dear... Squire... feel free to swat them if need be. It's best to use fire."
Firefly just walks along now, not really having much in the way of tunnel manuevers. She was examining the walls, the path, the loose stones and gravel, anything and everything that might be useful for offense or defense. That and she felt...disconnected...not being able to see the skies. It didn't bother to too much, it was more of an annoyance.
The rest of the party may be leaving PRometheus behind, but as Clara stops to talk to him directly, the Titan's eyes peek open again. The look he gives her is mild and very tired, and his voice hardly booms at all as he answers, "The flame of knowledge, for I gave my children the magic of the Titans that they not be prey to all the other monsters. Weep not for me. Thy Kobold waits below, still alive in his own prison." For those moving ahead, it appears the tunnel doesn't go down forever. There's a sudden end where it opens into a big open space way ahead, and large things moving in the shadows on either side of that doorway.
"What's a flesh foal? Are they dangerous?" Eclipse adjusts the helmet a bit again and looks back a moment, then to Nettleglum. "Umm, k these things are sounding worse and worse. Why did Grandma Luna come down this way again?"
Diamond_Dancer Scoots herself up towards Firefly as the party wanders along the dimly lit path. "Hey, Fiyafly, you'se git da heebie jeebies too when you can't like, fly? I dink Pegasi are naturally clos...clost....uh...ClosOW! I bit my tongue! I'm still getting used to being able to feel my mouth aga- "And Diamond, noisy little Manehatten pony, shuts up. It's the large moving shadows that probably have something to do with it, but it's end result has her quiet and wide eyed, peering into the darkness with uncertainty. "Is dese flesh golums?" She whispers.
Nettleglum sticks protectively close to Solar_Eclipse. "Flesh Foals are a sort of local pest, I'm afraid. They chew on anything that comes within their path, and they spore from their own remains. And worst of all, they simply /will not grow/ outside these caves. I've tried everything to get a good cutting or some spores, but they always fail. Ahem. If we should see Flesh-foals, young master, I want you to watch your hooves and keep close to me."
Clara nods and accepts the answer Prometheus gives. She shuffles on without addressing him further, but her mind is churning. Her strides soon become wide as the tunnel slopes downward, and she catches up to the group. "FlEesSh FooOAlSs?" she asks, her voice gaining an urgency. "I wiLl wAtCh for thEm. I hAve mY wEeapOn. Is anYone hEre HaAandy with FiiRe?"
Firefly says "No Diamond, I do not get...hees or gee bees. I just prefer more options for manuever than caves tend to allow me is all. Less freedom is all." then lifts her head and looks to Nettleglum. "I trust you can not merely ask the golems to allow us passage, else the recommendation of fire would not have been offered. I would recomend Scope handle them." then pauses. "He can teleport behind them and blast them one after another."
As if on cue, a magical torpedo is locked and loaded at the tip of his horn, followed by the ridges of that magical appendage beginning to glow a solid green as he slips through the group and takes point up ahead, snorting a little as he looks aside to Firefly. "Armed and ready."
In the light of Scope's magical ball of annihilation, the end of the tunnel is plainly revealed. It doesn't just end, it runs out as a short platform before a huge gap, some kind of cliff. The tunnel is thankfully wide, because at the mouth sit two things on either side. They're hard to label. One is a whirling, pulsing ball of vortexing air and water, and on the other side a pony bigger than Prometheus, but more of a ponypede, whose many legs trail back into a hole in the rock, and if that weren't enough she has extra fanged heads in place of some of her legs. There does at least seem to be plenty of space between them, but at the light the ponypede twists, looks right at Nettleglum, and makes a whimpering sound as she reaches out to paw the broken path as far as she can reach in Nettie's direction.
Solar_Eclipse's eyes close a moment, then partly open again. "Yeah, not a bad idea," he says, scooting over to follow closely, the ever present darkness of shadows trying to hide him from view. "Be careful Mister Scope," he says, not wanting anyone hurt really."
Diamond_Dancer frowns quietly, pointing a hoof towards the ponypede. "...is anypony else freaked out by dat? I'm not a doctor, but dat seems unnatural. "She quips, taking a few steps forward and peer at the creature, and then peer towards the swirling death vortex. " I could make da jump across dat gap, but... Nettie...you'se uh...you know her?...Him?...Dat?" She offers quietly.
Sighing, the noise similar to the last vestiges of sodden life escaping from a dying accordion, Nettie answers Firefly. "They are not ponies, however much they appear otherwise, Squire. They are a form of fungal life, and a very rude sort at that. Almost entirely un-trainable. I could barely even get them to wear sailor suits during our Summer presentation of /HMS Ponyfore/..." she breaks off as her stiff lurching brings her within sight of the ponypede monstrosity. "Oh, it's dear Scylla! Hello, my dear! Oh, how inviting the water looks today, but I haven't a bathing cap-- oh, Uncle Innsmouth sends his love!" She waves a hoof. "This is Scylla, everypony, she's the lifeguard here. And I should warn you, she is /very/ strict when it comes to pool safety."
Clara lets Scope slip past her and then stands at the doorway, gaping at the monsters. She apparently isn't familiar with these. Having boggled for a bit, the delver steps out slightly onto the platform, next to Diamond Dancer, and looks around the room quickly, not sparing more than half a second without looking back to the aberrations. "ThEeSe aRe hOrRorS," she says, unnecessarily. As for Nettie's explanation? "ScyYylLa?" Skeptically canine eyes train on the ponypede again. "PoOOl sAafeTyY?" Those same eyes narrow.
Firefly shifts into hover mode, taking flight just up and behind Scope. She lifts an eyebrow at the ponypede thing and how it was acting. She glances to Nettleglum. "And here I thought she was another pet of yours." grinning a little, tilting her head slightly for a moment then looking back to the swirling mini-storm thing across the way. "Diamond, after Discord, not much is surprising....only...different. My question is a simple one. How do we get past them?"
"Hmmmm." Seemingly unfazed, Scope remains ready to fire at a moment's notice and probably would have at the sight of the strange "ponypede", if not for that whimper it made once it noticed the group. Dropping his guard just a bit the unicorn takes a few steps towards the creature, brows lifting a little as he looks up in curiousity at the ponypede's main "face"
It doesn't seem inclined to attack him. The main head, three times the size of his own, peers down at him with eyes that shine luridly green in the light of his disruptoball. Actually, her face is pretty. Very pretty, sleek and long and feminine, reminiscent of the royal family. Rearing up, she regards him with a stare that conveys wordless, sad curiosity. The heads along her midsection are harder to distract. They remain focused on Nettie, and start whimpering, "Nnnnn..." "Nnneeeeeet..." "Nneet" "Glom!" A natural conversationalist, this thing ain't. But with Scope's light up to the doorway, Tartarus itself is finally revealed. The ponies stand before a gigantic chasm sealed over the top and splitting deep into the Earth. Paths line the sides on multiple levels, and stone bridges crisscross the enormous gap, and as for how far down it goes... somepony will just have to go past the guardians and look, won't they?
Diamond_Dancer draws in a slow breath when Tartarus is revealed to them. This is it. THIS, IS, IT! The impetuous nature of youth and the hyper active nature blend together to give Diamond an almost stupid grin across her face. "I can do dis! Oh, I can do dis!" She announces boldly, already reving herself up to go diving into the chasm and examine every inch, rock and cranny to find the princess- and more importantly, to prove to the group and herself that she isn't useless! She's important! She deserves to see! She's fast, and clever and incredibly durable! This is PERFECT! Somepony's been hanging around Rainbow Dash to long...but then again, most pegasus are like this in thier youth- Espcially those with the title of 'elite'
Making sure the young prince obeys all the rules of pool safety, Nettie escorts him between Scylla and Charybdis. "...never gallop this close to the pool, and always wait an hour after eating before plunging into the eternal void, young master." She beams a deadpan... nothing... at Scylla to show she's Cool Around the Pool, like the old filmstrips say! "Diamond, dear-- we do not roughhorse around when it comes to poolside safety. Please settle down."
Clara is awestruck beyond awestruck when the full nature of their quest is revealed. They aren't crossing over...they're going ^in^. She reflexively seizes Diamond Dancer's tail. "TaKe cAare," she cautions the enthusiastic flier. "ThIs is a PLaAce of lEegeNd, and the lEgenDs may bEe wroOOng. In mY peEople's tAles, PromEethIus was tHe crEatoR of tHe rAace of uUnicoORns, and hE diId suUfFer. But hE diIEd loNg ago, and wAs a moOrtAl poOny. My kNowLedge is....inCoMpleEte here." She turns to Nettleglum. "ThIiS sAge is nOw ouR beEst hOope of SurvivAl...but ThEre are RruUUulLes." The Diamond Dog looks the party over sternly. "Has AnyPoOny eAten aNNythinG wiThin the lAst hOour?" she asks, taking Nettie deadly seriously.
Firefly says "Easy Diamond...recon flights will be soon, indeed." following Nettie's central path, though not on hoof, but in hover flight. "For all we know there may be larger angrier cousins to quarray eels living all over down there waiting for a foolish flier to dive in blindly." grinning. "Know your surroundings beforehoof." then looks over to Clara. "I have eaten, but would not say no to something to drink. It is a touch less humid that I expected. Fire and all."
Scylla and Charybdis make no move to stop anypony, and on the other side the ponies stand on one of the ledges running as paths along the side of the gigantic chasm. It goes down, down, down into darkness, with caves, some with obvious metal cell doors blocking them, scattered about the walls. The stone bridges form a spiderweb between the rock walls, and the nearby bridges are... well, a mess. The black charring of lightning damage is all over the place near your doorway, and many of the bridges are splattered with blood. On the bridge one level below you, the bodies of adorable blank flank foals are strewn, most of them chopped almost into hamburger. Between those corpses, a lone unicorn white unicorn, tall and slim and with a crown cutie mark, pushes a rock bigger than he is with his face. He moves it slowly and with great care, but then, the bridge isn't that wide. The corpses don't seem to bother him at all.
<OOC> Luna says, "Oh, that's right. Firefly, since Luna went into Tartarus, you have been getting ZIP from her through the bond." <OOC> Firefly says, "Thus her caution." <OOC> Luna says, "No power, no thoughts, no sense of where she is, nothin'." <OOC> Firefly nods. Exactly. <OOC> Luna says, "And it's not coming back now that you're here."
you can practically SEE the steam raise out of Diamond's ears. Chill. Calm down. Settle down. Relax. THESE are the words that send young, inspiring pegasi into a frightful RAGE. How is she supposed to settle down when she's THIS close to such a grand adventure?! When she finaly has a chance to shine and do something COOL- and useful! Settle down?! RARRGGHHH!!!! "..." She doesn't reject, but her body language is quite clear. Wings tucked by her side, ears splayed back, and tail twitching wildly, she humphs in her silence and glares at the chasm. Diamond- NOT talking- means Diamond isn't 'happy' by any stretch of the word...
Nettleglum pauses at the edge of the abyss. "Oh, dear me. The groundskeepers certainly haven't been keeping up the place /at all/." Aghast in her own toneless way, the dark pony carefully picks her way down a more-or-less intact path. " Sisyphus. Oh, Sisyphus, dear-- it's Nettie. I know you're devoted to that physical therapy routine, but please just wait a few moments..." She shambles towards the unicorn, keeping her hooves well clear of the foal-gobbets.
Clara is trying to rein in the overenthusiastic Diamond--she was prepared for this much. Her grip on the flier's tail doesn't falter. Now ignoring the water-air monstrosity somewhat, she blinks at Firefly, and turns again to Nettleglum. "Is tHe coNsuMption of vIcTuaLs forbidDeN wiThin TArTarUs??" she asks. "If soO, we sHoulD ConSuUme all Our pRovisiIonS eXcept for SoMe thaT we WilL stAAsh, wait One hOur, and mOve qUicklLy. OtheRwiISe, wE wilL hAve to WaIt for the MoOnsQuIire to Be pUURifiIEd." Echoes of something sinister from around them draw her attention, but the flesh foals, if it is them, aren't moving yet.
Firefly grins to Diamond a bit, feeling much happier seeing evidence of lightning all over the stone. "I do love the decorator." looking to Diamond more. "Serving the Princess means listening and obeying, wether you like an order or not. You wish to serve Luna, you need to master this. Consider this field training if nothing more, after all, -I- will be asked my thoughts on you, and I am watching." grinning a bit. "Now, look, learn, tell me what you see, and what does it tell you? Something is amiss here and the clue lies before you. Can you see it?" sweeping a wing toward the dead blankflanked foals, the large fellow, and the charred stones. "What do you mean, I am impure?' looking to Clara.
"Oh, no, Clara, dear-- only if you wanted to go swimming in the pool." Nettie gestures at the whirling maelstrom of water, darkness, and air opposite Scylla. Huh? (Type "help" for help.)
The unicorn lifts his head over the top of the rock, staring with mouth agape up at the tall, skeletally thin pony descending the path towards him. "I say!" squeaks Sisyphus, "That's a Grimdark figure if I've ever known one. Nettleglum! Bally chuffed to see you again, pet, it's been ages. Don't hoof the rock, luv, I haven't gotten this close to the exit in a century. How have you been?" Oh, and if ponies are looking CLOSE, almost all the damage to the foals are from thin slices, except the lumps of lightning-burned ash. Quite a number of jaws are agape or ripped in half, and the teeth on these kids are saw-edged triangles any shark would be proud of.
Diamond_Dancer's cheeks flush a dark shade of red. Both with rage and embarrassment of her actions. Of course she's still under watch. She's not a member of Luna's court YET- even thought she SHOULD be. But, the spunky pegasus sets her butt down squarely and peers into the chasm. "...I...I don't see anyding. "She stammers sadly. Emotions run strong in pegasi, like Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo and most others. Exteremes to no end, Diamond is immediately filled with dispair. Oh how will she serve the princess if she can't even solve a riddle such a this right infront of her face!! "...D, Dare isn't any evidence of Luna's hoof work down here? She should have left a burning trail...but I dont' see anyding. "She sputters nervously.
"Not to worry, Sisyphus, my dear-- I know how attached you are to your exercise equipment. I've been just wonderful, it's so nice to see the old camp again, I should say." Nettie's not paying the slightest attention to the mutilated 'foals' around her, aside from taking care not to get anything on her hooves. "We are looking for her most gracious majesty, Princess Luna. Have you seen her recently?"
Clara blinks twice and gazes across to the other aberration. And stares. "ThAT is a ^PoOoL??^" The delver shrugs and tells Firefly, "I meaNt bEcauSe yOu had EeaTen. But nOo mAtTer." She lets Diamond come closer to the entrance so that she can heed Firefly's guidance and search for clues, but doesn't quite let go of that tail. And when Diamond sits, Clara is forced to stoop. "We muSt noT EntEr yeeT. ThEre aRe FaTes too fEear, such as Those of tHeeEse shArP-tooThed FooOaLs." Could these be flesh foals? She then peers down through the chasm to the regal figure, eyes wide and blinking intermittently.
Firefly has not proceeded any further, staying with Diamond and Clara, who was holding Diamond's tail still. "Do you not see the dead little ones, blank flanks, strewn about? Now ask yourself, how does a little foal get /here/, knowing what we've passed to get here, and why are they armed to the teeth, with, such teeth?" pointing one out. "Very unusual. Also, nothing we have met yet has been cabaple of making these kind of wounds, thin razor slashes. Also, such rended flesh? This should tell you there is a foe here we do not see. A hungry one." grinning over her shoulder. "Clara can sense it too I think. A different way perhaps, but the end result is the same." lifting her head to watch Nettie speak with...that guy.
"Crikey, 'ow could I have missed her?" Sisyphus laughs. Stepping around the side of his boulder, he lays a foreleg over it and chatters with Nettie, "Come through like a buzzsaw, didn't she? And bloody good show she did, because before she showed up, I'd 'ave told you to turn around and go right home. Rotting Flesh Foals everywhere. Ekidna and Typhus running around breeding princesses-know-what. Some of the simply behemoth monsters awake in the deeps. Ghastly. And that old boyfriend of hers, Maladrak, he breaks free right after she makes mince out of a swarm of Flesh Foals like locusts, I swear. What a fight." He sighs, blinks, and seems to remember that there was a real question in there. A hoof is waved into the abyss. "Down there somewhere, the old noggin suggests. She must be. Still some wicked fights going on."
Diamond_Dancer can't move with Clara holding onto her tail- and she's right to do so. If it weren't for the diamond dog, Diamond would have pitched herself happily into that hellish chasm searching her her dear, beloved lost princess. "Ok, so where do we start lookin' first? Dat is a loooong way down...Princess Luna could be anywhere! Do we split up?" She asks quietly to no pony in particular
Having hung back again for a bit, the Prince finally moves forward up to Nettleglum. The little Luna-colored colt smiles a bit to Nettie's new friend (Or really old friend) and says, "Hi," in pleseant greeting before looking around the caverns, nose wrinkling at the...interesting scenery.
Scope is inspecting the foals as well, horn at the ready to lash out at anything that makes any sudden moves. <.< However something DOES move out of the corner of his eye and he unleashes he[BUY SOME APPLES] on a nearly foal corpse, a beam of energy zipping outward and slicing through the poor thing before a torpedo impacts it and vaporizes it. "...Oops."
Nettleglum leans over the sheer drop, apparently impervious to heights. "Oh, well, it is good to know she is having a relaxing vacation, dear-- I know how pleasant the facilities here can be. We should, nonetheless, see if she needs anything. Come along, young master." Nettie starts down the slope.
Sisyphus nods cheerfully to Nettleglum, and approves, "You have a rolicking time, luv. Me and the Missus here-" and he winks playfully and taps the boulder, "-just 'as to go round the other side and up past Scylla, and freedom is-" As Nettleglum and Solar Eclipse ease past the giant rock, the princely unicorn stallion's eyes widen. "'Ere... Nettieluv, that colt's got no cutie mark. That's a pip, Nettie, and no mistake. Don't you know-" He sounded very worried, but it's nothing compared to when Scope blasts one of the Flesh Foal corpses. When that happens, Sisyphus lets out a squeal, slips on some blood, and falls flat onto the bridge. It hardly takes an eyeblink, but without his grip the boulder immediately pitches sideways, rolling right off the bridge and tumbling into the depths. Sisyphus peers over the edge, and has enough time announce, "Well... SOD," before he vanishes into thin air. That leaves the ponies alone, on the gory bridge, amidst the silence of Tartarus. Which isn't that silent. Squeaking, chittering noises are definitely audible, rising from the depths.
<OOC> Luna says, "Tartarus is a huge chasm under the earth. Along the sides run ledges that act as paths at many different levels. Bridges run from side to side randomly. Nettie, Scope, and Solar are on a bridge just down the slope from your entrance, which is very near the top of the chasm. Firefly, Clara, and Diamond are actually on the ledge right at the entrance/exit." <OOC> Luna says, "Oh, and there are holes in the sides of the chasm all over the place. Many of them have obvious prison cell doors."
Diamond_Dancer peers quietly into the chasm and glances towards Firefly, and then back down. "Dink we ...AHEM. Think...Thiiink? Hmmm. Think we oughta try one of dem doors? I bet anyone down dare would be real happy to give us directions if we let 'em out! If dey lookin' for trouble, Fiyafly can take on any challengers!" She pips thoughtfully. "Yo, Nettle...who runs dis joint, anyhow? Dis place kinda looks like a prison...so...maybe we talkin like a warden or somedin?"
Firefly lifts an eyebrow. "You've been improving your efficiency Scope. Very nice." smiling, then finally taking to the air, mostly to just glide over a bit and land on whats-his-name's large rock. "Are you by chance related to Rarity somehow? I heard she also had a thing for a rather large rock...." and finds the boulder moving. She walks on it as it rolls and grins, seeing where it was going. "CANNONBALL!!!!!!!" and flares her wings, crouching on the boulder, back looping to follow it down, using it as a shield and weapon combined. Anything looking up would just see the rock and they'd be well past by the time anyone realized a pegasus was a meter behind it, almost touching distance as it fell. But it was excellent scouting and recon cover. She doubted even a bridge would slow it down.
"What's a pip, Nettleglum?" asks the Princling as he stares up at her a few moments. Ears twitch just a little bit and his tail swishes. He watches the slip, the roll then the vanishing and makes a soft 'huh'. "So strange. Where should we go? You think Grandma Luna's much deeper still?"
"Huh.. well that sucks.", mutters the armored stallion once Sisyphus vanishes into thin air and they're left alone on the bridge. His ears wilt a little as he's wracked with guilt but that doesn't last for too long, he's got a mission and that's.. he doesn't know exactly what it is other than "shoot things" but it must be important, a torpedo launching upward and filling the area with a greenish hue to light their way.
"Oh, he really is -most- devoted to his fitness routine, young master. How very good for him. But we must continue on to find her majesty." Nettle watches the falling boulder vanish into the abyss below, falling so far there isn't even a trace of sound from its eventual impact. "Now, you all must, simply /must/ promise not to talk about what you see from this point on. I'm afraid if word got back to Rarity about this spa, she'd be terribly, terribly jealous. It's the most exclusive spa in all Equestria, really. You won't tell her, will you? Promise?" Her path takes her past gaping, black-toothed openings from whence moans and mad, tattered scraps of gibbering filter. Seams of white-hot tar bubble, and every so often something shrieks from the levels below, endless despair and utter hopelessness.
Lighting up the area could be quite useful. It certainly gives Firefly a better view to scout as she plunges down behind the descending rock. There's all kinds of things to see down there, like a section in the distance filled with webbing, and the little mechanical pony marching along a ledge, but odds are good it's the four blank flank pegasus foals shooting up past her that will catch her attention. With Tom Sr. in the way they completely fail to notice her, focused entirely on the party above. They're not alone, either. The unicorn foals are just slower, running up the walls with faintly glowing horns, and the earth ponies having to climb are slower still, gnashing their serrated teeth in frustration.
Diamond_Dancer is doing her absolute BEST not to pout as Firefly takes the scouting dive. She was RARING to go, but the Diamond dog kept her from leaping into the forsaken abyss. HUMPH! She never gets to do anything fun. But that's fine! No matter. It's cool. She's not matter. Instead, Diamond starts to quietly follow along the chasm that leads to one of the roads that desend downwards. "Alright ponies, times a wastin here! Lets giddyap! "She mumbles.
Firefly spirals along behind Tom Sr., the rotations letting her see everything easier while leaving her various emergency manuever options. A mechanical pony...awesome...she almost wished she could have used that herself, but has been unable to enter it without a connection to Luna's magics. The pegasi that race by do indeed her her attention, as do the unicorn foals running up....wait, yes, they were running up the walls. She abandons the rock to pull a high-G U-turn, not wanting to airbrake or do a reversal in here, the sudden boom would alert everything of her presence, and it may create more falling Tom cousins or even a grandpa. She winds her wings up into a deep rumbling roar as she shoots up behind the pegasi, manuevering so she was 'over' their backs relative to them, doing a snap 90 suddenly across the slowest pair's flight path, using her own wings agains the back of their necks in doing so.
Meanwhile, a ways behind the others, not soaring about, Eclipse is just now nodding to Nettleglum, answering her with a "Ok, I won't say a thing." He somehow suspects this might be his guardian having odd tastes again, but he doesn't say it. He's just skeptical of a spa being "Nice" here. He gives Scope a look and a nod, smiling to him as he keeps his vigil over the others with his laser of doom.
This is a new one on Scope, staring at the walls as unicorns seem to be able to climb wa-- Wait, the foal NEXT to him can do that, eh! Seeing that Firefly has the pegasi foals occupied the stallion takes aim, a point of light sliding across a hornridge which then brightens and emits a concentrated beam of energy outwards towards one of the unicorns, the other side doing the same seconds later followed by a volley of his patented torpedoes, the spinning orbs launching outward from his horn tip.
Nettleglum eyes the marauding blank-flanks flatly. This. Is why we can't have a nice Tartarus. "Those are flesh-foals, dears. They will not respond to reason. They will not show mercy. They are horrifyingly violent. In spite of this, I'm afraid they're not nearly so pleasant at they sound. I suggest we keep moving. Do not. Buy any of their cookies, should they offer."
Flesh Foals, it turns out, are not bright. They don't notice Firefly speeding up behind them, and the blow of Firefly's wings knocks them squeaking and tumbling out of their flight path. Scope's streaking laser blast is blocked by a shimmering shield from one of the unicorns... for a fraction of a second. It's hard to know if it would last longer, because shifting its magic makes it lose hold of the wall, and it too goes falling into the dark. The foremost pegasus foal doesn't even dodge the first disruptor ball, which goes through it, leaving a smoking corpse like an obscene donut falling into the depths. The final pegasus veers off its path to dodge the remaining bolts, but now they're behind the unicorns, one of which gallops up to scramble onto the bridge where it joins the ledge, while the other two leap off of the walls, toothy mouths wide as they bite at Firefly. Oh, and Nettie's just joking about the cookies. Only one of the earth ponies, the one way in the back, wears a sash and is trying to lug a couple of brightly colored boxes with it as it climbs.
Nettleglum stares. Flesh-foal Flock 341. Oh, yes, she remembers them. They still owe her a box of Minty Mushrooms from waaaay back.
Diamond_Dancer's eyes widen ever so slightly, and the young pegasus breaks her stride to fall back along with the group. There's no mistaking the sparkle of excitement glinting in her gaze- the promise of action, fighting, adventure, and heroic deeds swirl around her, even now, even here in this place of torment. But she doesn't go charging off just yet, she just remains where she is. Perhaps she's biding her time, or perhaps she's waiting for the right moment to strike. Perhaps, she's even afraid of these abominations seeking to harm her companions...or maybe nobility has kicked in, and she's sticking close to protect Nettle and Eclipse. Regardless, whatever it is that's holding back her desire to cast herself into the fight is keeping her stationary, for now...
Firefly spirals and inverts after slamming two of them just as unicorn foals leap at her from the walls. "Oh you did NOT just think you were going to bite ME?!?!?!" snapping her wings to blast aside then merges that into a vertical rotation that puts her behind one of the nearer leaping things as it approaches. "You should stick to the walls." slamming into this one's back, jetting forward in nera full flight mode to drive this one into the other one, then streaks across the chasm ina blur to slam them both into the stone, letting them go and airbraking with a hard peeling motion in a left spin upwards spiral to get clear just before impact and any debris from it.
Whatever it is holding Diamond Dancer back is probably Clara's hand clutching her tail. Hands are tricky things, that way. But as she sizes up the situation, she realizes that the nigh-invulnerable warrior must be allowed to earn her glory. The splitting of the party makes it necessary for everyone to be as mobile as possible. So the Dog releases the pegasus and gives her a gentle spank on the heiney to urge her on. "Use yOur foRrce, DAnCeR--dO noT tesT the StReNgTh of yoOur hIiDe!" And Clara herself spins into action, raising her pickaxe and taking a broad stance. She can't fly, which makes this battle all the more dangerous for her.
It's his time to /shine/. Well, he hopes it is. Eclipse looks up to Nettie and says something dorky, thinking it sounds cool, "Then let's get those cookies." Not his best line. He trots forward a few steps, peering over seeing somepony climb up and a bunch of earth ponies a bit behind. "Uhh haven't exactly tried this.." He looks over beside him, to the empty space, and says "Hey, you, get some friends and go cover their eyes." His...shadow oddly nods then flits off with a few others. Nettleglum's probably use to this. He then squints down, "Ah...oh, I got one for this... Need a lift?" His horn starts glowing full force as he tries to simply lift up as many of the foals as he can.
A torpedo speeds towards the earth foal but right before impact it poofs out, instead the foal is surrounded by a greenish aura and lifted (along with the boxes) up to where Scope stands, curiously head tilting a little. Even with it probably gnawing and biting at him he pulls out a couple bits from a pocket within his armor and sets it in the foal's bag, taking out a box of what looks to be peanut butter cookies and carefully floating the foal away from the group and safely depositing it on a nearby ledge.
Nettleglum is a lover, not a fighter! In any event, she's fretting a little-- deadpan, but sincere-- as Eclipse tries to get into the fray. "Oh, do be careful, young master. Watch the edge of the bridge-- keep your hooves where you can see them-- oh, dear me." She backs against the gibbering cell opening. She knows these private spa rooms are /most/ luxurious, with hot and cold running screaming little things and wall to wall walls. "I do beg your pardon. Have you a spare towel in there? Perhaps some liniments?"
Flesh Foals are also not the greatest warriors ever. However, they are relentlessly vicious. The unicorns Firefly slams don't try to dodge, don't pull anything fancy, they just turn their heads and bite down hard onto her wings. They don't seem stunned at all, and neither are the original two pegasi, shooting back up from the depths on the other side of the bridge, fangs gnashing. The foal Scope treats so gently seems marginally smarter, in that it accepts the bits and tucks them away, but then it goes back to hissing and trying to stretch its neck out to bite him, even while it insistently presses forward a battered, water-stained green package that smells like an industrial vat of peppermint. And then there's Solar, who... hovers all the remaining earth ponies from the walls. It's like holding a litter of oiled puppies, but from his perspective they're not *heavy*. They are so mindlessly vicious that, unable to make any progress now, they start ripping into each other with those teeth. This leaves only one remaining foal, the unicorn who pulls himself up onto the ledge in front of Solar and lunges for him, biting furiously. Oh, and it leaves Nettleglum talking to a haggard old unicorn with wildly rolling eyes and a split sun/moon circle on his butt. "We offered. We offered! But the moon sets, always sets!" he explains. And then his horn flashes, Scope and Solar feel a rush of magic like a freight train, and the unicorn leaping for the little prince goes flying away as if he'd just been shot out of a cannon.
Diamond_Dancer seems somewhat hesitant to leave the prince and Nettle behind, even if Clara is watching over them with her trusty pick-axe. She arches forward though at the swat, skeetering ahead before shooting a glance behind her at the others. The problem is, Diamond doesn't excatly have the formal trainning that Firefly does. She doesn't even know the first thing about true combat- so when the situation like this arises, she's hesitant. She doesn't have the blinding speed that Rainbow Dash possesses, nor the cold calculating tactics Firefly has been taught- but she's got a head that's almost hard as diamond, and that ought to count for something! She takes a deep breath, holding it in her throat, and her body tenses with wiry muscles compacted like a spring. She's off like a shot, with a dazzling beam of light contrailing behind her. Diamond doesn't have much in the way of tactics, but she makes up for it with blunt, overwhelming force. She slams into one of the Flesh Foals floating via Eclipse about the walls like a little white rocket, only to richochet like a pinball into another one on the adjacent wall. She's clumsy, unfocused, and quite possibly more dangerous to herself than the creatures attacking- but the girl hits like the fist of an angry Celestia when the guards tell her they've run out of cake! PING, DING, PING! MULTIBALL!!!
Firefly hovers for a second and snarls as the unicorns hang on. "Ok, we do this the hard way!" and backs away from the wall, driving her wings into a near invisible blur. "Lets see you hanng on NOW!" imagining that has to be hard on the head and neck. She sees the two pegasi racing up from the depths. "Of for Luna's sake....ENOUGH!" letting the two biting her wings feel the effects of a ligtning bolt blasted up and out of their throats as she narrows her eyes on the rising pegasi, narrowing her eyes.
Clara is still on the upper bridge, so she's hardly able to watch over the other land-bound explorers. She whirls about as the flesh-rending pegasi return on either side of her, baring her teeth and tensing up, showing tendons no pet dog would ever show evidence of having. She whacks at one with her axe, aiming to take out enough wing that it can no longer fly, and slams back with the pick at the other. A leap, and the role of each side of the weapon is reversed, but she leaves her other hand, clutching a rock, ready for defense after a fashion. "ThaaAatT's iTT, StAaRdANnCerR! RiiccCocHheEeEt!!" Meanwhile, a moss-covered mushroom flies through the cell bars and strikes Nettie on the head.
Solar_Eclipse does manage to hold them up, though now he's not sure where his shadow's run off to. Probably playing somewhere. Stupid shadow. As the group seems to wipe out, he starts to relax, only to make a soft 'eep' as he's lunged at. It's probably not his proudest moment. Fortunatly the critter goes flying and he blinks a few times, "Whew." He looks over a omment, horn glows and one of the colorful cookie boxes the unicorn foal was carrying floats over to Nettleglum. "There, better late than never?"
Nettleglum glances up. She didn't think it was mushroom season. ._. That's late autumn, when the mycelia turn lovely shades of liver-spotted puce and slimy, carcinogenic greens. It's the sort of season that makes a pony feel good to be alive! Or... have life-like reflexes. She listens to the mad unicorn blankly. "Oh. Sorry to have disturbed you, then. Young Master-- are you unimpaired? Do you need surgery or grafts?" Accepting the box, she looks at it. Minty Mushrooms. Well, how nice. Another snack for their travels!
The Flesh Foals are making their schtick clear: They are dumb, vicious, and persistent. Maybe even unable to feel pain. The two on Firefly's wings cling desperately, even start to chew as she flaps them around. Whether or not she could shake them off is never tested. The lightning blast she releases settles the issue in another way, but dissolving the foals into puffs of black char. Solar's just going to have to accept he's lost his handful of foals. As hard as they were to hang onto before, they go flying out of his grasp and into the deeps when Diamond bounces off of them. Actually, the number of Flesh Foals is getting pretty thin. Clara clonks the last two still attacking, sending them smacking against opposite walls - and they flutter clumsily back into the air, slowed down and one with a crushed looking jaw, but they buzz at her again. Scope's... well, her mission done, she curls up and goes to sleep. After all, Nettie has her box of minty mushrooms, which appear to have distilled in the years since she's last visited. The smell would make any normal pony's eyes water.
Diamond_Dancer finds herself hovering in the middle of the chasm, one flesh foal managed to cling to her and is now idly chewing on her head- which Diamond doesn't seem to notice. Can't feel pain, can be vicious, dumb as rocks...it's like a family reunion! "Hey........................cut dat out. " She grumbles quietly. Unable to actually sink it's teeth into the scrumptious young pony (Hard as Aunt Bertha's fruit cake at christmas), the flesh foal sadly pitches itself off her and into the eldness darkness of the abyss below. "Uh...dat a victory? Did we win?! And nopony caught on fire?! Dis is like, da best day evah!"
Firefly suddenly recalls the warning for the foals....fire. In all the fun she'd forgotton that. She curses herself and glares at the retreating things, then snaps her head to draw a bead on the two still clumsily in the air. But not for long. She rolls over and with a cracking snap of statis and heat and light, she slams a lightning bolt into them, the flash of electricity snaking from one to the other then leaving a black blast mark on the stone behind them very much like the ones around the rocks along the rocks above. She watches Diamond shake off her attacker then starts to fly up to the bridge. The pink along the leading edges of her wings up ner her shoulders was a deeper red now, bleeding from the bites dampening her feathers. She flits up and lands by Nettie. "Steward, are there effects of being bitten?" she asks.
Clara strides forward and spins to get an advantageous facing on the last two attackers, and then fiercely fends them off, one being bopped by the stout handle while the other takes an axe blade to the jaw. Now, even if it wants to keep attacking, it probably can't. She thrusts at the other, aiming to puncture its wing further. And then she leaps down with some care to the next bridge, where she attempts to rejoin the others. "VeRry WEell," she grumbles to Diamond. "TeSSt yoUr hIiDe if yOu mUSst. It seEms to Be rOoOcK SoLiD."
"I don't...think I'm helping," Eclipse says, holding up what he's got left. He starts to urge the ones he's got together though, to make a big ball of angry, mushroomy foals till they are dispatched. He looks up again to see the others seeming to be...done with theirs. Possibly? He's actually curious to that question himself. Will the bitten turn into mushrooms and make cookies?
Scope has got a box of cookies, for all he cares he could walk out of here right now WITHOUT the Princess and he'll thinks his mission's accomplished. .. But he suddenly remembers the warning from earlier as he goes to open the box, pausing for a moment before slipping it into an unseen pocket on his armor as he continues on with the crowd.
Nettleglum offers out a minty mushroom to Solar_Eclipse. The fumes from it are cartoon-visible, like a heat distortion in the air, only with ghastly Edvard Munch faces rippling through the translucent haze rising off it. "Not if you've had all the usual vaccinations, Squire." Whether the prince accepts a mushroom or not, she offers the next one to that cheerful incoherent rambling frothing lunatic in the cell behind her. You always meet the nicest ponies in Tartarus.
That seems to be it for the terrible Flesh Foal attack. Clara fends off her two, and as they're knocked back again Firefly's lightning chars them to ash. Scope's... is asleep, snoring adorably with its too wide mouth and sharklike rending fangs. Eclipse still has three held up that Diamond didn't send catapulting away, but they're not hurting anybody. So things are peaceful again, and Nettie's wandering-eyed contact can accept her gracious gift, explaing, "So gracious!" Chewing on the cookie visibly dissolves the yellow off his teeth with a loud hissing noise, but he doesn't seem to mind. Instead he shuffles arthritically out of his cell, and whispers to Solar cheerfully, "Close, Luna, but not quite. Let me teach this spell back to thee." His horn glows, grey of all colors, and his magic twines itself with immaculate delicacy around and inside Solar's. Two of the Flesh Foals are shoved aside out of Solar's grip to tumble into the inky depths, and the ancient unicorn whispers, "Hold them loosely. Their bodies and their magic struggle. Tighten thy grip slowly, as thee tighten a noose, little by little until flesh and magic is completely enclosed. See?" And as he whispers, he nudges Solar's magic, binding it ever tighter around the Flesh Foal into a paralytically firm grip.
Diamond_Dancer frowns quietly, watching Eclipse and this ...creepy unicorn thing...and shakes her head. "Am I...is this...am I lookin' at Stranger Danger here? What is dis? What am I lookin' at? Nettie, you know dat guy? Solar, colt, you'se gonna end up onna milk carton if you keep talkin to guys round here like dis!
Clara comes to stand next to Diamond, weapon back in cane position, knees bowed again. "HeE is nOot lUuUnNa," she says to the doddering crazy, but then shuts her mouth. Maybe it's best if he ^does^ mistake the prince for his grandmother...if that's what he's even doing. She glances at Firefly uncomfortably.
Firefly says "What he means...is that Solar's bloodline is confirmed to be of Luna's." staring at the jailed unicorn as she flicks her wings. "I know this spell, yet it is not my place to question it's learning." still glaring at the unicorn, clearning not pleased. "Indeed."
The Prince pretends to eat the cookie he's offered, tossing it off into the nearest pit while the offerer can't see, then makes exaggerated chewing noises to be polite. He blinks a bit as he feels the weird magic tie in. "Huh?" he asks, almost having forgotten he's still holding onto ponies for their own good. He concentrates, trying to figure out the lessons, "Oh, that's a neat trick," he says, though seems to be studying how it works. It takes finesse, a level of which probably escapes him just yet.
Crazy Old Stallion hobbles up real close to Solar. Real, real close. His eyes gleam, but they also twitch and roll, so you know, there's that. He may be rickety, but he sure knows his magic. "That's right, my beautiful princess," he whispers, "It feels funny, does it not? Hard to hold? Its magic fights against you, but you can't feel it, because it isn't unicorn magic. So feel the weakness instead, where your magic gives against the burden, and then when it stops... *tighten*!" As good as his word, his magic, wrapped around Solar's, holds the struggling flesh foal patiently, until at signals the prince may not even be able to spot, it grips - and one by one the flesh foal's limbs go absolutely still, until the entire body is motionless as a statue. "Now you hold both his body and his magic, and he is utterly helpless..." Mister NotSaneyPants murmurs into Solar's ear.
Nettleglum does not know the strange, rambling pony, but cannot help but admire his tailor. You seldom see rags of such quality in Equestria these days! The grim mare looks a little protective when he moves in on Solar, but when he offers neither linty candy nor a ride on a magic sled, she dismisses him as completely sane and quite harmless. "It's very kind of you to take an interest in the young master, sir, but I fear we're in somewhat of a hurry. Princess Luna is no doubt wondering what's keeping us and if we've been polite to it."
Pegasi are not known for thier patience. The sky is the limit for thier race, and all pegasi everywhere generally believe in one, single, simple, truth: Go big, or go home. Feeling the adrenaline rush from victory, Diamond is having a hard time keeping focus on ANYthing at all- even the task at hoof. Yes, she actually prooved herself useful! She's not a screw up! She actually - HELPED- a situation become BETTER ~ And for that reason, there isn't any doubt in her mind that she can't do it again. So hovering there, in mid air, watching the creepy old pony kook talk to Scope, the young flier peers towards the chasm and narrows her eyes. That's what she's built for- a scout. She can fly further, than any other pony, and she has a AC class of at LEAST -10! - so she folds her wings, and does what she does best- She plummets into the darkness below...
Clara seems a little bit squicked in listening to the description of this mighty spell, but it isn't her place to interfere. She stands nearby, listening with one ear while keeping a listen-out with the other. And looking nervous. Especially when the cookie gets apparently consumed, because she hasn't quite realized thaat she misunderstood Nettie's earlier warning about eating food down here. She spies Diamond careening away and twists about. "NoOO! Take CaAARe, DaAANCeRR!!"
Scope stands by, keeping a veeeeery keen eye on the whatlookslikeafoalmolesterstallion apparently taking over Solar's magic and messing with the flesh foal, his own magic at the ready as a torpedo is loaded at the very tip of his horn, a compressed orb of greenish energy ready to fire..
Scope stands by, keeping a veeeeery keen eye on the whatlookslikeafoalmolesterstallion apparently taking over Solar's magic and messing with the flesh foal, his own magic at the ready as a torpedo is loaded at the very tip of his horn, a compressed orb of greenish energy ready to fire..
Firefly remains standing there, watching the old coot like a hawk, but doesn't interferre. She does list her head a bit when Diamond peels away and dives. She lowers an ear. No tactical skill at all. Leaving the party to scout when there was no threat is one thing, to follow that threat and leave the others more exposed to it was another. Ah well. Right now she was satisfied most of the bleeding along her wing's inner leading edges was starting to slow and clot up. Stupid flesh things. Dragons had the sense to die when you smashed them into rocks at mach 2.
What? Did that old pony just call him a Princess? Them's fightin' words! Eclipse peers at the old one a moment, seeing the eyes roll and twitch and whatnot. Ok, so maybe he just can't see too well. That must be it, he decides with a nod or two. Feeling the odd change in the spell he says, "Doesn't this hurt them?" after a few moments, looking to the creature in the grasp. He's trying to figure out how to do this, but realizes pressure in the wrong area could prove messy.
Seriously Creepy Geezer giggles, and whispers to Solar encouragingly, "Not yet. But now the pony is trapped, with all thy princess might, squee-" Buuuut then Nettleglum mentions Luna's name. Nearly Mummified Hermit seemed to be ignoring everyone but the little colt he's practically nibbling the ear of, but that word gets his attention. His magic dissipates entirely, and wailing, "STOP PULLING INSIDE MY HEAD, DARLING!" he runs back into his cave, which immediately fills with blue light and complicated shapes. Very interesting stuff, except there's that other little thing going on. See, Diamond flies down, and down, and actually the chasm turns out to not be ridiculously, impossibly deep. A few hundred yards. It gets *pretty* dark down there, though. She finds out she's reached the bottom when right ahead of her looms a curvaceous aqua and royal blue unicorn filly... at least twice Diamond's height. The filly doesn't hesitate. With the reflexes of a warrior, she rears up and kicks the descending Diamond Dancer right in the face, launching her back up with a spray of sparks and an echoing boom. Which would be one thing, but in the next instant Luna's voice vibrates around the chasm. "THOU!" she yells, and light flashes as a gleaming arc slashes across the bottom of the chasm. It's quite hard to tell what effect it has, because the giant blue filly bellows back, "USURPER!" and the bottom of the chasm explodes in water, a violently churning mist that continues to shove Diamond back up, boiling into a thick cloud that flashes with thunder and lightning immediately as it surges up towards the party's location. So, scouting mission accomplished!
Scope gallops a few steps ahead of Solar after the "HaveASeatOverThere" stallion retreats back in his cave, standing protectively over the young prince just in time to hear the familiar voice echo across the walls, and then peeking over the edge and seeing... "Aw criminy." Shields up! A brief flash is seen upon the guardstallion's horn and a half-bubble forcefield appears for a moment surrounding himself and solar.
Diamond_Dancer's Dazzling Dream Drop technique was (loosely) inspired by Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainbow. The idea basically revolving around Diamond slamming herself into a solid object at an exteremly high speed. Now, granted, everytime Diamond has done this to show off, it's been outside in the open and Diamond had a fairly good judge of distance from where she was in the air, to how long it would take her to reach full flight speed, and crash into the ground. Upon slamming into the earth, she would release a bright, dazzling explosion of sparkles in a massive radius around her with only a -slight- headache to remind her not to do that again. Which she would promptly forget. Of course, in the darkness of an underground cave filled with horrors that would drive a normal pony mad via just the sight of them- Probably not the best venue to try this trick. And yet...here we are. Of course, she doesn't get the chance to hit the ground, as she's kicked in midflight- the world suddenly turning, spinning, bouncing disappearing into the cloud, only to return to ground (near Scope) singed completely by a bolt of lightning and laying there, smoking quietly in a shuddering heap. "....... I regret nothing." She coughs (complete with a blue dollop of smoke.)
Clara whirls about, taken off guard despite her attempt to be watchful. She shouts, or perhaps howls in dismay. "WhaAt hAs HaAapPenEd? Was that..Was thaT tHe SkYsCrRaApeR??" The Diamond Dog thought she saw something like her ward, but it's all such a messy misty muddle that she couldn't tell! She jumps down from path to path, perhaps foolishly, in an attempt to reach something resembling a bottom.
Firefly's ears perk. Ah, and no stress in Luna's voice at all. Therefore, the Princess was safe at least. Upset from the sound of it, but safe. She grins ear to ear as Diamond sets off a storm of all things...with lightning. If a pony looked close enough they might even see it's reflection in the Squire's eyes they were to bright and wide. She watches Diamond flop on the stone and narrows an eye, "Allright....let's do this." snapping her wings out and taking a stance, laughing, yes, laughing as any lightning racing anywhere near the bridge is drawn right into her wings, the harder and faster it hits the more she spreads her wings, "Oh YES!!!! Its ON now!" laughing like a filly at heart's warming.
With a leap into the air she banks and angles downwards, electric arcs and sparks dancing all over her wings and body and she spreads them wide, pulling her legs into a griffon's attack posture, then with an explosion of thunder she powerdives, after all, something smacked Diamond, and she needed to let it know there were larger ponies nearby. Larger, angrier and now fully charged one.
"I'm not a..." Eclipse starts but then the Weirdo Pony seems to zip off to his cave. He blinks a time or two, not sure exactly what happened. "What the hoof was that?" Of course distracted as he is, his spell flickers and fails out, dropping the fleshfoal who knows where. Eclipse doesn't even seem to realize it happened. He looks up to Scope powers up the bubble, then he hears the booming voice and sees the singed Diamond Dancer. He asks the most obvious question, "You ok?"
In our last episode of Luna Rescue Team, Diamond Dancer's ill-conceived scouting trip to the bottom of the chasm got her kicked in the face by a Titan! Our heroes' hopes were first raised by the sound of their princess's voice shouting a battle cry, then dashed as the chasm filled with a raging thunderstorm! Now our weary band of misfits, vagrants, feckless waifs, and Scope huddle all together under Scope's energy shield as the clouds billow upwards... to stop right about hoof level, although the violence of the wind and rain and lightning even a single level down are terrifying. Their crazy old foal snatcher guide has retreated into his cave, leaving them alone to face this mysterious peril. Well, almost alone. Between the thunder crashes are all kinds of wails from Tartarus's inmates, dominated by a deep voice bellowing, "FREE ME! FREE ME! THOU CANNOT DEFEAT THAT MUTANT FREAK WITHOUT MY POWER, FOOL!" Oh, and giant bugs and stuff are starting to crawl up out of the cloud, but the only things nearby are a couple of silvery animals like goats, if goats were as graceful as ballerinas. "I hope everyone else is okay," comments the colt as they stare down into the maelstrom, to which the other replies, "I confess, what a mess!"
As the subterranean storm builds, Nettie unfurls a tattered, skeletal scrap of a black umbrella and holds the fluttering thing over Solar_Eclipse like a pair of bat-wings, clenched in her teeth. She enunciates pretty well around it, though. "When at summer camp, it is best to be prepared for unexpected weather, young master. One never knows when a campfire will be rained out. And remember, if it should be a rain of blood, to rinse your clothes in cold water. Hot water just sets the stains." She'll show him how to wash up after a rain of frogs some other time, when she's got borax, lye, and boiling quicksilver available.
"Welp, time to go to work!" From within the shield Scope's already glowing horn comes to life as he uses his magic to try to scan through the cloud and locate where that familiar old-hag bellow is eminating from, a magic torpedo being launched from the tip of his horn and zipping through his shield. The spiky, spinning orb suddenly takes a sharp turn downward and vanishes within the cloud, aimed towards where he HOPES the captured Princess of the Night is located.
Diamond_Dancer swirly eyed, wobbly gait and slightly waviering voice, Diamond Dancer stumbles around the inner circle of Scope's magic shield. "So...I dink I've found Luna...or a Luna like substitue. It seems preturbed. ...Gonna lie down for a minute...please don't let me swallow my tongue. "She announces, pauses, and collapses on the floor. @_@
"I didn't wear anything," Eclipse reminds Nettleglum. His oversized helmet dips over his eyes and he pushes it back up with a forehoof, "S'cept that, I mean," he smiles. He looks about, trying to keep up with all that's going on, and it's quite a bit. He looks up at the ancient umbrella, then wonders, "Does this count as opening one indoors?" He then peers to Diamond Dancer. "Luna...substitute?" He gives a confused glance to Scope, as if he might have any furhter idea.
Nettleglum notes Diamond made no qualifications on anything else being allowed to swallow her tongue. Duly noted.
Clara has barely made it back to the top level in time to be saved by the protective shield. More accurately, she missed it by a few seconds, and was pretty thoroughly soaked, and a little singed by residual electricity. Her fur is quite a bit puffier than normal. She shakes herself out, though, and manages to summon the energy to keep Diamond company, and to keep any rogue elements from swallowing her tongue for her. The large, exceptionally fluffy and only somewhat wet arms cuddle Diamond strategically, and with some modest medical knowledge so as to minimize the risk of damage. "You haave fOuNnd LuUnaA?" she asks. "We diId hEar heR vOoIice."
Diamond certainly found SOMEONE. Scope's disruptor bomb disappears into the fog, and in the distance a female voice shrieks in pain. It's a very brief yelp, but it sets off a series of booming thuds, four in total and unevenly spaced, so loud that they echo up through the storm. Each one is farther down the chasm away from our heroic team Moon Unit Zappa, and after the last one the storm begins to visibly and progressively calm. The inhabitants certainly think this was important. The deep voice yells, "NO! NO! ARROGANT FOOL! THAT WAS OUR ONLY CHANCE!" The colt goat throws a foreleg over the filly and remarks, "Glad that wasn't us." to which she replies, "A battle of Titans, it surely does frighten, but never enlighten."
It's easier to apply the borax and lye to one's own coat, in the event of a rain of frogs, anyhow. Nettleglum watches the goat-like creatures approach. She doesn't know them /personally/, but recognizes the type. "Oh, how nice. Satyrs. Young Master, these are the camp music directors. I /do/ remember how wonderful they were in the chorus when we staged HMS Ponyfore... ahem. You have found her majesty, Diamond, dear?" Nettie crouches stiffly alongside the collapsed pegasus and the Diamond Dog, looking like a vulture crouching over a stricken bison and listening intently for news of her beloved princess of the night.
Once the cloud seems to calm so does Scope's forcefield, his horn growing dim as that bubble vanishes. With a glare over his shoulder towards the rest of the "Team" the armored stallion takes a couple steps forward to peeeeeeeeer down over the edge into the chasm, a bright torpedo launching from his horntip and sailing downward to illuminate what lies below. .. He doesn't know what's going on to be perfectly honest, he's just here to shoot things. <.<
Well, those goat-thingies...satyrs? Yeah they seem to know things and Nettle knows them so they're obviously good citizens, right? Eclipse waits till Scope's busily looking down and he waves over to them. "HEY!" he calls out in Royal Canternese, "HEY! WHAT'S GOING ON DOWN THERE?" Luna probably shouldn't have taught him that. Or maybe she should've. Either way.
Clara rolls over, something panic-like written on her face and the way her fur bristles, not to mention the scent she's exuding. "She iS slEepinNg," she pronounces, not seeming receptive to having a vulture as sentinel. "But wE alL heEard the vOIice." She peers off toward the chasm. "HaS shE fALlEn? PErhAps shE was FiIghTing a FoOoOe, who FeeElll. FaAAaRr." The Dog looks at the satyrs and frowns. "SucCh baAttles nEEeEveR enLiIghTenN?" she asks the goat filly, raising her voice.
"And wE could uUsSe enlIiIghtenmeNt," she adds hungrily.
The storm is quieting, but only slowly. Scope's torpedo is mostly a green glow that sinks farther and farther until it snuffs out abruptly - perhaps by hitting the bottom of the chasm. This time it produces no violent response. Eclipse's technique does scare up a response. The satyrs come bounding over - specifically, over each other, pronking with immaculate choreography as they greet, "Earth and sky, they fight and die. This matter is settled with magic and mettle far beyond I." "Callie means there's no wisdom in fighting," fills in the colt, "On the other hoof, when Tethys got loose and went on a rampage, I for one was delighted this crazy super pony- hey, is that a Grimdark?" Both satyrs squeal like girls, and pronk towards Nettleglum with an eagerness that doesn't disturb their perfectly alternating rhythm.
Nettleglum just assumed Clara's scent was a perfume. ._. Like those paper cones of herbs they burn in Prance when there's plague in the neighborhood. Hearing the voices from below the tumult of the storm, she peers over the edge, but sees nothing aside from flashes of blue-grey lightning playing over the rock walls, lighting up lumpen clouds from within. Quite lovely, really. She's already lurning away from the edge as the satyrs approach. "Oh. Why, yes, dear... It /is/ rather nice to see the old camp again after all this time..."
"Princess..?", the stallion's face suddenly loses most of it's color as he begins putting (probably incorrectly) 2 & 2 together. The first torpedo brought a series of explosions and a female scream.. and now the familiar voice has gone silent. Could it be that he struck the night princess, who's power was weakened by being in Tartarus..? He was only trying to free her from her cell, not strike her down. "Did I.. no, I.. I couldn't have." Scope skitters backward and falls upon his rump with eyes wide and mouth hanging agape, breathing indicative of somepony who's going into a panic. "..Did I just.. kill Luna?"
The prince gives the pair an odd look as they bound over. "Who's this teethy pony you mentioned?" asks Eclipse of the goatfoals. His ears perk and he looks to Nettle now, "Oh, you have new friends," he suggests with a smile. He moves over to Scope, and even leans over further trying to see in the hole, his hooves glowing once again to latch him to the sides of the walls to get a better grip. "GRAMMA LUNA, DID SCOPE KILL YOU?" he calls down, not expecting it to work.
No, no-- that's the same question that pops up at Nettie's family reunions at /least/ twice. <OOC> Luna says, "What, 'Who's this teethy pony you mentioned?'" <OOC> Nettleglum says, "No. 'Did <blank> kill you?'"
Diamond_Dancer slowly climbs to her hooves after a few minutes tick by. Invunerable, not invincible- both no longer something that she can lay claim to being- that kick HURT. Still, the spunky little pegasus tilts her neck to one side, and then the other with a noticible, audible crick, and stretches her wings. She casually shakes herself out- removing dust, debris, and soot from the lightning blast and trots past the gaggle of Satyrs to peer down into the canyon as if she were looking for the source of her current anger. "I gotta feelin, dat guy down dare- he knows were Luna is. So I'll be right back." She grumbles quietly- not that she's expecting any pony to be paying attention to her.
Clara perceives that she will get no wisdom from these satyrfolk, even before they go unexpectedly sycophantic on the gloom pony. She finds the storm abating and attends to her charge. SHE is paying attention to Dancer. Pleased to see her crick-based recovery, the Dog hurries over to the cliff. "WaAAait," she cautions, laying a hand on her if she's quick enough. "WhaAt is your pLAanN?" At the same time, Clara slings a gentle hairy arm around Scope, her words gentler and less bad-smelling than normal. "TaAke sOolAce, prOteCtoRr," she says. "YoUr NighTgOdDesS is StrOOng. BuT evEn if yoU dIid kiLl her, theRe are oTher foRrCes beYond the kNowlEdge of pOOniEs thaT can KeEp nIghT and DaAy revoOolLviIng. You hAve noT doOomed the woOrldD."
These satyrs do love Nettie. They're all over her, in a fairly literal sense, jumping over and diving under her and circling around like eels, especially because they're cold and wet. "When the sky falls into the earth and the giants from their prison burst forth, the darkest ponies make a fuss here in darkest Tartarus!" chimes the female, while the male coos, "Who are your friends, Grimdark? Is the one with the wings as cute and dumb as she looks?" Yes, they're a fat lot of help, especially to poor miserable Scope. They make about as much sense as the deep male voice that bellows in wordless anger in response to Eclipse's question.
Nettleglum was certainly just at Diamond's side, waiting to find out if she had expired! If her mortal coil had unwound! Better luck next time? But as the earth pony neither flies, nor clings to walls, at least not without the use of manacles, she's here for other reasons. "Tethys? I'm not sure I remember a... oh, yes. How silly of me. She was the camp water sports director, I think, wasn't she? Did they not renew her contract this millennium? How awful, no wonder the poor dear is upset..." To be fair, Nettie's been in a sudden downpour and that umbrella is mostly wire and faith. She's rather cold and wet as well. Only the wet part is unusual. Her head twisting at odd angles, she follows their motions. "Oh, that is one of the royal guards. I think Luna's sister breeds them that way."
The dog nor the satyrs are of little help to Scope, the unicorn pulling himself away from the former and stepping forward towards the cliff once more and glancing down into the depths of the chasm. The armored pomy begins to quake, legs and body trembling as his emotions run rampant within his mind and his horn begins to glow bright once more. A greenish aura suddenly surrounds Solar and it yanks the foal from the nearby wall, levitating him over and dropping him rather unceremoniously behind the unicorn stallion. .. And that's when he cries out in a mixture of anger and deep, deep sorrow, taking aim down into the chasm and unleashing..... uhh, Tartarus. o.o One after one, Scope fires a volley of torpedoes down into the chasm, five of the bright orbs screaming through the air as they head towards that cloud.
Solar_Eclipse actually seems to stretch a bit, the pony apparently stuck to the wall pretty good. It finally stings enough for him to let go and he oofs as he's plopped down. "What'd you do that for?" Hearing the cry, he says, "Oh good, I don't think you hurt Gramma Luna," he notes and nods, then blinks as Scope unleashes destruction upon the chasm. "Maybe we should...see what's going on down there before blindly firing?"
Diamond_Dancer Tilts her head towards Clara, incredulously, and gives a quiet little vicious snort. She hasn't taken flight yet, but it doesn't seem like she's eager to wait. Pegasi- no patience this species. "Plan? Well, I plan ta hit dis guy really hard until he stops moving, or until he tells me where Princess Luna is. Whichevah comes first. How's dat for a plan? Ain't no pony gonna get away with give me a whack like dat and not gittin' any in return! I, do not fly like dat. I'm gonna hit dis guy so hard, his dentist is gonna cry! I'm gonna hit dis guy so hard, his grandchildren is gonna have nightmares about me. I am, gonna hit, dis guy, SO-Flappin'-hard, dat dey are gonna hafta break science in half, rewrite da rules o' physics, and invent an entirely new word just to attempt to describe what I'm gonna do to dis guy! Dat is my plan, Clara! Ya know- violence!" She snaps. "So unless you'se got somethin' bettah, I suggest you leggo!"
Clara isn't holding Diamond Dancer physically this time, but she keeps her hand upon her. In response to Eclipse and Nettleglum, she frowns. "TetHys is the sIsSteR of the GrEeat StrEeEamM," she explains. "ShE whIspErS with tHe AquiFers and OcEEans or thE woRld and kEeps tHe cAaaAveS from ColLApsIng, and the hEemMisPheres AflOoAt." Ah, Diamond Dog mythology. But Clara has already had one rude awakening. She doesn't mind Scope pulling loose, but is distrubed by his behavior. "WhoOm Are You ShoOOting?! You coUld mKae theSe WallS tUmmbBle!" She barely has time to answer Diamond, but murmurs, "ViIoleNce is a ThiIrRd or FOoUrth rEsoORt, skyDancCer. WhY not kEeep yOur DisstAnce froOm your FoOe and deterRmiNe itS nAAture?"
Well, Scope's yelling and Diamond's threats certainly get the satyrs' attention. With stiff legged stage drama they begin sidling down the path away from the party, apologizing to Nettie, "Well, I can see you and your friends are very busy getting into the fighting..." and "Hark hark the Grimdark barks, but I think it's time to end this lark!" And not just the satyrs' attention. Scope's repeated blasts into the depths don't do obvious damage, but they get that deep male voice yelling, "THEE! SOMEPONY ABOVE HAS TRUE MAGIC! RELEASE US, MAGE, AND WE WILL GIVE THEE WHATEVER THEE WANT!"
Nettleglum lurches to the precarious edge of the bridge and totters there like a marionette about to collapse. "Oh, dear... Guard Scope? Perhaps... er... that cave was a... load-bearing wall, I think... You may want to..." Nettie scuttles back and holds the flimsy black umbrella over the prince protectively.
The energy projectiles cease and Scope's horn dims once more then a voice he WASN'T expecting calls out. Going silent, the unicorn takes a step away from the edge but it's too late.. o.o When his hooves feel the ground begin to shift, he spins around and launches a wave of energy which pushes the rest of the team back a couple feet just as the rock gives way, the stallion vanishing from sight as he goes into a freefall into the chasm below.
"Hey, caref--oomph" Eclipse is tossed by the wave of energy, landing a few feet back. He takes on the usual comical appearance, headswaying side to side, swirlyeyes, birds chirping around his head...ok so they're bats, he is in the line of Luna, afterall )
Diamond_Dancer Is focused, intent and angry- welled up into a tight little ball that she's been waiting to unleash on something that can take it- and being clocked in the face by a titan is just the catalyst the little pegasus needs to set her off like a volcano. -But that anger- that stress and hate and scorn all over her lack of parents, and inability to complete her dreams and her disease all give way to watching Scope tumble into a free fall. She bursts into action, forgeting about her vengence and puts her energy- every last ounce- into shooting through the chasm with a trail of bright light behind her towards Scope. If she can't catch Scope then she'll glide with him and twist about to take the blunt of the fall- She can take it- it's what she's for!
Miraculously, Tartarus makes no attempt to stop Scope from either leaping to his death or Diamond from leaping to Scope's not death. The storm cloud has even thinned into mist so she can see him clearly. The biggest threat offered is a deep voice yelling, "HELLO? HELLO? ANYPONY?"
Nettleglum does the only thing she can in the circumstances. She makes a note to add a headstone for Scope in her garden out back. Does anypony know what year he was born and if he's got a preference for marble over slate?
The falling unicorn looks awfully.. calm, even as he seems to be falling to his doom. When he sees Diamond get near his head snaps aside to glare towards her with a shake, yelling a "GET AWAY!" before reaching up to point at his horn which begins to glow.. and soon he's surrounded by his magical shield, which should protect him fro-- *WHAM*, the edge of the bubble slams into an outcropping and sends the shielding unicorn into a spin, slamming into the surface below and being buried by falling rock. Solar_Eclipse seems to come to. He swats hooves at the tiny, cartoon bats, chasing them off, then looks about. "Yeesh," He calls out till he figures out what just happend. "Scope!" he says, darting over to the edge, peering down, trying to see.
Diamond_Dancer either doesn't know what Scope is trying to do, too stubborn to listen, or just doesn't care- take your pick, they're all just as accurate. She narrows her eyes, pulling her body closer together, giving up all wind resistance for speed. Behind her- her contrail is getting brighter and brighter the faster she goes, until she's juuuuuust close enough to... "GIVE, ME, YOUR, HOOF!" She barks, trying to grasp Scope- Luna, she's so close.... Ahhhh NOPE. Theres the outcropping, then it happens all much to fast for Diamond to react-not like she could stop anyway. She's left only partically buried, having been entirely far too close to Scope when he hit. Most of her form is submerged and errr, her backside is entirely exposed, but that's all. She WAS going head first after all. If any pony where close enough, they'd hear the most...creative cursing muffled by all of the debris...
So, now we have three parties. Firefly, swept away by the storm. Nettleglum and the Prince (and presumably the currently inactive Clara) hundreds of yards above them on a rock ledge. And finally Diamond Dancer and Scope, buried in rocks at the very, very bottom. It's dark down there. The floor of the chasm is ragged rock and jumbled roots thicker around than a pony. Wormy white bugs also bigger than a pony cling to the roots and gnaw at them patiently. There are no lights, and everything is very, very wet and quiet.
"This tour has become a little awkward, young master Eclipse. I think your guard's rough-housing has caused an accident." Nettie stays close to her charge, being, apparently, the last one available to protect him from the troubles of Camp Tartarus. And she forgot to bring flesh-foal repellent. "Her majesty is down there, I believe, and as much as I loathe to interrupt her well-deserved vacation we should, perhaps, see if she requires anything."
It's not quiet for long as beneath the pile of rocks there's a flash of green before the earth explodes outward, creating a crater containing a rather angry looking unicorn and a now-uncovered Diamond Dancer, the unicorn's horn glowing exceptionally bright now to illuminate the surrounding area to reveal.. fun. "You shouldn't have tried to save me, Diamond." He grumbles at the pegasus before moving to step up out of his crater, eyes darting about and then upwards.
The prince soon takes a few careful steps down the hole, sticking to the side of the wall. He calls back to Nettleglum, "Think we should go help them?" Then sees a flash of green and hears a grumbly tone and the clatter of rock shards against the stones. "Oh, nevermind, I think Scope blew something up." He pauses, "Why didn't he just teleport out? Would've been a little safer." He shrugs, staying whre he is for now.
Diamond_Dancer Grumbles quietly, now her entire front side is covered in soot, again, from the blast from Scope's power and she is more or less upside down, and somewhat inbedded within a rock wall. "....Obviously. "She grumbles, rolling over to her hooves, steadys herself, and sighs. "So, you just, decide to pitch yourself over da side of the rocks, don't tell nopony whatcha doin' and expect somepony NOT to try and save your tail? Look Scope, we come together, we leave together, dats how it's gonna be. Geez, and I thought I was dis groups liability. "She snorts, and draws in a deep breath, tensing her muscles, her shoulders, her wings- which buzz and hum and glow with a contrail that doesn't go anywhere- at least they have light...
Actually, it's not COMPLETELY silent down there at the bottom of Tartarus. A pony listening hard could hear a mare's voice screaming in pain in the distance, and then cutting off abruptly. And seconds later, while Diamond rants, the clicking of desperately running hooves in the fog heading towards her and Scope. That fog is clearing fast, but the last cruel gust of cloud and rain and wind passes over Scope and Diamond at this same moment... dropping Firefly out of it onto their wet heap.
"Leave me.", snaps the guard, looking towards Diamond and then motioning upwards with his head. "And go to the others, it's far too dang--", he suddenly lifts a hoof and orders all quiet at the faint sound of screaming, then as the clicking approaches he brings his horn to bear only to feel a gust of wind pass over them and then suddenly out drops a pony.. and not just any pony. "Firefly!", he yells in surprise, turning to check on the downed pegasus and leaning his head down to check for any lifesigns and/or wounds.
The Prince doesn't want ot leave Nettie and Clara down here alone. Wihtout him. He worries. He trots back up, adjusting the useless helmet a moment then says, "What should we do?" He scoots to the edge again and once more gives a Royal Shout, "YOU GUYS OK DOWN THERE??"
Diamond Dancer snorts towards Scope, rolling her eyes at the unicorns stubborn, and odd behavior. "Lookit me, I'm Scope, I'mma sunguard, don't know how I got dis job, since I'm gonna being a jerk and enjoy freakin' othah ponies out by diving offa cliffs and shooting beams of light into random craters." Ahh youth. "We're fine! Found Firefly down here! Be up inna minute!" Diamond calls back when she catches Eclipse's call. "You know I coulda jus jumped down here, right? I mean, I gots wings dood. I mean, I'm no genius, but I'm pretty sure askin da fly'ah dat can take a croppin and keep on trottin' is a pretty good choice when you'se wanna scout out an area ....but nooooo. "Diamond murmurs quietly and snorts. "HEY, LUNA!! YOU'SE DOWN HERE?!" She suddenly calls out- as if that were a bright idea.
Firefly splats rather unceremoniously on her back into the mess. Small flecks of electricity dancing around in her underwings. She doesn't moce or respond right away as Scope yells her name and checks her out. Other than the now again bleeding nasty bites along the leading edges of her wings. her eyes are wide, a silly grin stuck on her face, wingtips quivering. Her pulse is about a mile a second as Scope might learn, when suddenly she moves, just a sudden inhale as she waves her front hooves at the chasm above them. "ACPTH" spitting out some rain, then "AGAIN!!!!!!!!" catching Diamond's shoute upwards, her mood suddenly changing, even though still upside down. "Diamond! NO matter your personal thoughts, if you wish to serve Luna you need to learn respect!" staring at the smaller pegasus. "Scope is a Royal Guard and to disrespect him so is to disrespect the Princess!"
So, while all the ponies are fussing, the clattering hooves get closer. They're not very loud, which when the runner appears proves to be due to the size of the hooves. She's a pudgy little Foal, could be Apple Bloom's twin sister - if Apple Bloom were featurelessly white. White mane, white coat, white hooves, white eyes with no pupils. Behind her, Luna's voice, hard and challenging, answers Diamond's question. "YES. I AM." The princess gallops out of the thinning mist, leaps, and her right front hoof slams down on the tiny filly's head, pinning her to the rock.
Luna is not looking well. Her wings are missing a number of feathers. It's hard to tell if she's wounded, because she's covered in gore and slime, much of it old and black, and there's no way to know if any of it is her own. Her pupils have shrunk to the snakelike slits, and blue fire rolls around the edges of her billowing, starlit mane and tail, lighting up the whole area around her. At the end of her flapping mane is a splendid shining galaxy that extends off the edges and isn't normally part of the look, but otherwise she seems rather ragged. Still, tall, right voice, sharp horn and big wings, crescent moon cutie mark shining through the slime... it looks like her!
It doesn't look as if Scope's even heard Firefly speak as he looks to go into a rage. "I recommend you cease talking or else we'll become PERMANENT RESIDENTS OF THIS PLACE!" Oh yeah, the unicorn's angry as all get out, pulling up from the storm pegasus and taking aim at the smart-mouthed pegasus standing next to him with his horntip loading one of his torpedo projectiles. "In other words: SHUT THE [BUY SOME APPLES] UP BEFORE I TURN YOU INTO DUST, IS THAT CLEAR?!?" Looks like he's serious, nostrils flaring and snorting as small bolts of crackling energy surround his horn here & there, one creating an arc from a hornridge to the very tip. It's at this moment that his eyes shift to catch the flash of white approaching, locking on to the ghostly-looking foal only to see it pinned down by a hoof of blue.. a very familiar blue nonetheless and a shade which brings the unicorn out of his anger almost immediately. "..Luna..?", he whispers, lifting his horn away as it grows dim.
Luna is looking /splendid!/ Nettie peers over the edge of the bridge and sees her monarch through the fading haze far below. Trim, with a peppy new cut to her mane and pinfeathers-- and ooh, is she having a beauty ooze treatment!? Nettleglum is pleased to know Luna's having such a good time on her vacation, and clearly from the exercise she's getting the place agrees with her. This only strengthens her resolve to talk to Luna about letting Eclipse attend summer camp here!
"Geeze, I can hear you all arguing from up here," Eclipse calls out, a little lower decible on the Canterlottian tone. His ears flick back and he says, "Don't forget why we're here." His way of trying to get folks to focus and also maybe, hopefully, probably keep Scope from shooting a hole through someone. He's moved away from the edge to talk to Nettleglum about what she knows of this place, so misses when Luna appears, at least until Nettie spies the Princess. He looks down and gives a smile and waves a hoof, "Hi Grandma Luna!" )
Diamond_Dancer rolls her eyes at Firefly's scolding and her perks her ears at Scope's threat. She LAUGHS, and narrows her eyes at Scope, immediately dipping her head at the issued challange. "Oh, I've been waitin' for dis...you dink you'se can hurt me? You honestly dink youse gots the guts to shoot me with dat ovahgrown flashlight stickin' outta your face? I double Dare ya, horn head! I triple dare ya! I QUARDRUPLE, DIAMOND, DOG, DARE, YOU'SE TA SHOOT ME!" She barks. REgardless of all of Diamod's big talk, however, she is no match for Scope's trainning and she knows it. She's outright terrified that he'll take her up on the offer, and she doesn't have the slightest idea how her body will react to magic. What is her durability only extends to phyiscal damage? What if she's bitten off more than she can chew?! She reacts to the threat the only way she knows how- that she was taught, take it head on and hope for the best- and thats the lesson one takes from living in the slums of Manehatten. So when the foal races by, and Luna comes clopping out of no where, Diamond is instantly relived for a distraction and leaps back from her position to a more cordial one. "P, Princess Luna!" She announces, and ducks into a bow.
Firefly has to grin a bit at Diamond's Reaction to Scope. While she outright despised Diamond's disrepect now of even her, she DID notice she wasn't backing down. ONe bad traint, one good one, so it balances. She rolls up to her hooves and shakes off, then perks her ears as Luna makes her appearance, then pauses. Scope and Diamond are forgotton nearly instantly as Firefly snaps her wings open into attack position so fact what water was on them snaps into the air in a fine mist, her eyes narrowing as she lowers her head slightly, taking a pre-emptive position for either offence, or dodging, if need be. She Does not bow, She does not welcome the Princess. She merely says in a low solid tone, "Diamond, Scope, this is NOT the Princess." almost glaring at Luna defiantly, hitching her wings lower, prepared.
Luna's cold, reptilian eyes scan over the group, except they pass over without really seeming to see them. When Solar calls down to her, she blinks and looks way, way up at him, her voice gentling as she asks, "Grandson...? What? Nettie, don't let him come down, we've just caught The Blank! And I am no princess down here, but I should think by now, Firefly-" Her throughts catch up to her a second time. She takes a half-step back, only the one hoof still pinning the white filly to the floor. Her wings droop down against her sides, and she turns her head, trying to look away but unable to take her gaze off of the squire. "Firefly?" she squeaks, her voice suddenly raspy, then bursting into fully fledged panic. "Firefly, what are thee DOING here?! We did not want thee down here for a REASON. This place will KILL thee, Firefly!"
Nettleglum was under the impression 'The Blank' was a Dick Trotsy villain, but perhaps Luna has something different in mind. But she has her orders now, anyway, and protectively moves between the prince and the precipice. "Please remain where you are, young master-- her majesty seems to be planning some sort of surprise down there, perhaps related to the camp drama club."
The appearance of Luna is enough of a distraction to keep him from unloading on the pegasus, but as soon as Firefly indicates it is NOT the Princess that distraction ends. Horn glowing bright, his head turns to aim the disrespectful flyer and his horn fires a compressed pulse of energy towards Diamond Dancer. He actually shot at her! D: .. But not to worry, it's not a killing shot but more of a "heavy stun", meant to immobilize and render unconscious.
What's a foal to do? He's told he's to stay up there that means what he really wants is to go DOWN THERE! There's probably candy and maybe a party. His grandmother's down there, and thus almost definitly a party! Still, he's a good colt, and just pouts, dropping to his backside, trying to peer down to the others. "What's a Blank?" he asks his guardian.
Diamond_Dancer was, honestly not expecting to be shot. At all. Not saying that she didn't deserve it- or that she didn't have it coming, but she hardly expected the guard to turn on her. If this were part of some plan to show that Scope was unfit for the position of guard duty and Diamond, young as she is, had more merit, that she'd have considered it a success- but that would also be giving Diamond a loooooot of credit when it comes to intelligent plans. No, no, the young flier goes tumbling back, head of tail, over and over, until she ends, upside down, plastered against the adjacent wall of the chasm. She remains there, momentarily, eyes closed with the faint glow of magic melting off of her, before she opens one eye. Doesn't seem to be as effective as she was scared it might be. She pulls herself to her hooves, cricks her neck slowly, marches right back up to Scope, and gives a quiet huff. " I gonna do somedin to ya. Somedin bad. I don't even know what it is yet, because if I had any idea, my brain would explode due to the sheer cruelty of it. But I promise you, when dis, (She gestures to Luna?) Dat. (She points up, to Clara, Eclipse, and Nettie) And everyding else...when dis is all ovah...me n' you? Wes gonna have ourselves a 'discussion'." She explains quietly, and takes a deep breath, and turns towards the princess. "...But first dis."
Firefly is not backing down, but rather revving up. She was only aware of Scope blasting Diamond, as a tactical awareness. She pulls her ears back flat to her skull and narrows her eyes, speaking slowly, clearly, in a low solid tone. "I will as this once Imposter...WHERE..." cricking her wings into full attack poisition. ",,,.IS...." giving a slight snort. "...LUNA!?!?!?....?" suddenly unmoving, not even a twitch, eyes locked onto her target...this thing before her.
Luna ignores a royal guard blasting a brain damaged adolescent, ignores her beloved grandson and her personal Steward. She has slit-pupiled eyes only for Firefly. The white-on-white filly under her hoof squirms and makes mewling kitten noises as the pressure lessens, because Luna has retreated as far as she can while still keeping her right front hoof in place. "What...?" she asks, voice growing uncharacteristically hoarse, "Have I become such a monster that even thee cannot recognize me?" She IS covered nose to plot in caked blood and goo, so there is that.
Nettleglum thinks this is a very good question to which she has no very good answer. The usual idea of it being a foal without a cutie mark seems unlikely, so, she peers flatly over the bridge to try and figure out what her highness is up to down there. The most likely idea would seem to be that after touring the facility, she's /already/ enrolled the young prince in camp here and doesn't want him seeing his empty 'Abyss Explorer's' sash. How nice it will be to have the young master earning merit badges for it. She hopes he has less trouble getting an Adipocere badge than she did. The hard part is making little soap-roses from it. ._.
"Diamond Dancer, if you ATTEMPT to do anything "bad" to me I'll take it as a sign that you're trying to kill me and I'll accordingly by extinguishing your life.", retorts the armored guardstallion as his attention now turns to the "Luna who isn't Luna" and takes a step up to stand beside Firefly, readying another torpedo at the tip of his horn if need be. "Ready to fire on your command, Firefly."
The Prince would probably be down there chiding the pair that's fighting if he were down there. Infighting bothers him. A lot. As it is, he's just hanging out with his Guardian, looking over to Nettleglum. "I think that other pony mentioned a Blank too," he notes, remembering back a bit. "It's weird. How long do you think they'll be down there? Is that the Spa area? Do you think they're...doing that kind of thing?" He's heard they cover you in mud and whatnot at those places, and his grandmother did seem pretty dirty so maybe so?
Clara, in her diplomatic capacity as Healthkeeper, would have been useful when Scope and Firefly were in a yelling match. She would have been useful when Diamond Dancer was at ^both^ their throats. Too bad she's been struggling to catch up and is only now descending the bottom of the cliff. Looks like bringing Clara along for her skills as a 'guide' through 'tunnels and caves' wasn't such a bright idea. Half breathless, the dog stumbles forward, taking in the scene with wide eyes. She stares at the alleged moon goddess and breathes hard. One hand goes to a breast pocket, where she holds something within. "HoW...HoOw do You kNnoOOw it is nOt lUuUnNa?" she asks Firefly crisply. "WoUld ASskIng heR QuesStioNs from lEgGend bE hElLpfuLl?"
Diamond_Dancer's ears perk momentarily, and it's obvious shock that washes over her features at Scopes words. Hey, maybe it's just Tartarus and they're all sort of stressed out and it's been kind of a long day. No problem. Still, she narrows her eyes, and flattens her eyes, taking a position much like Fireflies. "I said I'll deal witchoo latah Scope. Firefly don't believe it's Luna, den it ain't Luna. And dat means it's open season on all wannabes." She snorts, and dips her frame to the side, manuvering so she's infront of Scope, wings flared, head lowered, ready to charge forward. " She's gonna have a heck of a time gettin' through me to git to you, so make yer shots count...dat bein' said, Scope...Next time you shoot at me, you'd bettah make sure it's a kill shot- cause if I git to you before you git to me..."She trails off, letting it hang in the air, focusing, for now, on the would be princess...
Firefly replies in that same low tone, clear and solid. "I know what my eyes see before me and I know this to be a false image, Imposter. Even now thy voice fails thee. As false as thy sight and body!" and then two things happen, without another word she opens fire, knowing Scope would not be distracted and also fire. She doesn't send one or two lighting bolts at this thing, but everything at once...knowing this would blind it even if it was fast enough to dodge it...it would never see Scope's volley right behiond it. She fires her entire and now fully charged aresenal in that instant, heat and light explodes forth, thanks to that rather pleasing storm earlier. Twelve full power strikes at one instant, but when the flash and explosive sound roar, Firefly is not where she was, but about thirty meters above and racing straight down at 'Luna' and accellerating hard. She could explain later to Clara, if there was one thing she learned, hesitation was deadly against magical things.
DD suddenly finds herself surrounded by a greenish aura, and then a surge of energy causes a bright flash & a *PAMF* as she's suddenly teleported.. BEHIND Scope, and now that she's out of the way he opens fire upon the "imposter-Luna" after Firefly's initial attack, a focused beam of energy randomly zipping outwards towards the "Princess" from an upper horn ridge while he launches a volley of his green "torpedoes" from his horn, three of them firing from the tip in a rapid succession.
The lightning and Scope's magical blasts create a terrible, blinding flash. It's hard even to see them sliding off the princess like water off a duck. They don't even disturb the coat of bloody goo. The goo is drying fast underneath the halo of blue fire that now covers Luna's body, and her horn blazes with blue light. "Firefly, I beg thee, stop this!" Luna demands, her voice cracking and pathetic, but as Firefly divebombs her one wing swings up in a fast and elegant circle to slap Firefly aside - and into the ground, if the pegasus isn't careful.
Oh, dear, this sort of rough-housing is sure to take place at camp, even if the mares and stallions are all grown up. Something about the fresh, murky air of Tartarus inspires horse... ponyplay. Nettleglum lurches restlessly along the edge of the bridge, keeping the prince back as best she might. It's all fun and games until /somepony/ looses a spleen and half a kidney!
Diamond_Dancer Seems more or less content now, to watch things fold out. She's no good as far as weather properties go- and she doesn't have a magic wand strapped to her face, like Scope, so all she can to is observe. Firefly said something to that effect, and since they OBVIOUSLY don't want her in the way, she's fine with watching at the moment, even so far as to manuver over near Clara and push her slightly towards the wall, to keep out of the way. "Diamond dogs is pretty quick...Clara, how fast can you'se dig?"
Clara looks skeptically toward Diamond Dancer, a little pain in her eyes. She still has her pick-aze, but seems a little tired." "I aM not a DigGing SpeeCialList," she replies. She's glad to go retreat with her ward, as Nettie with the prince. "I caN diG a RessSpecTable tUuNnel, but am nO mIirraCle woRkerr. Why do you AsSk, skysCrAper--haVe you gOt a plAaan??"
Firefly has expected something like this, but not with such speed. She knew anything that could capture or hold Luna was likely something she could not take, but that only fueled her drive. Being swept aside was a silent bonus, in that she barely had time to get her hooves in place and force her wings out to their full extent, sparkes flying from her hooves as she grind-lands on the stone, but doesn't slow down. She uses the extra speed and power of that sweep to gain even more speed, and rolls her wings to pull up in a snap-climb at blurring speed, aiming straight up over Luna, spin-four hoove slamming into the thinnest part of the first bridge in the right spot, pushing off to ramming speed now, straigh down again, this time in a spiral, and hopefully with a few large parts of a bridge right behind her.
And.. as the way it's been recently his attacks prove completely ineffective against the imposter alicorn so he ceases firing, instead taking on a more physical approach and breaking into a (most likely stupid) full-on gallop towards the "Princess" with shields fully charged.. He hopes (and prays to Celestia) that this Luna will be too occupied with Firefly to notice his approach, dropping his shields and leaping upward in an attempt to tackle the winged unicorn.
Diamond_Dancer continues to watch, quietly, her gears working like wild in her head. (Ok, in reality it sounds like clink...clink...clink... but they're spinning!! >=[ ) never the less, Diamond shakes her head. "What is wit you'se guys dinkin' I come up with plans! Do I LOOK like Twilight flappin' Sparkle ovah here? Geez! Anyway, listen, We gotta give Scope and Fiyafly a way outta dare. Dey ain't makin' much of a dent, and I dink dey gonna get hurt. You can still dig fastah den a pony, so here's what I want you'se ta do..." The pegasus explains, taking a deep breath and leans in close. Whisper whisper whisper.
"Cease! CEASE!" Luna yells, not in the hard tones of command, but a begging, almost whining shriek. Firefly just bounces away from her attack with expert ease, and Scope abandons magic and charges physically, so Luna disappears in a flash of blue, reappearing behind the two of them - well behind the two of them, maybe a hundred feet, perched on a different bridge. "Alright! I KNOW what thee want, Firefly!" Her voice then drops abruptly, and as her head bows low she adds, "I beg Harmony that it not kill thee." Then... nothing visible happens. (But I'll be continuing in a page to Firefly.)
Clara sighs...stretches her shoulders, limbers her muscles, and gets to work. Her pickaxe is finally set to its intended purpose...digging into the very bottom (so it seems) of the earth. Luna vanishes from the battleground and is elsewhere now, but Clara, stubborn as she is, doesn't stop. A pile of many-colored debris amasses, and soon she's half gone into her hole.
Solar_Eclipse peers over the edge with Nettleglum. "What...are they doing? Why are they fighting?" Ears flick and he looks to his shadow a moment, "Hey can you go tell me what's going on." He waves his shadow off, letting it slip down to check things out and report back.
The shadow doesn't report anything, because it doesn't come back. As it slides down through the comfortable darkness, it meets the featureless white filly foal, who scrambled away without a single blemish when Luna disappeared. The filly licks the shadow, sucks it up like a string of spaghetti, and with a happy squeak skips joyously up the winding paths towards Solar Eclipse.
Firefly's motions was becoming a blur as she raced downwards, she was hoping Scope could shield the ponies from this, but it had to be done. She began to position herself for the most powerful attack she had....and in this closed space....it would be stronger than anything she had ever done. She tucks into position and braces for a heartbeat, and just as she pulls her hooves up to begin the Shockwave manuever she violently banks left into and against the rocks of the chasm wall, screaming wildly, oddly, she started to scream before she ever hits the wall, wildly glancing off the wall her twists and turns were more like a pegasus burning to death as she falls from the sky, wild, no logic to them, spinning, turning, crashing off stones until she spins towards Scope and the others, maintaining her flight..barely...forcing herself clsoer to Scope and managaing to issue one final command, "....C...C..C...CEASE FIRE!!!" before slamming into the ground at a forty five degreee angle, sliding on her hooves then tumbling and rolling into the wall hard, unmoving except for her wing which were shaking violently as lie there. "C....C>.....Cea...."
Diamond_Dancer sits quietly, and closes her eyes, taking in a deep breath and steeling herself. Charging straight into combat didn't seem to phase it. But it doesn't WANT to fight...it -seems. "Princess!" She calls out, slowly standing, and stroking the ground towards where the 'princess' reappeared on the the different. "...So, I notice, you'se not excatly uh...Firefly's biggest fan right now. But you'se look like my princess ta me. I don't really like gittin' knocked around all dat much, and you don't look like you'se wanna fight. So what is up. We came down here, lookin for Princess Luna, Keepah of da night and curator of da dark. Fiyafly don't dint it's you...so where is she? And if it IS you, den I's got a buncha questions...
"No.. NO, FIREFLY!" Scope gallops, no teleports over to stand atop the broken storm pegasus and raising his shield around himself and the mare below him, hoping to block whatever Luna's doing to her. "Damn it, leave her be! If you want to hurt somepony then do it to me!" Horn glowing, he surrounds Firefly in an aura and closes his eyes to concentrate, hoping his "magic first aid" can help her.
Solar_Eclipse blinks a bit. "Hey!" he calls down. "You ate my shadow!" He pouts, "Give it back!" His shadow's really one of the few friends he's got left. Who else has been with him through thick and thin!?!?" He pouts, looking a little iritated, horn starting to glow a bit. He'll just have to lift that pony up and shake-shake-shake it till it spits out his shadow again.
"She shall be fine. She shall be more than fine. Any bruises she is taking shall heal in seconds. The first rush of my power after being cut off is a shock, that is all," answers Luna. She folds her legs underneath her, her head hanging down, and in a bleak voice adds, "And of course I am Luna, the monster that all the other monsters fear. I have not changed, I merely had no reason to hide down here."
Solar is facing a different perplexing problem. His magic won't grab the white pony. The power he directs towards it just unravels, slipping out of his grip. It isn't at all ashamed of what it's done, and squeaks something like a wordless, out of tune nursery song as it scrabbles up some rocks to get from one ledge to another that doesn't quite connect so it can continue skipping up towards the Prince.
Firefly's world was a blinding spinning blur of input, such raw power, a power she knew but not like this, then a new power as Scope's energy was felt, also familiar, then she jerks around and rols to her hooves, favoring her side heavily though there is no visible damage, She is clearly still not quite to terms with what just happened, managing to bow to Luna. "My....Prince.....cess...." before dropping to her knees, then her stomach, her head lowering till her nose touched the floor, eyes closing, her wings quivering but mostly closed. "It....is....hurt. You are hurt." she snaps her eyes open,
Nettleglum gently chides the prince. "Be careful about playing with strange foals, young master-- though your openness does the royal house credit, you really should be aware of what eldritch nightmare from the darkest recesses of eternity you are frolicking with, if only so you can get their name and station right. You /do/ want to be able to find them again if you want another playdate, don't you?"
Diamond_Dancer Pay utterly little attention to Scope or Firefly. She just meanders, as she does around to the Princess's side, casually, non threateningly, as if to move into position to flank her - and gives a sharp whistle." So err...Yer' highness...whadda ya doin' do here, if I may be so bold. You...You had a lotta ponies worried. I guess maybe you came down here cause you didn't dink anypony cared about you? Or, maybe you had someding to do...But Princess Celestia didn't know where you went, and I didn't know, and Fiyafly didn't know, and we was worried. So...I got everybody tagether, and I...I came down here to find you. I thought, you know, what if, what if you got hurt, and you was down here all alone and maybe...You needed help...and dare was nopony down here ta help you. And I didn't like dat idea so I came down to find you." She explains quietly. Maybe this really -was- the princess...but to that end, it still didn't mean she should be careful...and hopefully, Clara was getting into position..
Clara seems to be completely gone. She was most of the way into a a tunnel when Firefly started crashing around chaotically, and more than a few rocks came tumbling, including a bridge pretty much directly above her. And the resulting avalanche pretty much buried the Diamond Dog's tunnel.
Well, this isn't going so well. This pony is apparently slippery or something. Plan B involves another trick, his grandmother taught him...rocks. Eclipse concentrates, lifting rocks and chucking them in the pony's direction. Each one's a little bigger, till he's chucking some rather hefty stones, mostly trying to make it really impossible to climb over them. "Uh, If you guys are done down there," He shouts, "This pony ate my shadow and still looks hungry!"
Luna lifts her head slowly, and listens to Diamond with a solemn air. "But I left a..." Shaking her head, she sighs, "Chaos-touched palace. Of course the note got lost." Pushing herself gradually up to her hooves, she continues, "I will return. My ponies need me, as they ever did. The Titans are locked up again, the Flesh Foals cut down to manageable numbers, all the great monsters dead or imprisoned once more. With Typhus imprisoned I can let Ekidna roam, I suppose. There is only one dangerous abomination left." Lifting her head, she gives Solar a weak smile. "Such a clever colt. No, thy magic cannot touch a monster of pure chaos, but a rock can." The rocks were doing pretty good, sending the little filly stumbling, piling up to block her. Now Luna's horn glows, and the largest rocks slam together into a box around the featureless white foal, toss her into a cave, and slam the iron door shut. "My work here is done enough. We may return, my little ponies," she concludes tiredly.
Nettleglum knows how Luna feels-- that letdown when a vacation is over and it's time to go back to work. Summer ends too soon, alas. To the prince, she asides, "While the mares /do/ like the attention, young master, you may wish to consider setting the rocks on fire before you throw them. They appreciate the extra effort..." How cute, the prince has his first crush! Well. Almost. With better /aim/ he'd have had his first crush.
Firefly gets up, shakes off and takes her place at Luna's right side, back slightly, as she usually does. She looks to her own wings, even the flesh foal bites were healed. This had to be related to the stolen statue some time back. For now she remains quiet, dusting herself off. This had been one rather invigorating excursion and MUCH more fun than holding Night Court. No wonder Luna was cranky after hearing the whinny ponies complaining all day.
Diamond_Dancer Finds suddenly, everything is back to normal- just like that. The fighting is over, the day is won, the mission is a success, and Luna was -fine. It was all, just, fine. Quietly, The little dirty pegasus trots towards the more or less filled in cave the Diamond dog was building, and pokes at a few rocks. "...You ok down dare, Clara?"
"Nooo," Eclipse says, darting forward abit, "No Grandma, she ate my shadow!" His ears flatten out. "I need it back!!!" He's very firm on this point, also he looks sad, angry, confused. Everyone's fighting and not fighting and...all that.
Blue light wraps around Eclipse, Luna's gentle grip lifting him up into the air and down towards her, to lay him over the filthy hump of her shoulders. "If The Blank ate it, it is gone forever and thou must get a new one. If she had touched thee, she would have eaten thy cutie mark before it could surface, and with it thy mind, thy talent, and thy very place in the world. She may be the most evil thing down here." Stretching out her wings, she gives them a flap, and lifts up into the air. Now the blue glow wraps around Nettie and Scope, and she instructs, "Come, our little ponies. It is time to leave."
Clara emerges from the scree fallen between a couple of the ledges halfway up to where Luna, Eclipse and Nettie recently were. She's scuffed, dirty as Tartarus, and irked, with a gash bleeding on her side. Bits and pieces of stone tumble beneath, and she turns to regard Diamond Dancer. "IssS the oOpeRaAtiOn oveR?" she asks brusquely. A glance at Luna nets skepticism.
Nettleglum awws... flatly and without expression. The young prince's new girlfriend is a soulless, life-devouring monstrosity. How /adorable/.
Firefly's ears snap to attention. Much like the filly from the ice mountain, who's mark was removed somehow. Most curious. She flicks her wings, rising as Luna rises, looking to Clara. "It is over, this is the real Princess before thee." still sorting out the unchecked surge of everything at once. It was...thrilling and unnerving at once. She notices the wound on Clara and looks asks. "You are also injured, Clara of the Diamond Dogs?"
Diamond_Dancer nods her head darly. "Yeah...We're done here. "She quips, and gestures with her head, towards Luna. "Real deal. We're good to go. Gimmie a minute, I'll be right dare, with you. Promise. "She smiles, dryly and nods her head again, before turning to trot off on her own, sulking and grumbling to herself.
Solar_Eclipse's ears flatten out. "Oh' is all he says. After all this, he loses another friend. He's starting to run low. He looks down a long moment, and is pretty much silent the rest of the trip.
Nettleglum says "Your highness... when we have some free time, I would like to respectfully discuss the advantages in enrolling the young prince in Tartarus' summer program...."
Luna twists up her nose in disgust. "A burrow dog? Thee brought a burrow dog with thee? Well, if it came to rescue us, we owe it that honor. Come, stay close, burrow dog. If thee are not masked by my presence, Scylla and Charybdis will tear thee asunder." With that the blue glow extends, slipping over Diamond Dancer and Clara as well, and everything flashes blue as Luna teleports the whole group back to the entrance between those two guardians.
Clara shrugs off a pile of rocks, nearly falls out of the side of the cliff, and produces her pick to gouge a hold for herself. "I am slIiGhtTly inJurEd," she acknowledges Firefly. "But thAt is NoT iMpoRrtTant. What mAtTeRs is WhYYy you dEnied the iDenTity of yoUr mOoOn GooDdesS...and Why you nO loOnger QueeEsStion HeR." She seems to need an answer to that before going on.
Clara looks affronted at Luna's address, and distrubed by the blue glow, but there's nothing she can do about it.