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Shores: Homecoming (Closed)

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Solisian Union
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Postby Solisian Union » Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:51 pm

As if following up on that sentiment, Domenica expressed her own sadness regarding her mother. Her worries, especially those about being able to let her family know that she was okay, were familiar to him, and he scooched over to lay a wing on her reassuringly.

"I know how you feel," he said, gently. "But it's going to be okay, we have tools back home, you're not stranded like you could have been. When we get back to the Shore, I'll help you find a way to contact your mom, I promise. You too, Amanda..." Willow turned back to Mrs. Bela. "... I don't know if we can do anything to face off against those people who drove you and Sandy away, but with the Shore's traveling abilities and Giovenith's paper magic, we could probably send a letter to whoever you left behind. If it's safe to, that is." He smiled. "You guys helped me reunite with my family, after all."


Domenica smiled a little at Willow doing that for her. She said, "Thanks. That means a lot. My mother did a lot for me. I followed in her footsteps. She is a writer like me. Hope we get back to the Shore when we can."

Later, she just listened to the others on until they got to the point about Gio. Domenica was quite observant up until that point. She rose a little from the water and leaned back against the edge. She said, "So, sorry to just ask, but, where might we be going next? We've finally got to here, got some stuff done with Willow, and what not. I'm honestly a bit interested in having another adventure before I would want to try and contact my mother again."
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Northwest Slobovia
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:24 pm

Hot Tub Party, Crystal Spa
Crystal Empire, Equestria


Giovenith wrote:"Obviously I can't know if I would have preferred that life, but the fact that I can't know, that I can't make that choice, that's hard to deal with sometimes."

Sandy listened closely, and at that statement, raised both eyebrows, and nodded. He let Willow finish, though, before replying. "Yes, it's hard to accept choices beyond our control. But if it's any consolation, that's everybody's experience always.

"When you resume your artistic, uh, career, there are a set of Jonbar points every time you show your works publicly. Every exhibition, there's a-- we like to think of it as a 'chance', but that's probably the wrong way to look at it – But, uh, we can imagine that every time do you, there's a chance your art will be 'discovered'... a glowing review by an influential critic, a wealthy patron will decide to support you, uh, you'll discover some unstated but vital part of the zeitgeist and have immediate popular success. None of those will seem as dramatic as finding yourself in a new timestream, but they're lives just as different, even if you never think about the choices you didn't control to get them."

For a moment, Sandy's gaze wandered, then returned to Willow's face with a broad smile. "And hopefully, you'll have those moments to wonder about in your fame and fortune. If there are..." He fell silent, deep in thought. "...forces here like the popular notion of karma, you're certainly deserving."

Giovenith wrote:Pinova returned, this time wielding a large red and white lollipop, smiling enthusiastically. Again, Willow politely turned down, and she again pouted before leaving.

Amanda followed Pinova with her eyes as she came and went, and the second time, her eyes leapt from her to Willow, and back again. Her expression warmed, and she turned to gaze at Sandy's face. He glanced down with a faint chuckle, nod, and grin. Amanda turned back to Willow, a fond smile on her face. "Back home, even for an employee, I'd say Pinova has taken a shine to you."

Giovenith wrote:[Willow] frowned, remembering something, and turned to Sandy. "Can I ask you something? What exactly did you talk about with Giovenith, that made her react like she did when she came back? […] ... I'm [not] sure it's the best thing that she believes that sort of thing[:] that he's still alive and a good person who doesn't abandon people, and that it's not accident of fate she can't control. I'm not sure how to convince her to basically accept one of those other options."

"She was sad and moping, and--" He stopped. After a defocused pause, he searched for something in Willow's face, and raised his free hand to rub his cheek for several seconds. "We tried to cheer her up, and she-- we seem to have overdone it."

There was a long pause, then: "Her plan is missing several steps. However, nothing about it seems clearly beyond her expected capabilities, and the first steps are useful to her in any case. 'Accident of Fate' may be true, and it may be something she should accept. But we don't know what happened to any of the others. So it may also be true that Marcus is trapped, potentially in..." After a long pause, he threw his hands up in helpless ignorance. "Something Timeless, and thus within Giovenith's reach."

After verifying that none of the other Equestrians were within earshot, his flat, academic tone softened dramatically as he added sympathetically, "Try asking Cadance. She described Herself as a teenage goddess to Giovenith's toddler self. She may be able to suggest something. I know you want what's best for Giovenith, and I'm trying as well, but guessing at the needs of maturing goddess is..." He repeated his helpless gesture: knowing how to advise Giovenith as a student of magic her age is one thing, knowing how to help her grow in full godhood is another.

Solisian Union wrote:Domenica [...] said, "So, sorry to just ask, but, where might we be going next? We've finally got to here, got some stuff done with Willow, and what not. I'm honestly a bit interested in having another adventure before I would want to try and contact my mother again."

"Another adventure??" Momentarily, Amanda was annoyed, but in an eye-blink, her expression went neutral and then pleased. "Next, Sandy and I are going to get massaged by a talking pony who looks like she's made of pink ruby. Where we're from, that's an adventure!"

After a nearly thirty minutes of relaxing, chatting, and snacking, a staff pony came by invite the Belas to their massage. A brief round of toweling off followed, and then those who wanted to were led to the massage parlor.


Massage Parlor, Crystal Spa

Amanda let her stress melt away under Agate's expert touch. Between her knowledge of massage, Sandy's explanation of the anatomical differences, and a touch of Olympian magic, Amanda was in heaven.

Sandy, having already gotten his test massage, sat in a chair fetched from their suite, a book in his lap, and another upside down over one leg. "Well, well, well!."

Amanda gave him a blissed-out look; her tone wasn't much different. "More revelations about unicorn magic?"

"Nooo! I've been reading Twilight Sparkle's... I guess you'd say it's her public journal, or day-by-day autobiography. It's mostly magic and socialization practice, but this! She's reflecting on a trip to Tartaros! She's been there!"

He skimmed a little further in the journal. "It's not so far way; she mentions some places on the Equestrian overview map. But I'll need some better sources to understand her exact route."

Groggily, Amanda smiled at him and Domenica. "So, an adventure after all." She let Agate knead her muscles for a few more seconds. "It's been a while since we've had a weekend, Sandy. I am going to relax in this stately pleasure dome that Cadance did decree for three full days from when we arrived. You may do what you like."

Sandy drew breath, about to make an objection, but instead considered the situation: Amanda was right, she might break down and get therapy after all, and Willow might get a second session. "And I don't lack for reading material," he said, mostly to himself. "Three days, then."

Sandy spent most of the next two and a half days in his favorite pose: hunched over a desk, reading and writing. He did tour the city, though, sometimes walking hand in hand with Amanda, and they drew stares and questions as he cocked Pegasus' ear up against the Crystal Heart to understand its workings. Once, he even ventured outside the the city's domed oasis, and flew a wide circle around it, using the Critique of the Chill to keep warm. But he found nothing besides tundra, snow, and howling wind.

He was dimly aware of Giovenith and Willow coming and going, attending to their own business. The latter had spoken with Cadance, but he was tight-lipped about it, and he said only a little about his second therapy appointment.

Amanda was true to her word, and spent her days relaxing. She did interview some of the therapists, taking her usual pointed approach: have they treated combat veterans, have they treated people with bad experiences with the powerful and unknown other than the Umbrum? But to Sandy's ability to tell, she was still thinking about it when they left the spa.


Library of Friendship Part II: Going to Tartaros in a Handbasket
A train ride later...


Sandy led the way, a spring in his step. "Even if nobody's here, I should be able to find what I need quickly enough. And in the worst case, I can--" He caught motion ahead of the pile of books he was returning. "Oh, hello there!"
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Giovenith
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Postby Giovenith » Sat Nov 07, 2020 10:18 pm

Castle of Friendship, Library

Starlight Glimmer, seated at one of the library tables, looked towards Sandy and the other returning hyoo-muns with mild surprise. She raised an eye slightly at Domenica, but smiled politely and waved them over.

“Hey there, thanks for returning these,” she greeted.

She wasn’t alone. Sitting next to her was a bespeckled unicorn stallion with a messy red mane and small beard, orange with cream paint-style coat spots. His eyes widened at the group, looking the strange creatures up and down and withdrawing slightly, seeming more anxious than his purple companion.

“Sunburst,” Starlight addressed the stallion. “These are the humans I was telling you about, the ones who arrived with Willow Streaks.”

“Oh! Nice to meet you,” Sunburst smiled awkwardly and used his telekinesis to adjust his glasses. “Sorry, I uh, I’ve never actually seen humans before. Wow, you’re very, tall.”

Willow landed next to the table, intending to thank Starlight for her help, when he noticed the blue and turquoise cloak that Sunburst was wearing. He tilted his head curiously. “Nice to meet you too, Sunburst,” he started. “Are you a magician from Canterlot?”

This seemed to sting something in the stallion, who cringed and looked down while drawing his cloak tighter. He cleared his throat. “Um, no.” He answered quickly, before looking back to the humans, trying to distinguish between. “But one of you is, aren’t you? I mean, not from Canterlot obviously, but…”
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Northwest Slobovia
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:25 pm

Library of Friendship Part II: Going to Tartaros in a Handbasket
Ponyville, Equestria


Giovenith wrote:“Oh! Nice to meet you,” Sunburst smiled awkwardly and used his telekinesis to adjust his glasses. “Sorry, I uh, I’ve never actually seen humans before. Wow, you’re very, tall.”

Amanda, charmed, burst into a huge smile. "Most of us are on the short side. But thank you."

Giovenith wrote:“Are you a magician from Canterlot?”

This seemed to sting something in the stallion, who cringed and looked down while drawing his cloak tighter. He cleared his throat. “Um, no.[...] But one of you is, aren’t you? I mean, not from Canterlot obviously, but…”

As Sunburst replied to Willow, Sandy cocked his head at him. A washout? A wannabe? Nonetheless, he managed a flicker of grin as he answered. "I've visited the magic school in Canterlot, but I can't say I studied there. So, uh yes, I am a sorcerer."

He set his stack of books down on the table, and retrieved his briefcase from Amanda. When he looked up again, he glanced at both Starlight and Sunburst. "Since I was here last, I've been comparing unicorn magic to what I'm used to. I have some – They're actually not too dissimilar, allowing for the differences in the nature of magic itself between here and home-- my home." He laid his notebook on the table, open to a clean, hand-drawn chart of comparisons, both in his own technical terms and unicorn technical terms. "It's actually--"

Amanda coughed quietly.

Sandy stopped, mouth momentarily open, before changing direction and tone. "But perhaps later. I've also been reading one of Twilight Sparkle's journals – I borrowed that last time as well – and I'm trying to understand where she went on one of her adventures. I've-- Her notes reflect on her journey to an entrance to Tartaros, but only in a, uh, general way.

"I'm looking for her earlier journals that would give the route, or a map, or..." He waved his fingers quickly but vaguely. "Something that might say where she went."

[OOC: Sandy's description of unicorn magic vs sorcery in unicorn terms is clear and concise; Starlight and Sunburst can easily read it. But his own terminology uses a lot of Greek and Arabic, rather than English/ModPon.]
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Giovenith
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Postby Giovenith » Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:03 pm

As it turned out, they didn’t need to decipher much about how Princess Twilight had accomplished her quest: Starlight and Sunburst were quite aware of how to get to Tartarus. Apparently it was common knowledge for the well educated. The difficult part was convincing them that Sandy and the others had any business being anywhere near it. It was a terrible place, they insisted, full of things that ought to be forgotten.

“Is it forbidden for normal ponies to go there?” Willow asked.

“Well, no,” Sunburst admitted. “But I suppose that’s more due to thinking that it should go without say that it’s not a place you want to visit.”

“But if all of the evil creatures there are locked up, it shouldn’t be too dangerous,” Giovenith pointed out.

“Why would you even want to go?” Starlight asked, raising an eye skeptically. “If you want to learn about the monsters there, you could just read about them. Not as exciting, I know, but there are better ways to get thrills if that’s what you’re after.”

Giovenith and Willow looked at each other, and then Giovenith looked to Sandy before looking back at the unicorns. “It’s sort of hard to explain,” she said. “But to make it simple, Sandy has a connection to the people who own Tartarus, and he wants to learn more about it.”

“To the Princesses?”

“The Princesses don’t own Tartarus, or at least not all of it,” said Giovenith. “It’s much bigger than it looks, and it stretches all across the universe and different dimensions. It’s true owner is a powerful Prince from our world.”

This got Starlight and Sunburst to exchange an impressed look.

“I didn’t know that,” Starlight slowly admitted, dismissive skepticism melting slightly into curiosity. “And I’ve read just about everything we have on Tartarus.” Sunburst nodded in agreement.

Giovenith perked. “If you help us go there, we can tell you everything there is to know about it,” she said. “You’re both scholars too, right? You want to learn anything you can about the world, especially if you work for a Princess? We could tell you everything about the workings behind Tartarus and beyond it.” She smiled and gestured between the two groups. “We’ll share what we all know with each other.”

Willow smiled at his roommate’s diplomacy. Flexing her emotional intelligence was more like her old, healthy self.

“I don’t know,” Sunburst folded his ears in anxious thought. “It still seems like a lot…”

“If we did take you there,” Starlight started. “And that’s just an if — you would have to be very careful to do everything that we say. Only the worst of Equestria’s worst are sent to Tartarus, and they’re not all mindless beasts. We can’t risk tampering with their sentence and putting the nation at risk.”

Giovenith nodded vehemently. “So…?”

Starlight sighed and used her magic to pull a book from a nearby shelf. “Well, just know that the trip isn’t a fun one.”

--

She had not been kidding about the trip. Even with the balloon, the general atmosphere of the environment grew more unpleasant the closer they got to their destination. The ground below looked rarely tread, as it twisted through a rocky, mountainous region covered in curling, spiky flora. Dark, noxious looking clouds hung in the sky (they flew just low enough to avoid them), and the group was under constant assault by a buzzing swarm of bugs.

Starlight managed to keep most of the bugs at bay with a small spell, which she maintained as she navigated them along on, occasionally lending some direction or insight. Still, a few managed to buzz in, frequently setting off the far less patient and more germophobic Willow. He growled at one zipped in and, in failing to swat it away, pulled out a can from his saddlebag and began spraying it liberally — this sent Sunburst into a coughing fit, which he promptly apologized for.

“So do you have a plan for when we get there?” Starlight asked Sandy as she pulled a lever on the balloon controls. “I know you want to explore or whatever, but some idea of what we’re in for would be helpful.” Several books and papers levitated around her as she walked, and she swapped them in and out of her vision as effortlessly as a human would through browser tabs. Some were from the library, others were Sandy’s notes. “You could also tell me a bit about where you came from and how you were able to put all of this together… Princess Twilight always told me that most humans don’t have magic, but you seem to have grasped it as well as most of us.”
Last edited by Giovenith on Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Solisian Union
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Postby Solisian Union » Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:38 pm

Domenica had been through a lot. After they arrived at the library, the Filipina smiled back at Starlight and came over with the rest of her companions. She, again, was silent, her hands wrapped around a few books, novels mostly. She wanted to learn more about the literary scene of Equestria, but even she had at least one book about magic that she hoped to study. She sat with them but seemed like she was ignoring them for now, her eyes eating up the words of a novel she was starting to read. But at least, before that, she did her best to greet the others and to introduce herself, softly for now.

But at least she stopped reading after a few pages because her ears caught some of the more interesting parts of their discussion about how they probably should not go to Tartarus. She closed the book and set it aside, listening to how Sandy and the others schooled Sunburst and Starlight about Tartarus. As a Catholic, she somewhat frowned at the two of her companions when they suggested that the main guy who really controlled all the places there were like Tartarus was probably the big S himself. She rolled her eyes at the discussion, when they came to that point, and murmured something under her breath in Filipino. Then when Gio said something about learning more about Tartarus, Domenica could not help but express, "Unta, dili ta ma patay tungod sa mga yawa. Let's just hope the demons don't come and kill us." She chuckled bitterly at herself at that and then said, after Starlight said it would not be a fun trip, "If God is willing, he'll watch over us on the trip. Or not."

She would be happy to read her notes over and over again once she got back from this adventure.

Nevertheless, she was proud of what these companions of hers were capable of doing and were doing. And soon enough, they were on the trip. But before she


“So do you have a plan for when we get there?” Starlight asked Sandy as she leapt over a large rock. “I know you want to explore or whatever, but some idea of what we’re in for would be helpful.” Several books and papers levitated around her as she walked, and she swapped them in and out of her vision as effortlessly as a human would through browser tabs. Some were from the library, others were Sandy’s notes. “You could also tell me a bit about where you came from and how you were able to put all of this together… Princess Twilight always told me that most humans don’t have magic, but you seem to have grasped it as well as most of us.”



Domenica, who had herself seated close to the ponies, said, raising a hand slightly, "I want to learn more about magic. I, well, I mean, I'm someone who has magical things but am still not quite familiar with how to make myself grasp more of it."

And to Amanda, turning to her, she frownedand said, "Yawa kaayo, no? Starlight was right. But now we're here. No longer in any pleasure dome, and no longer in any gardens blessed with sinuous hills. We're going down into a savage place...holy and enchanted as under a haunted moon..." Her voice dropped as she spoke, and she instinctively reached for her own rosary, muttering something her mother taught her to do.
Last edited by Solisian Union on Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Northwest Slobovia
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:44 pm

Going to Tartaros in a Handbasket
In a balloon over Equestria


Sandy rode the wind alongside the balloon, partially for fun. But his main goal was Listening for when the faint Song of the ambient magic changed from Equestria's to... something else. His ears moved constantly, seeking anything out of the Equestrian ordinary. Hades might share themes... motifs with the Muses, or His realm may Sound like nothing else I've Heard. But it will be different.

Sandy's balloon-side eye caught Starlight turning towards him; he banked in steeply to close the distance to the basket. As the distance vanished, Sandy brushed a wingtip against one of the basket ropes and let his spell collapse... leaving him with a hand on the rope, which he swung around in a fashion that would make Errol Flynn jealous. He landed smoothly in the basket; it didn't even vibrate, much less rock. He grinned like a kid: the Boon was good for so many things.

Giovenith wrote:“So do you have a plan for when we get there?” Starlight asked Sandy [...] “I know you want to explore or whatever, but some idea of what we’re in for would be helpful.” […] You could also tell me a bit about where you came from and how you were able to put all of this together… Princess Twilight always told me that most humans don’t have magic, but you seem to have grasped it as well as most of us.”

Sandy blinked at her. "Errr..." His mouth moved for a few seconds, as he figured out what he should say. "I don't think this trip is really long enough for a-- for solid-- complete answers to either of those last two... requests.

"So... My plan is, uh, trying to answer a bunch of questions I don't know the answers to. The first one is 'how far can we get into Tartaros before somebody or something stops us?'. Cerberus' presence is... troubling. If you'd asked me about his, um, role two years ago, I'd have said it's to prevent the spirits of the dead from leaving the realm of the dead. Tartaros' jailers are supposed to be a trio of hundred-handed giants, but it appears that's not the case.

"Still, neither one ought to stop us from entering, but they might stop-- They might stop some of us, at different points, for different reasons." He spread his hands wide: he had no idea. "We're probably entering via the section Celestia rents. That would be the most convenient for Her... and consistent with Twilight's entry. Her rent may grant us free passage in that area. Or grant you, Sunburst, and Willow free passage.

"Giovenith can probably do what she wants, or if she's stopped, it will be very politely. Since Hades owns, or rules, or somehow is entitled collect rent for Tartaros, I imagine the guardians will recognize Pegasus as being on His-- being part of His pantheon. But--"

Brow furrowed, Sandy looked Starburst straight in the face. "How much of what I said do I need to explain?"

"Really, Sandy?" Amanda gave him a doubtful look. "You're sure about this?"

He turned to her. "Twilight got in and got out. It can be done, at least by the Equestrians, at least up to some point. But..."

There was a long pause. "It's a prison, just a very big one, for very powerful... I don't know... criminals, enemies, inconvenient people. But we're not inmates. The guards may say 'no visitors', but I don't expect they'll light us up for fun. And anything short of gods, Giovenith can protect us from."

Amanda glanced at the godling, and nodded in acceptance. "Alright. You're too damn serious about magic to be anything but certain of that statement."

Solisian Union wrote:"Yawa kaayo, no? Starlight was right. [...] No longer in any pleasure dome, and no longer in any gardens blessed with sinuous hills. We're going down into a savage place...holy and enchanted as under a haunted moon..." Her voice dropped as she spoke, and she instinctively reached for her own rosary, muttering something her mother taught her to do.

Amanda cocked her head at Domenica. "You're a Coleridge fan?" But she waved a dismissive hand at the rosary. "He can't help you here. It's Celestia's world... Celestia's... maker's world?" As she turned back to Sandy, her expression was even more uncertain than before.

Sandy nodded, shrugged, and tossed his head in reply. "One or the other. Somebody maintains the, uh, barrier we passed through; nobody else here can. Uh, maybe Luna could." To Domenica, he added, "If you're devout, He... may be, uh, aware of your prayers, but He... won't intervene without permission. And I have no idea of what sort of relations He has with the Princesses."
Gollum died for your sins.
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Giovenith
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Postby Giovenith » Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:06 pm

"Hm." Starlight's expression was hard to read as she organized her various papers and slipped them back into her saddlebag. "You weren't lying before, it definitely sounds like there's a lot more to this place than we thought. If you're confident about your ability to protect us though, then I'm game to go on."

Sunburst listened to Domenica, the most quiet of the humans, and her worries. He offered her a brief, polite tap of encouragement. "That's alright, it's normal to have a gap between what you can do and what you know how to do. It just takes a little practice and finding your niche."

Eventually they came to a spot where they landed the balloon. Shortly up ahead was a tall, menacing door built into what seemed to be the side of a shorter mountain. It was nearly thirty feet tall and covered in a brooding series of violet carvings. Willow blinked, looking up at it.

"So, how did this come to be?" he asked, looking to the magicians. "Did we just like, find it one day and decide to start throwing monsters in there?"

"The opening was discovered early during the foundation and avoided for many years," Sunburst explained, helping Domenica and Giovenith out of the balloon basket. "When Princess Celestia and Princess Luna arrived and took an active role in protecting the Equestrians, they had the door built and began using it to seal away the worst creatures they encountered. I guess that's when they started, um... did you say 'paying rent'?"

Willow made a shrugging gesture, assuring the fellow stallion that life with these people wasn't about to get any less strange.

The group made its way over to the door, which surprisingly, lacked any intimidating aura beyond what could be gleaned from its appearance. It held back whatever it held quite well. Giovenith gave it a curious knock, almost wondering if someone would answer for her, but was met only with a metallic rumbling. She looked over to Starlight Glimmer, who was reviewing something from her notes.

"Are you really able to just get in?" she asked, curious. If wouldn't be much of a prison, she thought, if anyone could just unlock the door.

"Princess Celestia taught Princess Twilight how to open the gates back when she was her student," Starlight answered, telekinetically rifling through a book. "And Twilight taught me, in case we needed to seal something away together one day." She looked to the godling. "And what about you? Sandy here said you could protect us in the beyond of Tartarus. Why do you have that kind of special access?"

Giovenith shuffled. "That's part of the complicated stuff I was telling you about."

Starlight nodded and then urged everyone to stand back while she got to work. Evidently this wasn't knowledge she was willing to walk the others through. She seemed so small and unassuming when compared to the imposing door, but a couple of flashes and surges of magic later, the diamond shaped center of the door began to light up with a series of blue sigils. Several spots on the door lifted and turned, a deep clicking noise rang throughout the area, and the giant doors slowly opened inward into pitch darkness. Starlight looked back and urged the others onward.

Their only light for a while was that which could be produced the magic users in the group. There was a sentence of structure around them, but whatever tunnel they were walking down was wide enough that they didn't have to brush against the walls. As they went further in, the presence of danger became heavier in the air, especially as inhuman sounds grew louder. A low, brooding light soon broke through, and the small group found themselves at the edge of a cliff overlooking a chasm that went on for miles on end. The ceiling of the caverns was so far above that it was invisible to the naked eye, and all around, embedded in the rocky walls, were large holes with a complex series of bars over each. Each one was too dark to peer into from a distance, but the occasional flash of horrible limb and the overwhelming sense of malevolence was enough to let them know all they needed to about the things that lay within.

The magic that could be sensed was unbearably heavy. It could quash the likes of Sandy, Giovenith, and even Starlight, used as it was to imprison things far more ancient and powerful than any of them. Celestia and Luna's power was woven throughout, but it was not their power alone that held the place together. Rather, as the stories from Earth made clear, it was the nature and the power of Tartarus itself that mercilessly held the rejects of the gods down tight.
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Northwest Slobovia
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Fri Nov 20, 2020 9:34 pm

Going to Tartaros in a Handbasket
The Gates of Tartaros, Equestria


Giovenith wrote:"Hm." Starlight's expression was hard to read as she organized her various papers and slipped them back into her saddlebag. "If you're confident about your ability to protect us though, then I'm game to go on."

Sandy started thoughtfully. "Well, Giovenith is our best protection, but I--" Sandy considered something, came to a decision, and then went on. "Pegasus is closer to Hades than just being part of His pantheon. Pegasus is Hades' nephew. His father, Hades' brother Poseidon, is, among many other titles, Prince of both Horses and the Sea. Even for Earth, the Prince of Horses having a flying horse for a son is a little odd, but that's the way it worked out.

"So, nobody who... ummm... deals with Hades is going to touch his nephew. They may know that I have him on loan, the same way Celestia knows, but they'll probably give Pegasus a wide berth until they have definitive answers on how to treat me. Which is to say, in the worst case, hiding behind my wings is completely safe. Nobody will go through Pegasus to get to you."

Giovenith wrote:"When Princess Celestia and Princess Luna arrived and took an active role in protecting the Equestrians, they had the door built and began using it to seal away the worst creatures they encountered. I guess that's when they started, um... did you say 'paying rent'?"

Sandy turned to the bearded unicorn. "That's Her expression. You'll have to ask Her to explain what it means. I was a little busy being stunned simply by being granted an audience."

Giovenith wrote:The group made its way over to the door, which surprisingly, lacked any intimidating aura beyond what could be gleaned from its appearance. It held back whatever it held quite well.

While Amanda got out her phone to take pictures of the doors, Sandy studied them. "More Doors of Durin than Dante--"

"I prefer Rodin's interpretation: 'Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate' seems apropos.'" A fraction of a second later, Amanda realized that the unicorns lacked the ever-useful Babblefish. "'Abandon all hope, you who enter here.' For the prisoners, not for us."

"Hmm. Rodin doesn't seem Celestia's style-- But it is Their work, Hers and Luna's... along with some mortal casters. There's a lot of enchantments laid on the doors, I'm not sure--" He started to cast his favorite shapeshifting spell, but stopped a moment later and listened to the conversation around him.

Giovenith wrote:"Princess Celestia taught Princess Twilight how to open the gates back when she was her student," Starlight answered, telekinetically rifling through a book. "And Twilight taught me, in case we needed to seal something away together one day."

Sandy's eyebrows shot up at that. "A hero! Er, I mean... Oh boy, lemme explain later."

Giovenith wrote:"And what about you? Sandy here said you could protect us in the beyond of Tartarus. Why do you have that kind of special access?"

Giovenith shuffled. "That's part of the complicated stuff I was telling you about."

Sandy pressed his lips together, stony-faced, as she answered. "Admirable modesty." There was an unsaid 'but' in Sandy's tone.

Giovenith wrote:Starlight nodded and then urged everyone to stand back while she got to work. [...] Several spots on the door lifted and turned, a deep clicking noise rang throughout the area, and the giant doors slowly opened inward into pitch darkness. Starlight looked back and urged the others onward.

Sandy returned to his transformation, Listening intently as Starlight worked. He could care less about whatever secret spells she used to open the gates – likely, Celestia would tell him how to cast them if he asked – but the enchantements on the gates themselves were another matter.

Sandy's head whipped around as he tried to follow something. Two somethings, actually, but even indpendently moving eyes and ears couldn't keep up with the speed of magic itself. He then stood on his hind legs and waved cheerfully at the sun, and then at a spot on the horizon. He settled back on four legs, Listening to the dark void beyond the gates.

Amanda shaded her eyes against the sun's glare, squinting into it and waving timidly with her other hand. She gave Sandy a few seconds before asking, "They know?"

He returned to human form. "Yeah, They're looking right at us. The doors are warded; opening them tripped the ward. The ward reset itself, though; that's expensive. It's uh... part of the immense amount of work They put into the doors. And it's not..." He gestured vaguely for a moment. "...just heavy-- not all just raw power. Parts of it are like her magic: all fine work and very elegant." He nodded in Giovenith's direction. "In toto, not as much as the Weather Factory – the pegasoi get the team gold for that – but for individual effort, Celestia and Luna tie for the championship."

He stopped for long enough to catch the unicorns' attention. "Definitely Hades' realm in there, but the Princesses have done a lot of uh, renovations to keep the-- maintaining stable transdimensional portals isn't the easiest thing, and they've..." Sandy's description rapidly disappeared into the technical jargon of unicorn sorcery.

The Babblefish did their best to translate Sandy's analysis. The overall effect was that Celestia and Luna had made both changes to the portal's engineering – arches here, flying buttresses there – to smooth the transition between Tartaros and Equestria, and They had done a lot of interior decorating as well. They'd pasted up wallpaper over Hades' gloomy bare rock, more or less, and replastered the ceilings with fancy swirly designs. At least to those who could See them.

After a bit of a pause, Sandy directed his words to Amanda, Domenica, and Willow. "This is probably unnecessary, but. So... sorr— my apologies in advance if this seems didactic.

"I expect Celestia got on the hotline to Hades and let Him know we're coming. So, we're safe enough in this part of Tartaros. But once we leave it, we're not necessarily safe from the Olympians. Some of them might be … in other parts of Tartaros, gloating at their prisoners. It would fit some of their personalities. But I doubt we'll see them, unless somebody calls them by name. I don't know if they can hear us, and I'd rather not find out.

"Oh, they won't do anything now, not while Giovenith is with us, her friends. Nor in Equestria, under, uh, Somebody's protection. But we get around. And some of the Olympians bear grudges well. Please don't get their attention."

He took a deep breath, and looked nervously over his shoulder before turning back. "Especially not the underworld deities, nor their servants. Definitely not Cerberus; he probably does come when called..." He stared at the sky for a moment. "But Celestia considered him an entertaining nuisance, so maybe he's just a big puppy to us-- to Giovenith, Starlight, and myself, at least, maybe everybody.

"Under no circumstances name the Fates. They're down there somewhere with Hades, judging the newly dead. They... may be able to, uh, work around Giovenith, even now. I don't know..." With a shiver, he added, "... and I don't want to find out."

Sandy gave Domenica and Amanda stern looks in the eye. "Please don't name the Big Guy, not until we figure out what Tartaros connects to. It might connect to Heaven or Hell. It might even be what Dante called the lowest circle of Hell; it's hard to say what he knew, what he understood, and what he made up. Uhhh, in general, if it's... in the Bible, immortal, and named, don't name it. Semitic belief says that names work magic, so--"

His brows furrowed deeply, and he turned to stare down the tunnel into Tartaros. "Do they call on You?", he muttered. After standing that way for a what seemed like an eternity, Sandy turned back. "Hm. If any of the inmates repent, and they understand how the cosmos works, they'd probably call on Jesus to free them, uh, among other deities. He might be able to; I don't know the rules. He'd make a hell of an intercessor, though.

"So, um, maybe don't mention Him."

Amanda cocked her head at him. "You think He's in there?"

"Maybe not personally, but-- It's your religion, not mine. If it's possible – if redemption is possible – He may be, or He may assign part of the Heavenly Host to, um, walk a beat in Tartaros."

With a conversational gesture, Amanda said, "It would fit the few facts we have. Lucifer Fell, and Jesus redeemed him. If there was a Fall."

Her posture shifted, all business now. "No, Jesus doesn't interceed for the inmates. Jesus goes to Lucifer, Lucifer talks to the other pantheon's counsel, they cut a deal." She gave Sandy a quick nod. "It might be a routine part of Lucifer's job: a working lunch and Jesus picks up the tab.

"But I'll keep my trap shut about the Prick and His Kid. It's been 26, 27 years since I received Communion. If Jesus saves, He'll need to bail me out first."

Sandy chewed his lip. "Seems a good guess. Let's, ummm, get going."


Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros

As Sandy crossed the threshold into Tartaros, he exclaimed, "Ooohhh!" He spun around to watch Amanda enter, then added, "Yep! The ousia driving the Boon is now flowing through here." He pointed down the tunnel. After a moment, his face was swallowed by a huge grin. "I bet could follow it all the way back to Olympos, and from there, Helikon and Parnassos!"

Another moment passed, and Sandy noticed the tunnel walls, and his smile grew even larger. "Oh, wow!" He raced through casting the Metamorphosis, and stood motionless except for the continuous sweeping of his ears. Amanda noticed the dreamy expression on his equine face, and reached up to take hold of one of his alulas – his feathered thumbs – and lead him along by that. "Come on, dear."

Giovenith wrote:As they went further in, the presence of danger became heavier in the air, especially as inhuman sounds grew louder.

As the sound grew, Amanda reached across her body for her stunner. Hand on its butt, she turned to Sandy, about to ask where the sound was coming from. But his intent stare forward and both ears turned front as well told her it was far off. She let her hand fall to her side; there was no further reason to guide her now-alert husband.

Giovenith wrote:The ceiling of the caverns was so far above that it was invisible to the naked eye, and all around, embedded in the rocky walls, were large holes with a complex series of bars over each. Each one was too dark to peer into from a distance, but the occasional flash of horrible limb and the overwhelming sense of malevolence was enough to let them know all they needed to about the things that lay within.

Sandy walked right up to the edge, and looked up and down while his ears swept the far wall. Amanda joined him, leaning over the cliff, relying on Adonis' grace to stretch a little further than normal. She turned, awed, to look up at Sandy, about to ask his opinion of the scene. Seeing his eyes move as he judged the distance, she shouted, "Oh no, you don't!" and grabbed his outermost remex.

One annoyed eye looked her over; a hint of motion suggested Sandy was going to simply step over the edge regardless. Amanda let go of his feather; playing catch over that abyss wasn't her idea of fun.

Sandy let his spell dissipate, returning to human form. "It's perfectly safe, dear. I want to see if I can see the bottom... or Hear it.

"The magic-- the form-- the structure of Tartaros suggests a greater hand at work than... ummm, the King of the Shades' own. Perhaps Pegasos' great grandmother's, even. Tartaros is supposed to be 'as far below the Earth as Olympos is above it'."

Amanda thought for a second: he meant Gaia's hand. She gazed up, seeking a ceiling in the gloom. "And Somebody's hoof, too?"

Sandy hmm'd and nodded: Celestia's and Luna's work was apparent, but help from another Creator Being could easily lurk behind the surface magic he Saw. "Possibly all the pantheons work together at it. Tartaros is, uh, just a part of the kosmos, but the amount of power I can Hear suggests a lot of Somebodies are working hard at keeping the cells doors closed. With some patience, I..." He made an uncertain motion with one hand. "...might be able to get a sense of scale... how it compares to the flash of Celestia's power I Heard."
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Solisian Union
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Solisian Union » Sun Nov 22, 2020 9:54 pm

Northwest Slobovia wrote:
Solisian Union wrote:"Yawa kaayo, no? Starlight was right. [...] No longer in any pleasure dome, and no longer in any gardens blessed with sinuous hills. We're going down into a savage place...holy and enchanted as under a haunted moon..." Her voice dropped as she spoke, and she instinctively reached for her own rosary, muttering something her mother taught her to do.

Amanda cocked her head at Domenica. "You're a Coleridge fan?" But she waved a dismissive hand at the rosary. "He can't help you here. It's Celestia's world... Celestia's... maker's world?" As she turned back to Sandy, her expression was even more uncertain than before.

Sandy nodded, shrugged, and tossed his head in reply. "One or the other. Somebody maintains the, uh, barrier we passed through; nobody else here can. Uh, maybe Luna could." To Domenica, he added, "If you're devout, He... may be, uh, aware of your prayers, but He... won't intervene without permission. And I have no idea of what sort of relations He has with the Princesses."


She tried to chuckle, but it all came out too nervously for it to be genuine, at Amanda asking her if she was a Coleridge fan. "Yeah, I am. Though I find myself more familiar with more modern poets."


She let her fingers run over the rosary she brought with her, but no longer muttering something to God. Not after Domenica saw how Amanda was very dismissive about what she was doing to soothe herself, to calm herself in this strange place as she was surrounded by strange people.

And even when Sandy spoke up about it, Domenica found herself shaking her head and saying, "I thought he was all powerful. The Bible, the priests, the other texts...even in this world, he has to ask permission? From other...gods?" The Filipino gave out a sharp and clearly frustated sigh as she returned herself to silence, thinking, trying to think about it, but only managing to perhaps show through her face that she didn't like how things were going, nor was she approving of how her companions spoke to her about things. And that she also did not like what she was thinking about, approaching, in a way.

------

Amanda shaded her eyes against the sun's glare, squinting into it and waving timidly with her other hand. She gave Sandy a few seconds before asking, "They know?"

He returned to human form. "Yeah, They're looking right at us. The doors are warded; opening them tripped the ward. The ward reset itself, though; that's expensive. It's uh... part of the immense amount of work They put into the doors. And it's not..." He gestured vaguely for a moment. "...just heavy-- not all just raw power. Parts of it are like her magic: all fine work and very elegant." He nodded in Giovenith's direction. "In toto, not as much as the Weather Factory – the pegasoi get the team gold for that – but for individual effort, Celestia and Luna tie for the championship."


Something was cracking at Domenica, having heard that. She instinctively bit at her lower lip, right after she tightened her grip around the old rosary she kept close to her person, and just after she said something loudly, not knowing that she wasn't just saying it under her breath, "Pucha....what the fuck are wards? What's a weather factory got to do with this hellish stuff? Puta, buwisit."

She was feeling more and more uncomfortable being here. She looked around, confused and worried that others either seemed less concerned or more in awe of what was in front of them. She no longer had that curiosity or interest in even noting down what she observed. She tried to take a few steps back to the balloon. Her hands gripped her rosary more tightly.


Sandy gave Domenica and Amanda stern looks in the eye. "Please don't name the Big Guy, not until we figure out what Tartaros connects to. It might connect to Heaven or Hell. It might even be what Dante called the lowest circle of Hell; it's hard to say what he knew, what he understood, and what he made up. Uhhh, in general, if it's... in the Bible, immortal, and named, don't name it. Semitic belief says that names work magic, so--"

His brows furrowed deeply, and he turned to stare down the tunnel into Tartaros. "Do they call on You?", he muttered. After standing that way for a what seemed like an eternity, Sandy turned back. "Hm. If any of the inmates repent, and they understand how the cosmos works, they'd probably call on Jesus to free them, uh, among other deities. He might be able to; I don't know the rules. He'd make a hell of an intercessor, though.

"So, um, maybe don't mention Him."



Domenica glared dangerously at Sandy. She still clung to her rosary, but listening to him? She didn't expect those words to come out from him. She thought Amanda would say it. She even glared a little at her for a while before she turned to Sandy, saying, "W-W-What about my rosary? If you say names are gonna work magic here...." She looked down at her precious beads, at the little cross bearing the carved figure of the Christ. Dom gulped, not realizing that she was sweating, that she was shaking just a bit. "I...I need my rosary. It's my mother's....um...." She bit her lower lip and just shook her head. The Filipino wanted to protest a bit more for her own sake but sighed in defeat, putting away her rosary into one of her pockets, crossing herself quickly before she gave Amanda one last glare, not liking how she was seemingly discounting, if not disregarding, the possible protection and comfort God and her Son gave, especially to her people.

And yet, despite whatever doubts and fears she had right now, she followed.

---------

The Filipino writer was really not enjoying any bit of this, not even as she reluctantly kept taking steps onward, stopping only when the others did. And when they did, she kept very quiet, though sometimes breaking the silence she had over herself with a curse word in any of the Filipino languages she knew of. The author, unbeknownst to her own attention, was quite nervous, shakened, as she kept pawing at the pocket where she kept her rosary, as if it were the only thing that was somehow making her think that she was gonna be okay here. And when Sandy and Amanda spoke again, she couldn't help herself but say to them, a little more fear in her words than anger, "Putangina naman, guys. Can't you just be more careful and get us around quickly? Please, like, yawa naman kaayo, where do we go now? Any clear path? No falls?"
Last edited by Solisian Union on Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
^_^

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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Solisian Union » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:02 pm

Giovenith wrote:
Sunburst listened to Domenica, the most quiet of the humans, and her worries. He offered her a brief, polite tap of encouragement. "That's alright, it's normal to have a gap between what you can do and what you know how to do. It just takes a little practice and finding your niche."



The Filipino looked at Sunburst with a curious face. Well, it sort of was. If one saw past her currently thoughtful yet irritated look, it probably is easily understood that something's ticked her off. She nodded at the tap and the words offered. And then she tried to brush him off, preparing to get out of the basket.


"Princess Celestia taught Princess Twilight how to open the gates back when she was her student," Starlight answered, telekinetically rifling through a book. "And Twilight taught me, in case we needed to seal something away together one day." She looked to the godling. "And what about you? Sandy here said you could protect us in the beyond of Tartarus. Why do you have that kind of special access?"

Giovenith shuffled. "That's part of the complicated stuff I was telling you about."



She turned her head at them when they spoke. Then she turned away, trying to hide her face, trying to get a hold of what she was feeling now. Confusion and some sense of being irritated, of fear and doubts, creeping up to her mind. She didn't like it, especially as she remained silent, watching, waiting, and feeling some kind of...darkness. She was not too familiar with magic, but she didn't feel right about this place. Nor about anyone. Something was wrong. And she returned herself to muttering what her mother taught her when she needed to feel like she had protection, like someone was watching out for her own good.
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Northwest Slobovia
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Anarchy

Postby Northwest Slobovia » Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:53 pm

Going to Tartaros in a Handbasket
The Gates of Tartaros, Equestria


Solisian Union wrote:Domenica found herself shaking her head and saying, "I thought he was all powerful. The Bible, the priests, the other texts...even in this world, he has to ask permission? From other...gods?" The Filipino gave out a sharp and clearly frustated sigh as she returned herself to silence, [… showing] through her face that she didn't like how things were going, nor was she approving of how her companions spoke to her about things.

Sandy rocked back defensively. He gestured as though he was about to speak, then let his hand fall. Amanda momentarily wore a smug grin, and looked like she was going to pounce, but both expressions vanished behind her professionally-neutral mask.

They turned their heads to look at each other; Amanda turned back to Domenica first. "It's going to be hard to accept, but yes, the pantheons have agreed on... a contract of sorts. They don't fight with each other like the Bible says. Not any more. So they all act politely to each other. Usually, it's all please and thank you up there." She flicked her eyes heavenward.

"Nobody is omnipotent, not even the Creator Beings, like, um, the Big Guy," Sandy added, "They are powerful beyond... easy understanding, but even They have limits.

"Aaand this is not Earth. None of Earth's gods have any... sway here, except by arrangement with-- I'm not exactly sure, but Celestia seems to be the head of the Equestrian pantheon." He looked to the Equestrians for confirmation or denial.

Solisian Union wrote:[Domenica] instinctively bit at her lower lip, [...] not knowing that she wasn't just saying it under her breath, "Pucha....what the fuck are wards? What's a weather factory got to do with this hellish stuff?"

Sandy softened his voice: matter of fact, teacher to student. "Wards are spells that protect things. The ward on the doors is just an alarm; it lets Celestia and Luna know when the the doors opened, so they can look and see what's going on around them.

"The weather in Equestria isn't natural. It's manufactured, controlled, and distributed from a central location. That's the Weather Factory in Cloudsdale. There, hundreds of pegasoi make Equestrian weather from water they lift from lakes and Celestia's sunlight." His tone shifted: pure admiration. "It's a triumph of pegasoi civilization. They routinely demonstrate a measure of cooperation and magical sophistication Earth's cultures struggle to achieve even for instants. Erm... magical or technological sophistication, but the distinction is smaller here than at home.

"So... The Weather Factory is a point of comparison for magical power and refinement that we've both experienced. That's all."

Solisian Union wrote:Domenica glared dangerously at Sandy. She still clung to her rosary, but listening to him? [...] She even glared a little at her for a while before she turned to Sandy, saying, "W-W-What about my rosary? If you say names are gonna work magic here...." She looked down at her precious beads, at the little cross bearing the carved figure of the Christ. Dom gulped, not realizing that she was sweating, that she was shaking just a bit. "I...I need my rosary. It's my mother's....um...."

Sandy nodded sympathetically. "I understand. And I can't say for certain that your prayers will cause Jesus, Mary, or any of the angels to appear, so-- If you ask for divine assistance, you may get it, in person. At least once we're out of Celestia's section of Tartaros."


Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros

Solisian Union wrote:[S]he couldn't help herself but say to them, a little more fear in her words than anger, "Putangina naman, guys. Can't you just be more careful and get us around quickly? Please, like, yawa naman kaayo, where do we go now? Any clear path? No falls?"

With a puzzled stare, Sandy turned to her. "No idea. We're just looking around now. I--" He turned back to the bottomless pit, gazed out over it, then pivoted back to Domenica. He made a sweeping motion with his hand, taking in the chasm, the prison cells, everything in sight. "It's this amazing? Doesn't this inspire awe? Even few deities ever see this!

"We're a bit jaded, but this... this is something to behold, to try to get a sense of! And then, yes, we can move on."
Last edited by Northwest Slobovia on Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Solisian Union
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Solisian Union » Tue Nov 24, 2020 10:38 pm

They turned their heads to look at each other; Amanda turned back to Domenica first. "It's going to be hard to accept, but yes, the pantheons have agreed on... a contract of sorts. They don't fight with each other like the Bible says. Not any more. So they all act politely to each other. Usually, it's all please and thank you up there." She flicked her eyes heavenward.

"Nobody is omnipotent, not even the Creator Beings, like, um, the Big Guy," Sandy added, "They are powerful beyond... easy understanding, but even They have limits.

"Aaand this is not Earth. None of Earth's gods have any... sway here, except by arrangement with-- I'm not exactly sure, but Celestia seems to be the head of the Equestrian pantheon." He looked to the Equestrians for confirmation or denial.


This made Domenica feel like her head had to hurt thinking about it. This was something she couldn't have a great time wrapping her thoughts around. Nor could she put a pen on it. She rarely did much to write about or discuss about stuff like this before. And when she did, she always tried to weasel out. It was just too uncomfortable for her. And she had always relied on her faith as her own shield emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It was a good shield. Until it started cracking the most because of these people.

She looked at them with terribly confused eyes. "I...I see..But......" She shook her head. She still shook bad. But she didn't want to push it. Not unless she couldn't hold on any longer.

Sandy softened his voice: matter of fact, teacher to student. "Wards are spells that protect things. The ward on the doors is just an alarm; it lets Celestia and Luna know when the the doors opened, so they can look and see what's going on around them.

"The weather in Equestria isn't natural. It's manufactured, controlled, and distributed from a central location. That's the Weather Factory in Cloudsdale. There, hundreds of pegasoi make Equestrian weather from water they lift from lakes and Celestia's sunlight." His tone shifted: pure admiration. "It's a triumph of pegasoi civilization. They routinely demonstrate a measure of cooperation and magical sophistication Earth's cultures struggle to achieve even for instants. Erm... magical or technological sophistication, but the distinction is smaller here than at home.

"So... The Weather Factory is a point of comparison for magical power and refinement that we've both experienced. That's all."


Domenica could only nod passively at what Sandy told her. She did not even bother to ask more about it, but she showed that it confused her to know that weather was treated in a manner that was unlike...Earth. She was at least somewhat okay with that information. It was....a welcome distraction from having to look around....

"H-Hell...I'm in Hell." And that was all she said to herself. She didn't even want to hear what Sandy said afterwards.

Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros


With a puzzled stare, Sandy turned to her. "No idea. We're just looking around now. I--" He turned back to the bottomless pit, gazed out over it, then pivoted back to Domenica. He made a sweeping motion with his hand, taking in the chasm, the prison cells, everything in sight. "It's this amazing? Doesn't this inspire awe? Even few deities ever see this!

"We're a bit jaded, but this... this is something to behold, to try to get a sense of! And then, yes, we can move on."


At this point, Domenica could not help but stop and shake her head at them very irritably. Shaking as she was, she gave away a grunt filled with fear and a bit of worried anger. She said under her breath, "Damn your curiosity. We're just wasting time with....with you being so amazed by this....this prison. This is hell. And you're amazed by it?!"
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Northwest Slobovia
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:38 pm

Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros

Solisian Union wrote:At this point, Domenica [...] she gave away a grunt filled with fear and a bit of worried anger. She said under her breath, "Damn your curiosity. We're just wasting time with....with you being so amazed by this....this prison. This is hell. And you're amazed by it?!"

Sandy goggled at her, his jaw working as he tried to find words.

Amanda filled the silence with dismissive sarcasm. "It's not Hell. Nobody's being tortured."

Sandy finally got his brain and mouth on the same network. "Y-y-yes, of course! It's astounding!"

He turned to Amanda with a glare that could kill, and a voice with a matching tone. "Not. Now."

She shivered and quailed. Perhaps it was an effect of Adonis' magic flowing through Tartaros, perhaps it was a trick of the unearthly light, but the look on Sandy's face made her suddenly aware that she stood on the brink of an endless abyss, and all it would take was for him to cancel his spell and shove her over the edge, and she'd fall and fall until hunger or thirst killed her.

Sandy turned back to Domenica, his expression filling with confusion. He rubbed his cheek as he thought. He picked up with a voice as soft and gentle as a fuzzy blanket. "Maybe... you got more, uh, adventure than you bargained for. Maybe that's just a little too much explan-- too much cosmology for today. Maybe this is simply too much for your first week on the job.

"Just stick with us. You'll be fine. You'll be safe. If it's still too much in a few minutes, we can call for Lifeguard to take you back to Bermeja where you can relax in safety."
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Solisian Union » Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:10 pm

Sandy turned back to Domenica, his expression filling with confusion. He rubbed his cheek as he thought. He picked up with a voice as soft and gentle as a fuzzy blanket. "Maybe... you got more, uh, adventure than you bargained for. Maybe that's just a little too much explan-- too much cosmology for today. Maybe this is simply too much for your first week on the job.

"Just stick with us. You'll be fine. You'll be safe. If it's still too much in a few minutes, we can call for Lifeguard to take you back to Bermeja where you can relax in safety."


The Filipina gradually felt her body relax as the shakes got less intense. She gave out a soft sigh as she sadly nodded and said, a hint of disappointment in her own integrity and bravery evident in the words she used, "Y-Yeah...I'm sorry....I do want to go home...I want to see my Nanay again before I come back here to be with you guys but...but...." She looked away, blushing a little, and looking like she still wanted to keep going while also wanting to go back and also wanting to just stay put and think about it.
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Giovenith
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Founded: Feb 08, 2012
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Giovenith » Mon Nov 30, 2020 10:34 pm

Northwest Slobovia wrote:Sandy's eyebrows shot up at that. "A hero! Er, I mean... Oh boy, lemme explain later."


At this, Starlight's gaze took on a steely look. She sighed deeply, and gently but firmly said: "Not quite."

The awkward glance of the nearby Sunburst was a warning not to broach the subject further.

"I wouldn't worry about names, Sandy," Willow mercifully broke the awkwardness quickly with casual reassurance. "The three of us don't really know any, and you humans already know better. We'll be safe..." But his expression was a little too set. He was planning on being a voice of reason throughout all of this, but he remembered what happened the last time he ventured underground. "Right, Geo-puzzle?"

"Yeah," said Giovenith, folding a bit of paper in her hands thoughtfully. "Nobody will hurt us, probably. But still like Sandy said, it will be easier if we just don't draw any attention to ourselves to begin with."



Giovenith and the pones stood by as Domenica got together her bearings, though the godling briefly considered stepping in once it seemed like there might have been a conflict between her and Amanda. Giovenith was probably the last person to reassure Domenica of her faith, Starlight and Sunburst didn't understand what the issue was, and Willow was the second most prejudiced against human religion after Amanda, so none of them were in much position to help. Luckily the small conflict seemed to resolve itself quickly enough.

"You'll be safe with us," said Giovenith, gently patting Dom's back. "I understand it must be hard wandering into a place like this with strangers that you just met. And if it gets too much, we'll help you right back out the door, and you can be safe at the hotel room until we come back."

Sunburst moved towards the edge of the overlook, keeping his glasses in place with his magic as he judged how deep the pit seemed to go. "Even considering that only a few threats are ever severe enough to be imprisoned here, I imagine that the millennia have accumulated quite the prison population. Many of them are legendary in scale too, so there's no telling how large this place is."

"Or how long it would take us to move past the Equestrian part," Starlight added. She looked towards Giovenith. "What do you think, Gio? Where do we start off?"

"That's hard to say," the godling admitted, looking over to the other side of the abyss. "This place isn't exactly made for hiking trips-"

"Hellooooo theeeeeere," an unknown voice called from somewhere far off, stunning everyone. "I can hear you. Why don't you come closer?" The voice was slightly high-pitched and rough, like that of an old man, and there was an amused calm to it. "Come on now, I'm all locked up, I can't hurt you."
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Northwest Slobovia
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Wed Dec 02, 2020 4:47 pm

Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros
Giovenith wrote:"Hellooooo theeeeeere," an unknown voice called from somewhere far off, stunning everyone. "I can hear you. Why don't you come closer?" The voice was slightly high-pitched and rough, like that of an old man, and there was an amused calm to it. "Come on now, I'm all locked up, I can't hurt you."

Startled, Amanda yelped and leapt back from the edge of the pit. The Boon gave her feline "I meant to do that" grace, so she looked good while looking stupid. She drew her stunner, and started looking around nervously, searching for the source of the voice.

Sandy leaned forward at the sound; for a moment, Amanda though she'd have to grab him again, but he walked backwards from the precipice, chanting familiar Greek words. A second later, Amanda found herself sheltering behind one of Sandy's wings. She watched his ears move as he systematically scanned for sounds.

He cocked his head at Amanda, moved his mouth like he was speaking, and then nodded energetically at the abyss. His ears turned forward again while one of his eyes stayed fixed on her expectantly.

"Closer to where?" She called, "Where are you? And who are you?" Glancing around, she waited for an answer. The Ears would help her a little finding the source, but she expected Sandy and the Equestrians would nail it down instantly.
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Postby Solisian Union » Fri Dec 04, 2020 5:57 am

"You'll be safe with us," said Giovenith, gently patting Dom's back. "I understand it must be hard wandering into a place like this with strangers that you just met. And if it gets too much, we'll help you right back out the door, and you can be safe at the hotel room until we come back."


Dom felt at least some measure of reassurance from Gio doing that for her. She smiled at the godling and nodded. "Y-You're right, I suppose. I'm sorry that I'm so scared...I'm not always like this but..." She was about to say more, she was about to get right back to being at least somewhat okay, until....

"Hellooooo theeeeeere," an unknown voice called from somewhere far off, stunning everyone. "I can hear you. Why don't you come closer?" The voice was slightly high-pitched and rough, like that of an old man, and there was an amused calm to it. "Come on now, I'm all locked up, I can't hurt you."


Hearing that, all Dom could feel certainly about her body was it getting heavy. Really heavy. Her eyes closed. Her legs gave way. She started to fall, and if anyone could catch her, or not, now was the time. She's reached her limit.
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Giovenith » Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:10 pm

Willow was the first to notice that Domenica was falling down and rushed to prop her up. Sunburst helped, using his magic to better adjust and sit her down.

"I should probably take her back," Willow told the others, standing close to Dom and using a wing to keep her neck straight. "It's only going to get more intense the further we go, and she can't even handle it now. The rest of you are needed here more than me."

"How noble, I can see why both the Cloerith and the War fragment Favor him," the voice said, dryly. "Then again, the colorful little parasites always had a way with hooking themselves into powerful idiots' hearts."

Upset by Amanda and Domenica's fear, and the insult against her pony friends, Giovenith decided that it was up to her to confront the voice. She gripped her little fists tight and started forward only to be intercepted by Starlight. She made eye contact with the pony, surprised, and was about to start trying to convince her that she could handle it, but Starlight gave a firm nod. The magician didn't doubt Giovenith, but was merely affirming that they should go together, cautiously. Giovenith nodded. If there was one being she could trust, it was definitely a cute little pinkish-purple unicorn smoldering with the smell of sharpened magic (and also lavender!).

Giovenith looked over her shoulder towards the Belas and pointed towards a corner on the right before carefully moving to round it. She and Starlight braced themselves, but found no apparent danger. Standing there in one of the gloomy cells was an odd creature. It looked a bit like an elderly, emaciated centaur, though his upper half was less human and more demonic: faded red skin and a face that was cross between humanoid, bull, and goat-like.

"Good afternoon," he greeted the girls, tone polite but expression wry.

"Lord Tirek," said Starlight, darkly.

The creature in the cell sniffed and casually groomed himself, as if above the hostility. "In my homeland it was Prince Tirek, but I understand that you Equestrians reserve that sort of title for..." He glimpsed at Giovenith and smiled. "... the divine."

"He's evil," Starlight Glimmer didn't beat around the bush as she looked to the others. "He tried to suck out all the magic from every Equestrian citizen, including our Princesses, so that he could use it to take over the world. Twice."

"Oh, who hasn't tried to take over the world down here?" Tirek rolled his eyes. "Even beyond these cells. Some of them have succeeded. That's who you're off to visit right now, aren't you? Monsters who succeeded. You even brought one of their sons with you!" He brightened at that last sentence, but then quickly changed his expression and tone to a more deadpan one. "The one who was born from cutting off the head of a rape victim."

This snatched the attention of all the ponies present. Lord Tirek chuckled.

"And these humans have the nerve to judge you," he told them, smugly.
Last edited by Giovenith on Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Sat Dec 05, 2020 5:41 pm

Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros
Giovenith wrote:"The one who was born from cutting off the head of a rape victim."

This snatched the attention of all the ponies present. Lord Tirek chuckled.

"Weeelll, it looks like somebody wants a little attention!" Amanda's tone was half clinical and half dismissive. As she walked over, she addressed the others. "He's making it up; he doesn't know. He's just trying to cause trouble."

Sandy trotted behind her, looking Tirek over like he was a zoo animal, which wasn't far from the truth. He Listened to Tirek's cell for Music beyond the bars, but the imprisonment spells on it were too potent for him to learn anything other than that they were completely safe from him.

One of his wingtips patted the pocket where Amanda kept her phone. She nodded at him and pulled it out, turning the video app on, and pointing her phone's camera at Tirek. "So, how long ago were you defeated and tossed in here?"

After giving Tirek a final look, Sandy returned to the more interesting question Starlight raised before: how to find the way forward? Amanda's got Tirek taken care of, and adjusting for the changes in material, magical, and social cultures, he's not much different than bad ones at home. He walked slowly back to where they'd been looking out over the pit before. How to find...? He rubbed his jawline with his hoof.

He froze: Got it! He shut his eyes, and focused his Hearing on the strands of ousia that answered his call for Adonis' Boon. They came from somewhere in here, and the route to them seemed to be from Celestia's prison to the Olympians' prison, Hades proper, where Adonis might be with Persephone, and then likely to Olympus, where Adonis might be with Aphrodite. He's got to be in one or the other, and either would do.
Last edited by Northwest Slobovia on Sat Dec 05, 2020 9:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Solisian Union » Tue Dec 08, 2020 10:32 pm

Willow was the first to notice that Domenica was falling down and rushed to prop her up. Sunburst helped, using his magic to better adjust and sit her down.


The Filipina was fortunate to be caught before she fell against the ground, possibly getting hurt. With their help, she quickly regained her consciousness. She came to, gasping a little, looking confused, until she realized where she was and what was going on. She remained where she was seated as she tried to get some sense of what is happening. Right now...

One of his wingtips patted the pocket where Amanda kept her phone. She nodded at him and pulled it out, turning the video app on, and pointing her phone's camera at Tirek. "So, how long ago were you defeated and tossed in here?"


She blinked rapidly as she looked on, observing how Amanda was pointing her phone's camera at Tirek while Sandy seemed to be thinking, then later closing his eyes and concentrating on something.

Domenica looked about and realized that Willow was using their wing to support her neck. She blushed a bit and asked, "W-What happened? Did I pass out?" She gently adjusted herself so she was sitting up, putting one hand to her head. She rubbed her temple with a few fingers as she later attempted to stand up, despite her wobbling legs. She reached out toward Willow for support as she tried to stand.
Last edited by Solisian Union on Tue Dec 08, 2020 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Giovenith » Tue Dec 08, 2020 10:59 pm

Sunburst frowned and folded his ears anxiously. He looked over his back to Willow. "What is he talking about?"

Willow set Domenica against one of the cavern walls and produced a small breeze with his wings to cool her down, using the moment to consider his words. His gaze flickered towards Giovenith and the humans. Not that he trusted Tirek, but he wouldn't put it past the humans to have what he said be true, the question was whether or not it was smart to confirm that to their guides. He didn't like to sugarcoat that sort of thing, but he disliked pissing off a couple of magicians in the middle of a literally hellish underground prison either.

"Ancient things," the small pegasus put it simply. Thankfully, this seemed to be a good enough answer for Sunburst, though his expression told that he wasn't satisfied. He adjusted his glasses and made his way to stand next to Sandy.

Solisian Union wrote:Domenica looked about and realized that Willow was using their wing to support her neck. She blushed a bit and asked, "W-What happened? Did I pass out?"


Willow looked to her. "You got scared for a moment, but it's okay now. Do you want me to bring you back to the balloon, or can you go on?" He fetched a bottle of water from his saddlebag and offered it to her.

If Tirek was perturbed by Amanda's response, he didn't know it, keeping a cool smile as he stared directly back at her glowing hand box, only tilting his head slightly as he considered it. "Shortly before Princess Twilight took custody of her." He made a motion towards Starlight. "My praises, by the way, Ms. Glimmer, for being able to hide your little project from me during that time. It's a shame we didn't meet before Her Highness got to you, we could have worked well together."

Starlight kept a composed expression to match the monster's, though Giovenith could sense stirring embers in her. "I doubt that."

"Hm, perhaps not. She did get to you, after all. It's always tragic when ambition is curbed by weakness."

"Yet look where we are now."

"Yes, well, we can't all be rehabilitated."

Off to the side, Sunburst looked up at Sandy curiously before looking out across the pit. Seeming to catch onto what Sandy was getting at, he reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a large, rolled ball of what looked like golden twine.

"This is Babylon Thread," he told the giant Pegasus. "It's an infinite, indestructible kind of string that ponies can use to track their way. If we're going to go keep into there, we should probably tie it here so we can get back easily..." He used his telekinesis to firmly loop and knot the loose end around one of the rocky structures before offering the ball to Sandy. "Would you mind keeping this on you, since it seems like you're the one leading the way? It will unwind by itself, you just have to hold onto it. It won't ever tangle or get in the way either."

"Well, it's been nice talking," Tirek told the ladies with a yawn. "It gets pretty dull here with no one else. In all seriousness, I wouldn't call your quest advisable; I may be evil, but those people are just sadistic."

"Don't judge them," said Giovenith, somewhat firmly.

"I can judge whoever I please, Cloerith. At least they do not debase themselves as you do." He sniffed with cold disregard. "The others all talk about you, you know, behind your mother's back. We hear through the grapevine even here. Poor, poor little Giovenith doesn't know her place then wonders why she is so unfortunate, poor lamb. Better keep an eye on that grey one, some of them think he's a bad influence."

The godling's face took on an uncharacteristically dark expression. "If anyone has a problem with Willow, they can deal with me."

"Be careful what you decree."

"Let's move on, guys," she said, coldly. "We can go anywhere we want."

Tirek smiled as he drummed his fingers against the bars. "For now." He smiled and nodded at them each in turn, parting lastly to Amanda: "Enjoy your marriage, while you can."
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Wed Dec 09, 2020 8:17 pm

Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros
Giovenith wrote:"[Tirek said he was defeated s]hortly before Princess Twilight took custody of her." [...] He smiled and nodded at them each in turn, parting lastly to Amanda: "Enjoy your marriage, while you can."

Amanda's huge smile was full of sincerity and warmth... for somebody else. "Oh, I will. Enjoy your imprisonment, if you can." She turned away, walking with the others, whispering notes into her phone, some of which were audible to the others: "...complete lack of remorse and little affect. Seems like a serial killer type... sociopathic, maybe? ...would refer for psych eval for compos mentis anyway, no reason to try somebody who can't be convicted." She flicked the camera app away and dropped the phone back in her pocket.

Giovenith wrote:"This is Babylon Thread," he told the giant Pegasus. [...] "Would you mind keeping this on you, since it seems like you're the one leading the way? It will unwind by itself, you just have to hold onto it. It won't ever tangle or get in the way either."

Sandy shifted his weight back to talk the ball of string with his forehooves, and held it to one ear for a moment to Listen to it, before nodding at Sunburst.

He considered the ball for a moment, then clutched it to his body with a foreleg. With a powerful leap, he launched himself over the pit, spread his wings, and started gliding down in a slow, circular descent.

Amanda watched him disappear from sight far below her. A moment passed, and she realized Domenica hadn't been talking to Tirek. She turned to see Willow taking care of her. When Sandy gets back, we'll have to see if she wants something stronger than water. Maybe a shot of liquid courage would help her nerves.

She turned back to the abyss; Sandy was still gone. She pulled out her phone, put the camera app into panorama mode, and panned across the view, then repeated the action from a couple more vantage points, hopefully enough for the holodeck to reconstruct the scene from. While putting her phone away, she paused, realizing something. Phone pocketed, she started counting rows of cells, and then columns. Mental arithmetic wasn't her strong suit, but the answer was clearly hundreds, if not thousands, of cells in view.

After crossing the distance to Sunburst, she gave him a concerned look. "You guys have been busy over the years! I'm told Equestria's been united for about five thousand years. There's got to be at least five hundred cells in view. One problem like Tirek every decade or so? I thought Earth--"

Sandy rocketed into view, shooting straight up, rolling rapidly along his stretched-out nose-to-tail axis, as though he was trying to test the Thread's magic. He flew a set of loops, then a snapped into a Cobra, before rolling onto his back and flying inverted. Amanda watched, amazed. I've seen him do that before, but it's always been a lot of work for him. Is he drawing on somebody's well? "Sandy, stop playing around! Did you find it?", she shouted.

He came to a stop in mid-air, and floated motionlessly down to eye level, wings outstretched. Amanda goggled: that shouldn't work. He walked across the air back to her and returned to his normal form. He bobbled the ball as it fell from his now-nonexistent foreleg, but he caught it and handed it to Amanda.

"What's this? Ariadne's ball of string?"

Sandy nodded at Sunburst. "No, his, but it works the same." Amanda looked confused, but tucked the ball into an oversized leg pocket anyway, Thread trailing out.

Sandy looked from face to face as he started to explain. "Yes, I found the Olympians' section. It's pretty far down, past a lot of other pantheons' floors... sections... uh..."

"It's a high-rise prison condo. Great." She peered in the depths. "How far?"

"I'm not sure, it-- I'm not sure the distances mean anything, with the-- It's like the entrance: dimensions grafted onto each other, with magic smoothing the transitions. Tartaros may have been expanded in sections, whatever that means.

"But in any event, the motion-- traveling mag-- enchantment responds to immortals. That's probably how the three-headed mutt got loose. He probably blundered into the shaft and floated up.

"So, I can take two, and flight works fine also." He nodded at Willow. "The balloon would work if we could get it in here, but..." He shrugged: that would take some effort. For a second, a grin graced his face, and he glanced from Sunburst to the not-quite-hero. "I'm sure you guys have some tricks you haven't showed us." Finally, he looked to Domenica. "Are you feeling up to this? I can give you a gentle ride, and all you have to do is grab two handfuls of my mane, close your eyes, and hang on." He mimed the gesture, balling his fists as he did so.
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Postby Solisian Union » Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:07 am

Willow looked to her. "You got scared for a moment, but it's okay now. Do you want me to bring you back to the balloon, or can you go on?" He fetched a bottle of water from his saddlebag and offered it to her.


She thought about it, it seemed. She later shook her head at him, giving him a determined expression. "No. I think I can handle myself." She said those words a little more seriously, without a shudder to them.

The Filipina finally steadied herself and took the bottle of water, gently opening it and drinking some water. She later capped it and gave it back to him.

"So, I can take two, and flight works fine also." He nodded at Willow. "The balloon would work if we could get it in here, but..." He shrugged: that would take some effort. For a second, a grin graced his face, and he glanced from Sunburst to the not-quite-hero. "I'm sure you guys have some tricks you haven't showed us." Finally, he looked to Domenica. "Are you feeling up to this? I can give you a gentle ride, and all you have to do is grab two handfuls of my mane, close your eyes, and hang on." He mimed the gesture, balling his fists as he did so.


Domenica looked to him and paused. Then she nodded. "Yeah. I'll handle it. Do I get on you now or do I just hang on without getting on you?"
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Wed Dec 16, 2020 4:39 pm

Celestia and Luna's Private Prison, Tartaros

Solisian Union wrote:Domenica looked to him and paused. Then she nodded. "Yeah. I'll handle it. Do I get on you now or do I just hang on without getting on you?"

"I'll show you," Amanda said with a smile. "First, we wait while Sandy turns back in to his alter ego..."

After waiting for any questions – there were none – he did just that, kneeling down so the two women could climb on. Amanda helped Domenica settle just behind Sandy's wings. "It'll feel strange, since he's big, even for a horse, and very wide. You'll feel every wingbeat, but it's soothing and rhythmic. Lean forward a bit. OK, now get a couple of fistfuls of Sandy's mane."

Her instructions were broken by Sandy turning his head to give Domenica a pained glance. Amanda fell silent for a moment, then went on. "Remember, you are pulling his hair, so try not to pull too hard. But don't worry about pulling it out. I don't think mortals can do that." With that, she climbed onto Sandy's back behind Domenica, and he stepped forward into the abyss. He stood there, unfalling, and with another nod and glance to Domenica, indicated that he was in complete control of his motion. Then he spread his great wings and began another circling glide.

Now that Sandy had pointed it out, it was obvious to Giovenith how to travel through Tartaros. Wherever she wanted to go, the enchantment would take her there; Sandy's supernatural flight let him flow like the wind, but it was icing on the cake: Poseidon's son didn't need wings to fly here.

Willow, on the other hand, did. Sandy's description of distances became suddenly clear to him: his immortal companions seemed to descend simultaneously impossibly fast and glacially slow. His eyes told him he was flying down for miles and miles, but his wings told him it couldn't be more than hundreds of feet.

As the group dropped, they passed into a connection between pantheons' prisons. Celestia's and Luna's magic fell away, to be replaced by other gods'. The width of the chasm changed at the same time, narrowing as they passed into the new pantheon's area. These gods needed no cells for their prisoners: they floated in mid-air, slowly tumbling, unmoving except to blink.

The different prisons were of different sizes and descriptions: some were cosmic torture chambers, others seemed oddly similar to the Building, if it was built as a panopticon: neither restraints or punishment were obvious, though overwhelming enchantments prevented the residents, er, inmates from leaving. Some lacked obvious comparison: one where the prisoners chanted nonsense words in unison, another where they stared hypnotized at a ever-changing colored globe hanging in the center of the pit, yet another where the damned were disembodied spirits, vast multitudes packed into a ring of tiny cells so small that Sandy had to tuck his wings to pass through.

Olympian Tartaros

Many, many sections later and much further down, Sandy pointed excitedly beneath them. Below the group, the sound of wind grew, at first just a faint hiss, then a roar and finally a howl. They were above an immense hurricane, spinning wildly, but they heard rather than felt it. In the center, where the storm's eye would be, the view to the ground beneath was clear, but everywhere else, the churning air was like rippling water. The storm was ringed in ink-black clouds, and further from the center, the blackness smoothed to flat, impenetrable darkness. The hurricane and the darkness around it were enclosed by a bronze wall, which stood just higher than both of them. The wall formed a circle around the storm, but its far reaches stretched beyond vision; it might have been tens or hundreds of miles across.

Surrounding the base of wall was a wide path, and a cliff rose above that, with a wider flat area at the top. Sandy pointed at something far ahead of him, broke off his circling, and cut across the edge of the storm, his white wings striking against the blackness beneath him. He set down near the top of a flight of stairs cut into the cliff. Below the stairs was a gate in the wall, and to Sandy's other side was an opening in the side of the abyss, similar to the way the tunnel from Equestria entered Tartaros. Sandy's head turned towards the tunnel, and he Listened for a moment, before nodding to himself.

The group followed Sandy to his landing spot. From there, the stairs seemed to go down a few hundred feet, and the wall rose maybe half as high, so it was easy to see over the wall, but the ground was far below and visible through the eye of the storm only as an indistinct grey-greenness.

Sandy started to kneel down so Domenica and Amanda could get off, but one of his ears abruptly turned, and he looked in its direction, rearing up a bit to get a better view, though not so much that the women would fall from his back. He saw an immense figure in the distance, slowly walking towards them on the path. The figure towered over the wall, and even far off, looked like it had many heads and more arms. The heads seemed to be looking over the wall.

Two heads turned towards the group, and many arms moved. A breeze stirred the the coats, manes, and feathers of all the horse-people. Giovenith had the distinct impression that she was being welcomed by the being, though its gestures were too remote to make out. Its attention returned to events within the wall.

Sandy allowed the women to dismount, and then returned to human form. Amanda nodded in the direction of the giant, then turned to Sandy. "Who's the watchman?"

"One of the Hekatonkheires, the wardens here."

"So, one of those H-guys got it right?"

Sandy scowled at the description. "Hesiodos. And in broad brush, yes, but... in detail-- He... or his school probably heard it second hand, or umm, the text has been corrupted." Suddenly, he realized the Equestrians had no idea what he meant, so he turned to face them. "Our stories of this place are thousands of years old, and... we're not very sure of their origins, or veracity.

"To the extent that they're correct, I... can take some good guesses at what we see. The huge cyclone is doubtless kicked up by Typhon, a primordial storm, uhhh... serpent? Giant? Being. Typhon is described as the first prisoner here.

"The darkness is-- I'd guess you'd say the Princess of the Night, though She's more than that. I'm sure of that; I got Her attention and She, um, gave me a hug."

"What does She look like in person?"

He made a broad hand-sweep in the direction of the darkness. "What you see is what you get."

Amanda's jaw hung open, and she looked back and forth between her husband and the blackness below. He'd done some strange things before, but this one was going to need some 'splaining.

Sandy either didn't notice or didn't care. "The wall is the only unusual part. It's an aspect of the-- of Queen Earth Herself, the same way Celestia's aspects include the sun and an alicorn. It's not magical, per se, it's just Her. Get close enough and you'll see. There are some hefty enchantments over the top of the wall, but it's all the Olympians' workmanship. I suspect this part of Tartaros predates the Olympians becoming landlords."

[OOC: The Babblefish would cheerfully inform enfished people that "Hekatonkheires" means "hundred-armed ones".]
Last edited by Northwest Slobovia on Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Gollum died for your sins.
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