The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Default Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Far below where Chrysalis is kept in relative comfort, past even where the elite guards are allowed to walk, in a place that few have dared set hoof, is a coffin. A very special coffin. Though Crow Locke, being a vampire of extraordinary might and therefore able to take shelter in any coffin, this one was his original one. And until Tartarus Station, it was the only thing know to be able to contain him.

    It lies in the middle of a dark pool which slowly swirls, held in place by chains of cold iron with a chandelier of wooden stakes suspended overhead, burning with blue flame but never consumed. It is a place untouched by technology, trapped in the arcane past. It is a dark place, a dangerous place, and nothing like Love has ever experienced before.

    Luna stands beside her, draped in a long, dark robe. Mist billows out from under it and the hood obscures all but her nose and her glowing eyes, giving her a fey and fell aspect. She turns to Love. "Art thou prepared?" she asks.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Luna really went all out with her matching theme. The sfx smoke was outstanding. The whole effort is something Love can really appreciate. There is always time for style. Love may not have the special effects going on, but the poor lighting does wonders to add to her creepiness. Candles, really? The mood candles can't be helped. Love's whitish skin and sickliness gave her a wonderful look of the dead. Features similar to that of undead creature had just dug out of the grave and donned a robe to hide itself away.

    No time to be spooked now, Love, you haven't even met him yet. She steels herself for the horribleness that is about to come at her like a train full of ponies. With resolve, she says, "Yes." She taps the saddlebags at her hip. Without her armor and bot, the load, even small, seems to weigh on her posture. "I appreciate you letting me see him."
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2017-10-14 at 07:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    "Save thy thanks until thou art sure thou truly wished this meeting to occur," Luna says softly, "Steel thy mind. Even so contained, his will is great and can bend those around him to it, if they linger too long in his influence. But when thou art ready to speak, enter the pool. He cannot hear us when we stand outside it."

    She lays a hoof on Love's shoulder and Love feels a surge of strength, both in body and in mind, flow into her. Luna gives her a friendly, encouraging smile.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Love nods to her warning and words of wisdom. How far had he fallen into madness? Last she met him, he was extremely violent toward his foes, but only a little crazed it seemed. Was it that he now saw the entire world as his enemy? Was every blade of grass a watching eye that sapped his stability? Will her funky brain be enough to protect her? She's not in a bot anymore. This is for keeps. She breaths in hard, nostrils flaring.

    Love returns the smile. No matter what she needed to save him.

    More so to convince Luna, she says with conviction, "I'm ready."

    She turns to walk into the pool.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    The moment Love steps into the pool, the water itself rises up a little and pulls at her legs, trying to drag her down. Luna's horn glows and the water recedes, allowing her to move freely. From the coffin, a dry, cracked voice comes. "Luna...I feel your power. Come to me, my princess. I must...I need to be in your presence once more. Would you deny your faithful servant? Ever have I served you and you alone! Your power alone commands my respect. Please, my princess, ruler of the night. Come to me. Free me. And unleash me upon your enemies who crowd around you! I shall pile their bodies before your throne as a testament to my devotion! Their blood shall run in the streets of Canterlot, a red river of judgement upon all who would dare oppose your regal might! I will hand you the world, Luna. Release me."

    "Speak," Luna tells Love, "He cannot hear me. Only you."

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    The instinct to escape the earth falling out from under her is strong. The water licking at her legs is an experience that no pony wants. But, no, like quicksand, Love can not fight too strongly or she risks getting pulled in further. His voice reaches her. They are starving him? Can they not feed him? The horror...

    She speaks up, trying to capture the voice she used back on the station. "Crow Locke. Paladin Crow Lock of her Her Majesty Luna's Night Guard. It's, me, Partial Charge. Love. Your friend. I used the Philomena's tram to travel to Tartarus Station where I first met you. We talked about how Luna sent me to go after Queen Chrysalis. You helped Harrier Squad and me accomplish our mission. We eventually got separated when the oxygen vented out of your Core Module." Love stops the story there. "You remember me don't you?"
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2017-10-15 at 04:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    The light dims. Shadows grow darker and hope fainter. A black mist oozes from the coffin, but only a little bit. Nothing like the bank of fog that appeared on Tartarus Station. Crow Locke half takes shape in it, strands binding him to the coffin behind. His eyes burn with madness and malice and his lips are curled into a snarl. "I remember you," he says, "Oh indeed I remember you. Traitor! I will end your miserable life!" He lunges forward, but the bonds of mist snap him backwards before he can reach Love. His snarl becomes feral, more beast than pony. "You have Luna's protection. How? How have you deceived her? What have you done with my princess!"

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    A frightful lunge indeed, but Love stands strong, trusting in Luna and having a certain readiness to suffer at Crow Locke's hooves. Things are going to get much worse before they get even a tiny bit better.

    Staying firm, she says, "Even now, you still think so highly of me? I'm not capable of deceiving Luna. She has a couple thousand years on me. My eyes and mouth are child's play to her. No, she's lending me her strength because I selfishly asked to speak to you. Do you know where you are now?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Crow Locke chuckles. "My princess makes do with imperfect instruments that might, and do, give way when she needs them most. But they are the best she can find. There is no valor, no virtue, in the hearts of ponies anymore. Only blackness and cowardice!"

    He begins to pace around Love, stalking her like a predator. "We are underneath Canterlot, down in the depths that you and your age have forgotten. You sit in towers of gleaming steel, forgetting the foundation of this land is built on the good earth! You've come so far and yet you have forgotten what all ponies knew before. You live only by my princess and her sister's grace. To them, you are but insects that they could squash beneath their heels. And someday, they will remember it."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    "How very cynical. I make no plans to expire, ever, but that's a story for another time. Ponies are still ponies. They contain valor and virtue. You saw that aboard the station. Ponies of their own free will being brave and fighting back the darkness of others."

    She drops her head. "I'm trying to bring back that old spark of ponies that you seem to think is gone. Not gone, only obscured." She raises her head. "I can show you. It might take time, but I can show you the strands of light that still warm the earth below. Not everything is darkness and gloom. Light still shines in ponies and the world. Simple joys and simplicity mixing with the complex to make a beautiful picture that paints a sight to behold."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    "Everything is darkness!" Crow Locke roars, "The Lord of Stars has arrived! Not in all his power, heavens be praised, but will you stand up to his insurmountable might? He which kept even I caged and trapped for nearly a century? The one whose subtleties not even Celestia can detect? These and more warnings I wrote in my journal. Did Luna read them? She is in great danger if she did not! She must flee this land, leave this planet, and find some secret, safe rock to hide upon until his eye turns elsewhere!" He sounds like a madpony. Perhaps he is. "She cannot trust you! Your kind will fall easily to him. To put her trust in you is to trust a faulty crutch!"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    "I will stand against him and all his might. He will pay for what he did to you, everyone. Celestia isn't alone in fighting off this scourge."

    "Yes, Luna read the journal. I transported it safely and securely. I never looked at what you wrote. So, if you expect me to know what was inside you'll have to share it with me. She must flee the planet? I..."

    "Do you think this Lord of the Star's is some outsider looking from beyond the planet? It may be possible, but we haven't found anything that suggests that. Listen, Crow Locke. Equestria has been under threat of siege and doomed dozens of times and the princess and the people of Equestria have always saved us. Why not take some comfort in that while we put our full focus on fighting off another death clock? Not relax, per se. We'll remain on our toes and alert to the incoming storm. We have to stay clear minded if we are to do our best and act rationally."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Crow Locke's laugh is hollow and hopeless. "Then you will fall. You will fall and fail. Equestria has shown bright for many eons, but even the stars must fade. Yes, the Lord of Stars is exactly that. A being from beyond, come to conquer and destroy and build and organize and..." His words began to ramble, growing confused and distorted.

    "This is happening more and more," Luna says, "I fear that he knows more than we, but we cannot trust his words for they are laced with madness. I cannot tell what is truth and what is insanity." She sighs.

    "He shall come! The eldest of them all. Older than all but Chaos itself! Flee, lest ye be taken up in his wrath and pulled asunder." He bares his misty teeth.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Love gives Luna a strong nod without turning around.

    "I will fight for Equestria for as long as I stand. The same goes for me defending Luna. I may fall, but peace and harmony is well worth the price I pay. Even if my actions add a insignificant percentage to turn away this thing I will gladly give myself over to the princesses."

    "Crow Locke?" she asks. "I brought books, newspapers, letters from the outside. Would you be OK with me reading them to you? I know you enjoy reading." She chuckles. "I tried to pick stuff to your tastes. Let me know if I missed the mark?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Crow Locke sits in silence for a long time. At long last, he quietly says, "I would like that, yes." He seems to calm down slightly, preparing to listen to what Love has to say. Really listen.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Spoiler: OoC
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    I was figuring all the reading would be fades to black and then starting up again whenever something needs said. Love is willing/wanting to visit him everyday to read to him.

    Crow Locke is a long term project! Love will try to help him long term/everyday

    Step one is to not let him be in solitary confinement while loneliness drives him mad. He's got enough problems without being tortured. P:

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Love pulls some books out of her pack and starts reading through the titles to see if he likes any of them. She also tries to see if she can sit at the edge of the pool and dip a hoof into the water in order to trigger the telecommunication effect.

    She decides against sharing any news, and she keeps the message for him till the end of their session. She doesn't want to get him all riled up, and ruin the rest of the session.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Crow Locke listens as she reads, the beast in him quiet and a bit of the pony returning. At the end of it, when she reads Diamond Hope's message, a strangled noise comes out of his throat. But his voice returns to the one Love remembers from the station. "I...I thank you for sharing that with me," he says, "Everything in me screams that you are still deceiving me in some way and that the poor filly has suffered some horrible fate. But I hope that is not the case. And perhaps I should listen to that hope instead. I will try, at least. For her memory if nothing else."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Love slides the magical crystal into her purse. A smile of her face in satisfaction. "It was my pleasure Crow Locke."

    "You can ask for some type of proof? Proof that'd be impossible to prepare ahead of time? Something so convoluted, arbitrary that no amount of planning could have foreseen the request. Hope is always good."

    "How about this: You won't have to worry about me deceiving you because I'll never ask for anything? Someone would only deceive you for some gain, right? I could simply never gain any benefit from doing, erm, this. Never share a secret. Never give me advice. Treat me like I'm trying to extract something out of you. Be on guard, but you'll see I never cause you to defend yourself."
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2017-10-25 at 10:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    There is silence from the coffin. But just when Love thinks he might be ignoring her or didn't hear her for some reason, he speaks. "I accept your terms. But know this! I will be watching you. Very. Closely."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    She smiles big at him. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

    "Let me know when you figure out what type of proof of life that you want."

    "In the mealtime, I brought you something special. Well, personal to me." Love reaches into her saddlebag and pulls out a sealed plastic blood bag. "Made by yours truly. I... figured they weren't feeding you the best. And, I am the best. So, here." She puts it in her hoof and offers it out to him.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Crow Locke reaches out for it slowly. His misty hoof touches it tenderly and then he snatches it away. With all the grace and manners of a wild best, he zips back into the coffin with Love's 'gift' in hand and tears it asunder. Love does not see exactly what he does, but she hears the sound of what she can only assume is consuming it.

    "Thank you," he says, "That was appreciated."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Awesome she thinks to herself. She's tempted to ask him how much blood would satisfy him a day (the minimum amount), but she did just say she wouldn't ask him questions.

    "Bon appetit!" Weird, she's never volunteered for ex-pieces of her body to be eaten before now. She can't say she likes the idea, but it's for a friend. A few minutes with a needle in her arm isn't going to kill her, hopefully. "Enjoy the meal. I'll be back as soon as I'm allowed."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    "Goodbye," he says simply.

    Luna gestures for Love to exit the pool.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Love says her farewells and steps out of the pool.

    She walks over to Luna and checks her features. Worried that the princess might have strained herself maintaining the spell, she moves in for a closer look. "Are you alright? I hope I wasn't too much of a bother."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Luna beams at her, not looking winded at all. "Nay. I am heartened instead. For tonight, I saw some of my old servant return to himself. So thank ye, Love, for thy faithful service." She hesitates a moment and then wraps Love in a hug.

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    The look of worry fades away, bringing out the smile that Locke caused and now Luna. Love returns the hug with all the tender love she can muster in a single action. Love practically melts on her with intimacy. Of course, love doesn't break off the hug. That's up to Luna.

    Though she does talk while hugging her. "Thank you for your kind words. I only came here for him. Ye need not thank me."

    "What are his arrangements like down here? He seemed malnourished."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: The Bat of Hermes

    Luna nods. "Tis difficult to keep a vampire fed, especially an elder one. I have not neglected my servant, but I cannot indulge him to the extent he would wish. A vampire's hunger far outstrips his actual needs. Were he released, he would be at full strength, I assure thee." She turns. "Come. Twere best we not linger too long where others canst not see us. I would avoid scandal if I could, for your and mine own sakes."

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