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Cold Edge Anon Part 20

May 27th, 2014
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  1. > Just when you think the procession of horrors couldn't get much worse, you are proven, reality goes out of it's way to personally spit in your drink.
  2. > A light pink mass burgeons out of the portal, marred by blue veins. It's like Picasso tried to paint a tree with skin and blood vessels.
  3. > It just keeps coming, dropping thick tendrils when it can no longer hover under the power of its levitation.
  4. > At last, a gigantic pony head comes through, easily as large as a full grown stallion.
  5. > It dangles from the barn sized cloud-flesh, blissfully unburdened by the rest of what you would call a body.
  6. > Cthomblu bows low, and the monstrous head dips in response.
  7. > Shombroth speaks in the Royal Canterlot Voice,
  8. "WE WELCOME THEE, HEIRS OF TAMBELON. THY NIGHT HATH ENDED AND THY DAY DAWNETH. DRINK DEEP THY FREEDOM, AND MAKE THY HOME WHERE THOU WILT."
  9. > The shadowkin ponies dispersed, often in triads of each type.
  10. > What you guess is their king stays by the gate, cloudflesh rippling softly, as if blown by a current flowing from the gate.
  11. "Thou hast changed much, Shard King."
  12. > Sostbur inclines his head graciously.
  13. "High praise indeed, as it doth come from the First Unbound. What think ye of mine haven?"
  14. > The First Unbound lurched into motion, drifting over the ground, tendrils silently padding along.
  15. > He brought his head to the edge of his cloud, and snuffed deeply of the Northeast gate.
  16. "It is quite delectable. But it is not wholely of shadow crystal?"
  17. > He sniffed more delicately.
  18. "Ah. Greetings, He Who Peers Through Ice. It is good that thou keepest watch, for I do fear my peghast children may partake too deeply of thy magnificent edifice."
  19. > Your blood runs cold. You're not sure you want to know how he knew about you.
  20. > You have just enough presence of mind to reply.
  21. "Greetings, First Unbound. I take it that the peghasts eat crystals?"
  22. > The head shakes, setting off disquieting undulations in the cloudflesh.
  23. "Nay, but we do feed upon proximal thaumic sources and currents. As King Sombra's kingdom is composed entirely of summoned crystal, it is fair game to our tastes. Be ye not troubled, however. The striders doth tend to ambient magic, and even now are cultivating thy walls and currents to bear the burden of feeding."
  24. > Your attention turns towards the citadel again, and you see what he means.
  25. > The eerily long-limbed ponies are teasing the crystal into lotus-like nodes.
  26. > You can feel magic pouring in, reinforcing and piling up.
  27. > It's then that you notice another pattern. Wherever the fiery ponies go, the nodes receive a slow surge of magic.
  28. > You think you are getting a sense of the food chain in the shadow world.
  29. > As you bring your attention back to the First Unbound, you reconsider what you think that unseen current was.
  30. > A lot of the fire ponies passed through that gate.
  31. "And by what name are the fire ponies known, they that lead currents?"
  32. "So thou noticed that particular quality! They are the beacorns, who sacrificed much to sustain their brothers and sisters in exile."
  33. > The rest of the morning passed more or less uneventfully, as the shadowkin settled into what buildings as were not the dwelling places of the dragons.
  34. > The First Unbound remained outside, refusing any shelter.
  35. > It turns out, he was once a pegasus prisoner, and the first to adapt to a thaumic diet.
  36. > The shadow world had nothing much in the way of food, and those that survived the banishment had adapted to feed on the relatively abundant magic.
  37. > Even so, the First had spent too long imprisoned to be comfortable in any enclosure.
  38.  
  39. > You return to your dragon monitoring.
  40. > Frozen stands by the panoramic window, idly watching the shadowkin wander the city.
  41. > If anyone could make sense of this development...
  42. "So what do you make of this?"
  43. > She turns to you.
  44. "The shadow plane has a higher thaumic potential."
  45. > You check the nodes by the Northeast gate and yes, consistently higher intake.
  46. > Hmmm.
  47. "Will the magic in the shadow plane equalize anytime soon?"
  48. > Frozen shakes her head.
  49. "A single opening of this size will take millennia to syphon enough for the planes to equalize."
  50. > Meaning the Kingdom of the Shard is going to be considerably more magical than most other places, assuming the gate remains open.
  51. > It's... troubling. Sombra now has access to a lot of magic, as well as an army of horrors who are accustomed to that level of magic.
  52. > He's been making good progress, though.
  53. > You're pretty sure he couldn't persuade a nation of former prisoners to a shadowmancer to join him like he was.
  54. > You groan.
  55. > He's unicorn moses.
  56. > Here's hoping Celestia doesn't go all Pharaoh on him.
  57. > Actually, that's your job, if he gets out of hand.
  58. > Welp.
  59. > You pass the time tracking the currents made by the beacorns.
  60. > After some initial muddiness, they settle into a torus through the city, occasionally going inside or outside, but always returning to the main stream.
  61. > It's considerate of them; they actually walk the full circle rather than run against the current.
  62. > Eventually, you notice a bright spot lingering at the tower base.
  63. > You focus and find a shadowkin trio while Seanbra climbs the stairs.
  64. > Something about his grin quiets some of your fears, and stokes others.
  65. > When he reaches the room, he is keeping a innocently cheerful expression on his face.
  66. "I knowest thou hast reservations, yea even dinner plans about our new arrivals, but fear not!"
  67. > Was that a pun? Okay, something is up.
  68. > Or you are rubbing off on him.
  69. > Bonbonbra continues.
  70. "The three tribes hath selected liaisons who shall dwell nigh unto thee, in the interest of mutual understanding."
  71. > Nigh unto-
  72. "As in living with me?"
  73. > He nods.
  74. "Hath thou not many rooms in thy mansion? Whilst we doth speak on this matter, what thinkest thou of extending a wing or two to act as a foreign embassy?"
  75. > It's your house!
  76. "It's my house! Built with these hooves!"
  77. > You shake your hooves in the air like a milkman shouting about tradition.
  78. "Pfffffha hahahaha!"
  79. > Dang it, Skeletonbra is laughing at you!
  80. > You point at your element of brotherhood.
  81. "Is this any way to treat thy brother?"
  82. > He sobers up enough to reply.
  83. "Art thou not mistaken? Inviting strange guests into each other's residences, is this not an ancient tradition among brothers?"
  84. > He's got you there.
  85. > On one hand, you are already Equestria's diplomatic emissary.
  86. > On the other hand, it's your house. Why can't he just make his own wing?
  87. > On the magic horn, it's better that Crownbra doesn't have unlimited surveillance on the embassy.
  88. > Look at my brothers face. He's having fun. It's sensible.
  89. > Look at my brother's eyes, so hopeful.
  90. "Well, children, when shall we have the wedding?"
  91. > Frozen stumbles.
  92. > Charmbra's eyes widen.
  93. "I had not thought thee agreeable to that most ancient of arrangements betwixt foreign powers! Thy enthusiasm becomes thee, brother!"
  94. > Frozen glares at you.
  95. > You put a restraining hoof on Tawnbra's shoulder.
  96. "It was a joke, I'm not getting married at the drop of a hat."
  97. > You pause, and honestly compels you to add,
  98. "Again. Not that it didn't turn out great, but that's a rare thing."
  99. > Frozen looks mollified.
  100. > The king just looks confused.
  101. "So do ye consent to live with the liaisons? We may converse on the other matter at a later date."
  102. > You sigh.
  103. "I do. Let's get this train wreck started."
  104.  
  105. > The three of you go down to meet them.
  106. > You clear the last staircase and get a good look at your new roommates.
  107. > The peghast mare grins at you from atop her cloudflesh, her hooves smooshing her cheeks.
  108. > The beacorn bows her head solemnly.
  109. > She is young enough to still be mostly on fire, with a few hints of smoke in her mane.
  110. > The strider stands stock still, looking away shyly.
  111. > She's easily a head taller, though most of it is legs.
  112. > Her coat is almost black, but with a deep purple sheen.
  113. > You wonder if you should be concerned that the universe is pushing potential waifus at you in increasing amounts.
  114. > What's next, a set of four succubi?
  115. > Well, that might be alright.
  116. > Yenbra gestures to the strider.
  117. "Lord High Pouncelor Anonymous, I introduce to you the Lady Abyssal Priestess Ngee Chi, of the Returning Gaze clan."
  118. > You bow to her, and she bends her knees, in what you guess is a horse curtsy.
  119. > The king continues.
  120. "And this is the Lady Coronal Enchantress Nore Ihi, of the Knowing Pyre clan."
  121. > The beacorn scratches a line in the ground, then steps over it.
  122. > You hesitantly do the same.
  123. > The flames on Nore's cheeks darken, and you suspect you just implied something intimate.
  124. > Hornbra coughs, then continues with a grin, that bastard.
  125. "And finally, Captain Zenith Sweeper Xylalon Dero, Fifty-sixth Branch Unbound."
  126. > She rolls onto her back and sinks into her cloudflesh.
  127. > You glance nervously at Gownbra, who nods towards the peghast.
  128. > You look and see her emerge from the lowest point, and walk to you, tendrils trailing from her wing bones in the place of feathers, leading back to the cloudflesh.
  129. > She holds out a hoof.
  130. "Nice to meet ya."
  131. > You shake it, glad for even a hint of normalcy at this point.
  132. "Likewise."
  133. > Everyone just sorta stands around awkwardly.
  134. > This is one of the downsides to power-based monarchs. Sometimes, they can't into socializing.
  135. > Unfortunately, you are somewhat in the same boat.
  136. > Worse, everyone is looking at you.
  137. "So... I'm going to eat lunch, then we'll get you gals settled in. Sounds good?"
  138. > You get a chorus of affirmatives.
  139. > Lunch itself is somewhat awkward.
  140. > Of the six, you are the only who has to eat.
  141. > You spend most of the meal self-consciously chewing on your food, while everyone watches you.
  142. > You're honestly torn on whether or not to risk whatever it is that grants whatever form of immortality that skips the stomach.
  143. > It sounds really convenient, but you just know there's some hidden cost.
  144. > You catch a glimpse of your two favorite dragons and excuse yourself from the table.
  145. > Just as you get out of earshot, you hear Xylalon say,
  146. "Did you see the size of his barrel?"
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