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Prose Equus 25: Windows to the Past.

By Mandroid
Created: 31st December 2020 10:33:42 AM

  1. -Prose Equus 25-
  2.  
  3. >Day one of your journey to accomplish the Queen’s quest.
  4. >It felt like many days since the two of you’d had your grim conversation on the battlements, but less than a week had passed. You look back on that night and cringe your face, disappointed in yourself.
  5. >You’d never been the kind to give into despair, and that was the reason you were given this afterlife, if you had to guess. Seeing yourself so downtrodden and defeated spiritually upset you.
  6. >You were alive (technically), and so long as you were, you would fight whatever was coming.
  7. >Until you could fight no more.
  8. >You grip your fist in quiet determination as the three of you walk through the moist jungles to the south and the panting over your shoulder gets your attention again.
  9. >More embarrassed now that you were so lost in your own head that you didn’t notice, you stop and turn back to your companions.
  10. “Rover…do you need to rest?”
  11. >You see Rover’s cloak shift back and forth with his deep gulps of breath, the little pool of spittle from his tongue staining the fabric. “…No.” he says after a few puffs.
  12. >Rover is a large dog, with no sweat glands, covered in thick fur, wrapped in a heavy cloak, carrying a massive sword on a stocky harness, in the middle of the jungle, at noon.
  13. >You are CRIMINALLY unconvinced.
  14. >”Oh no, I know that face!” Loki protests beneath the both of you. The tiny godling stomps her hoof. “We’ve been walking all day to reach the Temple of the Fallen Star and I’m not interested in being out here in the dead of night! He SAYS he’s fine so hop to it No-name!”
  15. “Oh man.”
  16. >You bend down a bit to get closer to her face.
  17. “You’re right princess, no one here would EVER tell a lie to save face about anything, right?”
  18. >”Oh, shut up!”
  19. “Make me.”
  20. >Before Loki can actually carry out that challenge, you stand up and point your thumb through the trees.
  21. “I hear a river through there the way we came. You may not want to, Rover, but would you take the opportunity to cool off if the Princess and I rest by the shores of it?”
  22. >Rover pants for several more seconds and wipes his brow. “…Wouldn’t complain.”
  23.  
  24. >Rover shrugs off his cloak, sword, and rigging the minute you get to the shore and wades in, paddling out to the center of the river and rubbing a white stone. The gentle rock turns to powder on his paws which turns to bubbles that he drags over his fur. You think you can see the steam come off him as you sit.
  25. “Rover, what is that?”
  26. >”Is soap stone.”
  27. “I thought soapstone was used for carving.”
  28. >”Well this soap stone used for making Rover not smell like wet dog after bath.”
  29. >The thought of that in the heat of the jungle enters your head.
  30. “Carry on then.”
  31. >”Hrmph.”
  32. >You sigh and put your hand to your ear.
  33. “Do you hear that, friends? It is the call of the Grumpy Princess, I didn’t know they were native to these parts.”
  34. >You instantly choke with the twinge of magic in your mouth as a dozen tiny spiders spill out from between your lips.
  35. >”Feeling talkative any more, wise-ass?”
  36. >You rub your tongue with your glove to get the last of the little monsters off and spit.
  37. “Overreaction.”
  38. >”No, that was me being subdued. I could have turned you into one.”
  39. >You know you can’t win in a battle of magic with Loki, so you let her get the last word here.
  40. “Temple of the Fallen Star…can’t say I’ve heard of it.”
  41. >”With good reason, if what Mother says is the truth.”
  42. >Loki’s desire to be the smartest one in the room would always overpower any temper she had.
  43. “I must say I’m surprised that she sent us out here to find it.”
  44. >Loki looks extremely annoyed for an instant. “I’m surprised that she was able to twist the existence of the Palantir out of you with so little effort, No-name.”
  45. “Now, now Princess, she probably always knew about it.”
  46.  
  47. >You lean back on the tree you’re on.
  48. “Still…’go out and take the amulet to these places that correspond with the swords I use’ feels out of left field.
  49. >”The Armiger are not ‘just swords’.”
  50. >Armiger…you know that term, the Queen used it when she took you down into the vaults.
  51. “Your mothers tools of war, right?”
  52. >”They are that…among other things.”
  53. “I’m listening.”
  54. >Loki watches Rover wag his tail and shake his head in the water under the shade of the jungle.
  55. >The Nine Realms are host to many powerful things, both living and dead. Your monarchs for example.”
  56. >You nod
  57. “They are at that.”
  58. >”Great power is not easily banished from the world. Creatures and individuals of exceptional note leave echoes upon the land in their passing. Those echoes will wander if left alone, and gather again if ignored, like moss to a stone…unless that power is reshaped by a superior will.”
  59. >You cock an eyebrow.
  60. >”Have you ever wondered why you have never encountered any of the other gods spoken of by mortals, despite their legend?”
  61. “…You’re saying your Mother killed them all and turned them into swords.”
  62. >”So crass…expected of a simpleton like you. No, they were not all murdered…some simply passed on, perhaps after having a deep connection to Mother in life. Each of the stories of the Armiger are different, and she has made each of them a part of herself. You can no more separate their legends from hers as you can separate your leg from your body.”
  63. >You chew her tale over.
  64. “Why would she want us to see them then?”
  65. >Loki rolls her eyes. “I’m sure I don’t KNOW, No-name. One minute I’m enjoying my evening in my room and the next I’m told that I’m to accompany you on a quest to learn about my Mother’s instruments of murder and also that she knows about the talisman I use to spy on people. You and she are such good friends now, why do YOU think she sent you out here?” Loki says with a pout.
  66. >You look up to the top of the tree and ponder.
  67.  
  68. >The Queens weapons…apparently inseparable from her…and your conversation about Ragnarok and the like…
  69. >Hmm…she said she wanted to abate your fears and then sent you out looking for these places with the Palantir. Sleipnir clearly had some sort of plan in mind for you, something that had to do with the Norns under the Well of Urd who were always watching her. If what Loki said was accurate about her weapons being part of her…
  70. >Could learning about the histories of the weapons be the Queen’s way of telling you about herself?
  71. >Your thoughts don’t get any farther before a choking sound comes from the river. You look out and see Rover wrestling with an anaconda the length of a house.
  72. “Oh farts!”
  73. >You jump to your feet and grab your sword, wading into the water.
  74.  
  75. -Later-
  76. >You press back against the hulking feline with your shield and all the might behind it, gritting your teeth as it pushes you back on the stone floor.
  77. >”Will you hurry up and kill that thing already!?” you hear Loki shout.
  78. “I don’t even know what this THING is!”
  79. >”It’s a Werejaguar, stupid!”
  80. >The cat-man snarls its affirmative and swipes its claws at you. Blood trickles down your face and it tries to bite into your shield.
  81. >No good, have to displace!
  82. >You tense up your legs until you feel the golden fleece around your boots tighten, letting you know the enchanted metal was ready to carry you a dozen feet away faster than the wind. You skid across the stone brick floor and level your shield before the Werejaguar collects its wits.
  83. >Despite a few slashes on its chest, it was barely wounded.
  84. “Tch! Who knew cats were so good at staying alive?”
  85. >Loki hops along braziers hanging from the ceiling while throwing flechette from small rifts in the air down at a trio of jaguars leaping up trying to get to her. “Why is it you think I know anything about cats?!” she shouts, hopping to another perch when one jaguar gets too close.
  86. >”Eels! Snakes! Occasionally worms! These are things I know about! Not ca-AHH!”
  87. >The Princess recoils when one of the jaguars successfully grabs onto the brazier she’s on and begins swinging a club at her.
  88. “Hang on!”
  89. >There you go making promises you don’t know how to keep again. Time becomes a crawl as you take stock of the situation.
  90. >Loki was a good dozen or more feet above you, far outside the distance you could jump.
  91. >Your shield is heavy and seems warped from the bite of the werejaguar, meaning it wouldn’t fly right if you threw it.
  92. >Speaking of werejaguars, the one you were fighting is now rushing towards you on all fours, no doubt to pounce on you and rip out your throat.
  93. >All this while the slamming sound towards the back of the room fills the hall.
  94. >”DO SOMETHING YOU IDIOT!”
  95.  
  96. >You grip your sword and take a single step back, pulling back your arm and throwing the blade through the air. The blade cuts through the air and pierced the side of the jaguar attacking Loki, sending it to the ground with a loud yelp, leaving the one about to dive onto you.
  97. >You clench your leg muscles again and scream ‘GO GO GO!’ in your mind to get the Fleece to become active again.
  98. >Before the jaguar falls on you, you make a quick dash to the right, going about half the distance of your previous retreat away from it.
  99. >This was nothing but a gamble, and you just hoped that you went enough distance both that the Fleece would have the power to carry you again and that you’d be going fast enough.
  100. >You raise your shield and flex again, this time dashing back towards the werejaguar that stands where you once were, wondering where its pray went. It looks over to you just in time to catch your shield face first with the force of the golden fleece behind it.
  101. >You most definitely feel something crack under your shield when you send the big cat flying backwards, it hisses as blood runs down its snout and scrambles to get up.
  102. >Until it touches a loose brick in the floor that sinks down into the ground.
  103. >Nothing happens for a moment as you meet its eyes, then the bricks give way and the werejaguar falls out of view. You hear it roar for just a moment before the sound is cut off.
  104. >You hazard a glance down, seeing the cat impaled on a collection of iron spikes at the bottom of the pit.
  105. “…Just as planned! Yeah!”
  106.  
  107. >”And they call ME the lord of lies!”
  108. >Loki floats down to your side on her puffed out cape or some sort of magic, you can’t tell the difference.
  109. >”You didn’t plan a second of that!”
  110. “I planned to succeed and that’s what happened!”
  111. >”That’s not how any of that WORKS!” Loki shouts through gritted teeth.
  112. “It worked for me!”
  113. >”Less fighting more fighting!” you hear from the back of the room.
  114. >Rover ducks under the axe of one of the werejaguars and swings his sword to drive back the other two he was engaged with. He flicks his paw and throws some knives strapped to his chest at the two of them while the one with the axe swings back on the followthrough, forcing Rover to stop the axe from reaching his face by shielding himself with his forearm. The diamond dog yelps in pain as the axe digs into his flesh.
  115. “He needs help, let’s go!”
  116. >Your feet are moving before the words finish leaving your mouth and almost before you register Loki shouting “You don’t have your weapon, you idiot!”
  117. “There’s no time to get it, take the rear one!”
  118.  
  119. >You hear Loki shout in frustration while you run to the back of the room. Rover had engaged the werejaguars atop a small ziggurat with a large golden wheel on top of it, perfectly aligned to catch the sun through a hole in the roof right in the center. The combatants dancing before it makes reading the hieroglyphs on it much harder.
  120. >You hear Loki open rifts and entangle one of the jaguars from behind with chins while Rover runs through his friend, trusting you to take the one at his back.
  121. >You look around the outer walls of the room as you climb the stairs, leaving only seconds before you need to get the jaguar.
  122. “Come on, come on-“
  123. >If that jaguar earlier fell into that spike pit then that must mean there would be more-
  124. >There, out of the corner of your eye, you see a skull shaped sconce on the wall that was tilted a bit more than the others.
  125. >You reach out with both hands and grab the jaguar by the shoulders before it can bury its axe in Rover’s back. With a mighty heavy, you throw the cat down the stairs so that it rolls across the ground and slams into the wall.
  126. >The werejaguar hisses as it gets up, not seeing that its impact has knocked the sconce to the side.
  127. >Meaning it also didn’t see the line of darts fired from the other side of the room that impact it in the chest, killing it before it even hits the ground.
  128.  
  129. >Rover winces and looks around, keeping his wounded limb close. “That all?”
  130. “Loki?”
  131. >”Just a minute.”
  132. >You and Rover turn to see the werejaguar Loki engaged drag its claws on the ground as Loki pulls it into a rift with the chains she wrapped it in, the princess watches statically as the cat’s howl is cut short by the portal slamming shit.
  133. >Rover and you silently share a look.
  134. “Princess are you o-ow, ow ow!”
  135. >Loki flails her slappy hooves at you which hurt more than normal because she keeps gold horseshoes on. “That was stupid you idiot! You had no weapon!”
  136. “A warrior’s mind is the greatest weapon he can have!”
  137. >”No it’s not! Swords are!”
  138. >Rover slots his own giant blade onto his back and begins licking his wound. “Agree with princess, sword beat brain every time. Hel, Rover use sword to beat brains.”
  139. >You pull away to get some distance from Slappy McPrincessliar.
  140. “Everyone’s a blasted critic.”
  141. >You look over the room of werejaguars that died defending this giant gold disc.
  142. “What now?”
  143.  
  144. >Loki looks under her coat where one of her poches is violently shaking back and forth. She reaches in and retrieves the Palantir from it which shakes just as violently.
  145. “How long has it been doing that?”
  146. >”How should I know? I was trying not to be kitty litter!”
  147. “Litter isn’t what cats eat, Princess.”
  148. >”Oh shut u-AH!”
  149. >Loki gets jerked by the magical time viewing amulet to the center of the room. When the two are in the direct sunlight, the force becomes too strong for Loki to maintain a hold on and the amulet floats up into the air.
  150. >The orange jewel in the center of the Palantir angles itself perfectly to catch all the sunlight from the hole in the ceiling and then, with a tweak, sharpens into a narrow beam of orange energy. The beam traces its way up the golden disc and causes it to glow the same color.
  151. “Loki…”
  152. >”It’s not-“
  153. >Like the Palantir, the golden disc erupts in a stark white fog that pushes away the massacre at the temple.
  154.  
  155. >You don’t feel your body.
  156. >The sensation is remarkably similar to the one you felt after you died, when you were carried to the halls of Valhalla.
  157. >You look over the jungle you were in from a view only the eyes of a bird can see and watch the sky spin backwards.
  158. >Faster and faster it goes, maddeningly so, centuries pass in the blink of an eye and the treescape beneath you changes like grass being blown by the wind.
  159. >It stops.
  160. >You can tell the air you see is still, even though you have no face to feel it. The sun hangs over the proto-jungle in the sky, just as it always ha-
  161. >There, cresting over a far mountain, another sun.
  162. >It shown like the heavens above, resplendent and gold, and shot through the air across continents at a speed that would blister the wings of the wonderbolts.
  163. >Behind it races a silver streak, hot on its tail and inching closer.
  164. >Where the golden glow fled, great fires erupted in its wake. The silver streak following it doused some of the flames just by passing, but that they remained told you that it was not its concern.
  165. >The streak gets closer to the glow, frightening it.
  166. >”Get away from me you beast!” you hear it shout.
  167. >The glow intensifies and splinters off parts of itself, golden gems that hang in the air for moments before exploding into a dazzling radiance of fire and light while the glow itself rockets up into the air so fast you can’t see it.
  168. >You try to avert your gaze as well as you can without eyes, and when you can focus again you are atop a hill next to the silver streak.
  169. >Or rather, Her Royal Highness Silver Streak Sleipnir of Asgard.
  170.  
  171. >However…the Queen looks different to how you normally see her. Her mouth not twisted into a scowl. Her mane, not as gray. Her eye, still fierce as it was but with a fire that rivaled the sun she stares into.
  172. >”Hiding there will not do you any good, Ishtar.”
  173. >No response comes.
  174. >”A hiding place may only work if I don’t know where it is…the mayhem you’ve caused in these lands for the sake of your vanity will end…NOW.”
  175. >Fragments of the sun break off and begin to fall to the earth, massive fireballs that incinerate kingdoms.
  176. >”And now you tip my hooves.” The queen says.
  177. >Sleipnir surrounds herself in the flashing images of the runes on her teeth. Complicated looking magical equations etch themselves into ground on sparks of light and the air excites with power.
  178. >Three streaks of quicksilver burst from Sleipnir’s shadow and race through the air at blinding speed, impacting the coronal ejections in the literal blink of an eye and extending further, farther, out into the space beyond.
  179. >”Wha-?!”
  180. >Sleipnir adjusts her footing and braces herself as the sun begins to shine brighter.
  181. >You turn your attention to it and see that no, it’s not getting brighter.
  182. >It’s getting closer.
  183.  
  184. >The quicksilver bands strain in the All-Mother’s grip as the sun plummets towards the ground and you see the glowing golden light panicking as it does.
  185. >”ARE YOU INSANE! NEITHER ONE OF US WILL SURVIVE IF YOU PULL THE STAR DOWN! NOTHING WILL!”
  186. >The All-Mother of Asgard did not smile, never smiled, never as you’ve seen her.
  187. >But the wide, full gummed grin she shines to the sky as she pulls the sun down in an apparent suicide move could break glass.
  188. >”THEN YOU’D BETTER COME OUT OF THERE, LITTLE ANGEL!”
  189. >The sun continues to fall rapidly until it seems to take up the entire sky, aiming to fall right on top of the All-Mother.
  190. >The golden glow, Ishtar, ejects itself from the sun riding a solar flare and bares down onto the lonely jungle hilltop.
  191. >”OTHINUS!” she cries.
  192. >”ISHTAR!” shouts the Queen as the streaks of quicksilver return to her, cutting through the air in the natural conclusion of their arc and impacting the solar flare right before it strikes the queen.
  193. >Again the light is too bright to see through and you wish you had eyelids to close.
  194. >You feel pain though you have no body and sting though you have no face.
  195. >When the light fades, the sun is back in its original spot hanging in the sky. A four sided chakram the size of your torso stands embedded in the grass before Sleipnir, each blade being an immaculately carved feathered wing alongside a razor sharp blade, meeting in the middle at a sunburst effigy.
  196. >You see the Queen smirk before the vision begins to fade and the feeling of your body comes back one inch at a time.
  197.  
  198. >You, Rover, and Loki wobble as you all come back to your senses. Rover gets down on all fours and whines.
  199. >”Stupid…magic…”
  200. >You take some deep breathes, getting the air back into your lungs and looking around, at the temple, amulet, the gold disk depicting a black wolf pulling the sun down from the sky.
  201. “She said she pulled the sun down to get one of her weapons…I guess she wasn’t lying.”
  202. >”Demiurgy.” You hear Loki say.
  203. >The Princess stairs down at the ground, oddly pensive. “It was…demiurgy. A practice so old and unused not because of its profanity or taboo, but because no one still exists who may perform it correctly.”
  204. “What is it?”
  205. >Loki’s eyes narrow. “It is…an act of utter domination. To make your ruling over another beings spirit so absolute, so total, that you may dictate their physical form and bind them to it. You saw the vision, no-name. It is a way of turning angels and their like into a weapon you’d hold in your hooves.”
  206. >You go closer and kneel down.
  207. “I get the feeling you don’t like it.”
  208. >Loki gets that indignant puff of her cheeks. “I am no one’s knife to be wielded.”
  209. >You nod and pat her back, she lets you.
  210. “I understand, don’t worry. I’m sure if she wanted to do that to you, she already would have.”
  211. >”How comforting.” Loki says, dripping with gratitude.
  212. >”Queen want us find more of these?” Rover asks, wrapping his injured limb but keeping it close to his chest. He was clearly wounded.
  213. >You nod your head. “At least a few, but I have the feeling you’re about to tell us you’ll need help.”
  214. >Rover snorts through his nostrils. “Paw hurt. Rover can lift sword, but slower. Defense would be hard.”
  215. >You raise your palm to him.
  216. “Worry not Rover, I think I know someone who can come along with us who is an expert in defense.”
  217. >”Oh no…” Loki groans.
  218.  
  219. >Day Five of your journey.
  220. >You dive into cover behind a large bone protrusion just as the blast of icy magic creeps up your leg and encases it.
  221. “Oh for the love of Pete!”
  222. >”Who in Hel’s name is Pete?” asks Princess Loki, hiding behind the rock and peeking out to fire a small knife from her rifts out over it.
  223. “It’s just a figure of speech!”
  224. >You grab a rock and begin striking your foot to get the ice off.
  225. “How are the others??” you ask over the din of battle on the other side of the rock.
  226. >”How should I know?” demands the princess “I can’t see a thing in this snow! Why did we have to come here today when the weather is like this!”
  227. “Loki it’s the middle of nowhere in the Tramplevanian Alps! It’s never NOT like this!”
  228. >”That’s hardly my fault!”
  229. >You finally break your leg out.
  230. “I tell you what is your fault! That I’m stuck out here without a weapon fighting-“
  231. >A shadow falls over the two of you. Both of you know that with moments to act, now wasn’t the time to argue. You both leap back, diving into snow as your assault crushes the massive rib bone you were hiding behind and roars a blizzard into the air.
  232.  
  233. >”Why the Hel would an ICE BLADE be effective against FROST TROLLS, no name?!” Loki shouts, getting the attention of your massive assailant while you get to your feet.
  234. >At your age, you really shouldn’t ever expect any part of your life to be easy, but even you were a bit at the edge of your rope here.
  235. >An uncharted valley hidden in the mountains near the Ibex Empire.
  236. >Containing a MASSIVE dragon graveyard.
  237. >That was now entirely populated by a tribe of frost trolls.
  238. >And you without your sword, though you didn’t exactly have an answer to Loki’s point.
  239. >”No-name!” you hear her chide as she pulls on the frost troll’s arms with a pair of chains. “I had to call in a ton of blackmail to get those things I gave you reforged to fit your gross ligaments so USE THEM AND HELP ME!”
  240. >You grunt and stuff your hands into a pair of dragon head ornamented cestus.
  241. “Clear a path!”
  242. >You dash towards the beast, ice in your lungs making them sting, and cock your arm back as Loki gets out of the way. You do everything you were taught, using your momentum, waist, and shoulder to deliver a powerful punch…
  243. >Which the frost troll seems to barely feel.
  244. “…LOKI!”
  245. >”CALL OUT IT’S NAME!” she cries back as the troll raises its arm.
  246. >You pull back your other arm and take a deep breath.
  247.  
  248.  
  249. “GERBERA!”
  250. >A loud BANG like a dragon’s roar echoes through the valley once you contact the troll, sending him reeling back on the shockwave.
  251. “Whoof!”
  252. >You put some pepper in your hits but that amazed even you.
  253. >”It isn’t done, keep going!”
  254. >You look and see that the troll is indeed getting up to its feet. With renewed confidence, you race towards it and grip your weapons tighter.
  255. “Not so fast!”
  256. >You skid on the ice and deliver another powerful hit to the wrist of the troll, feeling something snap as you pass by and get underneath his chin to unleash an uppercut to his jaw.
  257. >The troll rocks back, holding its jaw with both hands and leave his torso wide open.
  258. >You dash forward and let loose a flurry of blows into his midsection. You bob and weave around his attempts to swat you away, counting the blows you land.
  259. “One! Two! Threefourfivesixseveneightnineten!”
  260. >The eyes of your cestus alight and spread an orange flame from their mouths over your fists.
  261. >The troll, upset at the assault he was weathering, cups both his hands together and raises them over his head to smash you into goo.
  262. >He drops his fist, you dash backwards and let it skirt past you, then kick off his thumbs and pull your own fist back.
  263. “Go to HEL!”
  264. >Like the dragons surrounding you once did, an eruption of flame bursts forth from the mouth of your cestus and ingulfs the head of the frost troll, it doesn’t even get time to shout before it hits the ground in a heap, lighting the area in its funeral pyre and making the ice collected along the bones of these ancient titans glisten in the moonlight.
  265.  
  266. >You stare at your hands
  267. “Princess I take back everything I ever said about these.”
  268. >”Hmph!” you hear over your shoulder. “As you should, No-name. I am ALWAYS right.”
  269. >You cock your eyebrow and look at her as the fires in your cestus die out.
  270. “Always.”
  271. >”ALWAYS!”
  272. >You let her have that one and look out into the snow. You can see the fire reflected in the eyes of the frost trolls, too frightened to come near it and attack you.
  273. “Well now…”
  274. >You bend your neck and crack it, igniting the flame in the mouths of your cestus again.
  275. “I think we stumbled onto something they don’t like, Princess.”
  276. >”Posture later, can you hear them?”
  277. >Both you and the trolls turn towards deeper in the blizzard, where the sound of someone striking a large slab of gold echoes through the night along with a cocksure. “Hah! Didn’t even feel it!”
  278. >The trolls look back to you.
  279. “Don’t even try it.”
  280. >You say it like you mean it, but what was the story of your life?
  281. >No one listens to Anonymous when it matters.
  282. >The trolls turn and run towards the sound, intent to help their brothers.
  283. “Loki we have to move!”
  284. >”I can see that you idiot!”
  285. >Loki and you give chase to do the same.
  286. >You trail behind the trolls a fair distance, them being more adept to navigating snowbanks than either of you. Along the way you pass even more dragon bones, each thicker than tree trunks, with skulls large enough to build a house in.
  287. “Loki!” you pant out.
  288. “What makes all these dragons come here to die?”
  289. >The tiny princess has to hop like a rabbit to get through the snow banks.
  290. >”Dragons are!” “Instinctually drawn!” “To power!” “If a large enough!” “Dragon died here!” “Then the others!” “Would find themselves!” “Drawn to this place too!” “At the end of their lives!” she says, bunny hopping through.
  291. “So another instance of going somewhere just because you’re supposed to…”
  292. >”I suppose that compulsion reaches across the lines of species!”
  293. >The clanging intensifies and the two of you pick up the pace.
  294.  
  295. >”Hah! Try again!” you hear, followed by the low roar of a troll getting wounded.
  296. >The metallic sound echoes out again alongside more jeers “Not even close!” before another troll tries out.
  297. >You and Loki finally push through the snow to where the trolls you were chasing ran and found them surrounding the other two of your party, though not taking them yet.
  298. >Baldur stays low underneath Rover with his wings outstretched, watching the trolls in front of them while Rover watches behind, his injured paw still wrapped and held close to his chest while his other one hefted his massive sword.
  299. >Baldur glows with his usual incandescence and the trolls look away from him or block their own eyes. “Hah! And they call me ugly!...wait, I think I insulted myself…”
  300. >One of the trolls decides to do something about the light and comes up behind the two with a hammer.
  301. “Look out!”
  302. >Baldur turns to see the troll approaching and stays low under Rover as the diamond dog gets into position. With a flick of his wingtip, Baldur contacts the hammer, which flies back as if it’d struck the side of a mountain with a golden sheen.
  303. >”Not a chance!” shouts Baldur to the troll.
  304. >”Wide open.” Remarks Rover as he thrusts his sword forward and pierces the troll’s chest while it’s still stunned.
  305. >Rover pulls his sword from the corpse of the troll and lights the whole bloody thing on fire, casting harsh shadows into the night and frightening what remains as the flames reflect off Baldur’s armor alongside his own glow.
  306. >”We make a good team, friend!”
  307. >Rover gives a rare smile and rests his sword on his shoulder. “Never had job go this easy with smiling pony…pretty good.”
  308. >”And I’ve never met someone so good at conversation!”
  309. >You and Loki join the boys, having all put the pieces together.
  310. “They’re not used to the light up here.”
  311. >”Or the heat.” Rover says.”
  312. >”What say we light things up a bit for them.” Baldur remarks.
  313. >”And banish this BLASTED cold!” Loki shouts.
  314. >The four of you break and run towards the now frightened trolls.
  315.  
  316. >After the battle, there’s just as much fire in this valley as there is snow and ice.
  317. >You look at the cestus’ adorning your hands and smile at your reflection in the dragon’s eyes.
  318. “Loki, do you mind if I keep these? They came in handy tonight.”
  319. >And another elementally powered weapon would be useful.
  320. >Loki looks over from where she warms her hooves on the body of a troll, her nose running. “Huh? Sure, keep them, we already warped them making them fir your ‘hands’…Baldur! Has any progress been made on finding…whatever the Hel it is we’re out here looking for?!”
  321. >”I don’t know, sister!” the prince calls back as he returns from his search with Rover. The prince may be invulnerable, but even he looked tired now as he slumped by the fire and lit the area with his sheen.
  322. >”The other trolls nearby are frightened off by our presence after we defeated their friends and keep their distance but this valley is LITTERED with the bones of these dragons! And those bones are so covered in ice and frost that it’s almost impossible to look in them! We don’t even know what we’re looking for!”
  323.  
  324. >Baldur dramatically flails his body in frustration, casting the reflection of the fire off his armor around on the ice.
  325. >As he does, your pocket buzzes.
  326. >Which means-!
  327. “Baldur, hold still!”
  328. >Baldur stops rolling around on his back with his legs frozen in the air as you get the Palantir out from your pocket. “Ah? No-name?”
  329. “We’re doing…something right here” you say, moving around the campsite.
  330. >You look out over the ice and bone fields, the vibrating started when Baldur’s sheen started bouncing everywhere.
  331. >”No-name?” asks Loki.
  332. >You follow the glow of Baldur’s light with your eyes, watching it go up the skull of a truly massive dragon and alight its eyes with the light of the fire reflected off godly armor, catching the ice that’s collected in its eye sockets.
  333. “No…wait.”
  334. >You look closer, that wasn’t ice.
  335. “They’re crystals!”
  336. >The crystals punctuate your sentence for you and emit rays of light that the Palantir collects, exploding out another bank of illusionary fog.
  337.  
  338. >You had no body again but this scene was drastically less cataclysmic then the last, no falling suns, anway.
  339. >You’re next to the Queen, standing still as a statue amidst a blizzard and wrapped in thick furs. She looks different than she did hunting the angel; she was more weathered, but not without a wisdom behind her eye.
  340. >Said eye looks ahead to the walls of the blizzard. She takes a breath.
  341. >”Golden Dragon of the Valley, I come to bargain.”
  342. >The winds of the blizzard are pushed away by a massive draconic head lifting itself from its rest on the side of a mountain. The massive snout of a serpentine dragon bares down on the Queen, its once golden scales now a muted yellow and its horns weathered and gnarled. It painfully opens its pink eyes and takes note of the visitor it has.
  343. >”All-Mother…” it says with a tired croak. “I knew of your ascension…forgive me for not attending.”
  344. >”There is nothing to forgive, Great Kohryu. My ascension to the throne was…unpleasant.”
  345. >”As are many…” the dragon begins. “When your father, and his father before him ascended, they did not visit me as you do. To concerned with their conquests and order.
  346. >The Queen averts her eye and looks down at the snow of the mountain. “I have had enough conflict for many lifetimes…I hope to never see it again.”
  347. >”You and I…both know…that to be a comforting lie…” the dragon wheezes.
  348. >Sleipnir closes her eye and swallows that before changing the subject.
  349. >”The order of Midgard is still my purpose for being here, great one. You-“
  350. >”I know…” he says. “You have come on the right day, I believe…I will soon venture into the sky, and my time in this earthly realm will reach its conclusion, as it does all things.”
  351. >”But.”
  352. >The dragon closes his eyes and sighs, the heavy sigh of disappointment so vast that it can’t be spoken of. “But…my kind are not me…they seek not the path of peace, but of competition.”
  353.  
  354. >”If one of them were to get your scales, your power…”
  355. >”Yes…” the dragon says. “I will not be responsible for such damage to this world that has been so gracious as to birth me into it to see its wonders…”
  356. >The dragon opens its eyes again and looks down to the Queen. “You would do this for me?”
  357. >This close, you see Sleipnir’s jaw lock behind her lips. “Yes.” She bites out. Sparks of golden light manifest in the air, birthing the Queen’s spear into the world.
  358. >”I will see to it that you leave this world as honorably as you lived in it, great one…and I will ensure that your scales and your power never enter the service of those who would see the world you love so dearly burn for nothing…Such is my charge.”
  359. >The dragon closes his eyes for the final time. “The crown…is heavy, All-Mother… I am ready.”
  360. >For but a moment, stillness sits in the valley.
  361. >As Gungnir explodes into the air and through the great golden dragon, its physical form immediately begins to dissipate into a million billion motes of golden light raining down over the snow.
  362. >Sleipnir who had kept her head down and eye closed, finally lifts it and snaps her good eye open with a startling intensity. She stares at the air before her and the golden motes turn and flood towards that spot.
  363. >As the golden dragon Kohryu had broken apart, now did the golden blade Kohryu form. Like the noble creature it once was, the greatsword that forms out of the motes of light is massive, half again as tall as you were. The body forms of intricate scale wave that shifts and fades into an almost angelic pattern as the great dragon ancestor’s spirit became one with the Queen.
  364. >The lights fade, the sword rests in the air, and Sleipnir takes it in her magical grip without a word. From the last glimpse you see of her before the vision fades, you think she would have preferred the dragon over the sword.
  365.  
  366. >Day Nine of your journey.
  367. “FLOCK OFF FEATHERFACE!”
  368. >You loose the arrow knocked in your bow from your vantage point at the top of the ruined battlements and nail a direct shot on the winged terror before you.
  369. >The harpy cries out as the arrow pierces its heart and falls down into the fog below. It’s death cries, however, call half a dozen more of its friends to you.
  370. “Damn!”
  371. >You pivot and run, jumping down some stairs and running across the top of the wall.
  372. >”The last memory shard we’re looking for is in the ruins of Tambelon” they said.
  373. >”It’ll be safe” they said “What’s the worst that could happen there?”
  374. “I’ve been eaten by spiders already I’m not trying to get eaten by harpies!”
  375. >You hear the flapping of their feathers and the heat of their breath on your back as you pick up your pace. You opted for a bow for this outing, remembering the songs about how tall Tambelon’s walls were and intent to do a little sniping, but bows were almost useless against foes that could chase you down this fast and melee weapons were entirely useless against razor sharp harpy talons.
  376. “Worse than the gryphons-!”
  377.  
  378. >Abandoned weapons littered the tops of the battlements, the remnants of some long-forgotten war. You may not be able to fend off six harpies with any of these, but one of them may buy you a few seconds to come up with a better plan.
  379. >You scoop up a shield and turn just as one of the harpies lunges at you, digging its talons into the rain softened metal and tearing it away from you.
  380. >Okay, maybe just one second.
  381. >But that was all your luck needed.
  382. >Three bricks fly over your head and strike the harpy in the face. You knew that gryphon bones were hollow from basic training, and harpy bones were no different, cracking and shattering even as the bricks themselves explode into dust while the harpy falls to the floor, gurgling its last.
  383. >”GET INSIDE!” you hear Loki shout behind you.
  384. >You suck in two lungfulls of breath and run along the last stretch of the battlements and into another one of the raised towers on the wall, getting in just in time for Loki to slam a metal door shut when the harpies get through the cloud of dust.
  385.  
  386. >”I told you to make one with a ROOF your perch!” she admonishes.
  387. “I needed a clearer vantage point!”
  388. >You draw another arrow and fire it through the hole Loki made when she pulled a brick out.
  389. “I bagged more than you from that vantage point before they came after me!”
  390. >”Only because I had to drop what I was doing to keep you alive!” Loki shouts, slamming a table up to the window when one of the harpies sticks their talons in.
  391. “Call us even for all the times I’ve had to cover for you!”
  392. >”OH GIVE ME A DAMN LIST!”
  393. “I DON’T HAVE MY QUILL AND PARCHMENT RIGHT NOW!”
  394. >You fire through any opening you can, hitting a few of the winged terrors outside but already hearing more on their way
  395. >You also feel your quiver getting lighter.
  396. “I don’t suppose you can pull more arrows out of those little gateways of yours.
  397. >Loki nearly trips. “DID YOU NOT GRAB A MAGICAL BOW?!”
  398. >This is news to you.
  399. “I wasn’t even aware there WERE MAGICAL BOWS TO GRAB!”
  400. >”IT’S A CITY AT THE EDGE OF A RAINBOW BRIDGE UNDER A GIANT TREE IN THE SKY AND YOU THINK BOWS THAT MAKE THEIR OWN ARROWS ARE OUT OF THE QUESTION?!”
  401. “Well it sounds stupid when you say it like THAT!”
  402. >You fire an arrow, reach back for another, and find only empty leather to greet you.
  403. “I’m out.”
  404. >”Fantastic!” Loki shouts “Now I get to die like cousin Hod did!”
  405. “How did he die?”
  406. >”HE USED A BOW THAT RAN OUT OF ARROWS YOU TWIT! I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YO-“
  407. >”Stop shouting and duck!” you hear from outside.
  408. >There was no time, so you tackle Loki to the ground
  409. “Backup’s hear!”
  410. >The second the two of you are on the ground, everything above you gets ripped off its foundation.
  411.  
  412. >The crumbling remains of the tower you were hiding in sails through the air along with the harpies that surrounded it, crashing into one of the central spires of the city and shaking it to its core. The spire wall crumbles at the force of the impact and, only having three sides to support it, falls to the ground as well.
  413. >The harpies still in the air after that are plastered by something flying too fast for their eyes to see and drop into the dust cloud below the walls with the rest of their flock.
  414. >Loki lets out a deep sigh beneath you as your savior lands on the wooden floor behind you.
  415. >”…Should I come back?” asks Mjolna, god of thunder. “Should I expect another nephew?”
  416. >”Sister, would you like to be cursed? I can make that happen for you.” Loki says, batting her hooves on your chest. “Get off of me, No-name.”
  417. >You roll your eyes and roll to the side.
  418. “I believe you have nothing to worry about prince-“
  419. >”Just Mjolna.”
  420. “-nothing to worry about, Mjolna. Loki was JUST telling me how much she hated me.”
  421. >Loki groans and gets to her hooves. “No friend of the god of lies should be so gullible…” she says. “I do not hate you, No-name, despite how easy you make it at times.” Was her apology.
  422. “Right back at you, princess.”
  423. >Mjolna offers a wry smile. “Welcome to my life.”
  424. >”Quiet.”
  425. >”DIDN’T even thank me for saving her hide from the harpies.” She continues.
  426.  
  427. >Speaking of harpies, the screeches on the wind tell the three of you that they’re not done with you yet. All three of you are on alert as Mjolna catches her hammer in her mouth. “Do we know where they’re coming from?”
  428. “They may be bigger, but harpies are dumber than gryphons. They have to have a nest nearby and if we can get rid of it, they’ll scatter like leaves.”
  429. >”They initially came from the south, I saw it when we first kicked up trouble.”
  430. >Mjolna hops onto the remains of one of the destroyed walls and looks out over Tambelon, seeing a swarm of the winged terrors round a spire and fly in your direction.
  431. >”You two get to the nest and take care of it! I’ll keep their attention off you!”
  432. “Are you sure you can take them all?”
  433. >”Hah!” she laughs, letting her hammer sag and spinning it around. “Who the Hel do you think I am?”
  434. >The thunder god jumps off the tower and lets her hammer carry her into the murder of birds. A great impact rings out over the city with a clap of thunder that shakes the old stones and you watch the flock turn and fly away, several of their number already falling down. Mjolna throws her hammer after them and, with the swiftness you remember from the Everfree forest, gives chase after them by bouncing between old roofs or running along the side of the great walls of the city.
  435. >”Well, now she’s just showing off.” Loki remarks.
  436.  
  437. >You had to scavenge some arrows from the surroundings, not easy considering the distance the harpies had to fall when they died.
  438. >Just as Loki had said, traveling south along the wall lead you towards a giant a small valley with black earth surrounding it. Nestled in the back of the pit in the ground was a tree stump of massive proportions, larger than even the keeps of Asgard’s wall.
  439. >And even from here you can see the piles of twigs, hair, and bones that were patched together on its remaining and hollowed out branches that the harpies took their refuge in.
  440. >When the subject of how you were to knock it down came up, Loki spoke without looking at you.
  441. >”I once learned of a spell that will allow us to destroy that tree, but it will depend entirely on how accurately you can shoot. I’ll be too busy concentrating to aim for you.” She said.
  442. >And that was how you ended up kneeling on the edge of a cliff trying to aim your last arrow so that it flew through two portals the size of dinner plates over two hundred feet away in the air.
  443.  
  444. “…You can’t make them ANY larger?”
  445. >”You can’t…aim…ANY better?” Loki grunts out as sweat rolls down her face. She has her eyes closed and is on her knees as runic sigils rotate in the air around her. The single glance you give her makes you remember that at least some degree of her attitude was warranted; she was truly a master class spellcaster, even if she made it look easy most of the time.
  446. >She was still a total brat, but you understand why. You’d probably be a brat if you could do half the things she did too.
  447. “Okay…just hold it a bit longer then.”
  448. >”No…rush…”
  449. >You take a deep breath and focus, consciously trying to will your heart to slow down so its beating didn’t ruin your aim.
  450. >You hear your old mentor’s voice in your mind, running you through your archery drills back when you were young.
  451. >Clock the wind on your skin, account for the pull.
  452. >For every hundred feet, adjust your aim by another knuckle on your fist.
  453. >Empty your mind of everything you hear, taste, or smell. Turn your senses off one by one until the only things you experience are the ones that help you with your shot.
  454. >And then when you’ve reduced your entire universe to just you, your bow, and your target…
  455. “Re…LEASE!”
  456.  
  457. >The string TWANG’S in your ear and the arrow sails through the air, passing through the first portal and coming out the other side untouched.
  458. >Except for the fact that the arrow was now on fire.
  459. >You tilt your head sideways in confusion.
  460. >The flaming arrow cuts through the wind and reaches the second portal, this time going through and vanishing from sight.
  461. >Seconds tick by and nothing happens.
  462. “…”
  463. >Loki lets out the breath she was holding and pants. “Uhg…I hate doing that.”
  464. “Uh…what exactly was it you did?”
  465. >Loki looks up so you do too.
  466. >You see the flaming arrow fall out of a golden portal over a thousand feet up.
  467. >How can you see it? Because the flaming arrow had now grown to the size of a large bridge and was falling straight down onto the harpy’s nest.
  468. >It cuts the sky in half and the impact shakes the ground for a half mile. The iron head cleanly skewering the ancient trunk and the fire quickly engulfing the branches.
  469.  
  470. >A moment passes between you and Loki at all the spectacle.
  471. “…That’s a good trick.”
  472. >”Mm.” Loki nods. “I once read the scrolls of an ancient Ibex king who fought the colossal gods of his time with a pole that could stretch and grow. It took all my concentration but transmuting it for our purposes was simple for me.”
  473. “I see…and the portals were so far because?”
  474. >”You try to do three complicated things at once.”
  475. “Of course.”
  476. >Another moment passes between the two of you, but it’s Loki who speaks this time. “Don’t tell me you’re still mad about what happened at the tower…”
  477. “No, it’s fine.”
  478. >You shift your weight.
  479. “If you hate me that much, I can avoid you. I’ll associate myself with your brother and everything you don’t like can be in one place, easy to avoid.”
  480. >Loki sighs and sits on her rump.
  481. >”How long have we known each other, No-name?”
  482. “It certainly feels like longer than it is.”
  483. >You glance down at the littlest liar, she looked oddly tired.
  484. >”Then by now you have earned my gratitude. I…did not mean what I said back there, my sister…brings out the worst in me.”
  485. “A-huh. And why should I believe a legendary liar.:
  486. >”Because lies only work if you tell the truth sometimes.”
  487.  
  488. >Against your better judgement, you ruminate on all that. Even further against it, you sit down next to her and pet her head once. To your amazement, she doesn’t buck you off.
  489. “Why your sister?”
  490. >Loki blinks a few times to think. “She and I…we were brought up together, but we couldn’t be further apart. She was given a hammer, the responsibility, the praise, the glory. I worked hard for the magic I’m permitted to have, scorn, and punishment.”
  491. “You know that you get at least some of that because of your attitude.”
  492. >”Was not one of your own princesses welcomed back after she nearly killed all of the mortals over the jealousy she felt to her sister?”
  493. “Got me there…”
  494. >Loki sighs. “I am…the way that I am because my family has everything that I should desire, but they don’t want it. It’s like…starving and seeing a lifetime of food rotting in a ditch.”
  495. “What you ‘should’ desire? Do you not want what they have?”
  496. >”I don’t know what I want.” She answers curtly, and you can tell that response is loaded with more than you could cover today.
  497. >You nod.
  498. “Start with what you feel you don’t want to lose; desire that and go from there.”
  499. >”More advice than I’ve gotten from them…” Loki says, rising to her hooves. “Well…I don’t desire to have you mad at me over a misunderstanding, so I offer my heartfelt apology.”
  500. >You stand and put your fists on your waist.
  501. “I accept.”
  502. >”Which means you also accept the risk that if you tell a soul about this, I’ll light you on fire.”
  503. “So business as usual.”
  504. >”Exactly.” Loki says, smugly. “Come on, let’s go see the tree. You and I both know that the fragment we want is down there.”
  505. “We do?”
  506. >”Of course. It’s always been on top of the strangest thing in the area.”
  507.  
  508. >As Loki predicted, the Palantir begins to react the minute you get into the smoke of the once great tree.
  509. >You blame her magic.
  510. >This time, however, the amulet reacted as it always had, by simply encasing the two of you in a dense white fog. You still felt your body, you still saw Loki next to you, but now shapes and figures moved among the pit, two in fact.
  511. >The tall one with eight legs was easy to place, but the equally sized one with the long tail next to her was unknown to you.
  512. “Who the Hel’s that, she looks like a sea-“
  513. >”Shh!” Loki exclaims.
  514. >The figures speak.
  515.  
  516. >”To think that even the a sacred ash tree could fall to this malice…disgusting.” One of them says in the voice of the Queen, although with a much more vibrant timber to it.
  517. >”I sense it goes far deeper than just this oak, my friend…this city will be home to dark sorceries in due time.”
  518. >”There you go trying to predict the future again…” the queen of the past remarks.
  519. >You think of all the trouble Tambelon gives and all the legends surrounding its former master.
  520. “Well that didn’t age well…”
  521. >The eight-legged figure kneels down and scoops at the ground. “Ord, look…the mark of the Etir is here as well.”
  522. >”Surely he wouldn’t-“
  523. >”No, he would not.” She rises up. “This must be…something else, some other evil that we have not yet foreseen, perhaps it was the one that caused Vil to venture off in the first place.”
  524. >”Like some dark whisper?”
  525. >”Exactly like…something is very wrong.”
  526. >”I feel it too…come, let us return to the shrine.”
  527. >The two figures walk past you and you hear Loki suck in a lot of air while the fog fades.
  528. >When you can see her more clearly, you see that she looks like she was just caught stealing something, like a frightened child.
  529. “Lo-“
  530. >”She had both eyes.”
  531. >You look between the princess and the space the figures were in a few times. You knew who she was talking about, anyone could.
  532. “You’re SURE?”
  533. >”I SAW it, No-name. It was like they both looked right at me.” Loki shivers.
  534. >You look back towards the flaming tree and the smoke billowing into the sky, then at the Palantir in your hand.
  535. “How OLD was that?”
  536.  
  537. >Back above the world in the shadow of Yggdrasil, No-name, Loki, and Mjolna return from the latest and last mission you sent them on.
  538. >You watch the three of them return into the palace for some much-needed rest from atop a high tower and silently wonder what they saw when they reached the Tree.
  539. >Would they learn what you needed them to just from what brief glimpse into the past that amulet could offer? Tempting them with stories of your gods-turned-weapons was a trick that would not work twice if they got frightened off, and you dared not send your ravens to peek around in the event THEY saw it.
  540. >Your socket beneath your patch stings at the thought, you have to push it away.
  541. >At the same time, the small piece of silver you kept hidden beneath your raiment twitched.
  542. >You knew what it meant, and you allowed the voice at the other end into your ears.
  543. >”I felt a surge of magic at in your realm in a place I wanted never to think of again, what do you know?”
  544. “Hello to you as well, Ord.”
  545. >”Answer me, Sleipnir.”
  546. >You blow air from your nostrils.
  547. “Just…dealing with my children.”
  548. >”We both swore to let the deeds that place heralded rest in the ashes, along with everything that touched it.”
  549. “Not everything burns that easily.”
  550. >”Then that would be on you, wouldn’t it?”
  551. “Aye…”
  552. >You glance up to the setting sun. It was one of the only things across your life that was the same now as it was when you were younger, even after what you did to it to get Ishtar. Perhaps you should be friendlier to Celestia.
  553.  
  554. “You know how children can be, Ord. Endlessly inquisitive and attempting to hide knowledge from them will only make them seek it more. There were things I…wished for them to see.”
  555. >”I have never found hiding forbidden knowledge to be that difficult.”
  556. “Yes, well I would like to see my children again in my life.”
  557. >The silver strand stills, and the voice is silent.
  558. “I apologize.”
  559. >”We both made our choices.”
  560. “But I don’t have to throw yours back at you.”
  561. >”What are you scheming?”
  562. >You laugh, even the voice on the other end of the strand wasn’t used to hearing that these days.
  563. “When have I ever answered that?”
  564. >”I believe the last time was before you gave up your eye.”
  565. “Then you really ought to know better by now, shouldn’t you?”
  566. >Even as you say it, you can feel her tired smile.
  567. “The ghosts of our past will ever haunt us, Ord…unless they are unearthed.”
  568. >”And you believe your children can bear that weight?”
  569. “I have shaped them to from the moment they were born. I have to trust them now.”
  570. >”I almost wish I could share the feeling…”
  571. “Is that desire I hear in your voice, O’ Queen of the Silver City?”
  572. >”I perish the thought, Battle Wolf.”
  573. >You chuckle, you remember that old name.
  574. “Peace, that is all I scheme, Ord. Peace of land, peace of mind, and peace of body.”
  575. >”Says the God of War.”
  576. “If you desire peace…”
  577. >”You fed me my share of war for a billion lifetimes.”
  578. “Suit yourself.”
  579. >You begin down the stairs back into the palace. The other side of the link understands and the silver in your chest stops twitching.
AiE Safe Anon OC Adventure Action Drama

Prose Equus 26: Bleeding Gods.

by MAndroid

Prose Equus 25: Windows to the Past.

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Prose Equus 24: Death Sentence.

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Prose Equus 23: Spooky Scary Symbiote.

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Prose Equus 22: Dust and Crypts.

by Mandroid