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 A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)

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TathemRelag

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PostSubject: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Tue May 08, 2018 9:18 pm

Under cover of night, a strange group of seven individuals was escorted by black-armored members of the Royal Guard into Canterlot Castle through the ancient and forgotten mine tunnels that ran beneath the mountain city. They were led through the castle's sublevels to a dimly-lit, windowless room before the guards silently filed out. As the individuals' eyes adjusted to the low light, they saw three other figures in the room with them. Two alicorns, looking down on the assembles individuals with their manes flowing gently in a nonexistent breeze... And a thin, somewhat pretty, but otherwise entirely ordinary unicorn mare.

Luna surveyed the assembled group with a raised eyebrow. "This is your idea of an elite black ops team, sister? I realize you do not have great experience with such matters, but surely you could have picked a more skilled and professional group than this."

Celestia responded with a sigh and a shake of her head. "We went over this already. Multiple times. We can't use our normal agents for this and maintain plausible deniability. And a group this colorful -"

"Motley," Luna muttered under her breath, earning her a mild glare from her sister.

"Is far less likely to be immediately seen as a professional force operating for a major government," Celestia finished firmly. "Now, no more arguing." She turned back to the assembled ponies. "You all know why you're here. But most of you don't know each other, so let's fix that." She gestured to unicorn mare standing beside her. "At least one of you already knows Fine Fantasy, skilled empath and little-known resident of Canterlot Castle. She is not, however, a trained killer like some of you, so I highly recommend that you do your very best to keep her safe." She narrowed her eyes and went silent for a moment to let that sink in before continuing. "She was not originally part of this group, but she insisted on joining you when she learned that Crystal Sparkle," she gestured to the pony in question, "would be participating in this mission. And no, she is not related to the Princess of Friendship, so don't bother trying get get Twilight's autograph from her or something like that. What she is is a conjurer of not insignificant ability, specializing in her namesake. She grew up here in Canterlot, so she also has more experience dealing with stuck-up urban nobility than most of you."

"Next, Purse Cutter. Most of you may know her better as the infamous thief Hoodwink. She is, in fact, one of our more effective, if not necessarily well-controlled, intelligence agents. She will be in charge of this mission. If you cannot come to a consensus on any issue, defer to her judgement. She will probably lead you on the most hedonistic, unnecessarily criminal of all possible effective courses of action, but it almost certainly will be effective. Blue Sensation -"

"And if he ever refers to himself as 'The Chosen One,' you have our permission to hit him and tape his mouth shut," Luna interrupted.

Celestia chuckled. "Yes. Blue Sensation. Minor noble, forger, photokineticist, attempted murderer, and narcissist. Keep your eyes on him at all times. He'll betray you at the drop of a hat if he thinks it will benefit him, but he's still the most effective assassin in this group. Hopefully, you won't need his particular set of skills, but it is unfortunately necessary to keep our options open in this case." She nodded to the next pony in line. "Dr. Florid Corposant. Alchemist, tinkerer, mildly adept electrokineticist, and the closest thing this group has to a medical doctor. Moral of the story: Don't get hurt. Still, Ponigsberg gets some strange technologies and artifacts sometimes through its illicit trade deals, so if you find anything you don't understand, bring it to him before messing with it."

"Now, Salem Sunrise. He's..." Celestia hesitated for a moment, then sighed. "Well, there's no nice way to put this. He's a psychopath and a murderer. However, he's also a skilled combat mage, so if things turn into an open fight, you'll need him. He also has some knowledge of magical healing, though you might be safer going to Dr. Corposant for that. Then there's Lord Diamond Mind, another minor noble. His family has a long history of skills in both battlemagery and precognition, so I'm sure he'll prove quite valuable to you in numerous scenarios. And finally, there's..." Celestia trailed off with a frown as she stared at the individual standing next to Diamond Mind. "I don't recall sending a summons to anyone else. Who are you?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Wed May 09, 2018 1:21 am

The trip through the castle had been utterly uneventful, to the point of even lacking any fine decorations to view. Well, fine for the regality of a castle like this, at least. Certainly less austere than the keep that was now home. Some of the travelers were familar. Some were strange. None of them were entirely clandestine...well, except for the thestral. She was a strange one.
Then again, so was the strange pair that Kami Kaze was a part of.

"Ah, I'm afraid that Lord Diamond Mind has recently become a package deal." spoke up the strange individual, a changeling of all things, stood next to the aforementioned noble and dressed like an everyday noble as well.
That is to say, a black, pleated blouse, long-sleeved, though that was hard to tell against black skin...or chitin as the case may be, and with a thick, ruffled lapel. He wore a thin, cream skirt that reached past the knees, emblazoned with strips of yellow down the sides. Silken stockings and shining shoes coupled with it well; curves had been accentuated with a corset, clearly, though it was also clear that the curves had been there before, and the changeling could have almost been built like a wasp, if wasps came with fangs and yellow membranes on their heads.

The mare was shorter than Diamond, but in every other respect he was the bigger of the pair. A thick arm wrapped around the noble's petite little waist made that clear. Oh some might have implied the changeling as 'fat' or, more politely, 'big boned', but although there was a lack of definition in that limb, it had tensed up and squeezed upon the stallion when the Princess had spoken up. And at being addressed by the diarch so directly, he had stood up fully, to look the princess in the eye as close to 'evenly' as possible. As evenly as a 5'3" pony could match a goddess's glare, at least.

"I am Lady Kami Kaze, fully accredited monster hunter and slayer of beasts, and I'm not about to lose my honeymoon to a royal decree. This bonehead might have a family history on his side, but he'll need his better half." he led on, pausing before continuing further, "Surely you must have heard about the wedding, if you were looking into my sweet husband. No? It was such a lovely affair, so sad that attendance was so low, and then he carried me all the way though his father's keep on a quest to the bedroom, just to prove a point."

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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Wed May 09, 2018 1:53 am

Striding through the old tunnels Salem couldn't help but grin and feel a sense of excitement as he anticipated the coming briefing. Even the idea of meeting such grand figures as Celestia and Luna only made those feelings swell inside him, manifesting as a pleasant rising sensation in chest.

For a moment Salem wondered if perhaps his obvious euphoria looked strange. After all even he was aware that the weathered looking black long-coat and capotain [complete with a rather fetching blue feather stuck through the brim] made him look like somepony that would fit in more in a museum or some festival that celebrated more barbaric times. However his bizarre and extremely outdated outfit only added to his naturally odd appearance. Standing at 5'11, the unicorn's coat was a light grey colour while his tail and mane [which was nearly shoulder length and tied back in a ponytail] were as pitch black as the pupils of his bright blue eyes. Even stranger were the tufts of fur on his ears and his all too visible and distinctive pointed canines. Altogether a very strange looking pony indeed.

To Salem, though, the trifling matter of his appearance didn't faze him all that much though as the moment he was looking forward to approached and when the group was led into the room  and left with the Princesses and... some unicorn, he didn't care much about her as instead he gazed upon the two alicorns and realised... they were somehow even more impressive than he pictured them.

As the briefing began Salem had mostly ignored the initial bickering over how "professional" the band he found himself a part of were as he decided which out of bowing or getting down on one knee sounded better for making a first impression worthy of their majesty but sill he found the grin slowly fade into a soft smile as he caught a little of it regardless. He took the time to look upon each of his future companions as they were mentioned and besides the remarks regarding the sort of path this "Purse Cutter" would likely have them take if they hit a wall but it still did little to knock the sense of wonder he felt about this moment... until Celestia got to him and the smile on his face died a little with each word she spoke until it was replaced by a pained look in his eyes instead.

Suddenly Salem found his euphoria becoming a familiar but nonetheless unpleasant feeling. Reverence and respect had turned into an ache in his heart and a bitter taste in his mouth and for a few, nightmarish seconds, he remembered how close he was to "home" then and that made it all feel a little worse. Wanting to make some effort to perhaps defend his character Salem opened his mouth to say something but rather than speak he ended up just standing there with that look in his eyes and his mouth wide open in shock.

Salem didn't register Kazi's introduction or the fact she was a changeling but not because of the excitement that had rendered him uncharacteristically oblivious to it a mere few seconds earlier. No, it was this damnable and all too familiar ache instead.


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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Wed May 09, 2018 5:17 pm

The white-furred unicorn that had been addressed at Lord Diamond had been walking next to the changeling that had introduced herself as 'Kami Kaze' the entire time, his left arm around her shoulder and showing off the inherent height difference between the two, as he stood around 6' 2". His body was slim, though it did not appear fragile, and was draped with a dark blue gambeson that was fastened at his waist and breeches (specifically knickerbockers) that contrasted with his mahogany red, intentionally messy mane and tail, with a set of sheathed blades on his right side, one that could be thought of as a large knife and the other, fastened below it, very clearly a sword. While the names and roles were being rattled off, Diamond shot Blue Sensation a smug, shit-eating 'I-told-you-so' grin while moving his free right hand to the hilt of the knife, simply letting it rest there.

However, when Kaze was addressed by the Princesses, Diamond tensed up and prepared to speak, but Kaze beat him to it. He smiled as she made plenty of good points, but had forgotten something. Thankfully she omitted the part of our little wedding where I passed out next to the bed after setting her down...that would have been embarrassing to have other ponies know. He waited until she was finished speaking to interject. "Princesses, if I may. I am trained in the art of war, but I have not taken a single life. As much I would wish for that to stay, I will eventually have to do so, and I will hesitate when the time comes. Kaze, however, as she is my better half, is certainly more competent in such things than I am, and witnessing her dispatch several of Lord Sapphire's guards in the in under a minute during a test of her skill was certainly most impressive. I believe that this would be a most opportune time for my lovely wife to prove her loyalty to her new homeland."

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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Wed May 09, 2018 6:00 pm

When the letter had arrived Florid had at first ignored it; too enthralled by his latest experiments he did not notice the letter until much later. So when the black-armored members of the Royal Guard knocked on his office door had been quite the surprise indeed, listening to their summons and albeit a bit confused at first. Listening to them he asked to be let to fetch his travel supplies and not to mention his alchemical bag. Following them over to the side of the carriage they had arranged for him, he signed the letter on the side of the carriage, handing them the letter. Opening the carriage door for him he was motioned to step in first soon followed by the guards who slammed the door shut behind them.

The ride had been a bit on the bumpy side, though Florid did not say a word lest the guards drill into him with their withering emotionless gazes that frankly made the stallion uncomfortable as if they were staring right through him. Playing with his fingers during the whole ride, the windows having thick black velvet curtains drawn over them preventing sunlight from entering the carriage and obfuscating just where Florid thought he was. The only light in the carriage was two dim unremarkable yellow globe hanging on the backboard just above his head and the guards' head. Only vaguely aware to how much time was passing they came to a sudden halt which threw Florid partially towards the guards. Sent sprawling to the floor he quickly picked himself up and his alchemical bag while the two guards stepped outside.

Stumbling outside he was ushered silently along those stone corridors, ancient and forgotten mine tunnels leading all the way to that windowless room with the two princesses and the unicorn in tow. At this point Florid ran his fingers through the erratic and disorganized mess he called a mane to no avail in making it at least somewhat presentable. Random almost Ætheral blue and white cable like bundles of hair sticking out at random position. His striking blue eyes darted around the cavernous room, taking as much in as he could and even observing a the few others in the room. He was smartly dressed in a howie style pristine white lab coat, black buttons running up both sides of his chest and across the prow of his shoulders. A single button held a wide collar loosely around his throat with a special hood that was draped back. The lab coat reached down to around his hooves, covering most of his form. He had a pair of black thick lens brass goggles around his throat, dangling and swaying to his movements. Across the broad of his chest and down his legs is a thick brown alum soaked burlap apron hooked around those buttons providing protection for his front. The same brown material forms the large gloves on his hands. Black rubberized boots lead up to his mid leg with a bit of fold over. By his side is a ratty old satchel bag, the bag lightly clinked against his side with every step.

Moving towards the individuals gathered around the two princesses, sheepishly Florid did the same. Maintaining a healthy distance from the rest of the group and the princesses he began to interlock his fingers together, rolling his palms together. When the princess mentioned him specifically he gave her a weak smile, though avoiding direct eye contact with her. He would however flash his gaze towards the changeling, he had never seen a changeling nor been this close to one. This one was different then what had been told to him. Undoing the snap on his bag he reached in, grabbing a small notebook and a pencil he began to jot down details about each individual there and a few notes of his own for how might he have to deal with them in the future.

Once the Lord and changeling had stopped speaking Florid, tucked the note book and pencil into his lab coat chest pocket and stood straight in all his glory, a surprisingly nearly 6’8” tall though his form was highly willowy as if it seemed a strong breeze might blow over his lithe body.  Flicking his gaze just to the side of Celestia he spoke in a low murmur, his voice soft to the ear. “M-y-y-y princ-cesses, that is… You-r-r Ladyships…. I was Cur-cur-ious about th-the-e miss-ss-ion you have…” He was shaking like a leaf in an autumn breeze, his form trembling at the mere presence to the princesses, the closest proof that gods could exist though still unsure about the validity of such a claim. He wasn’t normally like this even in front other others but this close to the rulers was certainly unnerving to the doctor. Grasping his hands to prevent them from shaking he still had the goofy weak smile on his face while small beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Thu May 10, 2018 9:19 am

It was not surprising for The Chosen One to receive such a missive summoning him, nor was it any great honor. He could have given some shallow lip service to such a thing, but they were well enough acquainted to see through it. Attempted murderer and yet a skillful assassin. Those two statements were juxtaposed. It only failed by a literal inch though, and maybe they knew. If his woefully insufficient experience in their eyes made him the expert, then it was concerning.

The Chosen One was not in his finest state, a notable tear at the front of his shoulder where a cape may have sat, but always made sure to turn a respectable appearance. As a stallion who possessed self worth he was suited, though not in the colours drab and dark. Light blue and white, with the mark of a man with depth, a velvet collar. A bold and striking motif for the body and striking stallion. Some might have adopted long trails to the coats of their suits, but they were misinformed and behind on fashion, even more so than that hack of a fortune teller. Double breasted and wide enough on the shoulder to take up as much room as needed to house his full presence.

The fact the princesses remembered his title, and even encouraged others to disregard it, so as to not draw more attention than needed. The efforts of each princess gave wings to his heart. There were the occasional times they made a move he found he could agree with. “Those who presume to know the motives of The Chosen One may find themselves surprised. Whatever barbarians you want dispatched no doubt have scarce amounts to offer. To that effect, what is in this for us? Your standard ponies who heel at your order may do it out of a warm hearted love for their country or a sense of justice. But if I am as base to, as you seem to think, betray so easily at the scent of advantage, then I trust pride is your lowest offer for incentive?” The fact was that loyalty to your country didn't help you to maintain a lifestyle worth living. “Perhaps an endorsement of my already prestigious fanclub?” To showcase his pride, he casually tossed his illustrious mane. Some might have seen a strand or two of gray, but they were merely liars looking for a way to slander.
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Sat May 12, 2018 2:39 pm

Celestia maintained her frown as Kami Kaze spoke, her eyes narrowing even further when the changeling raised herself to her full, if less-than-impressive, height. Her scowl shifted to a disgusted grimace at the mention of a quest to the bedroom. "I don't think I need to hear what you do were doing in the bedroom."

"You may not wish to hear it, sister," Luna said, leaning forward slightly, "but I am very interested in what occurred when they were alone together."

"Luna! I know you have a thousand years to make up for, but that simply isn't polite!"

Luna waved a hand dismissively. "I am not interested in that. But surely, you must also be curious what an unreformed changeling might have done when she had a member of Equestrian nobility alone in a room with her?"

"Ah... Yes." Celestia sighed. "That is something I'd like to know. Maybe we should send a letter to his parents, ask if they've noticed him acting strangely since they started seeing each other." Ignoring Diamond Mind's statement, she turned to Florid Corposant and gave him a small, reassuring smile. Right as she opened her mouth to speak, however, she was cut off by Blue Sensation's posturing. Both Princesses sent glares in his direction.

"I hope you do not mind if I borrow some things for a moment," Luna said, glancing between Diamond and Florid. With her magic, she drew Diamond's dagger and pulled a roll of surgical tape from Florid's satchel. With the dagger, she cut off a length of the tape, then returned the rest of the roll to the satchel. She then sent the dagger flying pommel-first into Blue's forehead and slapped the piece of surgical tape over his mouth before returning the dagger to its sheath. "You were warned," she told him mildly. "And no, we will not be endorsing your fan club." She said the words as if they were from a foreign and rather unpleasant-sounding language - whether out of unfamiliarity with them, distaste, or a combination of the two, it was hard to tell. "However, in the event that you both accomplish your mission and survive, you will be well-paid." She turned to face Celestia. "Go ahead, sister," she said, noticing Salem's expression as she did so and raising a questioning eyebrow.

Celestia chuckled and shook her head. "Now then, Doctor Corposant... What did you want to ask?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Sat May 12, 2018 11:41 pm

Diamond Mind's smile changed to a frown, then from a frown into a glare at the Princesses. They were simply going to assume his wife was evil despite evidence to the contrary and then presumed that his father was grossly incompetent. This would not stand. He let go of Kaze, taking a step forward to interpose himself between the princesses and her. "You could assume that my wife is a special kind of stupid evil and try to fight her in spite of the fact that this was an arranged marriage, but given your track record, that's a terrible idea. What could you two possibly do against a changeling so confident in herself that she'd simply come before you openly, with no trickery or disguise?" He moved his hand from his messer to his grosse messer, taking another step forward for more dramatic effect. "Furthermore, you have no right to insult me, my wife, or the judgement of my father, my mother, or Kaze's mother, the ponies and changeling who arranged this marriage for the greater good of both parties. If I felt unsafe or threatened by my wife, I would go to neither of you, no insult meant for you Princess Luna, I'd go to my father, Princess Cadence, or Princess Twilight Sparkle. Given recent events, I have no reason to believe that you could even dispatch this 'Lord Brass Ponisberg' character, much less my wife or even myself. Especially considering I can simply replicate the skill to kick magic soccer balls at you."

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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Sat May 12, 2018 11:58 pm

For a few seconds Salem locked eyes with Luna, his expression unchanging as he stared back at the Princess. He didn’t really say anything he just... stared back, still speechless and shocked by the remarks made about him, and to his face no less. Surely a Princess would have more tact, no?

Then Diamond stepped forward and started to speak and that dragged him back into reality. When he mentioned Kaze, Salem finally registered the presence of the undisguised changeling in the room with them but rather than say anything about it he instead found himself listening to the noble’s words and silently nodding along to his outright mockery of the diarchy’s seeming complete inability to deal with threats (and on the Kaze front at least she wasn’t one of those garish and allegedly ‘reformed’ sleeper agents). At one point Salem even mumbled under his breath. “Hmph, go to your father and they’ll be using words like “murderer” and “psychopath” to describe him for actually dealing with a threat...”
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Sun May 13, 2018 7:38 am

It was no small amount of pain that was inflicted by the princess who’s country he was meant to be protecting. He sat in silence as he nursed himself.
It was the fate of the special to be scorned. He was just so great that no one else understood him, meaning his claims to the outside observer were considered mad. To endure the vicissitudes of such a life was only further proof that greatness lay ahead. Blue did not find his request unreasonable.He did not need nor want for money, and there was a name for those who did kill for money he refused to associate himself with. Stopping a war with the sheer force of his brilliance was payment enough.
.
Blue did not remove the tape, as it was a gift bestowed by the ever wise and never wrong princess, and so it had to be for a good and valid reason he was silenced and not an arbitrary exercise of authority. It was an excellent display of maturity that showed just how fit she was to rule. All mares were petty, spiteful, cruel and not to be kept anywhere near power. There was not a mare with power he had met that did not become twisted by it.
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Sun May 13, 2018 1:02 pm

When Diamond stepped up, Kaze shifted a bit on his feet. His left foot lifted, then settled, building up to a rhythm as Diamond continued to talk...and then as he came to his little conclusion, all hell broke loose upon the room.
Kaze moved. His foot set back on the ground one last time and then the other finally lifted up, and in the blink of an eye, he was elsewhere.
Yellow and black appeared before Salem, and a finger waggled at him dismissively, "Don't go encouraging his behavior."
And then he moved again, looping around the group to stand in front of Diamond, facing him. Two fingers rose up in tandem on a right hand, and in an instant they met the noblepony's snoot, before withdrawing. And then they struck again. And again.
And again.
"That's more than enough." he said, pushing gently on his beloved's beloved nose, "Hand off the sword. And don't you dare step in my way to 'defend' me again. You do not stride between a warrior and his foe, so why do you interfere so in mine battle?"

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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Tue May 15, 2018 8:54 pm

Purse Cutter had quickly made herself at home once the escort duty was complete, leaning against the nearest wall as the sisters conducted their brief and clearly only half paying attention as she focused intently on a rubiks cube she had brought to the room with her, though she tore her eyes from her handheld puzzle long enough to at least tip her bright pink top hat in acknowledgement of the group once she was introduced to them by name, her green eye twitching a little. Granted her identity as Hoodwink was almost certainly not going to stay secret on a mission of this nature but Celestia's casual giving the game away clearly irked the diminutive thief.

Given she was supposed to be in charge here the small thestral hung back and allowed Celestia and Luna to continue the briefing until she started to pick up on some of the... quirks of the team she was allegedly meant to be leading.

"You know Celestia, you didn't have to go so far in getting me a competent, organised set of professionals..." Purse remarked sarcastically, though unlike Luna she was grinning broadly as if she highly approved of this. "Like hot stuff over here said." Purse remarked casually jabbing her cane in Celestia's direction. "I've gotten landed with the job of leading you all on this mission where odds are good we'll all die horrible and undignified deaths... and that's before we get to Ponisberg judging by what I'm seeing..." She added as Luna struck Blue hard in the forehead with a dagger pommel. "Luna, ya mind not giving them concussions until I'm done with them? Leave the tape though, it's an improvement." Purse snickered. "Oi! That wasn't an invitation for the rest of you to start beating each other up." Purse added, sounding a bit annoyed now.


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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Thu May 17, 2018 2:25 pm

Florid kept his mouth silent for the mot part listening to all of these folk either bicker, snidely attack one another or straight up make the whole thing sound like a suicidal mission. Watching them left no real sense of confidence in their ability to provide in the moment of need. That certainly made his expression change slightly from that of uncomfortable to one of crestfallen nature. However his shoulders slumped forward a bit in dismay at the fact all this decided to go down just before the mission itself. Florid did nothing to stop Luna withdrawing the surgical tape from his ratty satchel bag. He did raise his hands to his lips, covering his mouth to stifle a chuckle. The accidental humor created by Luna made a small smile to his distressed demeanor helping him relax a bit.

Bringing up his shoulders into a more relaxed position, folding his hands in front of himself again and interlacing his fingers into a scholar's cradle. Resting his hands above his groin he did as his therapist had said when it came to stress. Breath in... one... two... three... Breath out... one... two.. three. Taking a deep breath trying to steel his resolve. Closing his eyes and doing the breath exercise once again he opened his eyes to look at the princesses before speaking in his timid tone. “Thank-k you princess... I me-mean my Lady Celestia.” He took a breath and clenched his fist to stop his stuttering, focusing directly on Celestia and pushing aside all the noise around him. “Lady Celestia, I wanted to ask about the mission itself. I wish to know all the facts and what you might expect of us, hopefully not as hopeless as some would suggest here.”

He did not seem to notice anyone else around him as he focused directly on Celestia to help lower his overall stress and quieting his mind. Staring at her neck to avoid her direct gaze he was flexing his hand behind his back, clenching and releasing multiple times.
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Fri May 18, 2018 1:20 am

Both Princesses turned to stare at Diamond as he unleashed his stream of invective, their expressions steadily becoming more and more displeased. Their expressions suddenly shifted to ones of surprise when Kaze moved at her remarkable speed, but their scowls swiftly returned. "You would be well served by treating your Princesses with greater respect," Luna said quietly, casting a sideways glance at Kaze. "Just know that as little as we may trust an unreformed changeling, the stance of the Ponigsbergs is far more harsh. They would kill every changeling in existence if they had the opportunity. So no matter what your personal opinions of us may be, it is in your best interests to serve us in this regard."

She then shifted her gaze to Purse. "And do remember, Agent Purse Cutter, that this is not your typical corrupt businesspony that you are going after this time. Brass Ponigsberg is a mass murderer with a large force of well-armed zealots at his command. I expect that you will take every precaution, and not be sidetracked by your... personal interests."

Once Luna was finished, Celestia smiled at the stammering doctor. "Relax, Florid. Usually, ponies would address me as 'Your Highness.' But if it makes you more comfortable, you can simply call me 'Celestia.' As for the mission..." She looked around at the assembled ponies, her lips setting into a thin line.

"The Earldom of Ponigsberg was established over a thousand years ago, when the Unicorn Kingdom, Pegasus State, and Earth Pony Republic were still separate. King Bullion, the last King of the Unicorns, ordered the construction of a castle and small village as the southernmost fortress and port of his kingdom and granted control of this new settlement to one of his most loyal supporters, Earl Copper Ponigsberg the First. Nopony's quite sure whether the family was named after the village, or the other way around, but the consensus in Ponigsberg itself is that their family name predates the settlement.

"Regardless, Earl Copper quickly became rich by exploiting the vast amber reserves in the village's harbor. And as his wealth grew, so did his ambition. He began stockpiling weapons, expanding the harbor into a port for warships, and building up the settlement's defenses - All allegedly in order to protect against a possible attack from the other tribes, but in truth, he was preparing to rebel against King Bullion and declare himself the new king. But before he could make his move, the windigos struck, driving the three pony tribes from their ancient homes.

"Ponigsberg was the only unicorn settlement far enough south to remain inhabitable the entire year. Though most unicorns began settled here, in the heart of Equestria, and began construction of their new great capital of Canterlot, some moved to Ponigsberg. Among these new arrivals were a small cult of ancestor-worshipers known as the Path of the Golds. Even in the savage times before the Fire of Friendship was kindled, the Path of the Golds was considered extreme and overly violent in their rhetoric against non-unicorns, and as relations warmed between the tribes, they found themselves ever more ostracized from the rest of unicorn society.

"But the High Priest of the Golds gained the ear of Earl Copper, becoming the ever more proud noble's chief adviser. He played on the Earl's lust for power, mistrust of the other tribes, and scorn for the new peace and cooperation between the tribes. He offered Copper wealth and power beyond his wildest dreams, complete control of all of Equestria, claiming that the conquest of the other tribes would be some sort of holy crusade, with success assured if only the Earl would join the cult and make it the official religion of his territory. Needless to say, Copper agreed.

"However, before he could openly declare his rebellion, a letter came to his castle. The leaders of all three tribes had abdicated, and two new Princesses had come to power in the new Kingdom of Equestria. I don't think I need to tell you who those Princesses were." For the first time in the telling of the tale, Celestia's mouth curled into a small grin, though her serious expression almost immediately reasserted itself.

"He knew he couldn't defeat us alone. Though his wealth was vast and he was one of the more powerful unicorns of his day, our magic was much stronger, and we had support from all three tribes. But not all ponies supported the abolition of their old governments. Though the transfer of power was perfectly legal, some settlements proclaimed our rule to be illegitimate and rebelled. Chief among these was Ponigsberg, which by now had transformed from a small village with a castle at its center to a truly impressive fortress.

"The rebels were divided, many hating each other almost as much as they hated us. They should have been easy to defeat. But at the time, we had other, more vital problems to deal with. Tirek's first attack, the disappearance of the Pillars of Equestria and the Crystal Empire, the First Changeling Invasion, and..." Celestia glanced somewhat uncomfortably at her sister. "Other problems. In a way, this helped us. Many of the rebels realized that they couldn't survive the dangers of those days on their own, and they rejoined Equestria... with varying degrees of willingness.

"But these horrors also gave the more stubborn and extreme rebels time to organize. They trained their soldiers, spread their propaganda, and formed alliances. Against the wishes of the Golden Priests, Earl Copper moderated his position on pegasi and earth ponies, accepting them as 'merely' inferior to unicorns while emphasizing the monstrous nature of all other sapient creatures. Myself, in particular. Other ponies began rallying to his banner. Slowly, at first, but as it became clear that Ponigsberg was the strongest of the rebellious settlements, many of the remaining rebels devoted themselves to his cause.

"And so the Reunification War began. The fighting was brutal, and even I did things that I am not proud of to secure victory. But my magic was stronger than any living unicorn's, and the numbers were on my side. We pushed the rebels back, liberating settlement after settlement, until only Ponigsberg and a few minor, remote villages remained. The situation for the rebels was hopeless. But they didn't surrender, and every direct assault failed. Every single stone in Ponigsberg Castle and the city walls was imbued with powerful defensive spells, heavily engraved with protective runes. Not even I could break through. I was forced to lay siege to Ponigsberg.

"My army sat outside their city for over a year. But even as they began to starve, they didn't give up. I would learn, much later, that the Golden Priests had brainwashed everypony in the city into cruel, hate-filled fanatics. Killing them... might have been the merciful thing to do." Celestia closed her eyes, going silent as thin lines traced their way down her cheeks. After a long moment, she took a deep breath and opened her eyes. "But I didn't know that at the time. I thought that I was starving thousands of ordinary, free-thinking ponies to death. And even then, when I was harsher, more used to war... I couldn't do it. I couldn't willingly cause the death of that many ponies. I ordered the siege to be broken.

"No official peace treaty was ever signed, but for the past thousand years, neither of us have directly attacked the other. We've placed embargoes, sent infiltrators, done everything we can to undermine each other without wide-scale bloodshed. The Ponigsbergs knew they couldn't win an open war, and I don't think even they would be willing to sacrifice themselves unnecessarily. But over the millennium, Ponigsberg has grown. A vast slum emerged around the city, filled with ponies who refused to convert to the cult or weren't important enough to the rulers to be well protected, but who helped them against us in various ways. Unskilled manual laborers, Equestrian traitors, crime lords. Their numbers now stand at over four hundred thousand... Almost three quarters of whom have received at least some military training.

"And now, the fragile peace is about to shatter. As you were previously informed, the current Earl Ponigsberg, Copper the Third, has been in poor health for years. Three weeks ago, he suffered a major heart attack. So far, he is still alive, but he is bedridden and nopony knows much longer he'll hold on. His oldest son, Brass the Second, is a cruel and fanatical stallion, even by the standards of the Path of the Golds. He has made it very clear that once he becomes Earl, he intends to declare war on Equestria. He could not win such a war, of course. But the death toll he would cause would be horrific. I do not want to subject Equestria to that sort of bloodshed again. So, it is your task to prevent him from following through with his threats.

"Perhaps you can simply persuade him to maintain the peace... But from what my agents have reported of him, your chances of doing so are about equal to your chances of convincing the Storm King to abdicate and establish a direct democracy. You will almost certainly have to find some way to prevent him from becoming Earl at all. Fortunately, not every pony in Ponigsberg supports him. In the letters that summoned you here, you were given a brief description of the major contenders for the role. However, I suspect there is more you would like to know. Before I tell you how you'll be getting into Ponigsberg, is there anything else you wish to know about the city, its inhabitants, or anything else about it?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Yesterday at 8:48 pm

For the entire time the ponies had been congregated, the two mares had been entirely silent and negligible. The unicorn mare between the Princesses seemed to follow the conversations on some level, but rarely looked at anypony directly and never met their eyes, and her own doe-like expression and lack of a visible response to most everything (save for a few chuckles and a raised eyebrow in disbelief and confusion respectively) made her look for all the strangers in the room as if she were… a few dimes short of a dollar, as it were. She most certainly wasn’t, but she wasn’t about to disprove that with thoughts and concerns that she was positive everypony else also had; why state the obvious?

The other unicorn mare, the one among the ensemble that had been brought into the castle, had been silent merely because she’d had nothing to say that was relevant to the topic at hand and had assumed they’d be fully briefed by the Princesses without needing to ask. However, things had quickly started to derail as her apparent partners in espionage began bickering and muttering, so focused on themselves that they began to lose track of why they were here before the briefing had even begun. Perhaps a changeling was distracting (actually, a changeling was very distracting and had given Crystal more than a small scare when she first saw it), but one would think that after that matter had been settled…

And their leader was a cocky world-famous criminal who apparently had as much of an attention span and self-control as the rest of the team. Even better.

And then the briefing finally began… and Crystal finally decided that everything was uphill from the moment she’d received her summons.

"So let me get this straight," Crystal began, "This is yet another threat from a thousand years ago, that not only has become a major threat to Equestria once again, but throughout these thousand years has remained a threat against us if not on a national scale, than an individual one as they worked their way up to becoming a national threat once again. And you. Did. Nothing?" Crystal paused. Closed her eyes, took a deep breath. When she opened them again, she boldly looked Princess Celestia in the eye as she continued. “Forgive me, Princess, if I step out of line. As you might deduce, Fantasy has told me… a few things. Nothing confidential,” she added quickly, “but I do believe I’m coming to see what she’s been talking about.

“However, we are here to discuss the mission, and I do have questions relevant to that. For example, what are the laws of Ponigsberg? The traditions? The government, and social structure? What about the culture? What are we expected to know, act like, sound like, and look like? If we’re to infiltrate the nation and prevent this Brass from rising to power, we’ll need far more than a brief overview of Ponigsberg’s history.”

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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Yesterday at 9:43 pm

Diamond Mind turned suddenly as Kaze moved, but was just a half-second too late to see her in front of Salem. He turned again, seeing Kaze in front of him without enough time to react to the first or second boop. His snout scrunched up, and third boop had the noblepony attempt to catch her hand, but just barely missed. The fourth boop, however, was gently caught by his left hand, stopping just barely short of his snout. "Well, you see..." He intertwined the fingers of his left hand with her right, holding them in a firm, but loving grip. His right hand seized her waist with ease. He began to lead Kaze in the first steps of a tango, first approaching where the princesses were standing. "Kaze, while they are my betters, they are not better than me." He then led her away from it with a quick turn, managing to turn Kaze around so that she was facing away from him, yet he was still leading their dance, this time to their original position.

"And I am not better than them. They may rule, but it doesn't protect them from criticism." Diamond would then step around Kaze and begin to spin them both, but would set Kaze up so that she would keep spinning as Diamond moved to catch her, leaning her down towards the floor over one of his arms. "While they have my loyalty, they will never have my respect. Sometimes you must remind your betters of their place. While I was defending your honor, I was simply refreshing the memories of our great and illustrious rulers of their failures. Not a single pony in this room could stand up to you, my darling Kaze." And with that, he kissed her and then set her upright, standing beside her with his right hand holding her left.

"Now, I would criticize Princess Celestia some more over letting millions of ponies die in the name of not having a spine, but I see one of the two mute unicorns in the room has finally grown a voice, and she's a feisty one at that. I like her." Diamond turned his attention back to the Princesses. "I personally find your lack of willingness to clean up your own mess disgusting and reprehensible, Celestia. But I shall endeavor to deliver Brass' head to you as a part of your tactic of delaying the inevitable."

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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Yesterday at 10:17 pm

Blue sighed as he began to process of slowly picking and peeling back the tape. Being at least twice as enlightened as any other presence in the room, saw the advantage of having a blur speed moving changeling. Diamond had not doubt brainwashed them with plenty of propaganda about Equestria before the most recent outburst, most of it horribly warped and from his own untenable viewpoint. As long as Equestria had ponies like Diamond who were unwilling to protest with more than words, they would never get what they want.

Pure propaganda from the princesses too, no doubt. They were victims, they wanted to preserve life. He could understand why they might see it that way, but they were likely deluded.The other side was plain to see. They had what they had worked so hard upon stolen away from them, betrayed by a cowardly leader surrendering when there was little need. Too used to being infallible and pure in their immortal minds. It was that delusion that gave them the arrogance to pretend that all of his fellows were doing this for their benefit, serving them rather than the state they used as a shield to hide behind while others covered up their failures.

Once the anger of his mistreatment faded, he found he had little left of the tape and so tore it with a whine. “A family at each other's throats, a shame really. It speaks poorly of them. On what grounds do they wish to block the succession? Surely an extenuating circumstance is needed to alter the order?” It was more a matter of personal interest than a mission critical question, but an admission that he had indeed been wronged would have been so sweet to hear.
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PostSubject: Re: A Matter of Succession (RP Thread)   Today at 2:41 am

"Flatterer." Kaze whispered to Diamond, one hand pressed up against her lips as her other sat intertwined with his. He took a few moments to calm his heart, clearly having been pressured by some great exertion in the past few minutes. And then, with great trepidation and slowness, he looked to Blue after he asked his silly question.
"Well, Lord Sensation, I would guess that Brass's stated goals, being outright suicidal for everyone under his banner are so beyond the pale that they go blatantly against the better interests of the family as a whole and of his serfs, which even in Equestria would be cause to break the line of succession. Though, it's typically hard to prove such things in a court of law, so whilst it is not common here...in a land filled with the spirit of chaos and disharmony, disagreements over the throne are settled in more...direct manners."
Then he paused, and looked quite meaningfully at Celestia before making his next point, "Or even through simply dividing the land and refusing to follow the 'rightful' leadership, as many of my people have felt in the face of King Thorax's radicalism. Some of us can be interested in the whole peace and harmony thing without needing feelings fora, you know."

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