• Published 28th Oct 2013
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Roll for Initiative - Prak

Armed with swords, spells, snacks, and a bag of dice, five heroes test their mettle against brigands, monsters, and a necromancer's undead army in the saga of gaming night in Ponyville.

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The Legend of the Blue Monk

Roll for Initiative
Week 2
The Legend of the Blue Monk

Noble Gem’s ear twitched in response to a faint skittering sound, instantly waking her. The noise was familiar, and it always meant trouble. Crusher, however, had missed it. He was still sitting by the fire with his back to the bedrolls, oblivious to the approaching danger.

“Everypony, wake up!”

Noble's warning came just in time for Swirly Sparks to see a dark shape descending toward her. She rolled to the side, still wrapped in her bedroll, moments before the giant spider landed.

Crusher immediately leapt into action to cover his companions, but his ax glanced off the spider’s chitinous exterior. It turned to face him and lashed out, biting deeply into the barbarian’s leg and injecting its poison into his veins.

Light Hooves reached for her gear, but was immobilized by a web before she could equip anything. Swirly found herself stuck in her bedroll. Noble Gem played a lively tune on her lute which would, with any luck, help her friends to get loose.

The spider continued its duel with Crusher, steadily wearing him down while sustaining very little damage. Every bite weakened the barbarian further, and he soon collapsed, unable to continue standing under the weight of his armor.

Fortunately, before the enemy could deal a lethal blow, Light and Swirly managed to free themselves. Without bothering to grab any armor, the paladin charged in and swung her sword at the spider, but failed to penetrate its armored hide. The sorceress struck true with a glob of acid, which sizzled on its chitin.

While the damage was minimal, their attempt at diversion was a success. The arachnid turned toward them, biting the unarmored paladin with ease. The poison failed to take hold, however, and Light Hooves’ blade found its mark with her next attack, gouging deeply into its carapace.

The spider shifted its attention and went after Noble Gem. Though she was relatively defenseless, the foe stepped on a rock with one of its eight legs, which rolled out from under it, causing it to lose its balance and fall to the ground. With such a fine opportunity presenting itself, the bard could not let it pass unexploited.

She smashed her lute over its head.

Moments later, the spider was standing again after shrugging off a round of attacks by Light and Swirly. The paladin was quickly disabled by another web, and the sorceress took a nasty hit while trying to defend the helpless bard.

Suddenly, a new voice rang through the darkness of the forest. “Have no fear, for the great and powerful Trixie is here!”

“What?!” everypony around the table yelled at the same time.

“What are you doing, Rainbow?” said Twilight. “I thought you were making another Daring Do.”

Rainbow’s grin threatened to tear her head in half. “Yeah, but I figured if I’m gonna die all the time, I might as well do it as somepony I don’t like.”

Twilight stared at her for a few seconds, but then shrugged and said, “Well, you shouldn’t have a very hard time getting yourself killed. As badly as everypony else is rolling against this spider, a spellcaster like Trixie won’t last more than a couple of rounds.” Her comment was punctuated by a round of nods, followed by hateful glares directed at the dice scattered across the table.

“Spells? Nah. Too much trouble. I made her a monk instead.”

Rarity scoffed. “You can’t be serious. That seems rather out of character for Trixie."

“Says the bard who broke her own instrument instead of drawing her sword! This isn’t the real Trixie, you know. This is my version of Trixie, and I just want to get her killed.”

“Okay, whatever,” said Twilight. “Let’s get back to the fight. Trixie has just appeared, and she's next in the turn order.”

“Make way for the crazed and suicidal Trixie!”

Trixie charged in, carrying no weapons and wearing no armor. The spider's mandibles snapped at her as she closed in, but she danced around the attack and punched it in the head, smashing one of its eyes.

The party of adventurers hobbled over to the barbarian to watch the interloper get herself slaughtered. Taking advantage of their respite, Noble Gem and Swirly Sparks helped Crusher out of his armor, while Light Hooves focused on casting healing spells.

Meanwhile, the monk was holding her own, swearing loudly every time an attack missed her. One punch after another connected with the spider’s outer shell, splintering large sections of the plating and covering her hooves in its foul-smelling fluids.

“Hit me already, you stupid bug!” Trixie's yell was punctuated by a reckless move, spinning around and exposing her back to the enemy to buck it. Despite no longer being able to see her target, both of her hind legs connected with its face forcefully enough to shatter an oak tree, and the spider’s head went flying up into the branches.

Twilight leaned over and put a hoof on Rainbow's shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. You were due for some good luck. Something like this had to happen eventually."

“Maybe so," muttered Rainbow Dash, "but it would have been nice if it was with Daring instead of Trixie.”

“True, but you never made Daring a monk. Anyway, it isn’t really a big deal. You shouldn’t be able to hold out long if you go face to face with a really tough enemy.” Twilight withdrew her hoof and put her screen back up.

As a flurry of punches collapsed the skull of a second mind flayer, Trixie looked across the room. The rest of the party was still engaged with the only remaining one. Crusher was enraged, but he still hadn't managed to do much damage. Swirly and Light were having more success, but the monster was far from done. Noble Gem, meanwhile, was clumsily banging on a makeshift drum.

Trixie trotted over to the bard. “Noble, don’t you think you’d be a lot more helpful if you actually tried to hurt the monster instead of giving everypony a headache with that thing?”

“Hmph. I tried that against the spider, and it cost me my favorite lute. I shan’t be trying that again.”

Trixie rolled her eyes. “You do know you have a sword, right?”

The drum beats stopped. “I do?”

“Yes,” Trixie said as she ducked beneath the mind flayer’s attempt to attack her from behind. A half-hearted buck tossed it back to the other side of the room.

“You will excuse me a moment, won’t you?” Noble Gem said, setting her drum down on the stone floor. She drew her sword and stepped past the monk, then waited for her turn to attack.

After the barbarian and paladin did a little more damage to it, it was finally her turn to show the power of her magnificent weapon. The gleaming longsword flashed through the air and sliced deeply into a leg.

Her own leg.

Without saying a word, she sheathed her weapon, limped away from the battle, returned to Trixie, and picked up her drum.

Twilight scowled at the picture of a mind flayer before closing her book. “I’m not sure what else I can do to get Trixie killed. She’s already beaten a giant spider and two mind flayers without any help.”

“Come on, Twi! You can’t let me get stuck with this character!” Rainbow moaned, throwing her hooves into the air.

“I’m sorry, Rainbow, but short of throwing the Taurrusque at you, there’s not much I can do. Why don’t you have her commit suicide, or just leave the group?”

“No way,” Rainbow huffed as she leaned back and crossed her forelegs. “Daring Do died fifteen times last week. There’s no way I’m gonna let Trixie be more awesome than Daring. She’s gotta get killed by something.”

Twilight’s brow furrowed in concentration as she rested her chin on one of her hooves. Several minutes passed in ponderous silence before she suddenly yelled, “I’ve got it!” as Applejack and Rarity were coming back into the room with fresh drinks and snacks, causing them both to jump.

“Nice reflex saves,” Twilight said sheepishly. Applejack had narrowly avoided spilling the glasses, and Rarity caught the bowl of hay chips just before it could hit the floor. “Anyway, as I was saying, I can put together a nice little gauntlet that should get Trixie killed in no time.”

“Come along, everypony. The ignorant and misguided Trixie has decided that we shall bypass the elf-pony village. Instead, we shall brave the horrors of the dreaded Labyrinth of Blue Mare Murder.”

The rest of the party happily fell in line behind Trixie, and delved into the mouth of a conveniently-placed cave, above which hung a sign saying, ‘Beware, all ye who enter and happen to be both blue and female.’ Inside, they found a roughly-hewn passage, its walls adorned with paintings of pointy objects being thrust through pony-shaped splotches of blue paint.

The first trap was triggered almost immediately. Spikes sprang up from the floor directly underneath Trixie, but she leapt into the air and gracefully landed with her hooves atop their points. Once she had trotted across the field of deadly protrusions, they retracted into the floor.

When the arrow trap fired, Trixie caught all of the projectiles with a single hoof. The floor tried to fall from beneath her, sending her plummeting into a bottomless pit, but she effortlessly jumped to the other side. Over the next few minutes, she danced around poisoned spears, walked through fire without being burned, stopped a set of spinning saw blades with her bare hooves, and strangled a quarray eel.

A section of the ceiling fell on her, but she caught it and held it up on her back, allowing the others to crawl through the narrow space. After they had all emerged from beneath the stone slab, Trixie stepped out from under it, growling as it slammed onto the floor with enough force to turn most ponies into paste. She tried to take a step forward, but found herself held in place; a bit of her tail had been caught beneath the trap.

“If you can’t get free, you’ll be stuck in the cave, and you'll starve to death.”

“Are you serious, Twilight?” said Rainbow. “That’s not all you’ve got left, is it?”

“I have to agree," said Rarity. "As assassination attempts go, this one is somewhat lacking.”

“Yeah, I reckon all we have to do is cut a bit of her tail off." Applejack made a quick slicing motion across her own tail.

“Hey, she’s already beaten every trap I’ve got! I’m grasping at straws here. So, while cutting her free is possible, I’m going to make you roll some intelligence checks to see if any of your characters happen to think about it. I’m setting the difficulty for this check at thirty-five,” Twilight said with a wry grin, earning similar grins from her friends as they realized they could only pass the test by rolling a twenty, thus succeeding automatically.

Five dice hit the table at once.

“Aw, yeah! I totally failed that roll,” Rainbow bragged.

Applejack smirked. “I’m a mite under that too."

“So am I,” said Fluttershy.

Rarity shook her head, grinning down at the five on her die. All eyes turned to Pinkie Pie, who had cradled her die in a foreleg, hiding it from view.

“Sorry, everypony,” Pinkie said softly. She slowly moved her leg away from the die. As it came into view, her face split into her trademark grin. The result was a one. “I’m a complete idiot!”

The laughter soon faded, and Twilight put her screen back up to resume the game. “Okay, nopony thought to cut off part of her tail, so Trixie is stuck here, and will suffer a slow and agonizing death. Unless her tail is actually strong enough to shatter rock, that is.”

The rock shattered as Trixie flicked her tail.

“The crazed and suicidal Trixie is not amused,” Trixie grumbled to no one in particular. The rest of the party were too busy gawking at the rubble to listen.

Noble Gem was the first to recover from her shock. “Darling, don’t let it get you down. You were so close this time. Perhaps we will be fortunate enough to run into some horribly unbalanced monster when we leave this cave, and then you can be done in properly.”

“Yes, Trixie supposes you’re right.”

“Attagirl! Y’all know Fate has it in for you,” said Light Hooves. “I reckon it’s just a matter of time until it throws something at you that even you can’t beat.”

The party stepped out of the cave and into the sunlight, only to be greeted by the sight of a towering bull-like abomination, covered in a dull black carapace, and sporting a wide mouth full of sharp teeth that could chew half a dozen ponies at once. Four of the five adventurers went right back into the tunnel.

* * * * *

The beast fell to the ground. Its shattered carapace oozed foul-smelling fluids, particularly at the spots on its head where its own severed horns had been driven through its skull. The unintentionally great and altogether unstoppable Trixie stood in solemn triumph over her vanquished foe. “Stupid under-powered ultimate enemy,” she said as she lashed out at its dead face, punching a hoof-sized hole between its eyes.

Having utterly crushed the will of Fate, the warrior turned back to the cave. Her friends had already emerged and were approaching the carcass.

Trixie opened her mouth to speak but was silenced by the appearance of a bright glow behind her, which bathed the entire field in shimmering blue light. She turned around to see a small orb of iridescent energy rising up through the last hole she made in the monster’s face.

“Ooh! I know what that is!” said Swirly. “That’s the Taurrusque’s life force. If you destroy it now, it’ll be gone forever. Otherwise, it’ll go back into the body, then the monster will sink into the ground to sleep for a few hundred years.”

“Whatever,” the monk muttered. “It doesn’t matter if it comes back or not; it can’t beat Trixie. Unless…” Her frown slowly reversed, and her lips soon split into a grin.

“You have an idea?” said Crusher.

“Indeed I do. Watch and learn. The stupid and reckless Trixie shall snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!”

Trixie stepped toward the light. Strands of blue life force tickled her nose as she took a deep breath. Then, after barely a moment's hesitation, she lunged forward at the orb...

...and took a bite out of it.

“You didn’t… No way.” Twilight's dice clattered on the library's floor,

“Yeah, Twi, I did! I totally did!" Rainbow's words were choked out between peals of laughter. "There’s no way Trixie can survive eating something like that, right?”

Twilight laid down her screen and neatly folded it up. The book in front of her was showing a picture of the Taurrusque, along with its stats and other information only the game master should know. “Rainbow, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that Trixie is gone forever. You can never play as her again.”

Rainbow Dash leapt to her hooves and strutted around the table. “Aw yeah! Who’s the mare? Who's the mare?”

Twilight cleared her throat to bring the attention of the table back to herself. “As for the bad news, you just turned her into a goddess.”

"I hate this game," Rainbow said, but none of her friends could hear it over their own laughter.