• Published 9th Oct 2018
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Ask Roseate Grimsbane, the Witch - Robipony



NOT A CLOPFIC! Roseate Grimsbane is a unicorn mare who tries to live as peacefully as she can in Equestria, or as peacefully as you can when you're a witch and your husband is an eldritch being from outside our known universe. Ask her some questions.

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Chapter 10 - The Hellion Society

“I looked and beheld a great beast which exuded an aura of death and destruction. Surrounding this beast were six tendriled lords, their tentacles binding the beast to a massive obsidian pillar, until the day of its reckoning.

The day those lords lose their grip and the beast is freed will mark the beginning of the end of the multiverse.”

Quote from; The Hills of Entropy, by M.R. Amorcolt.

Both of the ponies stared at each other in shocked silence. Roseate gazed upon the most troublesome student she had ever had in her class: June Berry.

However, the silence was broken when they heard something grumbling outside the cave entrance. Now was not the time to be dealing with teacher/student rivalry. Immediately, Roseate reached behind the rock and pulled June close. June almost let out a surprised scream, but Roseate managed to clamp a hoof over her student's mouth.

Peeking around the rock, Roseate could see the undead beast outside looking into the cave, sniffing the air with its wet nose. After what felt like a minute, the creature wandered off. Once Roseate was certain that the coast was clear, she let go of her student's muzzle.

"What are you doing here?" June Berry asked.

"I could ask the same of you," Roseate said, bypassing her student's question. "What is that thing?"

A frightened expression stretched across June's face before being replaced with a grumpy one. "It's nothing."

Examining her student, Roseate guessed that whatever that creature represented, it scared June and, in her stubbornness, she was denying it. If Roseate were to deal with the creature out there, she would need June Berry to face that fear.

"Well, let's go."

"Go!? With that monster out there!?"

"Yes, dear."

"But, but..."

There was a part of Roseate that savored the panic in June Berry's tone, however Roseate knew that such behavior was unbecoming of her and so she choose to repress it. At least for the time being. Taking a deep breath, Roseate placed a hoof on June's shoulder.

"It will be okay."

Nervously, June followed Roseate out of the cave and onto the road. As they trotted along the path there was no sign of the monster that had pursued them. Ultimately, it would be Roseate that would break the silence between the two sojourners.

"What do you suppose that creature is?" Roseate asked.

"It's just a dog," June said, her eyes focused on the ground.

"Is it?" There was something important about this hound to June Berry and Roseate was going to find out what.

"Yes, it's just a dog," June answered.

"I see," Roseate said. "Do you like dogs?"

"Mom doesn't like dogs. They make her sneeze and her face swell."

"Yes, but I didn't ask if your mother likes dogs. I asked if you do."

June fell silent. As they approached a familiar patch of road, Roseate knew what she had to do and for a moment her heart ached.

"Hmmm... would you look at that." Roseate motioned toward the side of the path, before walking over. June Berry followed and gasped at the sight of the dog skeleton.

"Such a poor creature," Roseate said matter of factly, feeling it had a connection to the nightmare. "I wonder what happened to it."

June Berry was deathly silent. Looking at her student, Roseate noticed tears dripping down her face, June's quivering frame indicating that she was trying to fight it.

"Do you know what happened June?"

Despite her teacher's prodding questions, June continued to remain silent. Seeing this, Roseate was both surprised and almost pleased with her student's resilience.

The sound of a monstrous roar broke the silence. Both ponies turned to see the undead dog lumbering toward them. Even as Roseate and June Berry ran, Roseate noticed that this time the roar wasn't that of rage but of pain and anguish.

As they ran down the infinite street Roseate saw an abandoned store on the side of the road.

"Over there!" June called out having also seen the vacant building.

The shop door bell jingled as the two of them rushed inside. The lights flickered on in response to their presence, revealing disheveled aisles with moldy food and sludge lying on the chipped ceramic tile floor. Perhaps coming here hadn't been the wisest idea.

Ducking into one of the aisles, they heard the beast let out another mighty, pain-filled roar, causing the lights to flicker and die out. Pushing themselves up against one of the shelves, Roseate and June rested to catch their breath. Still, it was very clear that the creature lurked outside.

Looking over at her student, Roseate could see tears welling up in June's eyes. This was such a rare phenomenon compared to how she acted in class.

"June what did you do?"

While June didn't respond it was very apparent that she was losing her battle over her emotions.

"June, what did you do to that dog?"

"I-I didn't mean to." June sniffled, the floodgates breaking loose.

"Tell me what happened."

"One day, I found this cute puppy while going home from school,” June Berry sobbed, “and I decided to bring it home with me. But it made mom sick... so I had to let it go. The next day... I... I..."

Another howl echoed outside. Could it be a roar of vengeance or perhaps of encouragement? Needless to say, more tears fell from June's eyes.

"Go on now," Roseate spoke. "It's okay. Tell me what happened."

"I... I saw it. It was lying on the side of the road. I... I thought it was asleep, until I saw its eyes. They were open, never blinking... It d-died because of me."

As June Berry wept, Roseate considered what she had learned. Was it possible that June's acting out was an effort to repress her guilt?

The sound of shattering glass and a low growl echoed through the store. It would seem that the beast was on the hunt again. Peeking around the aisle, Roseate could see June's nightmare beast stalking through the building. On closer inspection, the creature really was just an oversized dog, its body in the throes of decay, its lower half missing and its eyes dry, unblinking.

"June, it wasn't your fault," Roseate said, trying to be reassuring.

"Yes, it is! Maybe if I had tried finding a place for it or had tried hiding it that puppy would still be alive! I... I killed it!"

The clicking of claws on the ceramic tiling indicated that June Berry's outburst hadn't gone unnoticed. The sound of the beast's ragged breath drew nearer and nearer.

"There is no way you could have known the dog would die," Roseate replied. "You were just obeying your mother's instructions. Neither of you knew."

As much as May Berry was a big pain in the plot, Roseate doubted that the mayor had intended any harm to come to the poor animal.

The beast turned the corner, its nostrils flared as it caught scent of the two ponies it was stalking. Instinctively, Roseate put herself between her student and the approaching threat.

Catching Roseate's scent, the creature's damaged lips curled back to reveal savage fangs dripping with saliva as it let out a rumbling growl. Roseate hypothesized that perhaps this was a self-defense mechanism of June Berry's dream.

Looking back over her shoulder, Roseate could see tears welling in her student's eyes.

"I'm sorry," June murmured.

Hearing June's voice, the beast's growl came to an abrupt stop, what remained of its left ear twitching in response. Seeing the creature's reaction, Roseate decided to act off of her hypothesis and stepped away from her student.

"Miss Roseate, what are you doing?" June panicked, however Roseate remained silent.

Once more the hound's ear twitched and the creature let out a soft whimper at the sound of June's voice. Slowly the creature began to move toward June.

"N-no!" June covered her face with her hooves.

The hound loomed forward before setting itself down in front of June Berry, its tongue lolled out. If it wasn't for its decrepit state, it almost certainly would have resembled a happy little dog sitting before its master. A few moments later, June uncovered her face, surprised by the beast's mannerisms.

"I don't think he blames you," Roseate said. "In fact, the only one who appears to be holding you accountable, is you."

June sniffled as she looked at the undead dog. "I'm sorry that I wasn't able to take care of you."

The hound made a little ruff sound. Then in a gesture that probably felt weird and gross, June stretched out her hooves and hugged the decaying beast. As she embraced the creature whose death she had blamed herself for, the hound's form began to change. Even while flesh was reknitting itself back together, the dog's body appeared to shrink until all that remained in June Berry's grasp was a little puppy.

Watching the scene unfold before her, Roseate wasn't too sure how these events had transpired. While she could understand June's inner guilt affecting her dream, Roseate was puzzled by how effective her counseling had been with her student. Perhaps it was her planting the idea inside of June's head that had affected the dream’s outcome. Roseate continued to consider this even as the nightmare around them began to crumble away.

"Is it over?" June Berry asked.

"Yes, it's over."

"This outfit is awfully tight," Roseate groaned as Maple Syrup helped her put on the waitress uniform.

The outfit that was customary for this establishment gripped uncomfortably around Roseate's barrel.

"I'm very sorry," Maple apologized. "I just didn't realize that I didn't have a uniform your size. Though I will say that it does bring out some of your... marely features."

Roseate glanced back at Maple Syrup, who gave a small smile and a slight blush in response.

"I'm sorry. I'll stop by the store later today and see if I can buy one that's more your size."

"Thank you."

"Well, there you go," Syrup said as she finished fastening the uniform.

With some difficulty, Roseate proceeded with her new job. For most of Roseate's morning shift everything was fairly calm and relaxed. Of course, that didn't mean that there weren't customers who believed that their order was top priority and assumed that Roseate mystically knew their "usual."

Fortunately, there was a slight spark of happiness when Roseate noticed a table with four of her students. There was Sour Sapphire, Maple Sugar, Quillian Inkheart and, surprisingly, June Berry. The four of them were talking among themselves until they noticed Roseate approach.

"Hello children," Roseate said. "What would you like to order today?"

"Hello Miss Roseate!" Three of the four students greeted. Judging from June's irritated expression she still felt uneasy about her ex-teacher.

"Personally, I would recommend the pancakes," Maple Sugar suggested to her classmates.

"I guess that would be fine," Sour Sapphire said. "Would you like some, June?"

June Berry shrugged. "Sure."

"Could I have some chocolate chips on mine?" Quillian asked.

"I don't see why not," Roseate answered, writing down Quillian's request.

"I would also like some chocolate chips," Sour Sapphire said, "but could I also have some rose wheat cream?"

"I'm sure it will be fine."

"On my pancakes, I would like some extra syrup and a square of butter," Maple Sugar said.

The other three students raised an eyebrow at Maple Sugar's request.

"What?" Maple Sugar asked.

As the students made their orders, Roseate jotted down them down onto a notepad.

"Thank you," Roseate said. "I’ll be out with those shortly."

Walking away, Roseate could hear her students discussion resume. Were they trying to keep something a secret from her?

After giving the children's orders to Sugar Zap, Roseate walked over to the next customer. Arriving at the table, Roseate recognized the stallion as Lucky Lemon, Muleport's local marekiller. Apparently he would flirt with any mare he came in contact with and claimed to have slept with more than a few of them. While she had seen Lucky Lemon from a distance, Roseate had fortunately never had the questionable pleasure of meeting with the salacious stallion. That was, until today.

"Hello sir," Roseate greeted him. "What would you like to order today?"

The yellow pegasus shot Roseate a dashing smile. Like many of the others around town, he seemed to possess a slight magical aura.

"Oh, hello miss," Lemon answered. "I couldn't help but notice that you're new here."

Roseate rolled her eyes. "Yes, I am. So I'm afraid if you want your usual, you're going to have to explain it to me."

"Don't worry, I'm not alien to the concept of trying... new things."

Lucky Lemon's leer made Roseate's skin crawl. Despite this, Roseate continued to maintain her composure.

"Very well, so what would you like to order?"

"Something... hot, would be nice."

"I could recommend our spicy omelet," Roseate suggested. "A few other customers seem to enjoy it."

That last statement was a lie. From what Roseate had seen out of the three ponies who had eaten the omelet only one of them actually managed to finish it.

"Yes, some spicy eggs would really hit the spot, and a cup of coffee too."

Good luck drinking that with a scalded tongue. Roseate thought to herself as she down the order.

"We’ll have that out for you shortly."

"Oh, take your time, miss."

Roseate raised an eyebrow to Lucky’s suggestive tone. “Excuse me, but I’m a happily married mare.”

Lucky Lemon shrugged, “Never stopped me before...”

As Roseate took the order to her boss, she was certain that she could feel Lucky Lemon's eyes on her.

"What a creep," Roseate mumbled to herself.

Walking to the next customer, Roseate saw that it was Snow Berry. Even as the mare smiled back, Roseate wasn't sure how to feel about May Berry's sister in law.

"Hello Roseate," Snow Berry greeted with a smile that felt overly sweet.

"Hello,." Roseate said shortly, a twinge of irritation in her voice.

"Oh, dear, please don't be upset," Snow Berry pleaded, "I was strongly opposed to my sister's idea of having you removed from the school. That's one of the reasons why I'm here."

"Go on."

"I wanted to apologize for my sister's actions. She is under a lot of stress right now with the recent disappearances, a solar guard being attacked in town, all while drowning herself in her work to distract herself from the pain of losing my brother. So she just kind of snapped. Surely you can understand that."

After hearing what Snow Berry had to say, Roseate nodded. "Yes, I suppose I do."

"Thank you for understanding."

While preventing somepony from working seemed more than a bit rash, Roseate couldn't help but feel that Snow Berry was being sincere.

"So, what would you like to eat?" Roseate asked, her mood lightening.

"I will have a cup of coffee and some waffles, please."

After jotting down the order, Roseate proceeded to the last customer, Moonlight Raven. Various notes were laid out in front of the mare in a messy fashion. Raven's eyes were fixated on them.

"Hello, what would you..."

"A cup of black coffee, please," Raven interrupted, her eyes not looking away from whatever she was working on. "No sugar."

"Okay... Is there..."

"No, nothing else."

Judging from Raven's notes and the scribblings on her notepad, it was clear that she was working on something important.

"Very well, one cup of black coffee coming right up."

It was about that time that Roseate returned with the new orders and the children's food was ready.

"Thank you, Miss Roseate," Maple Sugar said as Roseate deposited the plates to her students.

"You're welcome," Roseate returned their gratitude. As she walked away, Roseate noticed the students swap their plates around. Had she accidentally mixed up their orders?

With the ding of a bell, Roseate knew that Lucky Lemon's spicy omelet was ready. Picking up the meal with her magic, Roseate brought the food over to her customer.

"Here you are, one spicy omelet and a cup of coffee."

"Thank you very much," Lucky said with a smirk that he surely thought was sly. "Why don't you sit with me and help me with my meal."

The way Lucky Lemon said that made Roseate's skin crawl.

"Thank you, but I have other customers that I must attend to."

As Roseate proceeded to walk away, she was caught by surprise as a large wing pulled her into Lucky Lemon's booth. Looking at the stallion responsible, Roseate could see Lucky leering down at her.

"Please, I insist."

Instinctively, Roseate attempted to escape but Lucky's wing stretched out, continuing to block her way. Feeling the stallion touching her body, Roseate's intestines turned and twisted.

"I-I really need to tend to the other customers!"

"Oh, they won't mind. Come on, let's have a good time."

Even as Roseate's stomach churned, she could feel that something was off about the situation. Somehow in this brief span of time, something about Lucky's magical aura had shifted into something far more menacing.

"P-please let me go."

A part of Roseate's mind wanted to scream. Another wanted to run and yet another sought to cast the most blasphemous curses upon Lucky Lemon's body, despite the fact that doing so would reveal her dangerous little secret. Worst of all was that the last part of her mind was growing more prevalent in response to the stallion's touch.

"Oh, you look so cute when you’re scared," Lucky said, his face drawing slowly closer to hers.

Already words and phrases of foul magic were flowing through Roseate's brain. Spells that could invoke squirming tumors, infertility, the summoning of sanity eating slugs, and other obscene things began to shift to the forefront of Roseate's mind. She could feel the thoughts worming and twisting as eldritch magic began to pulse through her nerves toward her dead horn.

"Sir, unhoof that mare this instant!"

The outburst brought Roseate back to reality. Looking around Roseate saw Detective Frost Brook standing next to the booth a dark glare posed toward Lucky. Next to the Solar Guard was Sugar Zap, a frying pan brandished by one of his wings. Something that was slightly less frightening due to the scrambled egg dripping out of it.

"What?" Lucky scoffed, his tone fanning innocence.

"You heard me!" Frost growled. "Let her go!"

Reluctantly, Lucky Lemon pulled back his wing, unbarring the way for Roseate to flee. No sooner than the path had been revealed, Roseate made a beeline to the mares' restroom. Her stomach felt like a storm churning inside her.

Roseate had barely made it to the toilet when the contents of her stomach erupted forth, into the porcelain bowl. Even as Roseate vomited she couldn't help but feel revulsion at what had happened. She had felt so helpless in Lucky's arms and she hated it. It reminded her so much of HIM.

As she drew near to the end of her current intestinal revulsion, Roseate could hear the door to the restroom open. It wasn't long before she could see the shape of her boss and fellow waitress, Maple Syrup out of the corner of her eye. Roseate could feel a gentle hoof on her shoulder as Maple tried to help, carefully pulling Roseate's mane back as her stomach continued to empty itself.

Roseate wasn't sure how long she had held that position but it felt like an eternity. However, at least there was somepony there to comfort her through it.

Eventually the endless waves of bile stopped and Roseate sat there spitting out whatever had remained inside her mouth, even as tears dripped down her cheek.

"How are you feeling?" Maple Syrup asked as she gently stroked the back of Roseate's head.

"Not great!" Roseate retorted, in a tone that was sharper than she had intended. However, if it affected Maple Syrup, Roseate wasn't able to notice.

"Well, you won't have to worry about him anymore," Maple said. "Lucky Lemon is no longer welcome here at the Maple Family Diner. Both Detective Frost Brook and my husband have made sure of that."

Roseate just sat there silently crying to herself. Smooth hooves pulling Roseate into a warm embrace.

"Shhh... It's okay. It's okay. You're safe now."

While a small part of Roseate felt patronized by Maple's actions, most of her just wanted to curl up into a small, protective ball.

"I think it would be best if you go home for the day," Maple insisted. "You've been through enough. You can come back tomorrow when you're feeling better."

Roseate sniffled a little while longer in Maple Syrup's grasp before she packed her saddlebags and went home.

As she wandered home, Roseate spotted the aberration of the teacher again, its liquid-filled eyes watching her every move. The glowing symbol of a crescent moon rested on its brow.

Its position reminded Roseate less of a creature and instead the presence of a storm on the horizon, fortelling bad weather. Unnaturally foul weather.

Arriving at home, Roseate made her way up to her bedroom, stripping out of the tight waitress outfit as she closed the door. As if sensing his wife's pain, three eyes emerged from the darkness.

'Are you alright? What happened?'

Even as Roseate pulled herself onto the bed she could feel Arsthotua's tentacles massaging her form.

'Someone touched you.'

"Yes..." Roseate groaned.

'Would you like to talk about it?'

Roseate snuggled into her husband's tendrils, their heat soothing her sore body.

"Later," Roseate answered. "For now I just want to..."

The rest was left unsaid as Roseate drifted off to sleep.

Roseate marched her way down the streets of Muleport, her determination evident on her face. She was going to make that stallion pay, one way or another.

"A curse... No, that would be too kind. Maybe I should turn him into a rat and feed him to Mittenz?"

While she contemplated Lucky Lemon's fate, Roseate searched for the vile stallion but to no avail. It wasn't until she had walked for what must have been ten minutes that Roseate realized that nopony else was walking on the streets.

"Hello?"

There was no response.

"Where is everypony?!" Roseate barked.

As if in response to her outburst, a mind-numbing headache wracked Roseate's brain. It felt as if thousands of ravenous worms were squirming inside her skull begging to be released. Immediately, Roseate clutched at her head with both her hooves and let out a bloodcurdling scream.

But nopony was there to listen.

When Roseate opened her eyes, everything had changed. While she was still in Muleport, the sky had gone black and the buildings were ablaze. Spires of flesh reached upward into the inky darkness above.

Looking around, Roseate saw corpses littering the streets, creatures like the one that had attacked the detective eating the remains. What they didn't consume they dragged into the depths below. They were like overgrown rabbits with sharp claws and massive horns.

Among the bodies were the townsfolk, some that she had seen in passing and others that she had become friends with. Maple Syrup, her body divided into pieces by the hungering beasts. May Berry, the only recognizable part of her remains being her cutie mark. A few paces away was the torn body of one of her students, Quillian.

"What is this?"

Like an answer to Roseate's question, a massive entity turned the corner. It was the mare from the woods, the creature that had taken on the twisted form of Miss Ginger Fizzle, only now it was three times its usual size.

The unholy being looked down at Roseate, its empty eyes burning into her soul. For that brief moment, Roseate understood the monster's intentions. It would consume this world and then move onto the next, where it would kill, consume, reproduce, and repeat. Looking into those eyes, Roseate felt as if not only her body, but her mind was being digested.

Roseate jolted forth from her bed, the sheets soaked in her sweat. Her breathing was rapid and there was a loud noise in her ears, a sound that Roseate soon recognized as her own heartbeat.

Even as Roseate calmed down, she now knew how desperate matters were. If the creature beneath the Swanling House wasn't dealt with, it wouldn't just be Muleport that would suffer.

Roseate sat on her bed wearing her bathrobe with a cup of ginger tea resting in her hooves, the soreness of her insides having finally receded.

On the bed in front of her was her tome, the Isidria, her mask, a piece of amber containing containing the fossilized larva of a changeling, a glass sphere containing a black rose suspended in salted water, and her sacred instrument, the dagger's blade glistening after having been cleaned.

Even as Roseate read her tome for the necessary ritual, she could feel one of her husband's tendrils rest on her shoulder.

"How are you feeling?"

"Still sore."

There was a grumble inside Roseate's mind as Arsthotua fumed.

"That stallion must suffer."

"Not at the moment," Roseate answered, "If that stallion goes missing, I will very likely be the first suspect. For now we must wait and bide our time."

"Very well."

Arsthotua's eyes were about to fade away when Roseate spoke up. "Honey, do you think you could bring my Scryial here?"

The eyes disappeared but shortly after a portal appeared on the ceiling with Arsthotua's tentacles lowering the mirror into the room. With the mirror set in place, her husband's tendrils withdrew into the shadows.

"Thank you, dear."

After adjusting her robe and pulling her mane back into a ponytail, Roseate smiled at the the Scryial.

"Hello, my compatriots," Roseate spoke to those beyond the mirror. "Forgive my appearance, the day has been... eventful. Nonetheless, I will be answering your questions and see what ideas you have for my mask this evening. Well, let's proceed."


Quillian Inkheart Asks: "What is the most powerful and/or complex spell you can perform? What is the weakest and/or simplest?"

"Hmmm... the most complex spell, I know..." Roseate pondered the inquiry. "I suppose teleportation circles can be fairly complex. A lot of mathematics, chalk, and magical components spent between two or more locations. As for the weakest spell, I'm not sure if you mean by effectiveness or difficulty to cast. For example a light spell isn't hard to cast, a foal could do it if they were able to access their magical abilities, yet the spell itself can be extremely effective depending upon the circumstances. So, I would have to say there are no weak spells but spells limited by the situation and the one casting them. I hope that answers your question."


BestinDworld Asks: "Erm... Question, I'm not sure if you’ve met her, but have you met Pinkie Pie? Is she secretly the good kind of eldritch horror?"

"I actually have met Pinkie. Missus Cake had her bring me a cupcake, however I don't believe she has any eldritch blood. Aside from her excitable nature she appeared to be a perfectly normal pony."


Emerald Asks: “How exactly do you intend to spend Hearth’s Warming? Also, are Ice Irises good for anything other than Pegasitus?”

“Depending on how successful I am in creating this Sigil, I am thinking of taking my husband to a hot spring for the holiday,” Roseate answered, “as for Ice Irises, I am not too familiar with those. I would need to perform further studies before I could give my opinion on the matter.”


Discworld-mlp Asks: "Has your husband ever met something he feared?"

Three eyes materialized and gazed into the Scryial.

"Well, as stated, there are the Osikionn, beings of immense power. While most of them have been contained, there are some that have yet to be accounted for."

As her husband's eyes disappeared into the void, Roseate looked back at the Scryial and saw that there were no other inquiries left.

Roseate felt very concerned at the low number of questions. Were her viewers losing interest or perhaps there was something affecting the Scryial's properties.

Either way, at this time it didn't matter.

It was time to go to see the Hellion Society. Walking over to her closet, Roseate began looking through her wardrobe for something to wear. After throwing some clothes about, Roseate decided upon a shiny red dress.

"So, you're going to Tartarus," Mittenz said with concern.

"Not exactly. Tartarus is merely one of Infernio’s many layers." Roseate explained, "The person I seek is a member of the Hellion Society, which is located on the second floor."

"Is this safe?"

"No, but I don't have much of a choice."

While there were other ways for Roseate to acquire Balorite, they would take too long. Striking a bargain with a member of the Hellion Society with access to the resource was the best option. After putting on her dress and placing the Scryiasphere in her pocket, Roseate walked back over to the bed and picked up the mask.

With the mask in her hooves, Roseate proceeded to perform the ritual, chanting her incantation. Using the image that one of her viewers had suggested, Roseate molded the mask within her mind.

"Alemidour futtwiin mel ngi t'tix haly ani't atat g’hraar t'tix farm wothon yj llaog''t iyi ngi sirvi gos yj guosi l’ae t'tix onfirnel hill futlawav."

Opening her eyes, Roseate looked down at the sacred mask in her hooves. It was a small circular mask made of rose gold metal, with pink tendrils branching out from the metallic disk. In the center of the piece of metal were two roses, one red and one white, each serving as a hole to peer through. While the positions of the eye holes were abnormal for most ponies, Roseate knew that a mask possessing a Ksemmon didn't provide sight in the same manner that most masks did.

With both her hooves holding the mask, Roseate pushed it against her face. As she put on the mask, Roseate could feel the Ksemmon's tendrils as they pushed their way into her nostrils, the corners of her mouth and past the tear ducts of her eyes.

The sensation was painful at first but it wasn't long before the Ksemmon began to secrete some chemicals into Roseate's blood stream, heightening her senses. However, she knew not to take this lightly, the substance that the creature was injecting into her could become addictive if enough of it filled her system.

"Alright, now for the next step," Roseate said as she pulled herself off the bed. Her voice echoing in her ears as if she were in an underwater cave.

Using a paintbrush, Roseate began to apply the glowing paste to the archway of the door, inscribing the ancient runes onto the door frame. They all seemed to glow and throb simultaneously with magic. Once the last rune was applied, Roseate stepped back and began to chant.

"Psaapin futfari melulem. Gimennyuld t'tav bilek apin tos melulem."

With the last word spoken, the wooden door disappeared, replaced with a swirling vortex consisting of green and purple lights. The gateway was open.

Having donned her mask, Roseate stepped through the portal.

Stepping out of the Infernian gateway, Roseate found herself in a red room. The scent of brimstone and spices filled the air. Two metal statues guarded the door, their eyes glowing a deep crimson. Roseate could feel their unholy eyes watching her.

"Hello," a monotone voice spoke as a female figure stepped into view. She was a mare with a pink coat and two long horns on the side of her head, one of which had a price tag for ninety-nine bits. A black suit with a white undershirt and black tie covered the demon mare's frame.

"Hello," Roseate returned, bowing her head. "I am here to meet with the Hellion Society."

The demon examined Roseate's mask and raised her left hoof, brandishing a small spherical crystal infused into the flesh just above the ankle. As she held it there, the demon observed the gem as it began to glow with yellow light. Seeing the stone's reaction to Roseate's mask, the demon nodded.

"Of course."

With a clap of her hooves, the two guards stepped aside and the door opened wide, like a hungering maw. As the door opened, the demon gestured with a hoof for Roseate to enter.

"Welcome to Infernio's second sanctum," the demon waved on. "Enjoy your stay."

Roseate stepped through the doorway into what felt like a palace ballroom, with numerous beings wearing masks. Those who didn't possess a mask wore a metal collar signifying that they were one of the many captives of Infernio. Chains of ethereal energy were connected to the neck pieces to ensure proper obedience.

Among the masked company were ponies (or at least creatures taking on a pony form), diamond dogs, minotaurs, and demons, all wearing fine attire. There was even a gorgony present, with her purple and aquamarine mane also wearing little masks on their serpentine heads.

The slaves were performing various tasks around the room, some served as waiters, some as living statues on pedestals of sharp obsidian, and others as furniture. A select few served as entertainment for the members of the society in whatever form the members desired.

One slave was having her blood drained by a vampony, his mask as crimson as the fluid dripping from his meal's neck. The mare panted with pleasure causing the vampony to chuckle.

Out of the nine layers belonging to Infernio, the second layer belonged to the Hellion Society and its leader. Here they could do as they pleased.

A unicorn with a mask seemingly made of scorpions bowed his head to Roseate's approach and Roseate returned the gesture.

In the center of the room was a cage containing a rather grumpy looking centaur. The cage was held aloft by golden chains. Roseate stepped closer to examine the creature.

"What do you think of it?" A mare with a pink mask with two smiley faces on the cheeks asked as she turned to face Roseate, "Isn't he magnificent?"

"Depends," Roseate answered. "Who is he?"

"You don't know?" The mare turned her head in a questioning manner, "That's Tirek; apparently he tried to steal magic from Equestria a long time ago. While he usually resides on the first floor, the Lavender Princess thought it would be nice to show him off for the occasion!"

"What is the occasion?" Roseate inquired.

The mare stepped back, her surprised expression hidden by her mask.

"This week we are celebrating the anniversary of the Lavender Princess's rise to power."

Roseate was aware of who the Lavender Princess was, but had never met her in person. Apparently, she was a pony from another dimension who had somehow outwitted the demons of Infernio and ultimately became one herself before becoming one of the many lords of Infernio.

She had founded the Hellion Society to attract like-minded individuals to her inner circle, while also seeking a new source of entertainment. Apparently, even a lord of Infernio could grow bored. It was also very possible that the Lavender Princess may have loaned her power out for personal favors, something that Roseate was here to inquire about.

"I see," Roseate said, "and is there a chance that I might be able to speak with her?"

The mare pointed to the other side of the room, where there was a stairway leading up to a balcony. In front of the stairs were two guards and another demon pony, who was standing behind a podium.

"Talk to them," the mare replied, "and if you're lucky they will let you through."

"Thank you."

As Roseate made her way toward the guards at the bottom of the steps, she noticed a cloaked figure looking down from the balcony above.

"Hello," the demon mare behind the podium said as Roseate drew near, "how may I assist you?"

"I would like to see the mistress if that is possible," Roseate answered.

The mare opened the book that was on the podium, "I see and who is it that wishes to speak with her?"

"Roseate Grimsbane."

The demon scrolled through the book for Roseate's entry. Her eyes growing wide when she saw what her document stated.

"Yes," the demon mare coughed, "well, the Lavender Princess is busy at the moment, however, she will be accepting your presence as soon as possible. Might I suggest that you partake in the entertainment while you wait."

Roseate gave a nod before walking away. Looking back up at the balcony she saw that the hooded pony she saw before was gone.

Looking around the room, Roseate saw a few exhibits that grabbed her interest.

There was an alcove with a large magical sphere in the center. The orb was large enough to hold three ponies inside of it. On the spheres surface was the projection of a collared stallion running through a forest of fleshy trees while being hunted by three mares wearing masks.

Sitting down on the couch surrounding the visual orb, Roseate noticed that she wasn't the only one watching. Just a few feet away from her was another masked unicorn mare, who was wearing a white dress that hung close to her pink body. A slit ran up the hide leg of the apparel revealing the cutie mark of yellow star with pale green, blue and yellow sparks to the right side. Over her face was a white mask with golden embroidery depicting the sun and other celestial bodies on its surface, the covering matching her yellow mane.

"Hello," the mare said in a cheery voice, "is this your first time here?"

"No, it's just been a while." Roseate replied.

"Interesting," the mare mused. "I wonder what could cause a member of the society to be gone for so long?"

Roseate chose to ignore the inquiry and returned her focus back to the sphere. The stallion appeared to have been cornered by two of the mares in a cave. While facing the hunters that had corned him, the stallion didn't notice that slowly lowering itself from the shadows above was the third mare from before. Her body possessing some spider like characteristics as she moved toward her prey, preparing to strike.

"Just think, there are ponies that would just love to see stuff like this." The mare said.

On the other side of the sphere, the masked spider mare dropped on the stallion eliciting a terrified scream as she sank her fangs into his neck.

"Yeah, I suppose."

While Roseate could understand the desire for vengeance against others, the Hellion Society took such cravings to a sadistic level. It was because of this that Roseate had left the society oh-so long ago.

"I tried to invite my sister here once," the mare continued, "however she refused, can you believe that?"

"Some just don't have the stomach for it." Roseate answered.

"I know, right?!"

On the other side of the sphere, the stallion lay on the ground as the huntresses around him inserted their fangs into his body. Roseate knew full well that this wasn't the end of the stallion's suffering, only the continuation of an endless cycle of pain for him and pleasure for the society. Punishment for all eternity.

"So what do you enjoy about the society?" The mare asked.

Roseate turned to the mare, remaining silent for a brief moment. It was about that time that a demon mare approached.

"Miss Grimsbane, the Lavender Princess will be seeing you now."

"Thank you," Roseate replied, standing up before giving one final look to the mare that had been keeping her company. "I enjoy the benefits I have earned from the society."

Following the demon mare, Roseate was led up the stairs to the balcony, to a series of massive doors, the image of a mare with bat like wings sitting upon a throne of contorted stallions were carved into the black stone.

The doors opened revealing the throne within and the being that sat upon it. The oversized chair was made of marble, with numerous screaming faces having been carved into the stone surface. In the center was a red, silken cushion on which the Lavender Princess sat.

She was a mare with a lavender coat along with a purple mane and tail, which weren't only straight but also had pink highlights. Two long horns curved up from the mare's head toward the ceiling, while an obsidian mask concealed the rest of her face, save for the eyes which glowed red. On her flank was the Cutie Mark of a six-pointed star trapped in an iron cage.

Arranged around the throne were various cushions and blankets made of red and purple silks. Sitting among the bedding were numerous stallions, their manes and tails cut short and the necks brandishing rusty steel collars. Two of these slaves were sitting in front of the throne, while one stood at attention the other was licking and caressing the Lavender Princess's right hoof. The one at attention was an earth pony stallion with a pale pink coat and a light cerulean mane, while the other whom Roseate guessed was his twin, was completely the opposite with a light blue coat and a pale rose mane. Both their collars were connected by chains to a steel ring in the Lavender Princess's left forehoof.

"Hello, my guest," the Lavender Princess called out, "I had heard you wished to speak with me personally."

Roseate bowed her head low to the creature on the throne, "Your majesty, I have come with a request."

"Enough of the formalities," the princess said, before tugging the chain slightly, signaling for the one stallion to join his twin in licking her hooves. "The fact that you were brave enough to venture into my throne room without ill intent pleases me. Plus it isn't like I'm blind to that eldritch aura you possess. Therefore I will award you the privilege of knowing my name, Glooming Exile."

Carefully, Roseate raised her head, not wishing to look too anxious.

"Miss Exile," Roseate continued, "I have come because I am in need of some Balorite."

"Balorite, you say?" Glooming Exile stroked the head of one of the twins servicing her, "You wouldn't happen to be trying to create a god killer would you?"

"Not specifically," Roseate answered. "I merely seek to uproot a being from beyond the veil. A being that will bring great calamity if not dealt with."

"Yes, and that means nothing to me," Exile answered. "Our society is unaffected by what happens outside of Infernio. If anything we have more to gain from such a disaster."

The princess examined her polished hooves. As annoying as this was, Roseate knew that this was the way members in the society bargained with others. If she wanted Glooming Exile to give her the Balorite she needed, Roseate would have to make a deal.

"What would you like in exchange for some Balorite?" Roseate asked.

"An excellent question. Well, you could always provide me with one of your offspring," Glooming Exile said while examining her right hoof. "That would be quite a favor: the child of an alien god and a unicorn witch."

If the Lavender Princess could see past Roseate's mask, she would be able to see the disapproving look on her face.

"No."

"Then I guess you will have to take up one of my other favors," Exile clapped her hoofs, signaling for her slaves to return to their cushions. "Perhaps they would be more to your liking."

Roseate took a deep breath before answering, "What are these options?"

The Lavender Princess's horns glowed with dark magic, the black, purple and green flames picking up two golden goblets and a bottle of wine from behind her throne. After setting it down in front of the twin slaves, she motioned for them to fill the two vessels. Immediately the slaves went to work uncorking the bottle.

"There are three favors I could use your help with," Exile continued, "first I could use a strand of hair from one of your students?"

"Why?" Roseate inquired, curious as to why Exile would want the hair of one of her students. A few dark thoughts came to mind.

With both of the goblets filled, Glooming Exile brought the beverage up to her face with her magic, moving her mask just so she could drink the wine.

"A child whose mind has entered the dreamscape is a valuable commodity," the Lavender Princess explained, "I have a few associates who would love some leverage on such individuals."

So the Lavender Princess wanted to use the hair to manipulate one of her students.

"And suppose I am not keen on this offer?"

"Well, there is more than one way to skin a thrashing chimera," Exile gulped down her drink, "but that is just one such favor you can do for me."

“Like what?”

"A life," Exile answered, "specifically the life of somepony in Muleport."

"Well, that's... Vague."

"Is it?" Exile shrugged. "I suppose I forgot to mention that it has to be somepony with a strange... Aura about them. Of course, the death of anypony with this aura would be acceptable, though I have a pretty good idea who you would choose."

"And your last offer?"

“Why, the piece of the eldritch monstrosity you plan to slay, of course.”

The suggestions made Roseate feel a little uneasy. The severed body parts of a powerful being like that could have catastrophic effects in the wrong hooves. Roseate squinted her eyes, behind her mask.

“What are your intentions with that type of organ?”

“Does it matter?” Exile answered, “I could use it to possess the body of an alternate version of myself. Maybe I wish up to unbind a powerful being in Tartarus and unleash them upon Equestria. Or perhaps I want to set myself free and claim my proper place on the Celestial Throne.”

The Lavender Princess’s horns lit up, forcing one of the prisoners tending to her hooves to fall to the floor, his breathing panicked even as Exile placed her left hind hoof on the side of his head. A little chuckle seeped from behind her mask as Exile forced the slave into submission.

“Even so, compared to the impending doom that will come if you fail to acquire the Balorite from me, these would be miniscule by comparison. So! What is it going to be? Make your decision, my time isn’t cheap.”

Roseate pondered the options that Exile had laid out for her. None of them were good, however if Roseate didn't obtain that Balorite she wouldn't be able to complete the Sigil and many lives would be at stake.

Reaching into her pocket, Roseate pulled out the Scryiasphere and held it in front of her.

"Alright, if any of you are still listening," Roseate spoke to those linked to the Scryial, "tell me, what should I choose?"