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Y2 WIP Adventures (come and proof-read!)

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The Training Continues, stage 9b:

 

Son And Daughter...

 

Today will be the day. You're on your way to Nhordum's old home with the intent to ask his parents to name you their successor. Which on it's own would be awkward enough, but the fact that you plan to ask something like that when you don't even know their names? Yeah. Your skin feels cold, you can barely stop yourself from shaking, and just in general you're not feeling as well as you normally do. Admit it, you're nervous, and not a little bit either. Part of you wants to reconsider and forget this idea ever popped into your head, but you're not going to. You made this decision for a reason, and you're going to see it through. The trip through the city streets is uneventful, and after a long walk you arrive at the warehouse-looking mansion. There's no one standing guard by the front door, leaving you momentarily confused as to what to do, but you quickly realize you should walk up to the door and knock on it. A short time later a familiar man opens the door, the same person that drove you and the others to this place before. He looks at you curiously for a bit, after which he seems to recognise you. "Ah, [PC FULL NAME], yes? Come in, I'll inform the masters of your presence.". You nod and walk in, waiting on the same spot in the entrance hall from where Nhordum talked to them several times before. A minute later both of Nhordum's parents arrive, and their expressions show just as much nothing as they did the last time you saw them. And the...three or so times before that. You suddenly feel like you understand Nhordum a little better then you did before, but now isn't the time to dwell on that. Nhordum's father is the first to speak, saying with a perfectly neutral voice "Greetings, [PC FIRST NAME]. Why have you come?". You know there's no way to ask this gently so you straighten yourself as best you can and, with an as confident a voice as you can manage, say "Son and Daughter of Noble Mind, I've come to ask about the succession of House Kazus.". Both parents seem completely unsurprised, and it's at this point that you realize they never considered you for the succession. So they didn't interpret your request as such. Or maybe they did and they're just not showing it. Again you believe you understand Nhordum a bit better than you did previously, although you're currently far too nervous to feel frustrated. Nhordum's father casually nods, and you note neither hit tone nor expression changes. He probably thinks you're just here to ask about the succession issue, and the fact that he casually asks "Very well, what do you wish to know?" seems to confirm that. All that excitement and mental preparation and you didn't even get through to them. You really hope this isn't a prelude to how the next ten minutes are going to go. You sigh and do your best to straighten yourself a second time, quietly thinking that those two must know you've up to something, and with that same half-confident voice (you couldn't quite manage it as well as you'd hoped) you say "I wish to know whether I could be named the successor of House Kazus.". Neither of Nhordum's parents change expression at all, nor do they say anything in response. There's an awkward silence in the room until finally Nhordum's father speaks up. His tone and expression still unchanged for the most part, but your trained eyes and him being caught completely off guard allows you to see that he truly wasn't expecting this. "Child...what reasons do you have to believe that you can be named our successor?". Now for the hard part - convincing them that you're not just a choice, but the right choice. What should be the main point of your argument?

 

[befriend]: Your skill with gaining people's trust will help you avoid the scrutiny of others.
-You try to straighten yourself and while carefully keeping your eyes on Nhordum's parents you begin explaining why you're the best choice to be named as the successor, seeing as how Nhordum and Leene both don't desire it. Your argument ends up being more like a one-sided conversation than an actual argument, but that's something you're honestly more comfortable with than an actual, super-serious debate and you're nervous enough as is. Throughout the "conversation" you repeatedly invite Nhordum's parents to get a word in, but they are apparently both content with you speaking for them while standing in front of them. Even so you manage to keep yourself together despite how odd and awkward the entire thing is, so you think you did a good job. Once you're finally done you wait for Nhordum's parents to say something in response or, really, show some form of response. Their faces haven't moved since you started talking, it's pretty unnerving to see. After an awkward silence that lasts for far too long Nhordum's father finally opens his mouth and says "Child, what...I mean, how...I...". That, you're pretty sure, is not a good sign. Nhordum's mother turns to look at her husband and raises her hand, probably a gesture asking him to stop talking (for a given value of "talking"), and slowly she steps forward. Finally showing an emotions beyond "nothing" there's clear concern written on her face, although concern for who or what you're not sure. "Child, speak to us the truth. Why, for what reason, do you wish to become our successor?". You can't help but sigh and hang your head after hearing that. You know trying to lie here will be a completely futile effort, so after another sigh you do as you were asked. "Because Nhordum and Leene don't want to lose the family they have. I...don't have a family to lose, nor does my family have something they'd mind losing. So...". "So you wish to take this responsibility on yourself, to spare our son and student?". You nod, despite knowing that's not the whole truth. Nhordum's mother still seems concerned, and after sharing a look with her husband she nods. "Alright, child, we'll discuss this matter further in the meeting room. Do you remember where that is?". You nod, simply because you've only ever been in three rooms in this mansion before and only one you'd call a "meeting room". Nhordum's parents both nod, Nhordum's mother more confidently than her husband, and you walk to what you thought was a ritual room of some kind. But, apparently you were wrong.
-- PROCEED WITH NEXT ADVENTURE STAGE

 

-You do your best to force words through your mouth and try to piece that together into an argument, but the effort fell entirely flat. At least Nhordum's parents aren't the kind of people that'll hold that against you. You hope.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[Heraldry]: Your knowledge of nobility will ensure the House continues to thrive politically.
-You attempt to straighten and compose yourself, and slowly you begin to argue why you're not just a possible successor, given the traditions of succession, but the right one to name. Your argument mostly revolves around your understanding of nobility and House Kazus' position as a noble house with the traditions it has, and the laws it has to work with. By the end of it your voice is raspy and your throat feels dry, but beyond that you're still standing on both of your legs in front of Nhordum parents. Of course just as soon as you comfort yourself with that "wonderful" achievement you take a look at how Nhordum's parents reacted, and your confidence quickly evaporates. As you should have expected, they didn't react to it. They're both standing almost frozen in place, neither of the faces showing any form of expression at all. Without anything to go on you choose to weakly nod and wait for a reactor from either of them. It takes what feels like an eternity before someone finally says something, and apparently Nhordum's father is the first with something to say. "Child...just...why?". His tone is perfectly neutral, but from his words you can tell that you've confused the daylight out of him. Which you're entirely sure doesn't help you, but at least it broke the awkward silence. Nhordum's mother takes a few steps forwards and briefly raises her left arm, motioning to her husband to stay silent. He complies, but you're sure he didn't have anything to say anyway. At least, nothing he could put into words. "Child, why do you wish to entangle yourself with politics? You know of our traditions and the traditions of the law, why do you wish to interfere?". Did it really sound like that to them? You shake your head and are about to say you have no such intentions, but then it hits you that if you become their successor they very much will be. Nhordum's mother, patiently waiting for an answer, continues to look down on you while you try to think about how to phrase your answer. Her gaze isn't helping, but when you look at her you see that she's not hiding her feelings. Her tone hasn't changed, but she looks concerned. Seeing that you hang your head a bit and decide not to beat around the bush anymore. "Interfering with politics isn't why I want to do this. Not...really.". You hang your head so low you can only barely see Nhordum's parents, but from the corner of your eye you can see Nhordum's mother nod. "Alright. We'll discuss this further in the meeting room. Can you find it on your own?". You shake your head and the driver from a few times before walks up from a corridor. Has he been standing there the entire time? "I'll escort [him/her], Miss Kazus.". Nhordum's mother nods, turns around and walks off along with her still confused husband. You think that wasn't a complete disaster, but you're going to withhold judgement for now. While walking with the driver he turns to look at you and he seems like he wants to ask something, but apparently he, too, is at a loss for words. Without a word spoken between you he escorts you to the meeting room, which you recognise as the room where you were taken last year. Nhordum's parents are already here, as they were last year, and while Nhordum's mother still looks concerned her husband has the biggest question mark in his face since you asked to be taught his craft last year. The driver nods and walks off, leaving you standing rather awkwardly in the door frame. Well, this is what you wanted, time to face the music.
-- PROCEED WITH NEXT ADVENTURE STAGE

 

-You do your best to force words through your mouth and try to piece that together into an argument, but the effort fell entirely flat. At least Nhordum's parents aren't the kind of people that'll hold that against you. You hope.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[synchronicity]: You're the most talented student of their craft.
-You do your best to compose yourself and you slowly begin to explain why you should be named as House Kazus' successor. Your argument mostly revolves around your skill and talent with the house's craft, and all you intend to use it for - helping others, and nothing more. You manage to finish your speech mostly intact. There's a raspy quality to your voice that you don't think even magic could obscure right now and you're sweating enough to fill a swimming pool, but outside of that you're still intact. What there also is is a long, awkward silence as you and Nhordum's parents just stare at each other wordlessly. And much to your chagrin Nhordum's parents are far better than you are at hiding what they're thinking, as well as seeing what others are trying to hide (a fact that, given what you just argued, is something you're particularly concerned about). Despite your best attempts to read them they just don't reveal anything at all, their faces haven't moved since you started talking. After what seems like an eternity Nhordum's mother finally nods, but as she begins to speak her husband apparently tries to interrupt her, you think? You're not sure. You see her make a motion to her husband, and whatever the motion tells him to do he does (or doesn't). The woman takes a few steps forwards and she finally shows some expression other than "none". It's an expression of concern, and it's directed at you. "Child, what is your real reason for wanting to be named our successor?". Hearing that you can't help but flinch a little, and that only reminds you that trying to lie against these two is a fool's errant, especially now. Realising that you sigh, let your shoulders drop from the weight you're feeling right now and just tell them the truth. "Because...I have nothing to lose.". Nhordum's mother nods, and turns to look at her husband. Whatever he wanted to say has apparently been rendered invalid, because it takes a moment for him to think of something to say. Actually, his frozen expression is gone as well. He looks confused, and not a little bit either. "Child, what...you say you have 'nothing to lose', but...". Nhordum's father can't even finish the thought. He shakes his head and his wife finishes his thought for him. "Child, our own son and the girl he brought before us - your teacher - both refuse to be named successor on the grounds that they do not wish to lose the life, the family, that they have. You say that you have 'nothing to lose'. Is that referring to your own family?". You simply nod, quite sadly at that, and Nhordum's mother nods. Her husband is left speechless, but she seems to know what to do. "Than we'll discuss this matter in the meeting hall. Do you know where that is?". You shake your head, and Nhordum's mother calls for the driver to escort you. Apparently he's not just a driver, he's the family butler. As ordered he escorts you to the meeting hall, all while wearing an even bigger question mark than Nhordum's father, which you recognise as the place where you first talked with these two before. Last year, when you came here with Leene and Nhordum to ask if you could be trained in their craft. Only now, you're on your own.
-- PROCEED WITH NEXT ADVENTURE STAGE

 

-You do your best to force words through your mouth and try to piece that together into an argument, but the effort fell entirely flat. At least Nhordum's parents aren't the kind of people that'll hold that against you. You hope.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

 

The overdue stage 9b, and since I already posted stage 10a stage 10b is next, so you might see how this is resolved before the end of...it's Sunday, isn't it? Before the end of next week. As for this stage, well, eh, I have no clue how the PC would actually word an argument like that, so...yeah. Really, I don't know a lot of Y2 specific details so that's a bit of a problem. You'll see that in full force in 10b, actually.

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The Training Continues, stage 10b:

 

Of Noble Mind

 

You're once again in the room filled with magic symbols, items, and a very thick carpet. This honestly isn't something you'd expect to be called a "meeting hall", but you've been wrong before. Nhordum's parents are already here, both sitting down and patiently waiting. You walk into the room and into their view, trying your best to avoid looking like a mistreated puppy. Nhordum's father looks less hopelessly lost, but not enough that you wouldn't say he's still hopelessly lost. Nhordum's mother doesn't even attempt to hide her concern, which is a stark contrast to how she looked just twenty minutes ago. She nods as you sit down, and with a voice you can't place she says "Child, have you truly come to us to be named our successor? Why have you?". Her words sound like she's angry, but neither her tone or expression reflect that. You weakly nod in response, trying to avoid direct eye contact when answering her question. "That's why I'm here. As for why...I don't have anything to lose by cutting contact with my family. They wouldn't mind seeing me go.". Nhordum's mother slowly nods and turns to look at her husband. He seems sceptical, an expression that's all too natural on him, and he sighs. "Child, I regret to inform you that words alone won't convince us of your cause. If you're truly willing to be our successor as you claim you'll need to show it, through an Embrace.". Wording aside that probably means you're the one that'll be Embraced and you're not looking forward to that at all. If that's what's necessary, though, than you don't have much choice. You slowly nod at the man's words, and he turns to look at his wife. She shakes her head and says "Child, you know what it means to trust who's holding you in Embrace, right? If you wish to claim that you have grounds for being named the successor, than I'll need to see it. All of it, with my own eyes, as you have. You'll have to accept an Embrace, and you'll have to trust me fully.". You nod, silently hoping that this won't go quite as...badly as it did last year. Nhordum's mother nods and stands up, saying that for what will likely be a long session it's appropriate to use the Red Room. You stand and nod, really too nervous to say anything, and you follow Nhordum's mother through a series of corridors until you reach a plain-looking door. The room behind the door is quite spacious, but it is mostly empty. There's a few spare chairs and a table in the back, as well as a few boxes that look rather out of place, but the centrepiece of the room is a curious looking...bed? There's no sheets, though, and on closer inspection it looks more like an oversized couch than a bed. It's a pretty strange piece of furniture. Nhordum's mother walks up next to it, and motions to you. You walk up as well and examine the thing up close, but you've never seen anything like this before. "Well, sit down. This might take a while, but don't worry. I know what I'm doing.". You sit down, and Nhordum's mother sits down next to you. You'd complain about a lack of personal space, but for better or worse Leene's put you through worse before. "Thanks, eh...?". Nhordum's mother smiles as you realize that you've never actually heard her name. "Viella. Now, are you ready?". You nod, and you feel Viella hold your hand as her thoughts begin to flow into you. You know why she's holding your hand and you know you can keep your focus on it. Really, you know what's going to happen next. There's only one thing you have to do. One thing, and it'll all be over.

 

Trust Viella.
-One thing that immediately becomes clear is that Viella is much, much more skilled at Embracing others than Leene is. It's honestly disappointing that as far as you've managed to come you still can't compare to Leene, and on top of that she in turn can't compare to someone else. On the flipside you're thankful because that makes this much easier on you, if not on Viella herself. You know she's there, connected with you, but you can't really tell she is. Soon her presence becomes noticeable, indirectly, as an old memory of yours suddenly resurfaces. You remember a time when your parents didn't so much refuse to give you attention as mock the very idea of it. Slowly you remember everything about that moment, feeling it as if it was happening again. A smell of that you weren't even noticing at the time, the sunlight shining down and warming your skin, the way your parents talked and how their words hit you. You weren't even aware that you noticed half of this stuff back when it happened, much less that you can remember this much so many years later. From that memory you're suddenly pulled into another, remembering another rather painful point of your life that you honestly forgot about. You know Viella is doing this, rooting through your memories, like Leene did last year. Only now you know what's going on, so it's not just vivid images that you can't make any sense of. A seemingly endless series of memories come and go, all reminding you of what you had long forgotten, retelling your life as it passed by. You can tell that you feel increasingly on edge with every memory that's dug up, but you can also tell that your body instinctively refuses to show it. You've trained a bit too hard, it seems. Of course that's hardly relevant during an Embrace, but it's an interesting thing to realize about yourself. You didn't know that, and come to think of it Viella must have noticed to. Not just that, either. She knows everything, everything that even you didn't know anymore. After a decade of old scars have been dragged back up Viella finally reaches your memories of last year, when you encountered the Sageni. Which Mastered you, bit you, poisoned you and in so doing forced Lotus to burn half your arm off while Leene had to Embrace you just to keep you from flailing wildly in agony. Why is this a happy memory, of all things!? It doesn't take long for Viella to answer your question, as least you assume it's Viella. That time when Leene first Embraced you...what she said was right. You'll never forget it. Your more recent memories continue to play out as the older ones have been, only this time they're scattered memories of when the absence of your parents was something you remembered, until things ultimately reach the point where you talked Nhordum into admitting what was bothering him. That is...not good. Viella quickly uncovers the plan you hatched when you saw a chance to cut loose from your family, and how it lead you to this point. With your entire life's history played back you assume that's the end of it, and indeed you can tell that Viella is undoing the mental bridge. Once it's gone and you recover your senses she doesn't say anything, and neither do you for a while. You end up breaking the awkward silence yourself, innocently asking how much time has past. Trying, and failing, to hide her concern Viella says it "only" has been an hour, and she asks you to stand up. You're still feeling dizzy but you do so, as best you can. "So what happens now?". There's a certain tone in your voice you can't describe, and can't really hear either. You can feel it's there, but your ears don't pick it up for some reason. Viella sighs, and with clear uncertainty in her voice says "I cannot say for sure, child, but I'll bring this matter up with Gregory. My husband, I mean. I can't say what we'll do, but I'll try to keep you informed.". You slowly nod, and say that if that'll be all, you'd like to return to the Academagia for now. Viella is clearly uncertain about something, but slowly she nods and allows you to leave. The trip back is uneventful and certainly no longer than it was just an hour or two ago, yet somehow you arrive back at the Academagia feeling more tired than you ever have.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

 

Another point where knowing the details of a Y2 Black Sheep homecoming would be useful. Perhaps it wouldn't be enough, but I'm sure it'd be useful still. Also this is the point where, if a Y1 import can mechanically define his/her family as a bunch of Mastery mages, said family would end up arrested and/or dead before the sun sets. Since that's mechanically not possible as far as I know, the option isn't there.

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The Training Continues, stage 11a:

 

Success

 

You're in your room, reading through a textbook that you really, really want to throw in a fireplace and burn along with quite a few other books, but alas and alack, you need to study. Up until you hear someone knocking on your door, at which point you immediately decide that what you really need is a break. A long one, if possible. You stand up and open the door, behind which is Rui da Casga with a letter in his hand, outstretched towards you. The letter has your name on it, but that doesn't explain why Rui is here to deliver it. "Some guy dropped off a pair of letters at my room when I wasn't there earlier, but one of those letters isn't for me so here you go.". You check the back of the letter, but you don't recognise the return address. You do recognise the seal that's on the letter, since it has a very familiar labyrinthine design. "So, wait, you got a letter like this as well?". Rui nods and shrugs, he apparently doesn't recognise it. "Yep, wasn't anything important though. Anyway, talk to you later.". Rui walks off, and you break the seal. The letter reads "Sorry for the sudden message (and messenger), but my parents will be naming their successor today. Come to the shop if you want to come along for the naming ceremony, I imagine you do want to see what successor you've "found" for us. We'll be waiting. -Nhordum". You don't waste any time grabbing your knapsack, locking your door behind you and running right to Gressel's. Time to see whether Raul was worth it after all. Gressel's looks closed, but after a knock on the door Leene opens it and lets you inside. "Just in time, the driver should be-". Leene doesn't even get a chance to finish her sentence before there's more knocking from the back door. Leene sighs and says "Case in point.". You don't bother hiding the grin on your face as you follow Leene, Nhordum and Lotus through the back door and into a familiar chariot taking you to a familiar warehouse-disguised mansion. Once again no one says anything during the entire trip, which is pretty frustrating. This trip wouldn't be so awkward if someone would just say something. Thankfully it's a short trip, and every gets off in front of House Kazus' warehouse. The inside has certainly changed since you've seen it last. Chairs are arranged in neat rows inside the entrance hall, each facing the second floor balcony, making the room seem like a make-shift theatre. There's dozens of people present, some looking more impatient than others but every last one you can see from the entrance is dressed up like a noble. You didn't think the succession would be such a big deal for so many people, but apparently you thought wrong. While looking around you follow Nhordum and the others to a set of open front row seats and sit down. At that point you notice that Nhordum's parents are standing on the second floor balcony, looking down at the latest arrivals. And last, it seems. "Now that everyone has arrived, this meeting can begin.". Gregory sounds a little different than he does usually, though you're not sure why. Nhordum doesn't seem the least bit surprised, so you figure everything is fine. Now what?

 

See how things unfold.
-"Now then, let the traditions of old be passed on to the next generation.". Gregory's voice sounds exactly like it should now that he's giving a speech to an audience, and yet you can't shake the feeling that deep down he's actually incredibly bored. At the very least you're incredibly bored, but it seems like things are finally getting to the good part. Gregory takes out a roll of parchment, and you can see his eyes shifting towards Nhordum. As expected, Gregory says "Nhordum Kazus, my son, step forward.". Nhordum stands up, and without looking away from his father once walks over to stand in front of all the chairs, before his father. He actually has to bend his neck quite a bit to look up to his father, who's standing a floor higher than him. "Nhordum, my son, do you agree to be my successor?". You're a bit surprised to hear Gregory ask Nhordum if he "agrees" to be his successor, but than you have heard before that the chosen successor can refuse. It still sounds a bit weird, though. Without any hesitation Nhordum replies "No, on the grounds that I don't want to lose the life I've build.". Gregory nods and hands over the roll of parchment in his hand to his wife, who seems to put it away somewhere while Gregory takes out another roll and Nhordum walks back to his seat. Nhordum doesn't look like he doubts his decision at all, but the perpetual frown on his face shows more than just determination. You remember Leene mentioning that Nhordum doesn't really get along with his parents, so this event probably clawed open some old wounds. Not that you intend to pry, especially because the way Leene is staring at Nhordum right now does more than just suggest she intends to question him later. You're not sure what is going on between those two, but you, again, are not going to pry. "Leene Gressel, step forward.". Gregory's announcement snaps you out of your silent wondering as Leene stands up and walks up to where Nhordum just stood a moment ago. "Leene, student of our craft, do you agree to be my successor?". Leene shakes her head, and after just a moment of hesitation says "No, on the grounds that I don't want my daughter to be born into the same circumstances that Nhordum was.". Gregory nods and repeats what he did earlier with the rolls of parchment, and you stare quite perplexed at Leene while she's walking back to her seat. She intends on having a daughter? When? How does she know she'll have a daughter and not a son, anyway? Is she just hoping? Magic? What magic? Astrology? Would Leene use Astrology? With who is she planning on having a child, anyway? Nhordum? Doesn't he have something going on with that Rain girl? Leene walks up to you and can't help but break out in a massive grin when she sees your completely confused face. Leene sits down and whispers "I'll tell you later." in your ear, which while good to know doesn't do much to answer all those questions now. "Avgustus Mellion, please step forward.". More effort than you're willing to admit later you're able to stop staring at Leene and take a look at who stepped forward. The man Raul mentioned, at least you can only assume, is standing before Nhordum's parents. Unfortunately you can't see him too well from this angle. "Avgustus, child of our craft, do you agree to be my successor?". You have to wonder how that's even possible. As far as you know two have only barely met each other, much less have had the time to discuss how Avgustus would succeed Gregory. Than again they must have worked something out, otherwise you're sure Gregory wouldn't be doing this. "I agree.". Short and straight to the point, you get the impression the man will fit right in. "Very well, than please hold up your Mark.". Avgustus rolls up his sleeve, dispels a glamour on his left wrist and holds it up. As expected you see a Master's Mark. Gregory, meanwhile, takes out his own wand and casts a Glamour to show a projection of Avgustus' Mark above him, for everyone to see. Gregory also casts a second spell, subtly shifting a few lines on the Mark to form a horizontal eight, the symbol of infinity. "With this the succession has been passed on. This meeting is adjourned.", Gregory says, while Avgustus re-casts the Glamour and rolls his sleeve back up. You can hear some mumbling from a few of the nobles close to you, apparently they're disappointed about something, but you can't quite make out what exactly they're saying. You stand up yourself, but before you can move Leene tabs you on the shoulder. "Want to come along back to the shop? If you have time, there's a few things we've got to discuss.". You nod in response and follow Leene back outside, where the same driver as always is waiting. That "meeting" didn't end up lasting as long as you thought, and at least Leene owns you an explanation.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

Observation: Can you recognise anyone?
-While Gregory begins to drone on about stuff that doesn't remotely concern you you take the opportunity to covertly take a look around. Closest to you, obviously, is Nhordum, Leene and Lotus. The former two have serious expressions on their faces, which isn't unusual for Nhordum. And despite the serious face you get the impression that Leene is as cheerful as ever, she just isn't showing it. Which isn't surprising, considering the circumstances. Lotus, humorously enough, just looks lost. She clearly doesn't think she belongs here or why, if at all, this meeting matters to her, but she's here anyway. You look around and see if there's anyone else you recognise in the first row of seats, but on the second row you see an older man wearing a military outfit with a cap to match. On closer inspection you actually recognise him, it's the Captain. You're not really surprised. He's an important man who could definitely be invited to "meetings" like these. Looking past the Captain you can barely make out the shape of an individual much shorter than the adults that surround him, wearing Academagia robes with a distinct Vernin look to them. Apparently Rui da Casga was also invited, probably by Raul. You can't imagine why Raul would invite Rui, or why Rui would accept the invitation, though. Maybe something related to his parents? You're not sure, you can ask him later if you remember to do so. Checking the third row you don't see anyone you recognise, but there's one man in particular that stands out like a sore thumb. Wearing a set of wizard's robes that are very reminiscent of College Hedi's style there's a man that is, or at least tries very hard to look like, a wizard. There's a stern look on his face that seems like someone turned his face into a statue and carved it into it's current shape, and his gaze is fixated on Nhorudm's father. Who is, incidentally, still droning on about something or another that you're not the least bit interested in. If you had to guess you'd think this man is the doctor Raul mentioned, Avgustus Mellion. It's fitting that his seat is oh-so convenient placed right at the end of that line of seats, so he can stand up and start walking around at a moment's notice. You also try to take a look at the fourth and last row of people but there are too many other people in the way to really see anyone, much less recognise anyone. Ultimately no one you're really interested to see, but that's probably a good thing.
-- CHOOSE AGAIN

 

-You swivel your head around enough to hurt your neck, but you don't end up seeing anyone you recognise.
-- CHOOSE AGAIN

 

 

The much anticipated naming the successor stage, at least the A path version in which nothing much happens. That said I think is the first point where the PC hears that Leene is planning on having a daughter, which will naturally come up later (spoiler: I've got pretty much the entire adventure line planned out up to and including an after Y5 "where are they now?" epilogue, if there is one). That said I'm pretty sure that anyone that's cared to read through the topic up to this point will have been able to piece the entire puzzle together. It's not exactly hard to figure out, at any rate.

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The Training Continues, stage 11b:

 

Succession

 

You're in your room, blankly staring at the wall while laying on your bed, not really feeling like doing anything right now. It's strange, but the extra peace and quiet granted to you by your Glamours dampening the sound of the Academagia's ever lively student body is more soothing then ever. Admittedly those Glamours are hardly foolproof, but they work well enough. Suddenly you hear knocking on your door and a magically muffled voice say "Delivery for [PC FULL NAME].". A package? Strange, you're not expecting any. You drag yourself out of bed and open the door, behind which stands a man barely older than a senior student in a, frankly, unfitting set of clothes. Clearly an overworked and unappreciated young adult working a side job to scrape together some money, he looks like he's been running around since before dawn. He holds a letter out for you and he says "[PC FULL NAME], right? I got one express letter for you.". You nod and take your letter, after which the man nervously asks where he can find one Rui da Casga's room. You roll your eyes and give him directions, after which the man quickly scurries off. So the prankster got a letter as well? Well, that's hardly your problem. What is your problem is the seal on your letter, which you don't recognise. Only, when you turn it a little and look at it from just the right angle it does actually seem familiar. With a hunch you dispel the Glamour on your wrist and compare the seal to the Master's Mark. Sure enough, the labyrinthine design of the Mark and the seal look very similar. You break the seal and open the letter, noticing first and foremost that the letter is incredibly short. "Dear [PC FIRST NAME], my husband and I have made a decision. I apologize for the sudden message, but please go to Gressel's Medications. Nhordum will know what to do from there. Signed, Viella Kazus.". Surprisingly little detail or explanation for a letter, but than it definitely looks like it was written in a rush. Either way you don't have anything better to do and if this concerns what you think it concerns, this is going to be a very interesting few hours. You grab your knapsack, lock your door behind you and start running to Gressel's. The trip is rough, especially since you ran most of the way, but thankfully without incident. The shop looks like it's closed for business, but when you knock on the door Leene very quickly opens the door and almost drags you inside with barely a greeting. Once you're inside she locks the door behind you, and you ask what the big deal is. "We just got word from Nhordum's family, they're going to name their successor today.". Leene looks and sounds like her emotions are all over the place, and checking to the living room Nhordum doesn't look much better. Neither does Lotus, for that matter. Before anyone gets the chance to ask anything there's a knock on the back door, and with a surprising amount of energy everyone suddenly stands up and walks towards it. Yourself included, you've been in this situation before. Behind the back door is the same driver you've met a few times now, who again leads you on a completely silent, incredibly awkward trip to the warehouse-looking mansion. Apparently there'll never be a day where the four of you are driven anywhere while someone will say anything. At least the trip is short. Once you arrive the five of you walk inside, and you see the entrance hall packed with chairs lined up so they all have a clear view of the second floor balcony. It looks kind of like a make-shift theatre, actually. Walking into the building you see Gregory and Viella standing on the balcony, looking down at the last arrivals a bit impatiently. "Now that the last guests have arrived, this meeting can begin.". The confidence is Gregory's voice is unmistakable, especially compared to the last time you heard him speak. Nhordum points to a set of empty chairs, and you take a good look around the room before sitting down. There's a few dozen people here, all of which are dressed in formal clothes and likely nobility. Most seem irritated, a few are confused, and a few others look like they're planning to suddenly draw their wand and set the place on fire. Though you're probably just imagining that last part. Once you and the others are seated you look up at the balcony. Gregory nods and turns to face the crowd, Viella doing the same. Whatever is about to happen, you have no idea what these two are planning. Well, you can make a reasonable guess, but you're not sure. Casting a quick glance at Nhordum you see that he's effectively hiding whatever he's feeling, and Leene is doing the same. Lotus just looks lost, certain that she doesn't really belong here and yet here she is anyway. Well, the stage is set. Now what?

 

Listen to what Gregory has to say.
-"Everyone, it is time for me, Gregory Kazus, to officially name who is to become my House's successor. Seeing that the traditions established by the late Emperors still hold, our own kin are the first to be considered. However, more modern tradition, including House Kazus' own, holds that the chosen successor may refuse the inheritance, given valid grounds to do so. With that said, I will now name the House's chosen successors, in order. Nhordum Kazus, step forward.". Nhordum stands up and walks to the front of all the seats, having to bend his neck a bit to actually see his father standing above him. "Nhordum, my son, do you agree to be my successor?". With absolute confidence Nhordum replies "No, on the grounds that I do not wish to give up the life I've build.". Gregory nods, and says "Than you shall not be my successor.". Nhordum nods in turn and returns to his seat, sitting down without showing a hint of remorse. The question is whether he's not feeling any or whether he just doesn't show any, it's never clear with him. Gregory hands a roll of parchment to his wife, takes out another roll from a pocket in his robes and says "Leene Gressel, step forward.". Leene walks up to the same spot, and Gregory asks "Leene, daughter of our craft, do you agree to be my successor?". After a moment of hesitation Leene shakes her head and says "No, I don't want my daughter to be born into the same circumstances that Nhordum was.". While Gregory goes through the same routine as before your head is suddenly flooded with questions. Leene plans on having a child? When? How does she know for sure she'll have a daughter? Magic? What magic? Astrology? Does she know Astrology? With who is she planning to have a child, anyway? Nhordum? You can't imagine those two being anything but close friends, and doesn't Nhordum have something going on with that Rain girl anyway? You look at Leene confused beyond words when she walks back to her seat, and with a quiet voice she whispers "I'll tell you later.". You slowly nod, not sure what to make of this information. You also begin to hear some murmurs from the "audience", apparently they're upset about two people having refused the succession. Gregory tells everyone to calm down, with a surprisingly commanding voice at that, and without warning or delay he then says "[PC FULL NAME], step forward.". Now it's Leene's turn to look at you completely confused. And Lotus' turn. And Nhordum's. Really, it's the entire audience's turn to look confused at you. Which they do. Every last one of them. Even the driver, standing in the corner behind the last row of chairs, is staring at you with a slack jaw and wide eyes. You slowly walk up to the same spot where Nhordum and Leene stood earlier, and without a hint of anything written on Gregory's face he asks "[PC FIRST NAME], child of our craft, do you agree to be my successor?". Slightly choking on your words you nod and say you will, and Gregory nods. "Than please, lift up your arm and reveal your Mark.". You do so, and with what seems like a casual flick of his wand Gregory casts a spell, creating a projection of your Mark in the air. Prominently displayed for all to see is the single, straight, broken line, denoting you as an unrelated student of House Kazus if you remember Nhordum's words right. With another flick of Gregory's wand both your Mark and the projection thereof subtly shift, the lines below the single line bending and reshaping to produce a horizontal eight, commonly know as a symbol for infinity if you recall correctly. Gregory dispels his Glamour, and while you recast the Glamour on your own Mark he announces that the successor has been named, and that the meeting is dismissed. While everyone stands up to leave you remain standing in place, before the balcony. Your body doesn't seem to want to move, and you have to spend an unreasonable amount of effort to maintain your composure. Something is wrong, but right now there appears to be nothing you can do about it.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

[Observation]: Scan the crowd, do you recognise anyone?
-You noticed earlier that most people are probably nobility, but covertly shifting your head around while everyone's attention is focussed on the second floor you take another look around. You don't recognise most people you see, but there's a few that stand out. One person much shorter than those around him in particular is wearing what look like an Academagia robes, bearing Vernin's colors and style. Taking a closer look...is that Rui da Casga? Is that why that delivery kid needed to know where his room is? Who invited him, of all people? He doesn't seem like he's here to pull a prank, and he doesn't look lost either. He looks like he knows why he's here and that he belongs here, as much as he'd want to pretend otherwise. Why? Something to keep in mind for later, you can't make sense of that in what little time you have, if you can make sense of it at all. Glancing further down the second row of people you see more of the same, people wearing clothes fit for nobles, but there's one older man that clearly isn't wearing noble's clothes, making him stand out. You can't see his outfit too well but it looks like a functional set of blue clothes, tailored for the man you'd guess, glinting with various gold ornaments and a black militia hat. Suddenly you recognise his face, it's the Captain of the Guard. You suppose it makes sense for him to be here, given House Kazus' extensive history when it comes to Mastery (or a variation thereof, at any rate) and the Captain's social importance, but still. You didn't expect to see him here in person. Slightly worried that you're in for more bad news you nevertheless overcome your better judgement and look at the third row. You can barely make out any features of anyone sitting that far back, but there's two individuals that you'd recognize anywhere. Your own parents, sitting right there, looking lost and annoyed, waiting impatiently for this meeting they clearly don't think they should be a part of to reach the point where it'll matter to them. You had no idea they attended meetings like these. Actually, they very much look like they usually don't. You have to suppress a nervous giggle as you realize that this is going to be a very interesting day for a great many people very soon. Yourself included.
-- CHOOSE AGAIN

 

-You look around, but you don't see anyone sitting in the audience that you recognise.
-- CHOOSE AGAIN

 

 

The B path version of the naming ceremony. Not shown is much of an actual, oh I don't know, ceremony but than if I did this stage would probably be twice as long and eh pretty sure no one is waiting for that. Oh yeah, remember when I said that House Kazus doesn't inform the PC's parents about anything, seeing it as the PC's choice? Being named a successor is kinda a different story, but guess who didn't tell the PC that. This is also a stage that I happened to have had the prep work for, so hence the quick update. Now everyone may return to the Slow Update Train.

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The Training Continues, stage 12a:

 

Where Things Went Wrong

 

The trip back to the shop is as it always is. Short, uneventful, and awkward, but it's an awkwardness you're used to by now. In fact, you notice that no one says anything until the exact moment the chariot comes to a stop, as if on cue. Maybe it's a bizarre family tradition? You've certainly heard of stranger things. "Hey, Nhordum, do you have the keys?". Leene is the first out of the chariot, and apparently the first to notice the back door is locked. As it should be. Nhordum tosses Leene a set of keys and says "Here, but don't you have a wand?". "I'd rather not break into our own shop if I can help it.". You'll admit the thought of Leene trying to break into her own shop is amusing, although you're a bit curious as to why Nhordum would suggest it. "Door's open. Lotus, would you mind setting some tea?". Lotus shakes her head and walks off into the kitchen, while the rest of you sit down in the living room. Nhordum is the first to speak up, and for better or worse he sounds like his usual self. "Well, that was unexpected. Where did that guy suddenly come from? Either of you two know him?". "You mean the guy they named the successor, Avgustus?", you innocently ask. Nhordum nods, and Leene says she knows him. Both you and Nhordum stare at Leene confused, although you notice Leene is looking at you suspiciously nevertheless. "I heard of him before, actually, he's the guy that diagnosed Hellen. You remember? The kid from the general store?". Nhordum nods, and Leene turns her gaze to you. "That said he doesn't live on this island, so I do wonder why he suddenly showed up here...". You recognise that icy glare, although you're not sure what you did to deserve it. "He came here because someone tipped him off. You can thank me for that.". Briefly you wonder if Leene will ever "thank" you for it, but her icy glare thaws into a knowing glare. "I figured as much. So how did you tip him off anyway?". You tell Leene and Nhordum about how you met with Rui and later Raul after finding the copy of A Modern History of Medicine, and that Raul informed Avgustus. Afterwards Lotus comes walking in with a few cups and a pitcher full of tea, good news since you're pretty thirsty. While you're gorging yourself on tea Leene asks Nhordum if he knows anything about Raul. "He's an author and historian, anything beyond that depends on your source. Really, what people say about him is generally a good indication of how intoxicated they are. He's seen as a friend of House Kazus, so rumors about him tend to be either biased, all over the place or both.". "Do you think we can trust him?". You can't help but look surprised at Leene after hearing that. "Sorry, but someone has left me worried about people keeping secrets lately.". Nhordum glares at Leene, and before things devolve into a staring contest you decide to try and change the subject. "Speaking of the ceremony, Leene, I believe you still owe me an explanation.". "I do? Oh, right, I do. Eh...well...". It figures that Leene is reluctant to keep her word, although you suppose technically she said "later", not "later today". Even so you're not in a mood to wait. How are you going to convince Leene to spill the beans now (and hopefully avoid a staring contest) as opposed to later?

 

You don't really care whether you hear it now or later, just avoid a staring contest.
-"Let me guess, you'd rather explain it 'later' without any indication of whether 'later' is ten seconds or ten years later?". Leene looks a bit surprised by your sudden question, but she nods all the same. You shrug in response. "Figured as much, but that's fine. Anyway, Leene, I think you said you had something to discuss with me? Something else, I mean.". Leene nods, visibly relieved that you dropped the subject (and perhaps because you avoided a staring contest after all). "It's about your training, actually. Now that this succession issue is finally resolved I can spare enough time to train you personally.". Finally, you were wondering when you could focus on improving your magical skills again. "But that having been said there's a slight catch. Two catches, in fact.". Of course, isn't there always? "First off, since you'll be learning the finer points of Embracing the best, really the only way to learn will be through an Embrace. So that what our study sessions will consist of.". That certainly puts a damper on your enthusiasm, but you suppose that it's for the best whether you like it or not. "And the second catch?". "Repeated Embraces over a short period of time can have side-effects, so we'll need to limit our sessions to, say, one every week at most. You don't have anything to worry about, trust me.". That's not exactly what you were hoping to hear, but good enough. "Anything else or it that all?". Leene shakes her head and tell you that beyond the one-session-per-week thing you can drop in the shop whenever you have time. You nod and say "I'll be sure to do so. Now, anyone want to gossip about about the naming ceremony?". You spend some time with the others talking about Avgustus and Raul before excusing yourself and continuing with what you were planning to do today.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

[CONDITION: PC HAS [Potion of Perfected Turing] LORE
Somehow, the pieces of this puzzle seem familiar...
-"Hey, Leene, do you remember where you, eh, found me last year?". Leene looks at you confused for a few seconds before answering. "Yes, by the side of that willow tree. Why do you ask?". "Were you looking for Batu-Te-Rem petals, by chance?". Leene slowly turns her head to Nhordum, who looks more amused than surprised. It's a refreshing change that his expression is more than just a frown, although with the same neutral tone that now feels strangely unnatural Nhordum says "Why, yes, she was looking for Batu-Te-Rem. Why, does that tell you anything important?". "I'm pretty sure it does, actually, ever heard of a Potion of Perfected Turning?". Nhordum shrugs, and you notice that Leene is looking away embarrassed. "Of course I've heard of it, I am a brewer in case you forgot. How do you know about it, though? Perfected Turning isn't exactly second year study material.". Leene's cheeks are getting more colorful by the second, it's satisfying to see. "It's not, but I happened to...stumble across it recently.". Admitting that you actively helped someone assemble the ingredients for that potion is probably not the best thing to admit in front of these three right now. Leene is thankfully too embarrassed to notice you're hiding information poorly, while Nhordum doesn't seem to care. Either he knows what it's like to keep secrets from others or he doesn't dare ask for fear of what the answer might be, you're not going to look a gifted horse in the mouth either way. "Anyway I think that's all the information I'll need, but, Leene?". Leene is having trouble meeting your gaze, combined with her beet-red face she looks downright adorable. "Y-yes, w-what is it?". It's a good thing you already practised your skills, because it takes concentrated effort to keep on a straight face. "You said that there's a few things we had to discuss before we left the naming ceremony, remember? So what do we need to discuss?". Leene slowly turns her head towards Nhordum again, who drops the massive grin that was plastered all over his face very quickly. "It's about your training. We've had our hands full with stuff since that whole succession mess started, but now we - and by 'we' I mean 'Leene' because I have potions to brew - have enough time to spare to train you personally.". Finally, you've been looking forwards to actually progressing with your magical skills. Nhordum stares at Leene, and after some awkward silence Nhordum adds "Here's the rub, though. Learning to Embrace is best taught through an Embrace, so those training sessions...well, you can guess what they'll involve. Worse still is that repeated Embraces over a short period of time can have, well, side-effects.". The first part was bad enough, but the mention of "side-effects" is just the icing on the cake. Before you can say anything Leene suddenly says "Hey, don't worry about that last bit. I know where the limit is and I'll make sure nothing happens.". You don't doubt Leene's word, especially because you doubt those side-effects only apply to either party. "To be specific we'll limit the practice sessions to one every week, but beyond that stop by whenever you have time to practice. I'll try and keep my schedule clear.". You promise to do just that, and before leaving you spend some time with the others gossiping about various topics.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

ELSE:

[brew]: This sounds strangely familiar, if only you could remember why.
-Right before Leene can try and convince you to drop the subject you snap your fingers and look excitedly at Nhordum. "I thought this scenario sounded familiar, now I remember why. Nhordum, ever heard of a potion of Perfected Turning?". Nhordum's perpetual frown slowly curls into a subtle grin while Leene's earlier confidence with trying to convince you to drop the subject makes way for alarm and incoming embarrassment. Maintaining a neutral tone, if not a perfectly neutral expression, Nhordum casually answers "Why, yes, I do know of that potion. I am a brewer, in case you forgot. Surprising to hear you mention it, though. Portion of Perfected Turning wasn't part the second year's Brew class exam if I recall.". You could swear that Nhordum's hiding some smug amusement, but you can neither see nor hear it. It's nothing unusual, for Nhordum at least, but you like to think that you're getting better at reading him all the same. "It's not, but I happen to study brewing myself and I've come across a few weird potions here and there.". Nhordum seems impressed, while Leene sheepishly tell you that you should stick to studying your text books. You resist the urge to point out that Synchronicity was probably not a part of her textbooks, mostly because it's certainly not a part of your textbooks either. "Anyway, that's all I want to know on that subject. Now, Leene, you had a few things you said you needed to discuss with me?". A beet-red Leene nods while Nhordum continues to watch the now thoroughly embarrassed Leene try and not stumble over her words. Lotus, meanwhile, is calmly drinking tea and probably hoping she'll not become part of the conversation at this point. You don't blame her. "Right, eh, what I wanted to discuss. Actually, I wanted to talk about your training. Where we'll be going from here.". Good point, with the succession issue resolved Leene should finally have a clear enough schedule to teach you personally. And she does, as Leene explains. You're happy to hear it, finally you can focus on learning some actual magic for a change. "Before you get too excited, there's a few things about me training you that you'll need to keep in mind.". And suddenly the happiness fades. "First off, learning how to Embrace is best taught through an Embrace, so that's what our training sessions will consists of. Because of that we won't be able to practice together all that often.". "Why?". "Because repeated Embraces over a short period of time can have, well, side-effects. We'll limit our sessions together to one session every week, that way you won't have anything to worry about. Not that I think you'd want to be Embraced every other day anyway.". The mention of side-effects makes you think, but since it's not like you'd want to be Embraced every other day if it could be avoided anyway you happily agree with Leene's plan of one session per week. "Good, beyond that just stop by whenever you have time. I'll make sure to keep my schedule clear.". You nod and stay around for a while afterwards, discussing various rumors before continuing on with your day.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-You try to remember, but it's no use. Leene, predictably, uses the opportunity to get a word in so your chance to get information quickly has vanished. Bummer. "Anyway, with the succession issue settled we can finally focus on your training. Whenever you have time stop by the shop and I'll give you a lesson. Mind, learning how to Embrace is best taught trough an Embrace, so be ready for that.". Lovely, although if this is what you're going to be doing you should get used to it sooner rather than later. On a whim you ask "Anything else?". Leene looks a little sheepish before saying "One thing, actually. Repeatedly being Embraced over a short period of time can have, well, side-effects, so we'll limit the lessons to once every week. That way you won't have anything to worry about.". You've already got a strong grasp of the skills you need, so before you leave you make plans to put them to the test later.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE
END]

 

[Observation]: How are Lotus and Nhordum reacting to this?
-Nhordum is staring a little curiously at Leene, although you can't figure out why. Lotus, meanwhile, is drinking her tea and trying to stay out of the conversation that may or may not come up. She might have a few things to say about the subject, although she's probably not willing to speak up herself. Maybe they can help you convince Leene to talk, if they indeed have something to say.
-- UNLOCK [Confidence] OPTION, CHOOSE AGAIN

 

-Lotus doesn't appear to be paying much attention to the discussion, instead choosing to focus on drinking tea, while Nhordum looks like this doesn't interest him at all. No help from those two, wonderful.
-- CHOOSE AGAIN

 

[Persuasion]: Ask that she explain it now.
--Before Leene can even suggest that she explain it "later" you noticeably shift your head towards both Nhordum and Lotus, afterwards shifting back to Leene and asking "Is this really something that you'd be better off explaining 'later'?". Leene doesn't seem any less convince then she was a moment ago, but you can see both Nhordum and Lotus silently staring at her. Leene sighs and tells them both that if they have something to say they should just say it. Lotus, as you expected, doesn't speak up, but Nhordum does. "Will it really matter that much whether we tell [him/her] now or later? We don't have to go into unnecessary details, you know.". "W-well, fine, then you tell [him/her].". You look at Nhordum quite confused, and as you expected he has an answer ready for you. "Relax, there's a good reason why Leene is sore on this subject and that's something you're better off not hearing.". Leene definitely looks like she has something to say in response to that, but for better or worse she's keeping quiet. At least Nhordum is willing to give you some information. "Ever heard of a Potion of Perfected Turning?". You shake your head. "Well long story less long that potion allows two people, like Leene and Lotus here, to have a child. Slight problem, though, is that everyone that's used that potion ended up having a daughter for reasons unknown. Hence why Leene knew.". You weren't aware a potion could do that, and that honestly sounds like false advertising to you. "So, wait, why is it called a Potion of 'Perfected' Turning if it isn't actually perfect?". A noticeable grin forms on Nhordum's face, which you don't see very often. "Good question. Again, long story less long is that the brewer who devised that potion initially made several failed batches, nothing unusual when you're trying to create a new potion, but he nevertheless was quite disappointed with all the failures. So when a batch finally worked - when it was 'perfected', as the brewer called it - he named his brew a Potion of Perfected Turning. It wasn't until later that the gender issue was discovered and the brewer stubbornly refused to believe it was anything but mere coincidence, so he insisted that his chosen name remained. You'll find a few brewers that insist on calling it by a different name, most commonly a Potion of Imperfect Turning, but I happen to respect a brewer's right to name their devised brews whether that name is accurate or not.". "So I guess that gender issue isn't just coincidence?". Nhordum shrugs, which you weren't expecting. "No one knows for sure. The potion isn't a common sight by any stretch and there's very few recorded uses of them, so coincidence isn't out of the question.". "Sorry to interrupt the brewing lesson, Nhordum, but I believe we have more important things to discuss with [PC FIRST NAME].". Nhordum nods, and for just a moment you could swear that he looked disappointed. You're not sure if you're getting better at reading him or if you're just seeing things. A bit reluctantly you turn to Leene, who doesn't waste any time. "[PC FIRST NAME], we still need to talk about your training, now that the succession issue is resolved. With that out of the way I'll have enough spare time so that I can teach you personally, although there's a few catches to that.". There always are, aren't there? You don't let that deter you, however, you're excited that you can finally work on really improving your magic skills. Up until Leene opens her mouth again, that is. "First off learning how to Embrace is best taught through an Embrace, so that what our study sessions will consists of. That also brings me to the second point, namely that repeated Embraces over a short period of time can have side-effects.". And suddenly, your enthusiasm was gone. "Don't worry about it [PC FIRST NAME], we'll limit our sessions to one every week at most so you don't have to worry about anything. Anyway, beyond that just stop by the shop whenever you have time and we'll see about working on your magic, alright?". You nod and spend some time discussing various potions with Nhordum before leaving, much to Leene's chagrin and Lotus' quiet amusement.
--- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

--You try to convince Nhordum and Lotus to help you, but they're not budging, so Leene gets to tell you it'd be better if she explained it later uncontested. "Anyway, with the succession issue settled we can finally focus on your training. Whenever you have time stop by the shop and I'll give you a lesson. Mind, learning how to Embrace is best taught trough an Embrace, so be ready for that.". Lovely, although if this is what you're going to be doing you should get used to it sooner rather than later. On a whim you ask "Anything else?". Leene looks a little sheepish before saying "One thing, actually. Repeatedly being Embraced over a short period of time can have, well, side-effects, so we'll limit the lessons to once every week. That way you won't have anything to worry about.". It might just be your mind playing tricks on you, but you could have sworn that Nhordum's eyes shifted when Leene mentioned those "side-effects". No point in pointing it out, though, if you can't convince Leene to tell you something trying to convince Nhordum would just be a waste of time. As far as your training goes you've already got a strong grasp of the skills you need, so before you leave you make plans to put them to the test later.
--- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

 

The incredibly late stage 12a. The delay is because my original idea for this stage didn't work so I had to scrap the entire thing, after after that is was just slow going. This is also the point where a PC that went through The Endless Section adventure (or a PC with enough Brew) can connect the dots about what Leene was collecting in Y1 and why she was collecting it in the first place. Although I doubt anyone reading along hasn't already done so.

 

Fun Fact: In an early draft of An Outing... Lotus was actually male, going by the name...Lotum, I think? Something silly I don't quite remember, it was changed pretty early on. Part of the reason for that is right here, to introduce the need for the Potion of Perfected turning. Which, BTW, I seriously hope actually fits in the game's lore because otherwise I'm going to need to redact a ton of stuff. In hindsight I probably should have confirmed that a bit earlier than "never" but, you know, hindsight and all.

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The Training Continues, stage holy epic doorstopper, Batman! 12b:

 

Unwise Ideas

 

While you're frozen in place you can hear the comments of the people around you. "Unbelievable, that he'd name a child his successor over his own son.". "What's our standing coming to? A child like [him/her]. Have standards died out with the last Emperor?". "I had my doubts about the Council and their House of 'healers', but this...". As the man's words trail off a deafeningly loud man asks "You know those three? Do you have any idea what they've done!?". You don't hear a response. All the voices clash against each other and you can't hear any words anymore, just noise. What you can make out is Leene's footsteps, walking closer to you. She doesn't say anything for a while, although once she does you can make out what she says. "Guys...I think we better take [him/her] home with us.". Someone replies "Again?". It's Nhordum's voice, though you can't force your head to turn around and check. After a sigh Leene throws her arms around you. It makes it that much harder to stay composed, so you don't exactly welcome it right now. After a moment she let's go and grabs your hand, asking you to follow her. Leene almost has to drag you, but thankfully your body can walk along without you making it. The sunlight outside suddenly barrelling down on you feels painful, but there's little you can do about that now. Leene takes you into the usual chariot and makes some awkward moves in order to sit down with you sitting on her lap, being held in her arms, where Leene begins to rub your cheek again. It feels more than just familiar to last year, and just like last year you open up to her and give up on trying to understand what's going on. A flood of tears you didn't even notice you were holding back flow from your eyes while Leene silently tries to offer some comfort, with Nhordum and Lotus (embarrassingly enough) silently watching the entire thing. Only unlike last year Leene didn't use her wand to Embrace you, so when Nhordum finally speak up you can hear what he's saying. "Did [s/he] cry [him/her]self to sleep?". You really don't feel like moving or doing anything, so you don't mention you're actually still awake. You can feel Leene slowly nod and quietly say "I think so.". Nhordum adjusts his volume down as well, but your ears are trained well enough to listen in anyway. The fact that the chariot is actually making very little noise helps. "I...Leene, when I got that message I tried to find a way for us both to keep what we have, but, this...I never even considered it.". There's a rather awkward pause until Leene answers "I doubt [s/he] wanted it this way, either.". Nhordum briefly forgets to whisper, but he catches himself quickly enough. "What? But-". Leene holds up a hand as best she can without risking you noticing, and she whispers "[His/Her] parents were there.". No response from Nhordum, although you can perfectly imagine his expression. Shocked, dumbfounded and twisted with a large side order of confused. "Third row on the right. You didn't see them?". No response again, although you can still perfectly imagine Nhordum's expression. Leene sighs and shakes her head. "This was just too much for [him/her].". Nhordum sarcastically asks "You think?", and Leene nods. "Your father wouldn't have taken [him/her] on [his/her] word, right?". No vocal response from Nhordum, so he probably nodded. "So they would have Embraced [him/her], to verify whatever reason [s/he] had to pull this.". You imagine Nhordum nods again, he should know this stuff. "[His/Her] parents were raising hell with the Captain earlier, and I could hear it in their voice. They weren't worried about [PC FIRST NAME]. They were worried about their reputation.". Nhordum sighs, through his hands you'd guess because it sounds a bit weird, and in perfect monotone he whispers "So one of my parents dug up [his/her] entire family history during an Embrace...". Before Nhordum can finish the thought, if he intended to do so, Leene adds "I don't think [s/he] stayed with them after that. And [s/he] hasn't been taught how to cope with Embraces yet, either.". Nhordum sighs again and says "I think we need to reconsider our priorities.". Leene nods as the chariot suddenly stops, apparently you've arrived back at Gressel's. Leene wakes you up, sort of, and with some reluctance you stand up, holding Leene's hand as you follow her to the door. Your eyes and robe are a mess and the sunlight isn't any kinder than it was earlier, but someone standing in front of the back door of the shop. You can't really see too well right now, but Nhordum suddenly saying "Good day, Captain" kind of gives the man's identity away. With a neutral voice the Captain calmly asks "So would you kindly explain to me how, exactly, this...situation ended up happening?". You don't feel like talking and you shouldn't step on the Captain's toes, but perhaps you should say something?

 

You have nothing to say.
-You stay close to Leene and stay quiet as Nhordum almost begins to explain everything, but he's stopped by Lotus tapping him on the shoulder. "Sorry, but, maybe we shouldn't discuss things in the backyard?". Nhordum blankly stares at Lotus for a few seconds while Leene and the Captain, in turn, blankly stare at him. "Right, let me just open the door...". The Captain steps aside and Nhordum opens the door, after which everyone starts walking inside. While walking past the Captain Lotus politely asks him "Would you care for some tea, Captain?". He nods, and while Nhordum takes a seat in the living room Lotus walks through it into the kitchen. You stop in front of the living room, not really sure whether you should or want to be part of the incoming discussion. Before you can make a decision Leene picks up on your lack thereof, and she taps you on the shoulder to get your attention. "Something bothering you, [PC FIRST NAME]?". You look into the living room as the Captain takes a seat, and he actually turns to face you. With a neutral expression and a tone to match the Captain says "I believe it would be best if you heard this, actually.". You nod and walk into the living room, with Leene following behind you. After you two are seated Lotus shows up from the kitchen with with cups and a pitcher filled with familiar smelling tea. While filling a cup for himself the Captain asks no one in particular "So how did this mess happen?". Nhordum, almost casually, answers "The short version is that [PC FIRST NAME] made a few decisions and, somehow, convinced my parents to go through with them.". You silently drink your tea while the Captain asks whether this was entirely your idea. You look up from your tea to see all the eyes in the room on you, and somewhat reluctantly you nod in response. "So you made this happen entirely on your own?", the Captain asks somewhat confused. You silently nod again. The Captain, who now looks even more confused, shifts his eyes towards Nhordum. Without waiting for a question to be asked Nhordum says "We didn't Master [him/her] into doing this, if that's what [his/her] parents are thinking.". You can see the Captain contemplate for only a moment, but he reaches his decision quickly. "Yes, that's indeed what [his/her] parents are claiming. I don't think they can be faulted on that, all things considered.". Nhordum hangs his head a bit as he shakes it, and the Captain turns to Leene. "How did you three not notice this?". Leene glances at you before facing the Captain and answering "We were busy looking for a successor, ironically enough. You saw that Nhordum and I were called before [PC FIRST NAME] was, so I'm sure you already know our reasons.". The Captain sighs and slowly nods. With a weary face and worn voice he says "Yes, that is true. Very well, truth be told it's clear that there's no abuse of Mastery here, just two mentors not looking after their student as much as they should have. Can I trust you two to work on that?". Nhordum shrugs and says "If my parents think [s/he's] fit to be their successor that's their problem, I'm not their secretary, though I can definitely agree to keeping a closer eye on [PC FIRST NAME].". Nhordum turns to you and casually says "No offence.". Without looking up from your tea you say "None taken.", and Leene tells the Captain she'll keep an eye on you. The Captain agrees and excuses himself, and once he's out the back door (apparently no one has cared to open the front door) Nhordum and Lotus say they'll open up the shop. It's a bit awkward sitting next to Leene in the otherwise empty living room, still drinking tea, but you don't feel like going anywhere right now. Instead you stay with Leene and chat for a while, until you've calmed down enough to go outside again.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

[Dispassion]: Try to calm down. Very quickly.
-You take a deep breath, focus for a second and ask the Captain if you all could discuss that inside. You think you succeeded at trying to put aside the last hour of your life, but there's a broken tone in your voice that clearly doesn't sound natural. You try to pretend it wasn't there (or, for that matter, obvious), but the Captain gives you a very curious look regardless (or perhaps because). Choosing one of a large number of questions clearly written on his face the Captain decides to ask what is wrong with your voice. You don't have a response to that, although Nhordum does. "Sounds to me like [s/he's] trying too hard. Anyway, Captain, do you mind if I open the door?". Without letting his gaze off of you the Captain shakes his head and stands aside, letting Nhordum open the door. Nhordum opens the door and turns around. "Lotus, please set some tea. [PC FIRST NAME], follow me.". You're a little surprised, but you follow Nhordum nevertheless. He takes you upstairs to a familiar bedroom while Leene, Lotus and the Captain walk off into the living room (and the Kitchen, in Lotus' case). You can see where this is going, and without prompt you sit down on the bed. Nhordum leans against the doorframe and says "I can understand you not wanting to show weakness out in public, but did you really think that would work?". Truth be told you didn't, really, but it seemed like it was worth a try. Nhordum shakes his head, and you ask him what you did wrong. "[PC FIRST NAME], have you ever asked Leene - or yourself, for that matter - why we decided to teach you how to perform an Embrace before teaching you how to cope with it?". You slowly shake your head. You were planning on asking, but then you heard about the succession issue and...it kinda slipped your mind. Nhordum doesn't look surprised, although than again he rarely "looks" anything. "The reason is simple - you're too young. There's a few ways you can learn how to cope with it, and indeed the principles of Dispassion are one way, but someone as young as you shouldn't learn that just yet. You still have quite a bit of growing up to do, and trying to take control of that process is a great way to break someone. Even if it's just you trying to push yourself in a direction you shouldn't.". Pushed by a quickly building sense of frustration you decide to take Nhordum's advice, and with a bit more bite you ask him since when he became all-knowing. "Probably around the same time I made the exact same mistake? Really, are you at all surprised by that?". You shake your head, entirely unsurprised. Nhordum sighs and pushes himself away from the doorframe, as if he couldn't simply put his foot down. "We can discuss that at length later, if you want. Right now you need to get some rest and I need to convince the Captain we didn't Master you into pulling this stunt. He's not stupid, don't worry about that, but your parents undoubtedly accused us thereof and, well, kids generally don't pull stunts like this.". Before Nhordum can say anything else you tell him you're not a kid, although he doesn't seem convinced. "So long as you don't understand the difference between not caring and not showing that you care, you're a kid. Among other things, but for your training that's the one that matters. And, [PC FIRST NAME]?". You look up and notice that Nhordum's usual frown isn't there. "It will be another decade before you can truly understand that difference. Focus on learning what emotions are before you discard them.". With that said Nhordum turns around and walks downstairs, where you guess the others still discussing things. You have no idea what to make of what he said, but than that's probably the point. Either way you are indeed quite tired, so you decide to take the time you have to get some rest.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-You try to catch your breath and calm down, but the effort only serves to reveal how futile the attempt is. Leene notices and shakes her head sadly, after which she turns to the Captain and asks if she can bring you inside first. The Captain nods, and steps aside so Leene can open the door. Still holding your hand she drags you inside, after which she turns to the other and says she'll be taking you upstairs. You can't bring yourself to turn your own head, but the idea was apparently approved since Leene does take you upstairs. You can hear Lotus asking the Captain if he wants tea, but nobody says anything else. Leene takes you to an all too familiar bedroom, and asks you to get some rest. You weakly nod and lay down on the bed while Leene opens a window and casts a Glamour to mute the noise of the Minetan streets. As calmly as ever Leene turns to you and says "[PC FIRST NAME], don't worry about the Captain. I'll make sure he understands what happened. And try not to manipulate your emotions so much, it's neither as easy or as helpful as Nhordum makes it look.". You weakly nod, and after patting you on the head Leene turns around and walks out, closing the door behind her. Very quickly you notice something odd. You can hear Leene's footsteps even when she's walking into the living room. You're absolutely sure that you could not hear that well when she went downstairs to get Professor Vickery last year. In fact, you can hear her voice as she's talking to someone, probably the Captain. It's distant, but your trained ears can definitely make out her voice. "Sorry for the wait, did I miss anything?". It must be the Glamour she cast that is doing this. It's perfectly muting all sound from outside, but that has the side effect of making the sound coming from inside that much clearer. Completely ignoring Leene's advice you close your eyes and focus on the conversation downstairs, trying to listen in. It's stressful work, but your body understands and cooperates as much as it can. In answer to Leene's question Nhordum replies "Nothing you haven't heard already, I was just explaining the Proxy Kiss.". The Captain asks how "the kid" is doing. Leene, not taking nearly as much offence to that as you do, calmly answers "[s/he's] upstairs in the guest bedroom, safe and sound. I just hope Nhordum hasn't given [him/her] ideas.". A moment later the Captain asks "What ideas?". Nhordum responds before Leene can, saying "How to try and manage [his/her] emotions, or not manage them as the case might be. I'll have a talk with [him/her] about priorities later, though don't expect me to explain puberty to [him/her].". The Captain wearily says "Rest assured that no one does. Back to the point, if Nhordum became the successor he'd refuse to marry anyone other than the girl that his father if not Leene still hates. Hence why he didn't keep as close an eye on [PC FIRST NAME] as he should have. Leene, what was your issue with becoming the successor?". After a moment Leene answers "As I said before, I don't want my daughter to be born into the same circumstances that Nhordum was.". Somewhat confused the Captain asks "Isn't that an issue for the long term, though?". Leene quickly and bitterly replies "No, it's not a long-term issue at all. It's what the three of us were most concerned with.". "Were?", the Captain curiously asks, and clearly disappointed Leene admits "Up until I found [PC FIRST NAME] last year, when looking for Batu-Te-Rem petals. After that we've had to shift priorities, it's a long story.". There's no vocal response to that, for better or worse. The Captain eventually says "Well, that gives me a clear enough idea of the situation. To be frank, since I know that if I won't be a certain someone else will...". After the Captain trails off there's a strange noise, from Nhordum you suspect, and the Captain continues with "[PC FIRST NAME]'s parents indeed accused you three of Mastery, but I can see that isn't the case. And yes, I did notice that the child's parents didn't sound as concerned about [him/her] as much as they should have been, but that alone isn't enough to convince me that [s/he] did this of [his/her] own will, as Viella claimed. The three of you can expect this 'case' to be tossed out, but even so I expect you to keep a closer eye on your student in the future.". Leene, with a tone you can't place, quietly remarks that if she looks after you any more she'll be mistaken for your mother, to which Nhordum makes the most painful remark you've heard in your life. "Isn't that what you both want at this point?". After what must be a very awkward moment the Captain slowly excuses himself and leaves, you can hear him open and close the back door behind him (why he didn't use the front door is something you don't care to ask yourself). Once the captain is gone Nhordum asks "So what do we do about [PC FIST NAME]? We can't teach [him/her] in that condition whether [s/he] thinks so or not.". Without hesitation Leene answers "We let [him/her] catch [his/her] breath for now. As for [his/her] parents, we'll wait until Kapsus comes around and if the rift between them is too much...we'll step in.". Nhordum has something to say in response, but unfortunately you've pushed yourself too far and the urge to sleep overwhelms you before you can overhear more.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

[Character Study]: How does the Captain look?
-You can't see too well, but you can see well enough to notice that the Captain isn't mad or confused, he looks like he usually does whenever you see him walking around on patrol. Not like he's about to let anyone walk away without an explanation, but definitely not like he's got a score to settle either. It's good to see he's staying professional even in these circumstances, especially because that means he'll probably be willing to listen to reason.
-- UNLOCK BELOW OPTION, CHOOSE AGAIN

 

-You can't see well enough to make out any details.
-- CHOOSE AGAIN

 

[befriend]: Politely ask the Captain if you can go inside.

--You shift closer to Leene and ask the Captain if he'd please let you go in before talking about things. The Captain looks you over, sighs, and steps aside. Nhordum open the back door and Leene is the first to walk inside, dragging you with her to the living room. Lotus asks "Would you care for some tea, Captain?". You don't hear a response, but you do hear Nhordum sigh and invite the Captain in, which you take as a sign that he accepted. Leene, meanwhile, tells you to sit down and immediately sits down next to you. Being so close to Leene gives you a really weird feeling you can't begin to place, but you've kind of resigned yourself to that fate by now. Nhordum and the Captain also sit down, while Lotus heads into the kitchen. "You wanted an explanation?". Nhordum sounds as friendly as you've ever heard him, which actually sounds unnatural. The Captain just nods, and Lotus comes walking in with several cups of tea. You wonder how she made that so fast, probably with an Incantation. Everyone, yourself included, is given a cup while the Captain asks "So how did this nonsense happen?". Nhordum shrugs and says he doesn't know, after which he turns towards Leene. She glances at you and says "I think this was to put some distance between [PC FIRST NAME] and [his/her] parents.". You weakly nod, and the Captain sighs. "Did the three of you know about this?". Nhordum says they didn't, both Leene and Lotus nod in response. The Captain, clearly perplexed, asks "So the teenager you three were told to mentor managed to convince Gregory to name [him/her] Kazus' successor out of spite for [his/her] neglectful parents. None of you noticed this?". The Captain turns his head to look at Nhordum. He shrugs again and says "Whether my parents find someone a worthy successor is their business, I'm not their secretary.". The Captain turns to look at Leene, who says "Nhordum initially didn't share the news about the succession issue with us, and he didn't mention that [PC FIRST NAME] could be named. I assumed [s/he] couldn't be given what you said about the Proxy Kiss.". Nhordum shrugs. "Technically [PC FIRST NAME] is a successor-in-waiting, [s/he] won't be initiated fully until [s/he]'s of age. The Proxy Kiss is one reason why.". Both you and the Captain share a confused look, and he asks "What exactly is the Proxy Kiss?". Nhordum glances at you and answers "It's when the successor presents who is to be his or her spouse before the current head of the house. Needless to say a successor-in-waiting won't be doing that, yet.". The Captain glances at you and nods to himself. "So neither of you forced [him/her] into this?". Nhordum suddenly looks amused. "Is that why you're here? The kid's parents are saying someone Mastered their 'precious' child?". The Captain glares at Nhordum and harshly replies "Viella's claim that it was entirely [his/her] choice didn't sound particularly believable either.". Nhordum's grin brought down he slowly nods, saying that is a valid point. The Captain shakes his head and says "Either way I can see there's no foul play in this case. I know you three were only told to mentor [him/her] so no actual crime was committed on your ends, but even so I expect you three to better look after your student.". Leene glares at Nhordum, who quickly says he's learned his lesson about keeping secrets. The Captain turns to look at you, but you don't have anything to say to him. He shakes his head again, and with a voice less harsh then before says "In the future don't give me a reason to believe someone's been Mastering you. I've got enough to worry about as is, and I imagine that you do as well.". You nod and the Captain excuses himself. No one says anything until you can hear the sound of the back door being opened, and then closed. "Well, this is not how I anticipated the succession issue to end.", Nhordum deadpans. Leene shakes her head, clearly tired, and asks "So where do we go from here?". Nhordum briefly studies you, after which he shakes his head. "If we tried to teach [him/her] the finer points of Embracing now [s/he]'d break under the emotional strain, and [s/he]'s too young to learn how to cope with Embraces yet in any event. Nothing to do but wait.". Leene looks at you a bit expectantly, and a moment later you figure out she's waiting for you to say something. "So...what happens now?". Leene throws an arm around you and says "Like Nhordum said, now we wait.". Nhordum and Lotus look at each other, nod and both leave the room saying something about opening up the shop. You stay where you are with Leene sitting next to you, trying to catch your breath after all that's happened.
--- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

--You move closer to Leene and try to say something, but you end up choking on your words so badly it's impossible to tell what you're trying to say. Leene looks down at you and shakes her head sadly, after which she turns to the Captain and asks if she can bring you inside first. The Captain nods, and steps aside so Leene can open the door. Still holding your hand she drags you inside, after which she turns to the other and says she'll be taking you upstairs. You can't bring yourself to turn your own head, but the idea was apparently approved since Leene does take you upstairs. You can hear Lotus asking the Captain if he wants tea, but nobody says anything else. Leene takes you to an all too familiar bedroom, and asks you to get some rest. You weakly nod and lay down on the bed while Leene opens a window and casts a Glamour to mute the noise of the Minetan streets. As calmly as ever Leene turns to you and says "[PC FIRST NAME], don't worry about the Captain, I'll make sure he understands what happened. Just try to relax and catch your breath, alright?". You weakly nod, and after patting you on the head Leene turns around and walks out, closing the door behind her. Very quickly you notice something odd. You can hear Leene's footsteps even when she's walking into the living room. You're absolutely sure that you could not hear that well when she went downstairs to get Professor Vickery last year. In fact, you can hear her voice as she's talking to someone, probably the Captain. It's distant, but your trained ears can definitely make out her voice. "Sorry for the wait, did I miss anything?". It must be the Glamour she cast that is doing this. It's perfectly muting all sound from outside, but that has the side effect of making the sound coming from inside that much clearer. You close your eyes and focus on the conversation downstairs, trying to listen in. It's stressful work, but you can force your body to cooperate. In answer to Leene's question Nhordum replies "Nothing you haven't heard already, I was just explaining the Proxy Kiss.". The Captain asks how "the kid" is doing. Leene, not taking nearly as much offence to that as you do, calmly answers "[s/he's] upstairs in the guest bedroom, safe and sound. I just hope [s/he'll] be able to get some rest.". A moment later the Captain asks "Nhordum said that, due to what is expected of the successor after being named, you weren't watching over [PC FIRST NAME] as closely as you should have. Is that true?". No vocal response, but after a moment the Captain asks "So what exactly would have been such a problem?". Nhordum is the first to respond, saying "The Proxy Kiss, pretty much. I know my father wouldn't have accepted Rain, even though I wouldn't have accepted anyone else. And even if he did, Leene wouldn't have.". Sounding quite bitter Leene adds "No I wouldn't have. I'm not ready to forgive her. Not yet.". The Captain asks why she's not on good terms with Rain, and Leene says Rain was a school bully back when they attended the Academagia. With an almost bored voice Nhordum says "Rain pulled a nasty prank on Lotus in Hionoshi once. To keep it short, it caused trouble. Leene still hasn't forgiven Rain for that.". Lotus says she doesn't remember that, and before anyone can comment the Captain says "The point is that if Nhordum became the successor, he'd refuse to marry anyone other than the girl that his father, if not Leene, still hates. So what was your issue with becoming the successor?". After a moment Leene answers "As I said before, I don't want my daughter to be born into the same circumstances that Nhordum was.". Somewhat confused the Captain asks "Isn't that an issue for the long term, though?". Quickly, Leene bitterly replies "No, it's not a long-term issue at all. It's what the three of us were most concerned with.". "Were?", the Captain curiously asks, and clearly disappointed Leene admits "Up until I found [PC FIRST NAME] last year, when looking for Batu-Te-Rem petals. After that we've had to shift priorities, it's a long story.". There's no vocal response to that, for better or worse. The Captain eventually says "Well, I think that gives me a clear idea of the situation. To be frank, since I know that if I won't be a certain someone else will...". After the Captain trails off there's a strange noise, from Nhordum you suspect, and the Captain continues with "[PC FIRST NAME]'s parents indeed accused you three of Mastery, but I can see that isn't the case. And yes, I did notice that the child's parents didn't sound as concerned about [him/her] as much as they should have been, but that alone isn't enough to convince me that [s/he] did this of [his/her] own will, as Viella claimed. The three of you can expect this 'case' to be tossed out, but even so I expect you to keep a closer eye on [PC FIRST NAME] in the future.". Leene, with a tone you can't place, quietly remarks that if she looks after you any more she'll be mistaken for your mother, to which Nhordum makes the most painful remark you've heard in your life. "Isn't that what you both want at this point?". After what must be a very awkward moment the Captain slowly excuses himself and leaves, you can hear him open and close the back door behind him (why he didn't use the front door is something you don't care to ask yourself). Once the captain is gone Nhordum asks "So what do we do about [PC FIST NAME]? We can't teach [him/her] in that condition.". Without hesitation Leene answers "We let [him/her] catch [his/her] breath for now. As for [his/her] parents, we'll wait until Kapsus comes around and if the rift between them is too much...we'll step in.". Nhordum has something to say in response, but unfortunately you've pushed yourself too far and the urge to sleep overwhelms you before you can overhear more.
--- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

 

In my defence, most of the length comes from me actually putting some measure of effort in the failure options this time. That's my story and I'm sticking to it <_<.

 

So yeah, finally we get the very...very...wordy stage 12b. The delay wasn't me having broken my keyboard through sheer force of typing getting stuck so much as me going a little crazy with making sure everything actually works out (see above potion blunder) and waiting on that. I'm still waiting, actually, but I've confirmed enough. For now. This is the stage where the PC, after realizing "oh what I actually am House Kazus' successor now" has a wee bit of a breakdown and the Captain has a few questions to ask of the crew. There's the usual hints and clues scattered around about a bunch of things, especially because it's possible to overhear people talking that don't know the PC is listening twice, but yeah, good luck finding the hints regardless.

 

I swear the last two stages won't be anywhere near as lengthy. Honest.

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Soooo, Leene and Lotus are together, as is Nhordum and Raine. Nhordum's father won't accept Raine so Nhordum refuses to inherit, while Leene doesn't want her daughter to be locked into the family?

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Pretty much. Only detail is that Leene's daughter wouldn't be locked into the family, Nhordum certainly wasn't, but she would be locked into learning Sync whether she liked it or not.

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The Training Continues, stage 13a:

 

How Plans Work Out

 

While wandering the Academagia hallways you run into Rui, who seems somewhere between nervous and excited. Stage fright, it looks like, but there's neither a stage or an audience here. When he sees you he looks relieved, and you get the idea that perhaps he's running from someone. "Hey, [PC FIRST NAME], perfect timing. If you aren't busy, do you want to go to Mineta with me? I know a good restaurant, my treat.". You look around to make sure no one is listening, and ask Rui if that was supposed to be a request for you to smuggle him out of the Academagia or an invitation for a date. Rui proceeds to laugh, as much as he tries (and fails) to stay calm. "Ha, the former, actually. Joana and Philippe are after me. Through no fault of my own, of course." Rui says, leaking dangerous amounts of insincerity at the end. Even so it's a good opportunity for you, since you had a few more things to ask of Rui about the succession issue. "Well, I am free as luck would have it, so what is your plan for avoiding Philippe and Joana?". Rui looks around again nervously, clearly whatever prank he pulled it was a really bad one. "Yes, well, my plan is for you to scout ahead, and if you see Philippe or Joana you throw one of those special spells of yours at them. Then while they don't feel like dislocating my shoulder I quickly run past them before the spell runs out.". You wonder if Leene and Nhordum had to deal with stuff like this when they were in the Academagia. You really do. Either way you want to talk with Rui and you don't want to do that in the infirmary, so what now?

 

Go with Rui's plan.
-"Alright, we'll go with that plan.". Rui nods, and with a massive grin on his face tell you that he'll take point as soon as you both are past the Great Gate. You nod, and hope Rui can make peace with Philippe and Joana before it gets to the point where you'd need to Embrace the lot of them to make that happen. Well, negotiate terms of a cease-fire. "Peace" is a little much to hope for when it concerns Philippe and Joana (and Rui, for that matter).
-- +1 LUCK, END ADVENTURE

 

You've got a better idea, actually.
-"Eh, Rui, ever thought of casting an invisibility spell on yourself? You're in Glamour classes, aren't you?". Rui tries to quickly think of an excuse, but you've already spotted his surprise. It annoys Rui to see the knowing grin on your face, but he's got enough of a sense of humor to appreciate it. With a smile of his own he jokingly says "Look, in my defence my Glamour isn't perfect, alright?". You consider teasing Rui about his charm and skill with inviting people on dates, but refrain. You've got a prankster to keep an eye on.
-- +1 CHARM, END ADVENTURE

 

 

The Training Continues, stage 13b:

 

Done is Done

 

You're relaxing in your room once again, not really feeling like doing anything at all. These episodes of yours have come on gone since you were Embraced by Viella, but lately they've thankfully been fewer and further between. You're not sure why, but than you're not going to look a gifted horse in the mouth. Or your own calming spells, which have been doing a great job of stopping those episodes when they show up at an inconvenient time. As you're daydreaming the day away you hear a knock on your door, along with the voice of a familiar sounding male. "Letter for [PC FIRST NAME], may I come in?". For the life of you you can't remember who's voice that is, so with some reservations you carefully open the door. When you see Rui da Casga standing behind it you're not sure if your caution is justified. He's a prankster, but he isn't the type to walk up to his victim's faces. Besides which, since when did he start delivering letters? "So do you want your letter or not?". The enormous grin on Rui's face along with his barely held back laughter makes you question whether you should, but you ultimately decide that if this was the greatest prank Rui ever came up with he wouldn't waste it on you. He recently got into a bit of a spat with Philippe and Joana, if the rumors you heard are right. You open your door and take the letter from Rui, the return address of which is your home. You were sort of expecting a letter from your parents - figures that the first letter they bother to send you comes after you stick your finger in their eyes - but why is Rui delivering this? Well, Rui is right there, might as well ask. The grin on Rui's face widens even more after you ask, which you honestly didn't think possible. "I actually got a letter from someone myself recently, and the delivery boy didn't know where to find your dorm room. So I talked him into letting me deliver it for him. Truth be told I have something I want to talk with you about anyway, so it wasn't like I went out of my way.". You're not sure how Rui managed to talk his way through that, he doesn't really strike you as a fast-talker. Still a bit cautious you slowly ask "Okay, so...what did you want to talk about?". You catch Rui glancing at your wrist, which you don't take as a good sign. A bit sheepishly, and with a thankfully low voice, he says "The, eh...well, I'll just say it. About you being House Kazus' successor. I know a private place to talk if you're worried about that. In Mineta, my treat.". You suspect that if Rui wasn't currently on Philippe and Joana's bad side he wouldn't have made that offer. Still, you don't feel like staying in your room all day and it's obvious that Rui has his own story to tell about this mess, so you're tempted to take him up on his offer. Then you remember the unopened and unread letter still in your hand. Should you read it first, or leave it for later and go with Rui?

 

Go with Rui and forget the letter.
-"Alright, just give me a second to grab my things.". Rui nods, and in one fell swoop you drop the letter wherever it looks like there's room and grab your knapsack with your other hand. You're pretty sure that your knapsack has everything you need, so you walk up to Rui. There's a frown on his face for some reason, but it vanishes quickly enough. "Alright, follow me.". Rui leads you to a restaurant in Mineta's middle city, and in a quiet corner the two of you discuss things that happened at length. You're amazed that Rui actually knew about the succession mess the entire time, but you can't fault him for not wanting to get involved himself.
-- ADD [The PC Has Made A Choice] MEMORY, +1 FITNESS, END ADVENTURE

 

Read the letter first and meet up with Rui later.
-"Alright, wait for me by the Great Gate. I've got this letter to read first.". Rui shrugs and nods, and unceremoniously walks off. You close your door, sit down on your bed and open the letter. All those times you wished your parents would bother to send you one, and now this. You had some pretty crazy ideas about how your stay in the Academagia would turn out, back when you first arrived here on Juvenalia last year, but nothing that looked anything like this. The letter itself contains exactly what you expected. A mixture of anger, confusion and disapproval from a pair of parents that have suddenly been thrust into a situation that they cannot even pretend to have any sort of grasp on. You're in much the same boat, but at least you have your magic to both provide some comfort and, if nothing else, a distraction. Not that you feel especially sorry for your parents right now either way, but that could change, maybe. Homecoming after this year's exams are over should be interesting, if your parents will have cooled down enough to want to see you at that point. With mixed feelings you drop the letter on your bed and grab your knapsack. This stuff isn't unimportant, for you or for your parents, but you don't want to keep Rui waiting.
-- ADD [The Rift Is Too Great] MEMORY, +1 INSIGHT, END ADVENTURE

 

 

Double feature because, as you can see, the adventure is over. A bit of an abrupt ending, perhaps, but I believe it's fitting and I'm pretty sure I...somehow shoved all the information I intended for stage 13 and 14 into stage 12 anyway. Besides, this thing is lengthy enough as is.

 

I'll probably have to come back and go over this monster at a later date, but right now I'm kinda tired of this adventure and have other things to work on. Next adventure coming up is...a (brief) mystery :ph34r:.

Edited by Metis

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Illegal Incantations, stage 0:

 

The Pronouncement From Hellen

 

You're wandering around the [PC COLLEGE] campus, at night, since tonight is your turn to patrol the campus. At least you didn't get stuck patrolling the campus grounds, since the weather hasn't been entirely stable recently. There's been a few unexpected (and expected) instances of heavy rainfall, sometimes with complimentary hail. Nothing overly unusual or really problematic, at least for the school, but your heart goes out to the poor student that's currently patrolling the campus grounds. Hopefully he or she knows some good weather protection spells, because as you look outside a window you notice the clouds look even more ominous than they did a few minutes ago. Your musings are interrupted when you suddenly hear a bunch of noise coming from outside, and it doesn't sound friendly. Wand already in hand you run outside and throw a Glamour in the direction you heard the noise from, lighting up the surrounding area quite nicely. Unfortunately it seems like you're too late, since the only thing your light makes visible is the hopefully still alive body of the first year that got stuck patrolling the outside campus, taking a dirt nap face-first in a pool of mud. You quickly rush over and check on the student, who gets up as soon as you're next to him. After coughing up and spitting out a mouthful of mud the student turns his attention towards you. "Huh? You on patrol too?". You nod, and the student tries to stand up. "Tries" being the key word, as despite the boy's determination his sense of balance seems to be failing him. "Listen, someone just jumped out that window up there. Knocked me out in one-ow, my head...". You don't see any injury on the boy's head, so you suspect the mystery trespasser used magic to knock him out. If only because he apparently jumped out from the very empty window that you were looking through a minute ago. "Can you walk?". The boy nods and stands up, successfully this time. "Hey, I'll go and alert one of the guards, you go after whoever knocked me out.". As the student starts to wobble away you ask him why you should. "Because whoever did this just ran away through a bunch of mud that's going to get washed away as soon as the next rainstorm starts. Look there, don't you see the footprints?". You look where the student if pointing, and there's indeed a set of footprints leading away from the Academagia. Although given how spaced out they are you have to wonder whether the culprit is actually a tiger wearing human-sized boots. It wouldn't be the first time you saw that either, although admittedly that last time was a prank. You look up towards the sky and grimace a bit when you see the clouds. Weather in Mineta is everything but predictable if it isn't controlled, but judging by the clouds you're sure you have twenty seconds to maybe an hour before the trail gets erased. You need to make a decision, and fast.

 

Follow the tracks.
-You cast your best weather protection spell, conjure the brightest light source you can maintain for a reasonable amount of time and start following the tracks as quickly as you can.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

 

Intro to a new adventure (which will include a pronouncement of sorts and a Hellen, just...not for another 3 stages or so). I promise this one won't be as long as The Training Continues. Or as wordy (for the most part). Or take me almost two months to finish. Maybe. Actually redact that statement, I promise nothing. I'll also note right now that I got really lazy with the stage names, so throw them on a fire if that's a problem, though I will give a bonus point to who figures out the connection before stage 2 or so. It becomes kinda obvious at that point.

 

As for the stage itself, well, it's an intro stage. Stuff will happen later.

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Illegal Incantations, stage 1:

 

Terror From Confusion

 

It's difficult to follow the sparse tracks with the limited amount of light you have available, but thankfully the mud is working in your favor. The tracks quickly lead you off of the Academagia grounds and unto a narrow path that was once made of dirt, but which now consists of mud and the occasional footprint embedded in mud. It's dark, it's surprisingly cold for this time of year and the light from your spell makes the trees around you look like vengeful spirits that are a wrong step away from coming alive and eating you. Or look like they've come alive already and are simply waiting for you to put your guard down, whenever the cold winds picks up and mimics the sound of a howling wolf. Or the moans of the damned as the rustling leaves do their best to sound like they're chewing on something. Really, this just isn't a very friendly place to be in general after hours. And yet despite all that you follow the path, keeping a careful eye on the tracks, but before the path can lead you too far away from the Academagia and into what would be considered Elumia Proper the tracks suddenly stop. There's mud all around you that is completely undisturbed, and you happen to be standing in a small clearing where you wouldn't be able to jump into a tree unless you could fly. You're fairly certain that whoever you're chasing didn't suddenly remember that he or she can, in fact, fly, so you suspect there's some sort of trickery involved here. Now how are you going to find out what that trickery is in this dim light, and before the weather starts raining on your parade literally more so than figuratively?

 

[Observation]: Look around for a less obvious clue.
-You take another look around, not focussing on the ground this time, and you quickly notice something that you can't believe you didn't notice before even in the dim light. There's a rope hanging suspended in the air right above where the last footprint is. The ends of the rope seem to be tied to different trees, although you can't see far enough to determine exactly which. It doesn't help that the rope is suspended pretty high up, much higher than you could jump without magical aid. So whoever you're chasing...somehow...managed to jump onto the rope and lose you that way? How? You're not exactly the tallest person around, but even an adult would be hard pressed to jump high enough to reach the rope without magical aid. Are you chasing after a Gates-created gorilla with super long legs and arms or what? And why is this rope here, anyway? Was it prepared in advance just in case the culprit was chased? That sounds like a monumentally stupid idea, especially because unlike who you've been chasing the rope isn't invisible. Was it intended to play a part with the drop-off of...whatever the culprit might have stolen, if that was his or her intent? Not impossible, you suppose, but it sounds weird. It's also possible that the rope is a completely unrelated coincidence, but that just begs the question how the culprit saw it. Really, there's just no making sense of this rope at all right now, but at least it gives you an idea of how the culprit might have escaped without leaving more tracks. The rope appears to be suspended somewhat parallel to the mud path, but it's at a great enough angle that following it will lead you off the path. You head into the direction of the rope that leads away from the Academagia, confident that the culprit didn't go back, for whatever reason. When you reach the tree this side of the rope is tied to you don't see any tracks around, leaving you momentarily puzzled as to where to continue searching. "Momentarily" because before you can so much as take a look around you suddenly feel something like a gust of wind hitting your back, and within seconds you pass out.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

-You take several looks around, but it's just too dark to see anything. Or maybe there isn't anything to see. After several minutes of looking for a new lead and coming up empty you decide that it's time you went back to the Academagia. Which is what you would have done, if you weren't suddenly hit in the back by a spell that, sad to say, makes quick work of you. Your senses robbed from you within seconds you fall into the mud face-first before a shadowy curtain falls over you.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

[sleuthing]: Examine the tracks more closely.
-When you lean over to take a better look at the tracks you finally realize why they're so far apart. The person you're chasing has actually been constantly jumping, it seems like. It sounds ridiculous, but it's the best theory you can think of as to why the tracks look like they do - very deep and disturbed at both ends while being very far apart, with mud flung about everywhere. That begs the question why you haven't heard anything, but than there's probably magic involved here somewhere. You still don't think that whoever you're chasing suddenly decided to fly away, but than a very careful jump with just the right magic would allow someone to jump a significant distance without gaining much in the way of actual height. It's a situational spell, but this happens to be one of those situations where it would be tremendously useful since the culprit could traverse large distances without leaving traces on the ground. You take another, very close look at the last footprint and try to determine in which direction it's owner jumped. It's very difficult to see with the limited light, but you're fairly confident the person jumped...pretty much in the exact same direction you were going in the first place. Well, at least he or she jumped off the path, so simply following it wasn't an possible option in any event. You start heading off in that direction, but before you can even get off the path you're hit in the face by a spell of some sort that immediately knocks you unconscious. A pity your detective skills didn't account for that...
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

-You take several looks at the tracks, but you can't think of anything. This entire situation just doesn't work without some form of magic, and without so much as a hint you're not going to find out what that magic is. You give up on trying to follow the tracks any further, and after you turn around a spell suddenly hits you in the back. Before you can grab your wand your senses are taken from you, and you unceremoniously fall face-first in the mud, unconscious.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

[Glamour]: Can you create some more light?
-It takes effort to conjure a light that is brighter without being blinding, but careful spellcasting allows you to conjure a source of light that is both brighter and more spread out. It makes it easier to see, which is good, but it alone won't tell you where to look.
-- +CoS%, TRY AGAIN

 

-You dispel your light and try to conjure a better one, but you can't manage to create a better light than the one you started with in the first place.
-- TRY AGAIN

 

 

And this, ladies and gentleman, is why a second year student shouldn't go running off after a clearly magical intruder at night. Not saying running after one during the daytime is a much smarter idea, mind.

 

You'll note that, despite being called to roll, this stage will proceed regardless, failing just makes both player and PC feel like a tool. The reason for this, beyond the weather, will be explained in the next stage.

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Illegal Incantations, stage 2:

 

Distress And Relief

 

"Wake up.". The sound of the unfamiliar voice brings you back to your senses, and slowly you look around and try to determine where you are. What you can see are wooden floorboards, wooden walls and - you guessed it - a wooden roof. Well, and a wooden door, but no windows. This room is as sparsely furnishes as it could possibly be, literally the only furniture you can see is the chair that you've been tied to. Very thoroughly tied to, in fact. Your hands and legs have each been separately tied to the chair with a length of worn, though nonetheless surprisingly strong rope. Your hands are positioned such that you can't grasp anything but a handful of air, and your legs are tied in such a way that walking around without breaking the ropes first is going to be impossible. At best you guess you might be able to crawl away, if only the chair wasn't so heavy that you wouldn't be able to drag it around without some magical aid. If, that is, the chair wasn't literally nailed and glued to the floor. With you in the room are three adults, each one covered in more black cloth than anyone except a dastardly villain should consider sensible. Although you suppose that as far as hiding their identities is concerned the robes work pretty well, when they don't make their owners stand out like a sore thumb. The person standing in the middle takes a step forwards and carefully studies you. It doesn't make you feel comfortable, but that is a ship that sailed long ago anyway. With an aged, almost grandmother-like voice the old woman (you presume) sadly says "No, [s/he] is not one of us.". The person to your left shakes his or her head, and with a soft, female voice says "Of course, it couldn't be this easy.". The old woman steps back, and instead the person to your right takes a step forward. "What do your teachers know about our Sisterhood?", the person with the distinctly male voice asks. The question takes a second to process, but your answer is quick and probably not what they want to hear. "I don't know.". The man briefly glances at the other two, although how they're supposed to see that you're not sure. He turns back to you and says "Impossible. You were told to guard the campus without knowing what to guard?". You sigh, shake your head and say you weren't told to "guard" anything, you were on patrol. The man shakes his head, apparently he doesn't believe you. "You're a student, doesn't the Academagia have actual guards patrolling the campus at night?". It figures that the first person to actually agree that students shouldn't be patrolling the campus at night is one of your kidnappers. Octavius forbid that a professor had come to this conclusion at some point in the past. The old woman nudges the man, and he takes a step back to let the old woman speak. "If you can forgive us for this night, child, than perhaps you can help us with our cause.". Well that conversation changed direction pretty quickly. Although you suppose that, if the old woman believes you, she must have realized that asking more questions will just bring her further on the path to Absolutely Nowhere. Not that you particularly care. "First you kidnap me and now you want my help? What's up with that?". The man is about to say something, but a nudge from the old woman shuts him up. "We have always wanted help from someone within your school, and when you so willingly wandered right into our view we saw an opportunity we had to take. As for taking you here, that wasn't just to make sure no one could overhear. It was also to make sure we weren't washed away in the upcoming - and currently ongoing - rainstorm.". That's pretty strange, since despite the fact that the room doesn't look soundproof you can't hear any rain. The old woman doesn't seem concerned by the fact that you're sceptical of her claim, or perhaps she can't see it. Literally can't see it, there's covering your identity and than there's these three. "You can help us with our cause, child. I assure you it is just, although I suppose you'd want to confirm that for yourself before giving us any help. So are you willing to at least hear us out?". You're willing to say what they want to hear if it means you getting out of here and back to school. You're also willing to bet that if their cause is truly "just" they might have had a few reservations about kidnapping, yet here you are all the same. What do you do?

 

You don't care. Say what they want to hear until the let you leave and then rat them out.
-You really don't want to help these three. You make up some stuff on the spot, enough for them to let you go, and as soon as you reach the Academagia you inform the first guard you find as to where the Sisterhood is located. You don't end up getting anything for it, although you also don't get reprimanded for going off on your own instead of doing what you should have done.
-- END ADVENTURE

 

Why should you trust these kidnappers?
-"I don't know, should I hear out a band of kidnappers? What assurance do I have that if I don't perform up to standard you won't toss my body off Elumia and simply fetch a new kid?". The man snarls out "You mean besides that method getting the entire Minetan guard and Academagia staff coming after us?". You face the man and frown as deeply as you can. "Isn't that what they ought to be doing already, given the whole kidnapping thing?". The old woman "nudges" the man as forcefully as her surprisingly athletic body will allow, and she turns to you. "Child, what gave you the idea that we make a habit of kidnapping students?". You make a show of looking around the room as dramatically as you can manage, and for once you're glad no one is around because your acting isn't up to snuff in this situation. "Oh, I don't know, the magically soundproof room with a single chair nailed into the floor that sometimes doubles as rope storage? Stop me if any of this sounds like kidnapping equipment.". There's an awkward silence between the three, until finally the old woman speaks again. "I suppose you won't believe it or us, but this room belongs to these two.". She points to the woman and the man, who look away almost sheepishly. If all three of these are kidnappers those two are clearly just muscle. "Escape artistry is a...let's say 'hobby' of theirs, as ineffectually as they try to convince themselves otherwise.". The woman was right insofar as that you indeed don't believe that, although you're not sure whether you disbelieve it in general or just three of them specifically. You also have no idea what that last part meant, but you don't particularly care. In any event it at least seems clear that these three aren't the kind of hardened criminals that would murder their accomplices as soon as they ceased to be useful. Octavius knows the old woman would have replaced the other two if she was.
-- TRY AGAIN

 

Just what is their "cause" anyway?
-"Okay, just what is this 'cause' you're talking about anyway? And what makes you so sure it's 'just'?". The old woman appears to try and speak, but she...can't find the words, maybe? You can't really tell when you can't see her face. The younger woman puts her hand on the old woman's shoulder and turns to face you. With an even softer voice than before she explains that the three of them are descendants of a girl named Christel Orubeiv, younger sister of Hellen and rightful owner of Hellen's plume. This plume was stolen from Christel long ago, and "somehow" the plume ended up stored away in the Academagia. You're quite surprised by how little these three know, for being willing to stoop to kidnapping to get this plume back. Whatever it is. Tired both physically and of these three clowns you cut to the chase and ask them what they want you to do about it. The man quickly replies "Simple, get Hellen's plume back. It's stored somewhere in the Academagia, but we simply cannot case the place long enough to find it. It's not like the plume is secretly a Gates Wand of Dragon Summoning, so it shouldn't be secured too tightly.". So you'd assume, although if it wasn't worth guarding the Academagia wouldn't have it to begin with. It's not a warehouse for common garbage, after all. If you actually intend to help them it's clear that the first step will be checking the history books, which is good because they've made you curious if nothing else. That said, one important question remains unanswered. "What do I get out of this? Breaking into places in the Academagia isn't any easier for me just because I'm a student.". Thinking about it you realize that statement is a very, very big lie, but you don't care to correct yourself after already having said it. The sideways glances tell you everything you need to know, anyway. These three have nothing to offer you. With what must be shattered pride the old woman says "If it is a reward you want, child, I...there are things I could arrange for. Just...not much. We don't have much.". Of course, but at least they're willing to offer something. And heck, for their lack of intelligence at least one of them did manage to break into the Academagia after nightfall and come back out without getting caught. Well, minus the first year that was knocked unconscious and the person chasing after which they kidnapped afterwards, but still. That's not something most people can claim, so you're sure these three could show you some of the finer points of infiltration if nothing else. The real question is if it's worth it, and if you're willing to help them.
-- UNLOCK BELOW OPTIONS, TRY AGAIN

 

-Agree to investigate their story, though nothing more than that. Yet.
--"Okay, truth is that I don't trust you and your half-baked story really doesn't inspire confidence either. But if nothing else you've piqued my curiosity, so if you'll let me go somewhere around now I'll check the library and see what the books have to say about Christel and Hellen. Perhaps after that I'll look for the plume.". The man nods and unties the ropes binding you to the chair, which is quite welcome. The old woman walks up to the door and turns to you. "Come, dear, I'll see you out.". "My name is [PC FIRST NAME], don't forget it.". You'd feel bad about talking back to an old lady like that, but being kidnapped kind of put you in a bad mood. The old lady opens the door and walks into what some might call a living room, although there's nothing that distinguishes it from the kidnapping room beyond having more chairs and doors. Once you step inside it you apparently step out of a Glamour, because suddenly you hear rain. A lot of rain, in fact. The old woman picks up your wand from a nearby table and hands it to you. Not a good place to hide that thing, but than if you had somehow escaped from that chair - in front of the three of them, no less - you definitely would have deserved it. "Here is your wand, [PC FIRST NAME]. I hope you know a good protection spell because the weather is, well, I'm sure you can hear how hard it's raining out there.". That it is, honestly you're surprised this house hasn't been destroyed by the wind and rain, but at this point you also don't care. You cast the best weather protection spell you can, refrain from burning this place down to the ground (not like you could in this weather) and...you turn to the old woman and ask what direction the Academagia is in. "East, past the peak.". Okay, that gives you enough information. Without another delay you march out the door and go back to the Academagia. For better or worse it turns out that the first year indeed passed out again before he could reach a guard, so there's a bit of a gap in the first year's memories. During which you most certainly didn't go after the culprit because it hadn't already started raining by that point. The incident leaves you with mixed feelings about the Academagia's security measures, but it's sloppiness ended up working...somewhat in your favor, so you're not going to question it too much this time.
--- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

 

In which the PC is snarky (for good reason), a group of kidnappers are hilariously ineffective (for good reason), and my laziness is revealed to everyone who happens to be able to connect the dots. Shouldn't be too hard, though.

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Illegal Incantations, stage 3:

 

The Counterfeit Self

 

Another study session, another day you visit the Venalicium library. Although this time you're not here to study your textbooks, this time you're here to look up the story that the three kidnappers gave you. Something about Christel Orubeiv, her sister Hellen and a plume that the Academagia apparently keeps in storage for some reason. In hindsight it would have helped if you had asked for more detail, although if you did you probably would have gotten nothing but a shrug. This complicates matter a little as you have very little to go on and a very large library containing a very large history section to look through. A cursory examination of the history section doesn't turn up anything, neither Christel or Hellen seem to have been important enough to have a book named after them. It also looks like they weren't important enough to be listed in reference books of historically significant people, although you didn't expect to find the names you're looking for on the same list of the names of the Kings and Queens of old, the old Emperors and so on. This leaves you with no immediately obvious methods to find them other than going through books at random and hoping you get lucky, since you really don't want to ask for anyone's help in case someone decides to ask unfortunate questions. But there's no chance that you'll be able to read through every book in the Venalicium's History section and either find the names or confirm they're not here before you end up boring yourself to death. There has to be a smarter solution to this problem, but what is it?

 

[Research]: Look for the information you want the hard way.
-You look around the history section one more time and sigh. This is going to take effort, so it's time to get to work. Very reluctantly you walk over to the library's bureaucratic records and start looking through the very, very long lists of names. The Venalicium doesn't keep records like the names of everyone officially registered as living in Mineta, but it does keep records like a list of Emperors, Academagia's Legates, Rimball captains, Academagia graduates and so forth. It's not useful most of the time since these records list barely anything more than just the person's name, not to mention that if you're looking for something that happened recently people will generally either remember or have some record laying around somewhere. Nevertheless, it is useful as an historic reference...and for when you're looking for someone and have absolutely nothing to go on. Far too many books and pages after pages filled with names later you finally, finally find the names you're looking for. Hellen Orubeiv is listed as a member of College Aranaz' victorious Rimball team way back when, long before the fall of the Empire. Long before the ban on Gates and Mastery as well, since you find Christel's name among the members of that day's drama club, and if these records are to be believed she was a member of College Icanicix. Well, that at least tells you when these two actually lived, although it doesn't tell you what they did. Naturally, there's also no mention of a plume. But at least it gives you a date, so you open a few more books and start rooting through records of the years they were enrolled in the Academagia. The first thing you notice is that neither actually graduated from the Academagia. The second and more important thing you notice is that Hellen is listen among the students that died before their possible graduation, and the book lists the exact place - the very descriptively named East Hill Forest - and time where she died. With that information in hand you close the record books and go back to the history section. Now that you know exactly when and where to look for it's child's play to grab a book of historically notable battles fought during that year and take it to a study cubicle for some quiet, private reading.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

-Several hours spend fruitlessly in the library turns up...well, exactly as much as an hours-long search described as "fruitless" turns up. Which is to say, nothing. You're going to have to hit the books again another time.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[History]: Wrack that brain of yours and try to think of something.
-Despite you having no clue who Christel Orubeiv or Hellen are, historically speaking, the latter's name keeps bugging you. Hellen is not an uncommon name but you know you've heard it before somewhere. Eventually you get fed up and start looking through books in the history section like a student possessed. You're going to keep looking until you either find something or fall asleep trying. Or until one of the librarians kills you for not putting books back in the right spot, but if it comes to that you can always run away. Fortunately it seems like it won't come to that, because somehow, some way, you eventually locate the book that you know Hellen's name from. "Academagia Policies Through The Ages", that's the book you know Hellen's name from. You read this book last year for Professor Sido, for...reasons best left forgotten. It was definitely not how you wanted to spend an evening, but it seems that it paid off. In the strangest way possible, but it paid off regardless. You quickly flip through the book to try to find exactly where Hellen is mentioned, and rather quickly you find the right page. Hellen Orubeiv, along with her sister Christel Orubeiv, were two Academagia students way back when that were deployed as soldiers in a short war. A short war that went so spectacularly wrong that it solidified the Academagia's policy of staying neutral in matters of wars that do not directly threaten it's existence. The book goes on to mention alternative interpretations of how the two students influenced the policy, but more importantly for you the book is nice enough to make passing mention of the location where the two students made such a giant mess and apparently even died. A place descriptively called East Hill Forest, and combined with the dates listed in the book it's very easy to put this book back on the shelf and look for a book with historic accounts of battles fought around that time. Funny, you passed by the book you end up taking with you about twenty times looking for Christel and Hellen's name earlier, and you never thought to actually look through it since, well, you just didn't have a reason to believe it would be important. At least you know it's important now, so you take it with you to a study cubicle for some nice, quiet reading.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

-The nagging feeling that you know Hellen's name from somewhere stays with you the entire time you look through the entire history section of the Venalicium two or three times, but nothing comes of it. Perhaps what you need is inspiration.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[bluff]: Ask another student for help and be prepared to make things up.
-Though you'd rather not involve someone else if you can help it, you figure that asking for pointers shouldn't be too suspicious. You are in a school, after all, there's a large number of reasons why a professor would lead you on a wild goose chase. And just as you start looking around for someone to make up a nice story for, who should walk into the library but dim historian Durand de Thiomines? A bit too excitedly you walk up to him and ask if he's busy. "Not very, why? Do you need help with something?". Too easy. You lead Durand to the history section, which you're willing to bet was his intended destination anyway, and spin a nice story about having said a few uncultured things about Professor Viada within his earshot. So you've gotten stuck with an assignment and practically nothing to go on. Durand seems sceptical, which you don't take as a good sign. "If you got that assignment as reprimand are you sure that I'm allowed to help you?". Without hesitation you nod, and you "explain" that the assignment is meant to be a lesson in being polite. Durand seems to buy it, which is a good thing. Still a little sceptical he asks "So what were you asked to look for?". You give Durand Christel and Hellen's names, but you keep the matter of the plume to yourself for now. Durand frowns and looks around the library, trying to remember if he knows the names. Apparently he doesn't, and his frown turns to you. "Are you sure that's all Professor Viada gave you? That really is nothing to go on. What did you say to make him that mad?". You looks around a bit sheepishly since you don't want to have to invent and answer to the latter question. Instead you pretend to have remembered something and, reluctantly, tell Durand in vague terms that the professor also mentioned something else. That is, the plume. Suddenly Durand's face lights up and he heads off. A few seconds later he comes back with a book in hand. "This is what you're looking for, I think. The battle at East Hill Forest.". You make a bit of a show about politely thanking Durand for his help, and with his now inflated ego he hands you the book without another word. The book details historic battle way fought way back when, and Durand mentioned which one you want. You shrug and head to a study cubicle to read it. You don't know if you can trust Durand's judgement, but you do know that if you can't than you're just wasting your time walking around the history section.
-- PROCEED WITH ADVENTURE

 

-You look around, but there just aren't any student that know history well enough to help you, but are also dim enough to fall for your nonsense. Extending your search beyond the library doesn't help, either. Where are all those history buffs when you want them to talk your ear off?
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[Reason]: What are you doing wrong here?
-You try to think of something to make this easier, but when you have nothing to go on you...just have nothing to go on. Although, you could turn that to your advantage. Clearly you don't need to bother looking where you usually do, and if you find someone who isn't the biggest fan of Professor Viada you might have an easier time convincing someone to help you. Out of sympathy for "having been given nothing to go on". It's worth a shot, you think.
-- +CoS%, TRY AGAIN

 

-If you're doing something wrong you can't imagine what it is, beyond perhaps not having ratted out the kidnappers and putting this mess behind you.
-- TRY AGAIN

 

 

Research time. If my laziness wasn't obvious yet, well, here's a hint written on a giant neon sign. As for the stage, well, it's a stage. Not much to say about a student running through a library, but it has to be done.

 

You'll note that after finding the right book you immediately get to read it. All things told this is actually slated to be a very short adventure, for my standards at least, but since my adventures tend to be doorstopper marathons that's probably a good thing. Also, that assignment from Professor Sido? Not relevant to the player, but it'll bite the PC in the ass in the future. Maybe.

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The answers are simple insofar as that the history books are accurate, which in my case they generally are. Where they aren't, though, there's no telling what they should have said.

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I didn't read your adventures but we already know from The Dance of Fools that some History was rewritten and in "Exploring for the Sake of... um...." we also got told that our History is wrong.

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This adventure isn't really a lore thing, the answers to this adventure are in the history book you read in the fourth stage. At least on the points where the book is correct, which it is "only" mostly. Speaking of which.

 

Illegal Incantations, stage 4:

 

Hard Chain Reaction

 

You sit down and open the book at the very end to look through the index first. Unfortunately the word "plume" never occurs in the book, but thankfully you do see Hellen's name and the chapter she appears in next to it. The chapter is called "The Battle of Hellfire Forest", which makes you nervous. You can reason out that Hellfire Forest is probably East Hill Forest renamed, but there's a disturbing resemblance to Hellen's name and the name Hellfire Forest. A chill rises from your spine as you flip to the right page and start reading. "The Battle of Hellfire Forest, or 'East Hill Forest' as it was known to locals at the time, was the bloodiest and most brutal battle fought that year by a wide margin.". That is...not a very cheerful intro. "The battle was an armed dispute between two nobles that both claimed to have rightful ownership of the forest and the surrounding land, though the forest itself was the most important location due to it's naturally defensive terrain. The battle was small, both nobles only managed to raise an army of roughly 200 to 250 men, and well over three quarters of both sides consisted of local serfs who had no formal military training.". A glorified mob of not actually angry farmers, pretty much. You skip over a few paragraphs describing both nobles and their holdings, since you're not particularly interested in reading about who's second cousin was rumored to have started the feud because the other noble's son had a bigger castle tower or whatever. The next section that actually interests you mentions the actual muscle of the armies. Apparently both nobles hired a small number of mercenaries, but more interestingly they also both managed to hire a single Academagia student. When the next paragraph starts describing the students you know you're in for bad news before even reading a word. "The two students hired were actually sisters of each other, Christel Orubeiv and Hellen Orubeiv. Despite this records of each side's attack plan reveal that their first priority was to take out the opposing wizard, and secret documents suggest that the sisters knew what their respective sister's orders were. Neither sister openly objected to the order, although Hellen was granted a request to be allowed to prepare for the confrontation in seclusion, which many uphold as proof of her unwillingness to fight.". Another chill rises from your spine as you realise that this simply could not have ended well. The next paragraph doesn't take long to confirm your suspicions. "The actual battle started on Kapsus 18 and lasted roughly three minutes. Hellen, according to witness rapports that were observing the battle from a safe distance, used an unknown artefact to cast a spell at the start of the battle that conjured forth a stream of lighting. After doing this she fell down. Later research done by scholars revealed that the spell drew power from Hellen's heart and send it forth in the form of lightning, arcing from person to person and killing whoever came into contact with it before jumping to the next victim. It was further determined that such a spell wouldn't kill the user necessarily, but Hellen's spell had enough force to be lethal by itself. And even if it didn't she would certainly have died from a lack of medical attention. Three minutes after casting the spell had killed every soldier on both sides, as well as started a few fires around the forest where the armies were located. The resulting fires quickly spread, as by the time it was reported and people could be send to fight it the overwhelming stench caused by the burning bodies made it impossible to approach the fire closely enough to attempt to contain it. Ultimately the fire was put out by wizards with magical protection, although by that point over 80% of the forest had burned down to the ground.". You're pretty sure the "unknown artefact" mentioned is the plume, and if so you're starting to understand why it's kept secure in the Academagia. The last section of the chapter talks about the aftermath, which contains a few interesting points. First is that everyone that was at that battlefield, including Hellen and Christel, were presumed deceased afterwards. Second is that both nobles were completely ruined. They were loathed, ridiculed and eventually stripped of their titles. It appears, though, that before their titles were revoked they managed to have Hellen's spell Proscribed by Imperial authority, although she took her spell with her to her grave since no records were found as to how it spell was cast. The last sentence of the entire chapter (go figure) confirms what you both thought and feared. Though no records of Hellen's spell were discovered the artefact was eventually recovered and handed over to Imperial authority through a group of scholars. The scholars claimed that Hellen's Proscribed spell was inscribed within the artefact and should be kept secure. The Imperial authorities entrusted the Academagia with securing the plume, and it's been in the campus ever since. It's a lot of information to take in, which only further begs the question most on your mind right now. Namely, now what?

 

You've read and heard enough for one day.
-You close the history book and let out a heavy sigh. Regardless of what the Sisterhood really is or isn't you're going to need some time to think about this. If worst comes to worst you'll rat them out and pretend this never happened.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

[Logic]: Can the Sisterhood really be as ignorant as they claim to be?
-It strikes you as odd not that the Sisterhood is so ignorant, but that they're so selectively ignorant. They know the Academagia is guarding the plume, but not why. They know who had the plume after Hellen's death and that it was stolen, which even this history book completely fails to mention, but not by who or why. You're not sure if the Sisterhood can really be trusted, but you do know that there's some force at work behind the scenes. It's simply not possible for them to know so much, and yet so little. One thing you're not worried about is their claim to be Christel's descendants. Sure, she was presumed dead before she reached adulthood, but than she only was presumed deceased. If people were sure that she died she'd have been confirmed deceased, and if anyone knew how to survive Hellen's light show it'd be her wizard sister that she apparently didn't want to fight. Although that begs the question why Hellen was also listed as "presumed deceased". People at the time didn't know she was a goner either which way, but even so they must have had some reason to believe she might have survived. The most likely theory that comes to mind explains everything - Christel used magic to survive and took Hellen's corpse with her, meaning that neither left a burned body, meaning that neither could be confirmed to have died. The plot thickens, it seems like. Either way, this is going to require some more thought.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-You think about it, but the more thought you put into it the more you get the idea that the Sisterhood consists entirely of crazies that escaped from a mental asylum somewhere. Either way, you're going to need some time to let this information sink in.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

[Curiosity]: Are there any more stories that take place in Hellfire Forest?.
-Sometimes you really question your sanity, but for some reason you feel compelled to look up more bedtime stories. You take the history book and bring it back to it's shelf, after which you start looking around for more information on Hellfire Forest. It doesn't take long for you to learn about another incident that took place there, so with some reservations about this being a good idea you take your new book and go back to the study cubicle. You're pleasantly surprised to find out that your curiosity seems to have paid off, as a quick scan to make sure you got the right Hellfire Forest (Gods forbid there exists a second place with that name) reveals that this second major incident is actually how the group of scholars (mentioned in passing in the other book) found the plume. You're not sure if that information will be immediately useful, but it fires up your curiosity all the same. The incident that the book describes takes place about two decades after the battle at Hellfire forest. Locals during those days were very weary of the forest, going to far as to call it cursed and haunted. For reasons speculated over the forest attracted the attention of a group of pirates lead by one Captain Raven. They build a hideout inside the forest, where people wouldn't drive them out due to both the superstition and the naturally defensive terrain. From there they terrorised the local skies for about half a year, after which they suddenly vanished. Locals freaked out, believing that Hellen had returned, and a group of guards had to be send to investigate just to keep the nearby community from going mad. What the guards found at the camp was something that their captain famously described as "Worse than anything Hellen has ever done to us". You briefly second-guess whether you want to read on, but you soldier through. What the guards found was the pirate's camp absolutely covered in the bodies of said pirates. At least what was left of them. People's severed heads were found on pikes, their bodies had been torn apart and either casually hung around the trees like grizzly festival decorations or thrown against a stone cliff face by way of a magical jet of flame. And those were just the rank-and-file people that got off lightly. The ship's navigator was found bereft of any bones and stitched over his equipment like a make-shift blanket, the first captain was literally torn inside-out, and the pirate captain's body wasn't even found. What was found, however, was the plume, inside the captain's quarters. Locals dubbed the missing pirate captain "Captain Raven the Haunted" and their guard captain handed the plume to a trio of wizards that promised to investigate it, and have it secured if it was necessary. As for the locals a second mass migration nearly killed the community completely, but enough people stayed behind so that things could eventually return to some semblance of normal. The book mentions that later historians argued over whether this incident was the work of Hellen's ghost, as locals believed at the time, or whether something else was the cause. The interesting part of that discussion comes from the role Hellen's plume played in this mess. Some historians argued that it truly was the work of Hellen's ghost, claiming that the pirate captain had unknowingly cursed himself and his crew when he unearthed the plume from it's resting place below the reborn forest. Other historians argued that the plume didn't call Hellen's ghost, but rather the crew started fighting itself when the plume was uncovered either due to superstition or due to disagreements over who should be allowed to keep the plume. Apparently there's a fair bit of mutiny involved with that theory as well, mainly because there was evidence found that the ship's navigator was embezzling funds. Yet another theory, although one that isn't widely believed, is that Captain Raven and his band were actually paid by someone to uncover the plume. Some go so far as to claim that they were a mercenary band that decided to switch careers upon seeing great opportunity provided to them by their ability to hole up on Hellfire Forest. But regardless of how the pirate band ended up in Hellfire Forest they ended up there, and as it turns out they ultimately never left. The book doesn't mention what happened to the plume after it was handed to the scholars, but you already know the answer to that anyway. Your curiosity finally sated you bring this book back to it's shelf, and decide you've spend enough time in the Venalicium for now.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-You take one more look at the phrase "the bloodiest and most brutal battle fought that year by a wide margin" and close the book without second thought. Even your curiosity has limits.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

 

Reading time, and another stage that will proceed even if you fail a roll. I swear this isn't going to be a persistent trend.

 

As for the stage itself I think it turned out pretty well, particularly with how this history lesson could come back to bite the PC in different ways later. Particularly the pirate band, since they'll come into play during the (currently theoretical) follow-up adventure. Why yes, that completely optional info dump will be important later. Maybe. Also, remember when I said there'll be a pronouncement from a character named Hellen at some point? Actions speak louder than words, or "spoke" louder than words in this case ;).

Edited by Metis

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Illegal Incantations, stage 5:

 

Desperate Hymn

 

"Awaken...". Oh geez, not again, you've been kidnapped enough for one lifetime. Can't an honest, hard-working student even get any sleep these days? "Awaken...". Actually, now that you listen to the voice it sounds significantly less male than that of the most masculine member of the Sisterhood. And significantly more echo-y, like you're stuck in a cave. Except you're not stuck in a cave, you're in your room trying to get some sleep. Hang on, why is someone trying to wake you up at this hour and how did this person get into your room? You open your eyes and immediately wish you hadn't, as sitting at the end of your bed is the spectral figure of someone who was once alive, but is no longer. You're not unfamiliar with ghosts, but one appearing in your room like this is generally not a good sign. "Plume...". The ghost's voice sounds like someone is grinding ice in a mortar and pestle, but you can hear her words perfectly regardless. And from what she just said, you can make an educated guess as to who's ghost this is. "Hellen? Are you really...Hellen Orubeiv?". The ghost slowly nods, her icy glare locked on your face the entire time. "You don't carry my sister's blood. Why do you seek my plume?". Hellen sounds only a little upset with you, insofar as that she doesn't sound like she wants to freeze you in a block of ice permanently. Her being so intimidating makes it difficult to concentrate, but you think of the right answer. "I was asked to, by your sister's descendants. They called themselves a Sisterhood.". The ghost's eyes slowly widen, and her frozen expression thaws just a little. Her voice doesn't change, nor does the fact that her gaze is focussed solely on you. "Them...yes. But, you've certainly shown yourself to have more skill. Perhaps you can assist me.". You're not putting any bets on whether Hellen intends to give you a choice on the matter. Stuttering a bit from equal parts fatigue and terror you ask Hellen what she wants you to do. In an instant Hellen's frozen expression lights on fire, but thankfully she's clever enough not to scream. "My plume...I want you to find my plume. Then, I can have my vengeance.". Hellen is a bit more intimidating than the Sisterhood and she really doesn't seem intent on giving you a choice, so looks like you're going to have to play along with this one. You politely ask what Hellen's idea of "vengeance" entails, surprisingly it actually seems to calm her down. "I will repay that slimy fool. For his worthless claim, and his worthless tricks. Sister...if only his opponent hadn't been my sister...". You get the impression that Hellen's sister is the only person she wouldn't rather tie up to a tree and set on fire. Which is a problem as they're both kinda...dead. You're afraid that asking about the "slimy fool" will only upset Hellen, so instead you ask what she wants you to do. Her eyes still have a mad glint in them, but she isn't directing her anger towards you. Thankfully. "You? You'll ruin him. The fool, the so-called 'noble' he who caused that battle, for his own purposes. You'll ruin him.". You briefly question how you're supposed to do that when a terrifying realization occurs to you. Hellen probably isn't aware that she's dead, as is the noble she's trying to extract vengeance from. This may or may not be a disastrous situation, since you have no idea how she'll react to the news, if she'll even believe you. Either way though, there's simply no way you're going to be able to mess with someone who's been dead since long before your great grandmother was born, so you're going to have to try and break the news to her. Somehow.

 

[Persuasion]: Convince Hellen that she, and the noble, are long dead.
-You continue to stare blankly at Hellen until she suddenly asks you what the matter is. There's...really no way to put this gently, so you might as well be direct about it. "The matter? Well, actually, the problem is that both you and that noble are already dead.". And now Hellen is staring at you with a blank expression, you're really not sure whether you should call this progress. After a few tries to find the right words Hellen ends up saying "Dead? Me, dead? What gave you that idea?". You look Hellen over, but whether you look up or down you see what is clearly a ghost. Does Hellen not see herself as she is? She glares at you, more confused than angry, and asks whether you'll help her. "Help you how? That 'slimy fool', as you put it, is long gone. There's nothing I or anyone else can do to him anymore, neither can you.". Hellen doesn't look like she believes you, so this will take some more convincing. "Okay, so, you want your plume back, right?". Hellen nods, staring at you a bit curiously. "If I may ask, why? Why is this plume so important to you?". It seems like Hellen's icy demeanour is thawing out a bit, and the mad glint in her eyes is no longer there. The fire, though, remains. "Because it's my sister's keepsake. She gave it to me after enchanting it so it wouldn't decay.". You're not surprised, since a plume doesn't generally last for centuries without some form of magic. "Anything else? Did you perhaps inscribe a spell in the plume?". Hellen seems offended, but she answers you question nevertheless. "Yeah, so I did, but I don't care about that. And it was only a Pheme, not an entire spell anyway.". You're sure the history book said it contained a "spell", although than again it's not like anyone close enough to see it survived long enough to tell the tale. Still, you're on the right track. "Okay, so it contained a Pheme. And what did this Pheme do?". Hellen looks like she's about to tell you where you can shove that question, but reluctantly she plays along. "Nothing important, it just made my spell target something specific.". If she remembers this much she must know on some level that she is, in fact, dead. That might explain why she's not trying to murder you right now. "You remember what that spell did, right?". Hellen nods, and finally the fire in her eyes go out. It seems she realized, or perhaps remembered, that she really is dead. It takes a minute before she speaks again, but when she does her voice no longer sounds like someone grinding down ice. "I...I know. You're right, I am...dead. And so is that slimy pig that caused this mess. So...there's nothing I can do, is there?". You shake your head, and Hellen seems to understand. She clearly hates it, but she understands. "Kid, whatever your name is, please, find my plume. I don't know where it is or how it got there, but...I need it. Sister...I need my sister's plume. It's why I can't find peace. Somehow, I've lost my sister's plume.". You suspect that her dying while holding the plume might have been a factor concerning how she lost it. Regardless you tell Hellen you'll do your best, and slowly Hellen's ghostly image fades. Thinking about it this didn't really change your objective at all, but you didn't know about Hellen inscribing a Pheme rather than a spell. That might become important later.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-You try to argue, but Hellen isn't hearing any of it. It's unfortunate, but you're going to have to try again because you're not going to be making any progress until you convince her that her hated enemy is more thoroughly dead than she is.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[Confidence]: Keep telling her until she believes you.
-You brace yourself as best you can and tell Hellen that what she's asking for is impossible. You could swear that for a brief moment the mad fire in here eyes go out, but if it did it didn't for very long. "Why...why can you not do this? That fool, the fool who ruined everything, why can't you do anything to him?". It's clear that you're trying Hellen's patience, which seems to be in limited supply, but it's a better idea than claiming that you can meddle in the affairs of a dead man. You try to hide how scary Hellen is and say, as confidently as possible, that you can't do anything because the "fool" is already dead. Hellen seems more surprised than anything, although no less fired up. "That...no, he couldn't be. How could he have died to quickly? How will I get revenge if he's dead and buried?". You're not sure how to describe Hellen's reaction, she appears to believe and disbelieve you at the same time. "You don't. Rather, you can't. No one can. That fool is long dead, Hellen, you're as dead as he is. I can't change that.". You're really not sure what is going through Hellen's mind right now, as she alternates from glaring at you like a predator and breaking eye contact like a shy child. "I...no, there...he can't be dead. There has to be something you can do.". You can't help but roll your eyes at that, but she does make a good point. There is something you can do, after all. "I can't do anything about the fool, but I might be able to find your plume. If you don't mind me asking, why is it so important to you anyway?". The mad glint and fire in Hellen's eyes slowly flicker out, although her bizarre voice and frozen expression remain. "It's my sister's plume, she enchanted it for me so it wouldn't decay. I don't care about the Pheme I inscribed into it or what else that half-witted noble told the quarter-witted masses about my sister's plume. I just want my sister's plume.". Wait, Pheme? You're quite certain the history book your read mentioned a spell, not a Pheme. Well, that's something to ask yourself when there isn't a ghost in front of you. "So if I find your sister's plume for you, will you be able to find rest?". Hellen initially looks confused at you, but after a moment she looks at herself and remembers what she is. Strangely, when she speaks again her voice sounds normal. "I...I think so. I want my sister's plume. More than anything I want my sister's plume.". Clearly an item that holds great sentimental value for her, which is a detail you aren't especially interested in. "I'll do my best, but, do you mind if I ask you something first?". Hellen looks at you rather strangely, but she nods all the same. "Are you sure you inscribed a Pheme in the plume? I read that it was a complete spell, not a Pheme.". Hellen sighs, somehow, and rolls her eyes. "Pretty sure, yes. I have no idea why people would think I inscribed a full spell on it. The Pheme just added to the spell I actually cast, surely you know how that works?". You confidently nod, and Hellen does as well. After that her ghostly form vanishes, leaving you alone in your room to think this over. Ultimately this didn't change what you were planning on doing at all, but if there's a ghost involved it certainly raises the stakes a bit. You'll need to start looking for that plume later.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-You try to argue, but Hellen isn't hearing any of it. It's unfortunate, but you're going to have to try again because you're not going to be making any progress until you convince her that her hated enemy is more thoroughly dead than she is.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[social Skills]: Does Hellen believe her sister is still alive?
-You ask, and Hellen nods without hesitating. "Of course she's still alive, why would you think otherwise?". You're not quite ready to break the news just yet, so instead you casually mention that her sister was presumed deceased after the battle. Thankfully Hellen can forgive you for making that "mistake", as she doesn't seem offended. "Oh, I see. Actually, she managed to get a Negation up in time so she didn't get hit by the lightning. Then she used Gates to escape from the battlefield, I guess with the smoke from all the fires that were heating up people didn't see her.". It's odd that Hellen knows this, since if she does she has to know that she passed away long ago. Apparently she knows she died, but she's not entirely aware of it. Must be a ghost thing or something, you're not sure. Either way, it should be fairly simple to convince her that she's dead if you can point out that she actually knows she is.
-- UNLOCK BELOW OPTION, TRY AGAIN

 

-Hellen doesn't seem interested in answering questions. This won't be easy...
-- TRY AGAIN

 

-[Logic]: Show Hellen that she's already aware that she's dead.
--You take a deep breath and pray that you'll survive this night. You might need it. "Hellen, listen, about your sister surviving and using Gates to escape, are you sure that happened?". Hellen gives you a condescending nod, as if that should be obvious. "How do you know that? The people observing the battle didn't see her survive and escape, and the fires were all around the battlefield, right?". Hellen nods again, less condescending this time, and says "I saw her, that's how.". You notice that Hellen's voice sounds noticeably less like someone pushed a block of ice into a grindstone, so you think you're on the right track. "But before that, before your sister had to protect herself and those fires started, you used your plume to cast a certain spell, right?". Hellen rolls her eyes and says that indeed happened, more or less. The mad glint and fire in Hellen's eyes are fading, so you're definitely on the right track. "Hellen, you remember what spell that plume cast, don't you? And what that spell did to you?". You can see Hellen piecing the puzzle together, and as afraid as you were of her a moment ago is roughly how afraid she is of herself now. You wait for Hellen to work through the shock, thankfully it takes only a few minutes. She definitely knew, at least on some level, maybe she just didn't want to believe it. When Hellen looks at you again the fire in her eyes as well as her otherwise frozen demeanour are definitely gone, which is good for her if not for you. When Hellen speaks her voice sounds normal, a little more ethereal than it should but otherwise normal. "I...I'm dead, aren't I? And my sister...she's gone too, isn't she?". You silently nod, and Hellen takes a look at herself. Apparently she's never seen herself as a ghost before this point, since the surprise on her face is quite obvious. "But...what of my vengeance? What about that fool that did this to me?". You just shake your head, and Hellen seems to understand. she doesn't like it, but she understands. After a very silent minute Hellen shakes her own head and resumes glaring at you. "I...I understand. But, I'm not ready to go. Not yet. I need my plume. I need you to find sister's plume.". Clearly it's an important item for her if she cannot find peace without, so you definitely should find it. That does lead you to ask a question, though. "What about your spell? Could the plume still...". You can't bring yourself to finish the sentence, but Hellen understands. "No, the plume never could. It's just a keepsake. My sister enchanted it so it wouldn't decay, and I...inscribed that Pheme into it, but that's all.". Your curiosity is piqued, since you're pretty sure the history book mentioned a "spell", not a "Pheme". Hellen notices, since she answers your unasked question. "The Pheme I discovered that allowed my spell to do what it did, I never even gave it a name. I don't care about it, I just want sister's plume back.". You calm Hellen down as best you can and promise that you'll find her plume. Hellen nods and her ghostly figure slowly fades, leaving you with the exact same objective you started with. Only now it's not just because a trio of kidnappers asked you to, it's because a ghost needs it to find rest.
--- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

--You try to argue, but Hellen isn't hearing any of it. It's unfortunate, but you're going to have to try again because you're not going to be making any progress until you convince her that her hated enemy is more thoroughly dead than she is.
--- STOP ADVENTURE

 

 

For whoever had reservations about working for the distinctly reward-less Sisterhood, here's an unknown visitor that provides the best reason to look for the plot McGuffin: Prizes. Well, just the one prize that could potentially be fatal but, eh, that never stopped a PC before now did it?

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Pretty much. Hellen mowed down two armies of over 200 people with one spell, leaving (as far as she knows) only one survivor, at the cost of her life. Of course it is still a spell, so anyone with a grasp of Negation (like, say, her sister) could easily protect him/herself from it, and anyone wearing armor enchanted to, say, not be conductive could have been spared as well. But the armies consisted mostly or farmers wearing thick shirts and the occasional mercenary with very shiny, very metal and very unenchanted conductive armor, so, yeah. Carnage ensued.

 

Hellen didn't offer anything directly, though she did offer the information that the plume contains a Pheme. And if the PC finds the plume, that PC will have the opportunity to extract the Pheme from it and add it to his/her collection.

 

Funnily enough that reward was originally intended to be 1K Pims, but the team changed it to 900. I don't know why, but there you have it.

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999 (it might be even a bit lower as I even never saw 999 pim as price) is the absolute upper limit in price of a single item the year 1 engine can handle.

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There are a few items that cost the full 999 (Aminþia Que’la: The Mother of Monsters to name one), but To The Entrance doesn't hand out an item, it hands out plain Pims. You can get 1K Pims in Vuillaume's adventure, stage 11a specifically, so it's not an engine limitation.

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Illegal Incantations, stage 6:

 

Obligation for Havoc

 

You're sitting alone in the Great Hall, eating a meal while thinking about the situation with Hellen's ghost. You gave it some thought and you've decided to find the plume...but not just for Hellen's sake. You're also going to get it to satisfy your curiosity, as you are very much interested to know what Pheme Hellen inscribed in the plume that the history books mistook for a spell. As for getting the plume and a chance to study it, the first step is finding out where it is. The Academagia is kind of a big series of building, and while it has only so many rooms dedicated to storage you don't know which room the plume is kept in. Heck, it's possible some Legate brought the plume to his or her house to study it centuries ago and "forgot" to ever take it back. And if that Legate happened to have a vacation house on, say, Monteon...you could be looking for a very long time. That said the presence and actions of the Sisterhood makes you think the plume is at least somewhere on campus. You don't think they'd risk breaking into the Academagia otherwise, as ill informed as they are they're not stupid. In any case this isn't the first time you've had to look for something with less than a clear idea of where to find it, so you've already thought of a few ways to find out where the plume is being kept. There is the obvious choice, which would be the magic school of Astrology. It won't be easy to divine clear answers with as little information as you have, but it should be possible. Especially since there's at least one ghost floating around with a strong connection to the plume. The second option you can think of is to break into the Room of Records and look for the record of where the plume was taken when Imperial authorities had it transferred to the Academagia. It'll be dangerous, since that's not an area a student such as yourself should be in, but you know exactly when the plume was brought to the Academagia so you won't have to search around for too long. Another option would be to walk up to Legate Orsi and ask him about it, but that would probably be a bad idea. Not that it would be impossible to convince him that the plume needs to be taken out of storage for Hellen's sake, but you're interested in the Pheme Hellen inscribed in it and you're sure the Legate won't give you a chance to study the plume. Those are all the ideas you can think of, though, so this won't be an easy task. Which method should you go with?

 

[Astrology]: Divine the location of the plume.
-It'll be tricky to get clear information through Astrology, and possibly dangerous seeing as how there's at least one ghost involved, but you nevertheless think that it'll be the best method to find out where the plume is located. Of course the Great Hall isn't really the best place to cast a such a spell, so first you return to your room. As you start drawing Phemes it becomes obvious that Hellen is still around in some form, as the image of her ghost fading in and out of existence flashes in your mind before you even finish casting your spell. You thankfully manage to maintain your concentration long enough to finish the spell, and after that things become plain weird. Suddenly your mind feels like it's being drawn towards a different point, and riding what remains of Hellen's conscious you start to see past events play out from her perspective. The vision is so blurry you can barely make out anything as landscapes, buildings and masses of people fly past you, but as soon as you catch a glimpse of the battle at Hellfire Forest you know that you're that much better off for it. From there you can barely make out anything until the shapes start to look like the Academagia and it's surrounding environment. Your view becomes a little less blurry, clear enough to see a small group of people dressed in military clothes hand something - the plume - to someone standing in front of a pair of doors you vaguely recognise. The person that was given the plume accepts it and turns around, walking through the doors. Just as you remember which doors those are the vision ends, and you wake up to find yourself somewhat unceremoniously on your room's floor. Truth be told you don't quite care. You rush off to confirm your hunch, and after carefully navigating a few hallways you see what you're correct. The doors you saw in your vision are the doors to the otherwise insignificant Storeroom 415. That means the plume is stored inside, which would make sense given what you've heard about this storeroom and when it was put into use. Nevertheless you head off without looking at any more than the doors leading to it. That vision kind of screwed with your head a bit, and you're going to need a plan to get the plume out anyway. It's not going anywhere anyway, you have time to come up with a plan.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-Unfortunately your spell only gives you mixed messages and a mild headache, so you're going to have to try this again at a later date.
-- STOP ADVENTURE

 

[infiltration]: Raid the Room of Records.
-You decide that good old fashioned breaking and entering will be a better bet than Astrology, despite that option carrying less obvious risk. After hours you sneak out of your dorm room and, using your knowledge of student patrol patterns, easily sneak through the hallways to the Room of Records. The lock on the door is, much to your surprise, unlocked. You're not sure if you're the second person to sneak in here tonight or if maybe Hellen is helping you, but either way you're not going to look a gifted horse in the mouth. You open the door and start looking through the aisles. The filing system used here isn't immediately obvious, but there is a system to it so you quickly head towards the right section. You really don't want to be here any longer than necessary, so you're not going to look for loot or even necessarily look around. Get in, find the information you're looking for, and get out. The secret to a successful thief is to not be greedy, and truth be told that's probably why the Sisterhood hasn't been caught yet. After what feels like a very long walk you finally reach the shelves you want. You don't waste any time searching through records until you find what you want, and you do. "Forbidden artefact 'Hellen's plume', to be stored in Academagia's Storeroom 415 until further notice by order of Imperial Authority serving his Majesty, the Emperor. Transfer note signed Ilcansten, servant to the Legate of the Academagia. Officer Hrist, Imperial Servant to His Majesty, the Emperor.". Storeroom 415. You know where to find that, so you're done here. You don't even take the transfer record, instead you put what little you disturbed back and leave as quickly as you can without making a racket. An unusual chill suddenly enveloping the room tells you that you've made the right decision, since you're able to leave the Room of Records without incident. Getting back to your dorm room is simple, and in the end you manage to get the information without anyone spotting you (as far as you know). All in all you have to pat yourself on the back on a job well done, hopefully stealing the plume will be just as successful.
-- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

-You attempt to break into the room of Records, but unfortunately you get caught by an older student who you swear is patrolling in a hallway that no one should be patrolling. A mistake you can contemplate while in detention.
-- STOP ADVENTURE, REPRIMANDED

 

[Plot]: Isn't there another way?
-You don't want to tell a professor or student about this, so getting help within the Academagia won't happen. You're not going find help outside the Academagia either, since working with the Sisterhood is going to result in the same problem that going to the Legate would - namely, that you don't get the opportunity to study the plume - and there aren't a whole lot of other people outside the Academagia that could help you with this. You don't want to turn to any of the guards of other members of the Academagia staff, because that is a disaster waiting to happen. And than inspiration hits you. If you can convince an animal to get the information for you, you don't have to worry about not getting the chance to study the plume. The real questions are what animal can and is able to help you, where to find this animal, and what you will need to convince this animal to help you. You don't want to use your Familiar for this, since if [s/he] gets caught the plot would be over...
-- UNLOCK BELOW OPTION, TRY AGAIN

 

-If there is, it's not an option that you can think of.
-- TRY AGAIN

 

-[Animal Husbandry]: Convince an animal to help you.
--You decide to try the animal approach, and mere moments after standing up you spot a rat quickly scurrying out of view in one of the more secluded places of the Great Hall, running to hide behind a pillar. Normally you wouldn't care about such things, there's a ton of Familiars around the Academagia after all, but since you are potentially looking for one you're not going to pass up the opportunity. You walk up to the pillar and look around it, spotting the rat trying to hide in the shadows. Casually you toss some scraps of food it's way, and after a moment of hesitation the rat decides to take the meal. That's a good sign that this is someone's Familiar, because you don't think a normal rat would be intelligent enough to hesitate. Than again, Academagia rats...you can never be sure. After the rat is done eating it looks around, trying to decide if it should run away now, but you gesture it to come towards you. The rat is clearly hesitant, but a bit more food manages to convince it to trust you. When the rat is standing in front of you it's immediately obvious that this is indeed someone's Familiar. In fact this rat seems, no pun intended, familiar. With a hushed voice you ask "You're Piers Pontifex, Lambert's Familiar, aren't you?". The rat nods, as best a rat can. You're weary of getting Lambert's Familiar involved, since the rat is just as curious as Lambert and sure to inform him of everything you ask it to do, but that could work to your advantage as well. "Alright Piers, do you think you can do me a...sneaky favor?". The rat nods again, and you can see Lambert's curiosity even in his rat's expression. You're not sure whether you should praise Lambert's skill with training his Familiar or...what. Either way it's good news for you, so no looking a gifted rat in the mouth. You explain to the rat what you need, namely the transfer records from the Room of Records detailing artefacts handed to the Academagia from Imperial officers during the year that the plume was brought to the Academagia, delivered to an inconspicuous bench in the Garden Gallery. You of course don't mention the plume itself, and you also hope that something else interesting (and not horribly illegal) was brought to the Academagia that year. The rat nods again and runs off, and you head the Garden Gallery to await your package. Surprisingly you actually do find a package having been somehow smuggled under the bench you are sitting on an hour later. That pretty much confirms that the rat informed Lambert of your request, which doesn't surprise you in the slightest, but that might bring trouble if the records didn't contain any delicious bait for Lambert to get lost on. Looking through the records, all five of them, you first notice the transfer record of the plume, stored in Storeroom 415. Good, so if nothing else you at least got the information you were looking for. The other four records don't appear to be especially interesting - a broken wand, a diary, a wooden box with unspecified content and a manuscript - that, fortunately enough, weren't stored in Storeroom 415. Than again, just reading the records, the plume doesn't sound especially interesting either. You hope that Lambert either assumes you aren't after the plume or just chooses to stalk the storeroom that contains four of the five possible items you could be after. Just to make sure you get up and casually walk past the other storeroom, and while looking around your eyes spot a humanoid shape shuffling in the shadows. Looks like Lambert is going to keep himself busy looking at the wrong door, so you're going to call this a success.
--- PAUSE ADVENTURE

 

--You figure that securing the help from an animal would be best, but sadly you're unable to find any that are willing and capable of helping you. Apparently if you want a job done right, you need to do it yourself.
--- STOP ADVENTURE

 

 

You'd think that after Y1 the PC might have learned something about sticking noses where they don't belong, but nope, still haven't learned.

 

Incidentally, Lambert's Familiar there? That's not exclusive to the Animal Handling path. The adventure isn't kidding when it says the PC "normally wouldn't care about it".

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As much as i like Astrology, i dont think a second year could see into the past from another person's perspective. To see thorugh another eyes alone and see their memories seems like Mastery, but since its in the past and its a ghost Astrology may or may not be able to do it. You can always leave like this and if needed, the team can do their magic.

 

Astrology. Use your amazing seer powers to take a peek into Hellen's past.

 

Then you would had seem into the past, as you wanted to, and Into Hellen's perpective because she is a ghost.

 

In the Vernin tower adventure it said Ghosts share the same thoughts as the living, when they share the same space. So, something like that could had happened to the player since he met Hellen before, and while they weren't sharing the same space when the pc casted the spell that connection could had been ampliified because you used magic, and them you get the location as a bonus.

Yeah, this Astrology option is actually...kinda all over the place. All I can really say is that the PC's spell got hijacked and that the end result of it was what the PC interprets as having seen Hellen's past. What actually happened...yeah. All over the damn place.

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Yeah, for the most part that's what happened. I say for the most part because A: You might have noticed that the vision of the storeroom doors was uncharacteristically clear, and B:

You're not sure if the Sisterhood can really be trusted, but you do know that there's some force at work behind the scenes. It's simply not possible for them to know so much, and yet so little.

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