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Y2 WIP Adventures (come and proof-read!)

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History And Diplomacy, stage 2:

 

You look in the direction of the owner's voice, and immediately spot him walking up to you. The man, who you'd guess is in his early to mid thirties, is spotting a stylish mess of brown hair, a large backpack with various odds and ends dangling from wherever there was space for a spare rope to tie something, a set of long-sleeved and double-layered clothes decorated with a funky design that looks like it could easily adapt to most weather and temperatures, a pair of very worn boots that seem like they're due for either replacement or another layer of glue to keep them together (as much as they are currently, at least), and finally in the man's hand, a beautifully crafted wand that's seen it's fair share of use.

 

Oh, and the 11 foot tiger that lazily stands up and patiently waits for his master to unbind him from the post. Can't forget that.

 

The man, seeing your confusion at his question, turns to his tiger and asks him...something. You couldn't understand his words before, you sure as heck can't understand this Familiar speak. That seems like a problem that you should soon address, actually. You're definitely curious as to who this man is and why he's here, and where he got that tiger for that matter, but so long as you can't understand a word he's saying that's a little difficult. Either a translation spell or a clue as to who could act as a translator is necessary...

 

Language. Figure out what language he's speaking.

You mentally go down the list of languages you know and compare them to what the man said earlier. Nothing matches, even a little. So...someone from outside the old Empire of Man? Well, no, not necessarily. Actually, this man likely has some connection to something common around here. Otherwise, how did he so easily get off an airship with a Familiar like that? Local guards are, in fact, used to worse. And speaking of huge tigers...you've got a hunch, and decide to test it. You show the man the first half of a common prayer to Iasos, and offer the man to complete it. As expected he understands and completes the prayer perfectly. That convinces you that this man is from Alesfa, a country far to the east where the New Gods are nevertheless commonly worshipped. Which poses a problem, because as many languages as you can speak Alesfan isn't one of them. You can infir a little, but not nearly enough to really speak with this man. But you know someone who does - Malthezar Mhadi!

 

You tell the man that you know someone who can translate for him, and he happily nods and explains, with a map he pulls from his backpack, that he'll be heading to the Mercenary Guildhouse, hoping to purchase the services of a few mercenaries, so if possible you can meet with him there later. The Mercenary Guildhouse? That place is famous for it's language barrier. You've got time, so you run out in search of Malthezar.

 

--- proceed with adventure ---

 

It's clearly not any language that you speak, and...and that's just about everything you can figure out. Well, that's awkward.

--- Stop with adventure ---

Glamour. Whip up a translation spell.

Well, this is why you have a wand. The issue is calibrating the spell. Several attempts to translate the man's earlier words as a very odd Velocian accent end up failing miserably, and after a few minutes of fine-tuning you still can't understand even half of what the man just said. Well, something is better than nothing, so you tap the man on his shoulder to get his attention and politely ask the man if he can cast his own translation spell, seeing as how you're having not much luck.

 

Thankfully, the man seems to understand your request. Less thankfully, his own translation spell is only half-effective at best. Clearly you're going to need an actual translator here, but you can't exactly bother Professor Sido just because. You need to know what language this guy is speaking. Actually, half-effective translation spells are still half-effective. You ask the man where he's from and what languages he knows.

 

"[singular?] Alesfan. [i'm?] [?] I [lean?] [possession?] too much [time?] it [arrives?] to [words?]," the man answers.

 

Okay, wow, that's bad. Not a waste of a spell, but yeah, man. You're definitely going to have to-wait, Alesfan? Did he just say he speaks Alesfan? Huh. You decide to re-cast your spell and see if you can get a better translation.

 

"Only Alesfan. I'm [fear?] I rely on my wand [excess?] when it [comes?] to languages."

 

Much better! Not good enough that you'd be comfortable trying to really talk with this man without a translator, but better. Where are you going to find a translator for-actually, that's easy: Malthezar Mhadi. You tell the man that you know someone who can translate for him, and he happily tells you in response that he'll be heading to the Mercenary Guildhouse, hoping to purchase the services of a few mercenaries, so if possible you can meet with him there later.

 

The Mercenary Guildhouse? That place is famous for it's language barrier. You've got time, so you run out in search of Malthezar.

--- proceed with adventure ---

 

Several attempts to cast a translation spell turn out to be for nothing as you just cannot figure out what language this man is speaking, and as such can't properly calibrate the spell. Unfortunate, but it does tell you that the language clearly isn't any of the ones you commonly run into in Mineta. So it's time to do some research...

--- Stop with adventure ---

 

The Academagia wiki is just ugly as sin without my custom CSS (CCS? Something...), so I won't be looking up stuff like names until it once again looks like it was designed by an intern rather than an intoxicated clown.

Edited by Metis

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History And Diplomacy, stage 3:

 

Finding Malthezar Mhadi reading in the Venalicium is really easy. Convincing him to put his book down is less easy, but after a minute of quietly bugging him he finally gets the hint and follows you outside the library. "What is it, [PC FIRST NAME]? Sorry, but I'm a little busy with this extra history assignment."

 

Figures. "I ran into someone from Alesfa in Mineta earlier, a male traveller in his mid-thirties with an 11 foot tiger for a Familiar. And he's in need of a translator."

 

Malthezar raises an eyebrow. "Really? And you're sure he's in need of a translator?"

 

"I barely managed to figure out his nationality and immediate goal, which is to see if he can hire some muscle over at the Mercenary Guild House. So, yes, I'm sure he's in need of a translator."

 

Malthezar nods to himself. "Yeah, that's...good point. I take it you'll want to tag along?"

 

"And ask him where he managed to get an 11 foot tiger Familiar? Heck yes I do."

 

Malthezar rolls his eyes. "I figured. Alright, let's go." You nod, and after Malthezar puts the library book he was reading back the two of you run over to the Mercenary Guild House. Sure enough, the tiger is sitting just outside next to the door, as obedient as a well-trained dog. Malthezar rather casually walks up to it and starts speaking to it in Alesfan, which the tiger seems to understand, and a few paw gestures later Malthezar turns to you. "Looks like you were right, [PC FIRST NAME]. Abel - the guy you met earlier - is actually in need of some translation help. Speaking of which, can you speak Vilocian?"

 

Not one word. (Vilocian skill == 0)

"I...see. That's going to be a problem."

 

"I don't think so. These mercenaries aren't too hard on 'future recruits', so if you need me to get them to speak a language you can understand I can do so."

 

Malthezar looks somewhere between relieved and worried. Mostly the latter. "If...you're sure you can handle that, than, please, handle that on my behalf. I can translate for Abel, but I'm not sure how to act among mercenaries, and if I could hazard a guess, neither does Abel." With a weak growl and a shaking head the tiger confirms that Abel indeed isn't much for mercenary etiquette. Oh dear. You decide to walk in ahead of Malthezar, who quickly starts running behind you, and take a look at the situation.

--- Proceed with adventure ---

 

Not much. (Vilocian skill < 6)

"A bit. Not enough to talk to these mercenaries in their own language without a translator, sadly."

 

"Ah, that's...unfortunate. Well, I say that something is still better than nothing, so could you please handle this for me regardless? I can translate for Abel, but I'm not sure how to act among mercenaries, and if I could hazard a guess, neither does Abel." With a weak growl and a shaking head the tiger confirms that Abel indeed isn't much for mercenary etiquette. Oh dear. You decide to walk in ahead of Malthezar, who quickly starts running behind you, and take a look at the situation.

--- Proceed with adventure ---

 

Not fluently, but you can manage. (Vilocian skill > 6)

"I can speak with these mercenaries if you need me to."

 

Malthezar looks relieved. "Oh, good. In that case, if you don't mind, could you please follow me? I can translate for Abel, but I'm not sure how to act among mercenaries, and if I could hazard a guess, neither does Abel." With a weak growl and a shaking head the tiger confirms that Abel indeed isn't much for mercenary etiquette. Oh dear. You decide to walk in ahead of Malthezar, who quickly starts running behind you, and take a look at the situation.

--- Proceed with adventure ---

 

You're from Staade, of course you speak Vilocian. (Heritage: Staadan background)

"I'd sure hope that I could, considering I'm from Staade. Why, do you need me to translate for you?"

Malthezar nods. "Translate and, if you don't mind, do the talking in general. I can translate for Abel, but I'm not sure how to act among mercenaries, and if I could hazard a guess, neither does Abel." With a weak growl and a shaking head the tiger confirms that Abel indeed isn't much for mercenary etiquette. Oh dear. You decide to walk in ahead of Malthezar, who quickly starts running behind you, and take a look at the situation.

--- Proceed with adventure ---

I'd actually finish this stage, but I'm currently in the middle of a SMT binge, so...yeah :). Not like the deadline for Y2 is coming up soon. Now where is a piece of wood I can knock on? Damned metal furniture, no respect for old proverbs I swear...

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Fire in Mineta, Stage 0:

 

You're walking through one of the Academagia's hallways when your attention is grabbed by a handful of students, staring annoyed at the wall. As you get closer you notice they're staring daggers at a notice someone put up, but since you can't read it through the crowd (small as it is) you decide to tab Tacito Viadana on his shoulder and ask what's going on. "It's an announcement that one of the professors put up. Go ahead, read it." Tacito politely steps aside, and you step forward to read it.

The announcement reads, "To all students of the Academagia: As a result of a recent string of incidents in Mineta, caused one and all by misbehaving students of our school, the faculty has decided to send as many of it's students that are available into Mineta to perform community service for the city. This not only will restore our - and your - school's now sullied reputation, but will also no doubt prove to be an excellent experience of how you can put the magic you've learned to good use. Remember, exams alone doesn't make an accomplished and respectable mage. Interested students can rapport to their Regent's office for further information and instructions. - The Praetexta Council."

You tilt your head a bit as you take that information in. "Bunch of horse...well, bunch of nonsense, to put it more politely," Tacito says as he notices you thinking over the announcement. You turn to look at him and stare at him questioningly, not sure why he cares so much. Or why you should care so much, for that matter. Tacito is all too happy to answer your question before you've even asked it, however. "The announcement says that the faculty will string as many students as it can into this, but honestly, I doubt anyone is going to play along with this."

"What do you mean?" you simply ask, a bit confused about what Tacito is telling you.

"The short and simple version is that this latest string of misbehaviour has caught the attention of a few of the wealthy patrons that finance the Academagia, big merchants from the Empire Market who's stores got Glamoured into looking like barns, and they've demanded that the faculty do something to repay them for the damage to their reputation." Tacito sighs and shakes his head. "Those merchants are just full of it, of course. Academagia students have had a bad reputation in Mineta since the two places existed, that's hardly new. And the merchants' reputation is at risk mostly because we're their primary customer base, and they make sure we know it so we end up shopping there. If this matter was left to Legate Orsi he'd probably lose their complaints somewhere in the stack of paperwork dropped in his trash bin and no one would have heard of it again. Regent Piaxenza, though, decided that it was the perfect time to get the students more involved with the affairs of Mineta. Only he didn't convince the Praetexta Council to actually make it mandatory, so we end up with this volunteer work."

"If it's not mandatory for anyone is it really that bad?" you ask as you take another look at the other students staring at the announcement. Pointing to it, you add "I mean, why is everyone staring daggers at it?"

Tacito lets out another sigh. "First, most students don't like being associated with the troublemakers who caused this mess just because they attend the same school. Second, no one likes how the faculty is trying to make a big deal out of this when it really isn't. Third, community service is something that any student can do at any time, if they care about it, and it being 'offered' like this doesn't sit well with people for a few different reasons. Fourth, students that actually do help with community service from time to time now feel like their efforts were wasted as it clearly didn't seem to have accomplished anything."

"Ouch."

"That's what I've gathered so far. Anyway, what do you think about it?"

 

"Like you said, a pile of nonsense."

Tacito seems to agree. "It's a shame more students don't engage in community service and all, but this really isn't the right way to convince them to start, I think." You nod your head at that and spend some time discussing this matter with Tacito before getting back to your day.

--- Stop Adventure ---

 

"I think I'll stop by Regent Piaxenza's office and get his take on it."

Tacito nods. "Good thinking, I haven't asked him about it personally yet. If it's not too much trouble, could you question him and meet me up later? I'm trying to get a clear picture of this story for Rikildis - she asked for my help, if you're curious - and I've got a lot of ground to cover." You're curious enough to go out of your way to ask, and it seems like giving Tacito a hand won't take much time either, so you nod. Now, from this hallway Regent Piaxenza's office is...

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

Been a while since I've done this, eh? And yes, I know, H&D is still left unfinished after all these months, the poor thing, it's next in line sorta kinda next in line but also not really - long story. Anyway, I may have gone a little overboard with this one...but I hope that it'll work out regardless. Really hope :unsure:.

Edited by Metis

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Fire in Mineta, stage 1:

 

Right, now you remember. You walk off, take the right turns and are in front of Regent Piaxenza's office within a minute. A knock on his door gets a response from him, so you open the door and step in. The regent is sitting behind his desk, looking strangely eager to get to work that, based on the emptiness of his desk, isn't available. A rare sight, to be sure. Despite what must be some level of disappointment he greets you cheerfully. "Ah, [PC FIRST NAME], it's great to see you. How can I help you?" You must admit, he might be laying it on a little too thick here.

"I wanted to ask - and before you get your hopes up, just ask - about this 'sending students to do community service' thing."

That is enough to deflate the Regent's enthusiasm, and with a sigh he slumps in his chair a bit. "You're not the first who 'just' wants ask about that. But even if that's all you're here for I'll answer what questions I can." You nod and sit down in a chair as the Regent begins to explain. "To start with I'll not mince words, the merchants that filed the complaint with the Academagia are a group of pigs more full of their own rubbish than actual pigs. Not that that's an excuse to Glamour their shops into barns, as ironic as it might be, but...well, that's neither here nor there. In any case the Legate would have tossed their complaints out, but I argued that it was time for our students to get more involved with everyday life in Mineta. With a better idea of that maybe they would think twice before pulling pranks or causing even bigger trouble, and as empty as the merchants' threats were it wouldn't be a horrible idea to show that we, both students and faculty, were able and willing to admit it when things happened that shouldn't have happened, and that we're willing to make amends for our mistakes. Far to many students are under the impression that accidentally setting someone's house on fire is just a matter of reviewing your Incantation spells in detention before everything is forgiven and forgotten, I feel. Most of the faculty agreed with that, and with a promise to oversee the administration of this initiative I got the Legate to accept my proposal. Unfortunately, it...well, the students haven't been keeping me busy said administration, let's put it that way."

Hearing Regent Piaxenza talk about it like this makes you wonder. "Why was that announcement so...well, so aggressive, I guess the best word is? It just barely avoided sounding like every student would be forced to do community service just because a few others pranked the wrong people. People that even you, sir, admit aren't the most pious saints of their street."

The regent sighs again, deeper this time. "You have Regent Storey to thank for that, actually. My initial plan was to inform students during their first morning class, or what passes for that in case of the older students, but the professors that opposed my idea refused to spend their class time on explaining it. So the student body was informed through written announcements posted in the hallways instead, before I was done trying to convince the rest of the professors that it really was worth spending class time on this. Rest assured, if I'd seen those posters before they were hung up I'd have been my turn to set something on fire."

You'll admit, it's a fun mental image. "And now you've resigned yourself to it?"

The regent shrugs. "I'm aware that must sound like it goes against the whole idea of being able to admit your mistakes and whatnot, but I've considered it and have come to the conclusion that I shouldn't apologize for this on behalf of Regent Storey. Especially seeing as how he's not under the impression that he's done something wrong, and to an extend, he isn't. Not entirely. Giving students community service as a special form of detention is one way to teach them the fact that their antics have greater consequences, after all, and students who don't engage in such antics might indeed not need to learn that lesson."

That gives you enough information to pass along to Tacito, you feel, but it also makes you wonder about this whole community service plan. Tacito said that any student who cared about it could just go out and do it, and he's right about that, but maybe doing some volunteer work that a professor keeps track of might turn out more...fruitful, than the usual kind?

 

Sure, sign up for a round of Professor-approved community service.

-You've got the time to spare and it's certain to pay off somewhere along the way, so you decide to volunteer. Naturally, Regent Piaxenza is happy to hear it and puts you to work right away. Not quite what you had planned, but you weren't going to do anything important for the next few hours anyway.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

You've got enough stuff to do.

-It's a nice thought, but there's this thing called "homework" and stuff, so...nah. Maybe when you're in a more charitable mood, or in dire need of someone to shield you from an angry professor, you'll consider it.

--- Stop Adventure ---

I maybe should point out that I've gone back to first typing everything out in notepad before posting it on the forums, but this time I'm also including line breaks instead of just having non-stop text. which is very nice, but unfortunately that means my old shorthand of "five straight lines of text in notepad is the text limit" (that'd be 5120 characters, by the way) has been thrown out the window.

 

So if an enormous doorstopper shows up, that'd be why -_-.

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Fire in Mineta, stage 2:

 

Regent Piaxenza has decided to send you to an orphanage located in Undergate, to help around and...well, basically do what the local matron tells you to. You're not entirely sure what you're in for, but it promises to be a fun and exciting day that is likely going to put your patience to the test. Also, not actually fun or exciting, probably. Either way you make you way to the address that the Regent wrote down for you and take a look at it from the outside. It's a fairly large building, like a rich man's mansion that long ago was converted into the place it is currently. You can kinda see where there once might have been a grand entrance, carefully lined with smoothed stone and assorted decorative stonework, a pair of very small balconies overlooking the street and the two sections of undoubtedly flower-filled front lawns flanking the entrance, but now? It's a building that's seen better days. Sturdy, dignified, functional, but like an old dog who's owner abandoned and replaced for something more pleasing to the eyes. All things considered you have to kind of shudder at that comparison, but you don't let that stop you from walking up to the front door and knocking on it. Within seconds a girl, about eight years old, opens it. Seeing you she turns back and shouts "Miss Devra! Someone's here to see you!" Soon after a harried-looking woman in her thirties steps out of a nearby door and into the hallway, giving you a once-over. She instructs the girl to go back inside, which she does, after which the woman steps towards you. "Do you have business here, student?" she asks, eyeing your Academagia robes.

You nod and politely bow. "[PC FULL NAME], I'm here on Regent Piaxenza's request. Could you show me to the matron, Miss Paola, please?" You wait a few seconds for a response, and getting none except a very confused expression you add "I...take it you weren't informed, then?"

Devra shrugs. "No, should I have been? Anyway, if you need to speak with the matron, she's on the second floor, first door to the left, up that staircase." Devra steps to the side, and with a nod you walk in. You eye the staircase and notice for the first time how plain this place looks. No potted flowers, no paintings hanging from the walls, nothing. It is only a hallway, sure, but you still expected to see something. Well, no one is stopping you, so you go up the stairs and politely knock on the first door to your left. Nothing in this floor's hallway either except a number of doors, you note. A female voice from within says "come in", like she's expecting someone who's gotten him- or herself into trouble, and with some trepidation you open the door. This office seems much like the rest of the building you've seen so far. There's a few small portraits hanging on the wall, but beyond that every piece of furniture in this room serves a practical purpose. Even the single chair sitting a bit randomly in the corner has a purpose to it that, based on the woman's earlier tone, you can guess. The woman sitting inside, speaking of, has a frown on her face when she sees someone walk in, but her expression changes when she sees you're not who she was expecting. You introduce yourself while she recovers from her surprise...and immediately goes back to being surprised when you explain why you're here.

"I'm afraid I haven't heard anything from your professor either, child. [PC first name], sorry. Still, if you're here to assist I'm sure I can put you to work. There's plenty to be done around here, even things that you can assist with."

"Such as?" you ask.

"Assisting with administration, mostly. There's also some cleaning to be done, though I wouldn't want to see you clean the public areas. Ah, of course, you can also help with our classes. I may offer only offer dry scraps of education even if I weren't quite literally in the shadow of the Academagia, but I'll be damned before I let these tykes grow up to be the kind of uncultured barbarians that end up making a living from burning, pillaging and-actually, I think you're rather too young to hear the rest of that."

Too young? Maybe. Not interested? Definitely. "I'm only a student myself, still, but I'm sure I can be of some help. Also, why shouldn't I be cleaning the public areas?"

The matron frowns. "Because it's important that the kids learn to clean up after themselves, and that they can't hope to one day rely on a wand to do that work for them as you undoubtedly do. I know it sounds cold, but I've got more children here than there are senior students in your school, and at one point we had more children here than the entire Academagia. I can also tell you that all of them combined don't have the wealth that you do, and if there was any talent to be had, your school would have found it. You're a special one, to be sure, and I'd rather that the kids didn't end up dreaming of one day being special too. Rest assured, they won't."

You're taken a bit back by that, but all the same, you nod. "I...see. Well, that said, what do you want me to do?"

The matron looks over her desk, and her gaze settles on a particular drawer. "To start with I'd like you to get these ready to bring to City Hall. I've already filled in the necessary things, but I've yet to make enough copies for every department that wants one. Also get them sorted. Some department wants some copies, another wants a few different ones, and so forth. You can use Devra's office, right across from mine, if you need it."

You nod as you look over the stack of papers. Now...

 

Calligraphy. Make a few legible copies of the papers.

You take your bundle of papers to miss Devra's office and look at them. You're not reading them, however, because most of these are completely illegible! It seems Paola has some terrible handwriting, and you imagine that's where a lot of her grief with City Hall comes from. Well, as it so happens you don't have this problem, so with grim determination you start to scribe the required number of copies of each of these horrible papers. It's slow and boring work, but several hours later, when you're mostly finished with it, Devra steps in. "How's it going?" she asks with a sympathetic, friendly smile. "Pretty well," you answer as you show her one of your copies. Needless to say, Devra smiles when she sees it. "Oh, beautiful, that's going to make getting these through City Hall much easier. Once you're done with these you can leave, I'll sort them myself. Don't tell Paola, but as it turns out that's not so hard when I don't have to squint my eyes just to see what paper I'm holding." With a smile you nod, finish your work and take your leave. Not the most exciting day you've ever had, but maybe this won't be so bad after all.

--- Pause Adventure ---

 

Bureaucracy. Sort the papers in neat piles.

You take your bundle of papers to Devra's office and look them over. Seems like Paola's handwriting is rather terrible, so it takes you a little while to figure out what papers these are and which go with which. Once you've figured that out, though, it's a simple matter to sort them into proper piles and get started on the sadly boring and thankless job of copying the necessary papers. Thankfully with your knowledge of bureaucracy you're sure you won't end up accidentally making too many copies, and while you wouldn't say your handwriting is especially great, you'd need to write with your toes to not end up at least slightly more legible than Paola's scribbles. Hours of dull, slow and droning work pass, until Devra walks into her office. With a sympathetic smile she looks at the sorted piles on her desk and says "I can take over from here, and thank you for your help. This should make getting everything with City Hall sorted much easier." You nod, hand the quill over to Devra and leave, feeling like maybe this whole community service thing won't be so bad.

--- Pause Adventure ---

 

Economy. Take a closer look at these papers as you're working through them.

Taking a closer look you notice that most of these papers are tax papers. And the way they're filled in is not the best, even discounting the sub-par handwriting that Paola seems to have. Well, you happen to know your way around these papers, so you take them to Devra's office and get to work. It's slow and boring work, and all of the months of paperwork piled up here doesn't help put your mind at ease, but your knowledge of how these things work allows you to work through them relatively quickly. When you're done with most of it, several hours later, Devra shows up and asks how it's going. You invite her to take a look, and she looks pleased when she looks over the papers. "Good to see you're more considerate than Paola is, at least towards City Hall clerks. Most of the time she asks them to fill in the rest of these, saying things about how it's 'their job' or some such. I shouldn't gossip, so...let's just say that we all have our stories when it comes to City Hall. Anyway, you're excused, I'll finish up here myself." You nod and hand the quill over. Not an exciting start, but maybe helping out around here won't be so bad after all.

--- Pause Adventure ---

 

And the singular failure text for all three options copied here just the once instead of repeated three times, because I've stopped even pretending to care about failure texts:

Several hours of copying, sorting and straining your eyes later Devra walks in. "You're done for the day," she says with a sympathetic look on her face. "I know it's not wise to leave paperwork to build up until you have to go through stacks of it at a time, but...well, I'm sure you understand why it's not something we look forwards to doing after a long day. Regardless, you can go now. I'll keep this here so you can finish this later."

--- Stop Adventure ---

Forget about this topic? Moi? How silly :rolleyes:.

 

...It's really been too long since I've done this, huh :unsure:.

Edited by Metis

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Fire in Mineta, stage 3:

 

Today sees you going back to the orphanage for your community service. Regent Piaxenza seems happy with the work you've put in so far, and it wasn't so horrible that you'd prefer to jump off the edge of Elumia, so you're going there again. This time Devra opens the front door herself, and Paola is in the same spot as she was before. She again is expecting someone she should frown at, but that expression changes to a much more accepting one when she sees you. "Ah, [PC FIRST NAME], welcome back. And perfect timing, I might add. You'll be helping Devra today, she'll be administrating a test in...oh, ten minutes or so, and I'd like you to help her. Watch the kids to make sure they don't cheat, that sort of stuff. You've seen tests before, and Devra can tell you the details."

You raise an eyebrow. "No problem, but, administrating a test? Like, an actual test? You do that around here?"

Miss Paola nods sternly. "Oh of course I do. As I said, I'll be damned before one of those kids ends up an uncultured barbarian, so what lessons we teach them I make sure stick. Ah, right, before I forget - after the tests are taken we traditionally gather the kids together and discuss the questions that were asked and what questions the children have. Please, assist Devra with that and try to impress the kids a bit, would you? I think seeing someone relatively closer to their age who's proud to be receiving a proper education will do them some good." You slowly nod and ask if there's anything in particular you should show off. Paola gives this some thought. "Well...Arithmetic, of course. History wouldn't be a bad choice, either. Oh, or the teachings of the New Gods. I can't count how many times I-oh, speaking of, there is no time. Hurry to Devra, dear, the test is about to start!"

You nod, sort of rush out the door but collect yourself before going down the stairs. As you expected Devra is standing in the hallway, ready and waiting. "I take it Paola filled you in? Just follow my lead, alright?" You nod, not entirely sure about what you should or are about to do here, but nevertheless you follow Devra into what appears to have once been a large living room. Currently it's been converted into a make-shift classroom, only without any individual desks, a board hanging behind a teacher's desk, or...much of anything, really. But even so there's a surprising number of kids here with a quill and inkwell in front of them. Old newspapers covering a few tables make up for the lack of desks, and looking around you see that most of the kids look nervous. Some look annoyed, a few are staring at you curiously, but mostly there's a gloomy atmosphere hanging in the room. Devra walk up to one end of the room and asks, likely rhetorically, "Everyone ready?" Everyone nods, and from a locked cabinet she takes out a few stacks of parchment. She gives one stack to you and points to a table, so you hand each kid around the table a roll. You don't have to do more than that, they just get to work. Looking around to make sure no one cheats is a relatively simple affair. Not only are you already aware of some of the basic tricks, you just keep your wand in hand and slowly walk around the room, staring at anything suspicious. The imagination of the children does the rest. Devra looks around more carefully, and you notice that she's focussing mostly on a few particular kids than looking at them all equally, but you don't feel like it's a good idea for you to try that hard. A tense hour later Paola walks in, announces that time is up, and you help her and Devra collect all the tests. Paola takes them upstairs while Devra helps the kids put the tables back in place and toss the old newspapers in the trash. Come the end the room looks much more orderly and regular, with an identifiable reading corner, a dining area, and so forth. In fact, everyone moves over to the dining room for this, and you follow along. By now the kids who haven't fluffed up their test are staring at you very curiously.

"So," Devra begins. "We'll start with the first group, were there any questions on the test you want to ask me about?" Judging from reactions you can tell that this first group comprises the youngest...third or so of all the children here. No one speaks up, though, as most of them keep staring at you. "No need to be shy in front of a special guest, everyone. Ask away, if there's anything you should ask." Devra says, having noticed the same thing you did. There's another short moment of silence, but one boy does raise a hand. Devra gives him permission to speak, and the boy asks about a basic multiplication problem that, in your head, you solve before he finishes explaining it. In fairness, though, the boy isn't even five years old. Devra looks at you and says she'll take that one, and indeed, she succinctly explains the concept of multiplication to the boy. While she does so a few of the older children roll their eyes. Devra seems to notice. "If that's all from group one, how about group three? Any questions about your test?" Again there's silence at first as you look this group over. Kids that are mostly your age or older, some of which look at you with confusion, others look at you with contempt. One you could swear is trying to intimidate you, but you pay it no mind. Soon enough one of them raises a hand. "I've got a question for our guest, if you don't mind me asking, miss Devra." She shakes her head and turns to look at you. You'll admit, you're feeling some pressure. "So how d'you cast magic, anyway? It's not just a matter of waving your wand around, right?"

You glance over at Devra, who catches the question you want to ask. "I know, rest assured it's hardly a comprehensive study. We try to educate them on just the very basics of magic theory so they'll be able to tell a proper mage from a charlatan. There's far too many people in Mineta who'll just wave a stick around and pretend to be able to perform miracles with it. And when you grow up in Mineta you tend to pick up the bits and pieces just from all the students anyway, so we figured it'd be best if we completed the picture for them."

Fair enough. Now of course you know how to cast magic. But how to, as Paola put it, "impress the kids a bit"?

Enspell. This calls for a demonstration. A very well done demonstration, in fact.
As you expected it's not difficult to awe these children - especially the younger ones - just by casting few Glamours that even a first year wallflower could cast under pressure. Casting the spells so that they only slowly build, going from Phemes to the result you imagined slowly enough to see the entire process with the naked eye, is significantly less simple. But still within your limits. Seeing magic visibly do it's thing is enough to impress even the older teenagers, and while your accompanying explanation lacks any sort of flair they eat it up. As for telling the real deal from a charlatan, the kids have a better grasp of what kind of people lurk in the alleyways of Undergate, but you can tell real from fake easily enough. Come the end of your little demonstration you're sure you've made a strong impression, something Paola should be happy with, but you can't help but wonder how everyone will react to it.

--- Pause Adventure ---

 

Law. Perhaps some legal pointers would be a more practical topic to go into.
You're not entirely sure if teaching these kids the theory of magic is really in line with Paola's attitude of "don't get their hopes up". That said it's true that charlatans are all over Mineta, and Undergate certainly isn't immune to them, so being able to tell a fake from a real spellcaster wouldn't be a bad thing to teach them. As such, after you succinctly explain how your wand and palette come together to craft spells you ask a few questions of your own - namely how the kids would react if they were to encounter certain situations. It starts out simple enough, with no one saying (or admitting) that they'd fall for any obvious traps. But then you introduce a man dressed like one of Mineta's guards to your examples, who claims to vouch for the suspected charlatan's wares or services. It causes some confusion at first, but even the younger kids are more cunning (or simply paranoid) than they give themselves credit for, and soon enough you're quoting sections from Mineta's law book to clarify exactly why a guard vouching for someone who sells wands to random people on the street isn't trustworthy. Your plan is ultimately a great success. Devra seems happy that the kids have learned something worthwhile, and the kids who've had past incidents of theirs vindicated by the "advocate-in-training" seem like they've gotten a boost to their ego. You're also drawing far less contemptuous stares then before, you note. With that good impression left on them it's time to take your leave and wait see what Paola has in store for you next.

--- Pause Adventure ---

 

And the communal failure text:
You nod and explain what you know, which is certainly more than enough to answer the question, but looking around it seems like your font of knowledge wasn't enough to impress. And while this might sound odd, honestly, you feel like less of an Academagia student if you really can't impress this audience. So time to hit up a few libraries and prepare...

--- Stop Adventure ---

That communal failure text isn't going to be a permanent fixture, mind you, just so long as it at least kinda works and I'm feeling really lazy.

 

Also, question: Is ten Adventure calls for 21 stages worth of adventure too much for a single adventure? I know it sounds like it, but as things stand now stage 4 will actually bulldoze straight on to stage 10, assuming no rolls are failed, which is the point where the first half of the adventure ends if they end up cut in half. So ten Adventure calls for 21 stages, or three calls for eleven stages and than separately seven calls for ten stages?

Edited by Metis

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If no one is going to complain I'll just take that as a first answer as a "no" ;). Anyway, stage 4:

 

Another bright day, another day of community service. Today proves to be especially exciting in fact, because as Paola explains what you'll be helping with today it ends up answering a rather important question that's been on your mind since last time: How will doing this actually impact the reputation of Academagia students among the citizens of Mineta, if only theoretically?

"Today you'll be helping with our shopping trip. Around here we involve the children with our shopping for food, cooking, bartering for whatever else we're at the Empire Market to buy, all that stuff. It's all things that will do them good to learn, and it's not like Devra and me can take on all that responsibility by ourselves anyway. Now, this week..." Devra's unending string of words briefly stops as she roots through her desk, takes out a schedule and looks over it. "Yes, group two will be shopping this week. That's the middle ground in terms of age, in case you forgot. Anyway, since we can't take all the children with us at once we split them into groups, same as the tests, and there's a rotating schedule. One group goes shopping with Devra, another group cleans the first floor of the house, and the final group cleans the second. I know it might sound like it'd be better for you to look over the last group, but I assure you that I can look over groups one and three while they're cleaning here. It's Devra I want you to go with, because there's far more mischief the children can get into while out and about and as observant as Devra is she's only got so many eyes. Besides, you've done good work for us so far, I think it's time some of those stuffy merchants over in the Empire Market see that not all of the Academagia's students are pompous rich kids who see the mere peasantry as beneath them."

For more than one reason you don't have any objections, so you nod and go downstairs. Devra is already in the hallway along with a rather large-ish group of children around your age and a bit younger than you, ready to go out. "I take it Paola explained what we'll be doing?" Devra asks, and you nod. "Good. In that case you can stay in back, and keep an eye out." You nod again, and as Devra starts walking out everyone follows her, slowly going towards the Empire Market. Of course you get asked a few questions along the way, and you draw the odd stare from people walking through the city as well, but you don't let it bother you. Most of the discussion comes from what food will be bought and cooked later. As expected everyone nominates the food they like, and voices their disagreement when someone else suggests food they don't like. Devra makes it clear that she's already decided, seeing as how there's only so much budget to go around, but even so the discussion continues. When you finally reach the place where Devra plans to buy the food there's the first bit of commotion as one of the kids raises a fuzz over buying and eating meat. Needless to say she reminds you of Girars de Periarde, only...well, only much shorter and a much higher voice, which is likely due to the fact that, unlike Girars, she's an eight year old girl. But her outburst is nothing short of spot-on, and she seems rather more skinny than she should be. As her arguments continue to fall on deaf ears, seeing as how none of her peers appear to share her opinion or care at all, she eventually turns to you and asks you to support her. You first look at Devra for her input. "If Sherry doesn't want to eat meat that's her decision, but as it so happens salted meat doesn't spoil easily and buying it in bulk keeps the cost manageable." Hmm...

Pure Luck. Is Girars around, by chance?
You look around and see if there's any farmers around vending their wares. There are, and you appear to be in luck, because you see Girars talking to one of the stall owners! You call out to him, which gets his attention, and motion him to come talk to you. With an eyebrow raised as he sees all of the children you're with he walks over and asks "Good afternoon, [PC FIRST NAME]. Are you, eh...mass babysitting, or...something?" A few of the kids just shake their head at that, as does Devra, and with a grin you answer, "No, Girars, this is community service. Recall that announcement and everything? Anyway, I need your help here."

"Eh, sure? What do you need my help with?"

You gently push Sherry in front of you, something she doesn't entirely appreciate as she's not sure what to think of Girars, and ask, "Sherry here doesn't want to eat meat, but as it so happens Devra doesn't know how to fit that in her limited budget. Do you think you can help?"

Girars' face lights up, which initially doesn't help convince Sherry that she should trust him, but all too quickly the two are discussing their virtues like old friends and Girars is "advising" (more lecturing, you think, but close enough) Devra on what to cook and where she can find her ingredients. Of course this causes some of the other kids to grumble, but you scold them and insist that they at least give it a try. If nothing else it'll be nice to try something new. That convinces enough for the others to realize that they're the ones who are outvoted, so they reluctantly agree to give Girars' recipes a try.
--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

You look around, but you don't see Girars anywhere. Unfortunate, but maybe you can get it touch with him and plan to meet up next time the kids go shopping.

--- Stop Adventure ---

 

Cooking. You know a few cheap recipes, actually.
What Devra says is true of course, but there's other things that are cheap and don't spoil too easily. "Does the orphanage have a functional baker's oven, by chance?"

Devra raises an eyebrow at that question. The kids around her mostly roll their eyes. "Eh...well, yes, actually, though we don't really use it as such. Why?"

"Wait, we do?" one of the kids who mocked your question asks.

"Yes, we do," Devra repeats. "The orphanage wasn't build to be an orphanage, we converted it into it, so the kitchen we use does have a baker's oven."

"In that case you could buy grain in bulk, process it into flour and bake it into bread yourself. It'd be cheaper than buying the bread directly."

"Does that mean we can afford more fruits and vegetables?" Sherry asks, excitedly.

Unfortunately, Devra seems sceptical. "I'm sure it'd costs money to maintain that oven, and we'd probably need to repair it before we can use it. Still, it is an idea. I don't suppose you know how much maintaining a baker's oven costs, [PC FIRST NAME]?" Not the most common question you get asked, but...

"As a matter a fact I do, and it doesn't cost much. The big thing with those ovens is that you have to clean them regularly, since it'd ruin the bread otherwise. Beyond that they're no more difficult to maintain that any other part of the kitchen. And if there is serious damage to it I should be able to whip it back into shape with Revision. I can't imagine how the kitchen itself functions when that one oven is in pieces."

"Isn't that going to cost more firewood, though?" one of the kids opposed to Sherry's idea asks.

"True, but the ability to buy the grain straight off the farmer should make up for the difference. Besides, during the colder months you tend to burn that firewood anyway. Actually, doesn't the orphanage have a decently sized backyard, as well? You could even try to plant and grow your own grain. It likely wouldn't get you more than a few loaves of bread worth per harvest, but still."

All eyes turn to Devra as she mulls this over. "We'll give it a try," she announces, to the cheers of a few of the kids and the disgruntled groans of a few more. They don't speak up against the idea further, thought.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

Picking your brain for cheap recipes yields some proverbial fruit, but you quickly realize that most of them rely on magic and the Academagia's gardens to cut costs here and there. You'll have to get a better idea of the situation in the Empire Market next time you end up helping Devra with a shopping trip.
--- Stop Adventure ---

 

Botany. If she won't eat meat she'll have to compensate.
You eye Sherry again. It's a bit difficult to tell as her clothes are obviously not tailored for her, but it's still clear that she's rather more skinny than she should be. "Do you just skip out on the meat, Sherry?" She nods, quickly launching into a condensed version of one of Girars' rants. You're not sure why she's done with them more quickly than Girars is, but whatever makes the difference, you're glad for it. "In that case there's a few things I could recommend to compensate, you definitely don't look like you're eating enough. It's just..."

"They're not cheap?" Devra correctly guesses.

"Yes. Although...the orphanage has a backyard, doesn't it? Large enough to do some farming in, maybe?"

"You want us to farm for our food now?" one of the kids who opposes Sherry's idea of what Devra should buy asks.

"Actually, yes. Some ingredients aren't cheap to buy, but not necessarily because they're difficult to grow. If you buy some seeds and cultivate them it might make up for the difference in Sherry's diet. Actually, I don't suppose you like sour food, do you, Sherry?"

She shrugs. "I'll eat it if it means I won't have to eat meat."

"If you're sure about that, than Devra, I'd recommend you cut back on the meat a bit and invest in some seeds. I can point you to a few merchants that can sell the ones you need on the cheap"

There's some grumbling among the other kids since this sounds like they'll be putting in work for no personal gain, but of course they don't admit it. Either way Sherry is happy and eager to try her hand at turning the backyard into a "farmyard". You'll have to see whether her opinion is still the same after she's tasted some special fruits.

It's at this point that Devra weighs in, though. "Will we really have to wait for those seeds to sprout before Sherry can get enough food in her? Besides, you can't farm all year round, can you?"

"True, but those same merchants can sell you the actual berries for...well, more than the seeds, but if you buy them in bulk it should still be affordable, and from what I recall they don't perish too quickly either."

"That seems entirely too convenient," one of the kids remarks.

"That's probably because technically speaking these fruits are classified as alchemy ingredients, rather than foodstuffs. Not that you can't eat them, it's just that most people would choose to starve at least half to death first." Now Sherry looks like she's doubting herself a bit. "I'm sure that after some trial and error someone will be able to cook them in a way that they're not too terrible. And keep in mind, it will excuse you from having to eat pretty much any meat."

And now Sherry seems to seriously think it over, and although some of the lazier kids that don't want to get dragged into playing farmer are still complaining Sherry ultimately doesn't step down. "I'll at least give it a try," she says, trying her best not to show that she is dreading how this will turn out.

Devra says that she'll give it a try as well, which makes Sherry and a few of her friends happy...and pretty much no one else. Ah, you still feel like you've accomplished something today.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

You vaguely recall this question having come up before when someone asked Girars how he manages to live without meat, but you sadly don't recall how he answered that question. Or whether he answered that question, come to think of it. One would think that if he could he wouldn't be so skinny and everything. Hmm...tricky. You'll have to ask him or hit up some books later.

--- Stop Adventure ---

List of professions I'll never have, especially in this day and age: Baker, butcher, farmer, merchant. Probably a few others as well.

Edited by Metis

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Also, question: Is ten Adventure calls for 21 stages worth of adventure too much for a single adventure? I know it sounds like it, but as things stand now stage 4 will actually bulldoze straight on to stage 10, assuming no rolls are failed, which is the point where the first half of the adventure ends if they end up cut in half. So ten Adventure calls for 21 stages, or three calls for eleven stages and than separately seven calls for ten stages?

 

Looking good, and putting me to shame as usual.

 

I'm not sure what you mean here though. On the wiki I wound up referring to an adventure as '3 stage' if it required 3 successful adventure actions to do, '3 phase' as it required a single action but had 3 'chapters' in it, and '3 option' if a single phase had 3 possible options to choose from. On that basis would you be discussing a 21-phase adventure?

 

I would say that doing multiple phase multiple stage adventures takes a while (a poor excuse but the one I've got for the clubs I did).

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Ah, right, wiki terms. Completely forgot about those :unsure:.

 

So to clarify in wiki terms, assuming you don't repeat stages/phases because you failed a roll, it'd be a total of 10 stages (I.E. ten turns spend on using the Adventure action) that cover a total of 21 phases (I.E. 21 instances where you're given a main text, are asked to make a choice and/or roll something, and read the result). Now I can cut the adventure into two, meaning you'd end up with two adventure with 11 and 10 phases respectively, but the first half would only have three stages to it, and the other seven.

 

I'm not sure if it's better to have one long adventure, or two adventures where the first one, without warning, drops seven phases on the player before suddenly ending. And then possibly making the player wait to start part two, if the Team decides to sets it up that way. I assume it would help to have the actual stages/phases to see how actual plot plays out, but still, if anyone has an opinion...

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Fire in Mineta, stage 5:

 

As that supposedly heated discussion finally calms down (you say supposedly because the last time Girars and Gwendy were at each other's throats there was actual fire involved) you look over the kids. Nothing seems wrong, but...there's an odd smell in the air, something that wasn't there before. Fire? Smells like something is burning. You draw your wand just in time for one of the kids to start shouting about something being on fire, and three-quarters of a second later the stall he was pointing to has been sprayed with a jet of water. You're not sure whether that's done enough though, especially since the tiniest plume of smoke is stubbornly rising from the stall. You run up while Devra orders the kids to stay clear, but before you can get a good angle a bucket's worth of water splashes over the stall, some of it landing on you and your robe. You look up and see an adult male, empty bucket still in his hands, looking over you with a suspicious glare. You stand up straight, use your wand to dry yourself, and look at the man. "Sorry, are you this stall's owner?" you politely ask.

The man nods, still looking at you suspiciously. "Correct," he says with a surprisingly soft voice. If you had to guess you'd say he's trying, and failing, to come across as a dangerous brute. "So what's this business about my stall catching fire? I don't suppose you need me to call the guards, do you?"

You shake your head, knowing that there's probably at least one guard already coming this way. "Did you see how the fire started?"

The man stares at you. "You're the only one I see around here with a wand, kiddo."

You frown. "You seriously think I'd set a stall that a group of orphans are looking at on fire? If they wanted to see a magic trick I'd just show them a Glamour." From his expression you can tell that the stall owner doesn't really believe his own accusation, it's just the only one he can think of. As you examine the stall you actually have to agree with him on his reasoning, too. This fire didn't break out just randomly. There's only a small patch where the stall's cover and the wood behind it is burned, but there's nothing to indicate what would cause this particular section to randomly catch fire. Very curious.

"Yohan did it!" one of the kids behind you suddenly blurts out.

"Did not!" another one, you presume Yohan, shouts. You can't even turn around before the situation has escalated into a fistfight, or what would have become a fistfight if Devra didn't step into the middle of it.

"I don't know how or why any of those kids could set my stall on fire, honestly," the stall owner tells you with a low voice. "Or you, for that matter, but...anyway, do you think you could use your magic to fix the damage for me?" You nod and cast a simple Revision spell on the stall and the cloth covering it. Within seconds they're back to how they used to be, only somewhat more damp. A simple Incantation later and the stall's wares are back to being as dry as they ought to be, as well. "Thanks, kid." the owner says, still with a low voice. "Anyway, are you, eh...well, with those kids? With Devra and such?" You nod, looking at bit dismayed at Devra's situation, which has now grown to include a guard as some of the kids are still slinging accusations at Yohan, while others are defending him and yet others are throwing accusations at the one who first accused Yohan. Even the stall owner just shakes his head at the mess, though he doesn't let it distract him from what he wants to say. "Could you bring this matter up to Paola for me? I expect Devra to do the same, but...well, honestly this isn't the first time something mysteriously caught fire when Devra and her orphans came here, and I'm suspecting that, well..."

"You suspect Devra is the culprit?"

The stall owner shakes his head. "No, no, not that she's the culprit, just...keeping it quiet, you know? Paola's stiffer than a stone bridge when it comes to those kids, but Devra's more...forgiving, I guess. She might try to solve this issue herself, in private, so that the guard doesn't have to get involved and whatnot. If Paola caught word that one of her orphans is a pyromaniac...let's just say that kid would be relocated, to put it politely."

You nod, understanding the stall owner's concerns. "Will do, thanks for the tip."

"Thanks for the help, and sorry 'bout that earlier accusation and all. No harm done, right?"

You nod and walk over to Devra, who's finally managed to calm the situation down. She looks positively relieved when she sees you. "[PC FIRST NAME], please, you look after Yohan when you go back to the orphanage, I'll look after these three," she says while gesturing to a trio of kids that are staring daggers at Yohan. He, in turn, is staring daggers at the lot of them. Needless to say that it's a tense trip back to the orphanage, but when you're there Devra asks you to inform Paola about what happened. Looks like the stall owner's fears were unfounded, but you did promise and were just asked to inform Paola all the same, so you nod and head upstairs. Knocking on the door of Paola's office doesn't get you a response like before, though Paola does step out of another door further down the hallway. "Good to see you're back, I take it everything went well?"

"I'm afraid not," you admit. Paola just sighs in response. "I was honestly expecting as much. Alright, into my office then, we'll talk there." You nod and follow Paola into her office, where she quickly slumps down into what passes for an office chair. "Let me guess, another mysterious fire?" You nod. "That's the third one now. As much as I hate to admit it I don't think it's possible to say that it's just been a freak coincidence every time. As such we have to assume that one of the group two kids set those fires, and that means we have to figure out which. And strange as this might sound to you, I think you're the best to figure that out."

"Wait, what? Why me?"

Paola looks you over with a very stern expression on her. It's a little unsettling. "Because if our little pyromaniac would listen to me or Devra this whole incident wouldn't have happened in the first place, now would it? More importantly we need to catch whoever is doing this red-handed, to make sure the other children don't miss the fact that these shenanigans won't go unpunished, and for that I believe your magic will come in handy."

"O...kay. So what do you want me to do, exactly?"

"Since our kids can't conjure fire out of nothing it's simple to assume that whoever is hiding the tools to silently create a fire is the one setting them, or at least the one who knows who's setting them. Since a fire was set while group two was shopping we can eliminate groups one and three as suspects, and conclude that someone is group two has those tools. Since those tools will have to be hidden, especially now that Devra and I will be looking for them, whoever has them is sure to hide them somewhere. And since group two just came back from shopping for our larder supply, it's fairly easy to conclude that the most likely place those tools will be stashed are where they wouldn't be out of place. Namely, the kitchen. As such, I'd like you to search the kitchen for those tools. We do, of course, have some flint and steel to start cooking fires with, but striking flint with steel creates noise, those aren't the silent tools we need. So, start looking."

So "search the kitchen", only with a bit more length to it. Right. You nod, stand up and have Devra show you to the kitchen. It's a pretty large kitchen, and of course there's cupboards, drawers, nooks, crannies and other hiding places everywhere. So, where to start looking?

Sabotage. Think about how a silent fire starter could look, and find something that works.
A silent fire starter, huh? Let's see...nothing immediately comes to mind, but maybe you need to approach this from a different angle. What could a child easily carry around and be seen using in public? What materials could be used to create fires? That would be...ah, of course! Flint, steel...and a friend to cause a distraction! Really though, that's the only thing you can think of. There's easily a dozen different ways to quietly start a fire...if you have a wand. But these orphans don't. So it's back to basics, and that means figuring out a way to make your tools work rather than getting better tools. Where's the fire starters in this kitchen? Not in that cupboard, not in this drawer, not hidden in the pots and pans for some reason (hey, you're looking for one that might be hidden!)...you really ought to have asked Devra about it in hindsight, but you've come so far now that-ah ha! Found them. Of course they'd be in the first locked drawer you didn't look into. Taking a closer look it doesn't seem like this lock has been picked, and there's no keys laying around. And, once again, these kids don't have a wand lying around to magically unlock the drawer. So...

...Why are you smelling fire again? You turn around, but don't see anyone. You look up and see a tiny plume of smoke rising to the ceiling, and based on where it is...your robe's on fire! How'd that happen!? Quickly you draw your wand and shoot another jet of water down at your feet, which is enough to put out the smoldering patch of your robe. It still sizzles a bit as you drop another batch of water on it, just to make sure. Well than. Time to rapport this to Paola, you think.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

Something to silently start fires with...honestly you have no idea what would fit this profile. Flint and steel would indeed make too much noise, you think, but everything else you can think of would involve magic. And it's very easy to confirm that, within the entirety of this kitchen, there is nothing magical that isn't already in your possession by way of being yours to begin with. Two sticks wouldn't work well enough, and stick with a bow tied around it would be far too bulky, eh...maybe something like an alchemical substance? How would an orphan get that, though? And probably a supply of it at that, considering this is the third time this mysterious fire has apparently happened? Do they steal it from somewhere? You suppose that if you're setting fires you probably don't care overly much about the law, but...surely someone must have noticed after the third time it happened. Or if a supply was stolen, where would that be kept hidden? You've already searched the kitchen...you're just completely stumped. Time to hit the books and try to figure this one out.

--- Stop Adventure ---

 

Sleuthing. Systematically look through the kitchen
You look through the kitchen examining every pot and pan, checking under every pile of firewood, and carefully inspecting every regular set of flint and steel present just in the off chance that Paola underestimated how quietly they could be used to start a fire. Unfortunately for all that your search still comes up empty. There's nothing around here that could silently start a fire, and even if it was one of the sets of flint and steel they're kept under lock and key (or lock and wand, in your case). And the lock shows no signs of anyone having tried to pick it, so without a wand or a key you don't think any of the kids could have broken into it. So...you're stumped. Whatever you're looking for simply isn't...here...

...Why are you smelling fire again? You turn around, but don't see anyone. You look up and see a tiny plume of smoke rising to the ceiling, and based on where it is...your robe's on fire! How'd that happen!? Quickly you draw your wand and shoot another jet of water down at your feet, which is enough to put out the smoldering patch of your robe. It still sizzles a bit as you drop another batch of water on it, just to make sure. Well than. Time to rapport this to Paola, you think.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

Cupboards? No. Shelves? Nope. Inside the pots or pans? Nada. Eh...hidden among the flint and steel sets? Turns out they're under lock and key, but a bit of wand waving later...negative. Huh...you look everywhere, and yet you find nothing. Well, maybe now that this kitchen has been searched it'll be stashed here later, since Paola and Devra will likely turn the rest of the building upside-down looking for this thing. You'll have to come back to this later.

--- Stop Adventure ---

In case you guys were curious about about when the fire in Mineta was going to show up :rolleyes:.

 

Incidentally, any comments about the main text length? By my old method this stage's main text body is a solid 7.5 lines long, and my usual shorthand was to say that 5 is the limit. So...too long?

Edited by Metis

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I wouldn't say that it is too long. I would say that it has moderate length. To me, as long as the text is interesting I would be willing to read through all of it.

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I wouldn't say that it is too long. I would say that it has moderate length. To me, as long as the text is interesting I would be willing to read through all of it.

Well, here's to hoping the adventure impresses.

 

Metis;

 

Just my opinion, but in a game that features reading heavily...can there be such a thing as too long? :)

 

Plus, things are about to become *much* easier to read...

I'd say I'll take that as a challenge, but as it so happens I already typed out the Blind Witches Alley location adventure :rolleyes:. Still, nice to hear. These stages definitely don't go as long as that one did, I'm sure.

 

Soon ;).

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It sure would be nice to attach some quantitative measure to that word. [soon™]

 

For if words have no meaning, they are empty. If empty, words are ignored. If ignored, words lose their power to sway, and finally, If words lose their power... The Legate has has to be badgered for eternity with repeated requests!

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Fire in Mineta, stage 6:

 

Paola initially seems pleased with herself when you step into her office, but seeing you alone and with your hands empty (aside from your wand, at least) her relatively cheerful expression turns to confusion. "Nothing? Are you telling me my theory was incorrect?"

"Eh, well..." you say a bit pained as you show the burned part of your robe. Paola, understandably, is shocked.

"What!? How did-I mean, that's-someone would have to be standing right in front of you to set fire to your robe like that! Crawling around in front of you, even, hoping you don't even think of taking a step forwards before tripping over them. And this happened in the kitchen? How is this even possible?"

"Magic. That's the only way this is possible." you say as sternly as Paola has talked to you before. One of her eyes starts twitching, but beyond that she seems resigned to your theory.

"Yes...i-it'd have to be, I can't think of any other way. Still, who could have done this? None of the children here own a wand, and certainly none of them have ever been trained to cast spells. Well, none of them have been taught to set fires, either, but..."

"This didn't just take magic, it took skill, and you're sure none of the children here have that."

"Y-yes, none of them have that skill. That's right..." Paola says, suddenly nodding to herself. With a rather more dark expression than she had before she says, "Where there's smoke, there's fire, they say. I think it's time that we talk to the kids who always seem to be involved with these messes. Maybe if Devra was keeping an eye on some of them that would limit our suspects down to just one..." You feel that's a good idea, so you nod and go along with Paola downstairs. Devra, needless to say, looks rather surprised when she sees Paola in the state that she's in. She's even more surprised when she hears why. Even so you ask her who was with her when your robe suddenly caught fire.

"I was keeping an eye on these three," she says, pointing to the same three kids that got into a spat with...what's his name before. Who, incidentally, is looking mighty suspect if Devra's indeed had an eye on these three the entire time.

"Did something catch fire again?" the biggest, and probably de-facto leader of their little Clique asks with a wide grin on his face. Paola glares at him in response, which definitely breaks what little excitement he showed, and when you show him that it was your robe that got burned this time he visibly gets nervous. Also confused, you note. The wand in your hand may have a hand with the former. Silently the boy waits for you to ask a question for him to answer, rather than open his mouth again, so you ask what he knows about...Yohan supposedly setting all these fires. He seems hesitant to tell you the whole truth, however...

Intimidation. Tap your finger on your wand a few times.
Just tapping on your wand is enough to get the implied threat across, and that's enough to break the bully's spirit. All too quickly he seems ready to beg for forgiveness. You repeat your question, and finally the boy decides to talk. "Well...we know he's setting those fires. I don't know how, he just looks at something and poof, fire. He's casting magic, somehow, I'm sure of it, and I want to know how he does it, so...we...tend to goad him. Into setting more fires, I mean. But he refuses to show us how it's done every time, so..."

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

The bully keeps his mouth shut, despite him literally shaking in his shoes by the time you're done with him. Maybe a night in Paola's office will soften him up (and embarrassing as it is to admit that you need to have him softened up for you...).

--- Stop Adventure ---

 

Glamour. Try a little trick on him.
You cast a very, very simple spell on him, something that you can't even say does anything that the bully should be able to notice, but from his reaction it's clear that his imagination is filling in the blanks. So afterwards you simply ask him again...and like he's been Mastered the boy decides to talk. "We know he's setting those fires. I don't know how, he just looks at something and poof. Fire. He's casting magic, I'm sure of it, and I want to know how he does it, so...we tend to goad him. Into setting more fires. But he refuses to show us how it's done every time, so..."

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

You cast a number of spells, but the bully is not fooled by any of them. You should have figured as much with how paranoid Paola made sure these kids are, but still, you thought that his fear would make up for that difference. Well, back to the drawing board.

--- Stop Adventure ---

Pretty tiny stage this time, but rest assured, I'll get back to my standard lengths Soon enough. *Evil laugh*

Edited by Metis

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Well, since DLC 17 is coming out soon™ I hope you have time to finish!

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Ah Yes, Sorry. I forgot, that *that* soon™ is a wholly different soon™

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Fire in Mineta, stage 7:

 

Paola steps forward, having heard enough, and the boy visibly shrinks as she does so. Devra, addressing you, says that she send Yohan upstairs to his group's dorm to cool off, and he should be there still.

"Just for the record, there's no way he could have sneaked out of his dorm room, gone to the kitchen to do...whatever, and sneak back without anyone noticing?"

Devra shakes her head. "He'd have to have gone through the common room, which as you can see is quite packed." Just glancing over you see at least twenty children here, most of them glancing around as they're doing what they're doing, so yeah. Unless Yohan can also turn himself invisible that's out. "A few of the older kids are cleaning out the backyard right now, as well. Apparently Sherry got some support for her recipes and they all want to build a small farm there, so you can also rule out Yohan having climbed out the window. As far as I'm concerned, he's stuck there...actually, group two's dorm is above the kitchen, I suppose. But...you couldn't cast magic through a floor, can you?"

"Depends, I'll add that to the list of reasons why he couldn't have cast whatever spell he supposedly cast even if we find him with a wand in hand. Anyway, where's group two's dorm?"

"Turn right upstairs, second door to your left, though if you don't mind I'll come with you. Yohan...he doesn't cool down so quickly after he gets bullied, I'm afraid."

Great. Well, you let Devra take the lead and walk you to group two's dorm. It's...well, to be quite honest, it's less of a dorm and more of a (singular) communal bedroom. There's thick mats substituting for beds neatly arranged all over the large room, a single blanket folded on each one, but nothing more in terms of sleeping accommodations. In terms of decorations there's a few old portraits hanging on the walls, a few potted plants lazily standing on or next to a pair of nightstands located besides a large window, one of them with a framed painting on it, but that's pretty much it. As for occupants, well, there's only one kid sitting on one of the mats right now, and he's pouting. Arms crossed, frown on his face, looking at the floor in front of him, probably thinking of what horrible things he'd like to do to the three downstairs. Devra walks up to him, but her attempts to talk to him are ignored. She turns to you and shrugs, inviting you to try.

Try what, though? Yohan, as Devra said before, clearly hasn't cooled off yet. Questioning him now will only result in him trying to punch you. It seems that the best course of action is to search this room. Whoever did this must have a wand, and if Yohan doesn't have one on him than someone must have hidden one somewhere.

Dedication. Systematic Room Search 2: The Re-Searching
With Devra and Yohan silently watching you start to search the room. Every corner, every mat, every blanket, the potted plants, the area right outside the windows, everything is given a very careful once-over. Ultimately you don't find anything that even remotely looks like, let alone could be used like, a wand. Finally, refusing to give up, you decide to really give everything a careful once-over. Anything that could possibly have been used to do...something, you don't even know right now. Thankfully, before long, you find what you're looking for. Carefully examining the framed painting that's standing near the window you notice that the inside edges are lined with some black substance. Ash? Soot, maybe? You're not sure how it fits together yet, but you're sure you've found what you're looking for.
--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

You search every mat, every blanket, every corner of the room and everything else, but there's absolutely nothing in the room that even remotely looks like a wand. Well, you're stumped, and without evidence to you really can't hope to accuse anyone of setting your robe on fire, either. Time to think this one over before searching around again later...

--- Stop Adventure ---

 

Negation. Put your magic to work.
This seems like the ideal situation to put your Negation magic to use. This wand, being a wand that has been used like a wand, must have some degree of magic on it if not in it. Conversely, nothing else in this room ought to. As such, searching for anything with a magical residue on it should to do the trick. You attempt to draw your wand, realize it's already in your hand, and (ineffectively) trying to play that off as something you meant to do you cast your detention spell. It's not the greatest, but it'll get the job done. Using your wand as a sort of divining rod you slowly walk around the room, playing a rather tense game of hotter/colder with something you can feel is present, you just don't know where, but after several laps around the room you've discovered the only thing in this room that has a noticeable amount of magic residue on it. Namely, the framed painting that's sitting on a nightstand, next to the window. Huh. It's not something that anyone could feasibly use as a wand, but...the edges of it seem to be covered in soot, maybe ash, now that you're taking a really close look at it. Interesting...

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

You play hotter/colder with your wand, but you don't find anything in the room that's magical or covered in magical residue. Unfortunately that brings your little investigation to it's end, for now, because without evidence to back you up no one is going to admit to having set your robe on fire. Well, time to call this a day and do some more research...

--- Stop Adventure ---

Seeing how short some of these stages really are I've decided that cutting the adventure isn't really necessary. And if it is, well, there's a point where one could very easily do so regardless.

Edited by Metis

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Fire in Mineta, stage 8:

 

"I think I got it," you say as you bring the framed painting over to Devra and Yohan. The latter flinches a little, you think, but Devra just looks confused. "Sorry, but...what does this have to do with someone setting your robe on fire?"

You take another look at the framed painting. It's some manner of abstract art that you never quite figured out the purpose of, but even so, this one looks especially weird to you. Some manner of bizarre optical illusion that changes how you see the painting depending on what angle you look at it from, only without a Glamour. It's weird. "I think the fastest way to figure that out is to get the answers right from the horse's mouth."

Yohan definitely flinches when you say that, and one of his hands balls up into a fist. By now you're pretty sure that if he's not the culprit himself he knows who is, and the best way to get answers at this point is indeed to get them from the horse's mouth. So, ready to step to the side if need by, you ask Yohan to explain himself.

"Shut up! Leave me alone!" is his not-so eloquently phrased response. Devra chides him for it of course, but that doesn't really get you any closer to getting answers. It does remind you of what Paola mentioned earlier. If he listened to her or Devra, this wouldn't have happened in the first place. You, though, he might listen to. The question, then, is how you're going to get Yohan to talk about what he knows...

Bully. Goading him seems to work, so...
You look Yohan over, carefully considering your exact angle of attack here. Obviously you're much bigger and stronger, but Yohan looks like the sort who wouldn't react to being physically threatened in the way you want him to, not to mention that Devra's right there and all. Interrogating him...well, you could try a good guard/bad guard routine, with Devra being the good guard and you being the bad guard. Would that work? You could act all furious over nearly being set on fire, Devra would of course shelter the kid so he might think to trust her, but...no. Repeated confrontations with the three downstairs has caused too much pressure to build up in Yohan, any more and he'll just blow a lid. You need to be far more subtle about this, you need...you need a way to trick him into confessing. And to do that...ah, yes. That might work.

"I'll take that as a confession that you know who the one setting these fires is. So, who is it, how's he doing it?"

Again Yohan responds in an extremely defensive way, but all of a sudden that aggression dims as he, foolishly, takes your question at face value. "I-I don't know who it is. I...I just know it...it isn't me."

You're pretty sure Yohan was lying there. So he is the perpetrator. Now to set up...and spring this trap. "Indeed, I have a reason to believe it isn't you."

Now Yohan just looks confused. "Y-you do?"

"Oh, of course. You were completely stuck in this room, after all, no way you could have gotten to the kitchen and set my robe on fire without someone noticing. So, by process of elimination, I know who the real person who's setting these fires is." You think, just think, that despite the relief that's visible on his face Yohan isn't just feeling relieved. You've tossed the hook, you're sure you've got Yohan biting down on the line...now to reel him in. "I'm sure you've heard of the phrase 'where there's smoke, there's fire', and given how small that stall fire was, I can only assume that the kid who noticed it so quickly - sorry, haven't heard his name yet - was the one who set it. And I do recall him trying to shift his blame to you for that, as well. Though once I've talked to him...he won't have the chance to show his tricks anymore."

As you suspected, relief quickly turns into anger as you continue to claim that the leader of the terrible trio downstairs is the one pulling the stunts that caused Yohan so much grief to actually pull off. "Wh-what!? He's saying he's the one who set those fires!? After all the times he-..."

Yohan caught himself just in time there. Except, of course, that you're not letting that slip so easily. "After all the times he did what? If he's done more than set those fires, maybe something you did to him that'd explain why he'd accuse you of it rather than someone else, feel free to share it."

That causes Yohan's anger to quickly build until he explodes, and amid a flurry of curses, swinging fists and tears that quickly start streaming down his face he confesses - in a rather spectacular manner - that he was the one behind everything. Devra has to hold the poor boy back to stop him from trying (and failing) to punch you into unconsciousness, but after he realizes what he's done and his anger runs out of steam he curls up into Devra's arms. Quietly, in between sobs, he futilely insists that it wasn't him, over and over again, until Devra finally convinces him to just admit it. Even than it takes a few more minutes before Yohan stops crying, but you patiently wait for the boy to cry out in...well, probably the closest thing he has to his mother's arms.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

Befriend. Talk to him, and be patient with him.
"Do you mind if I ask you why you're so upset?" you calmly ask.

Yohan stares at you a bit curiously. "Wh-why do you care? I-I'm not upset."

Yeah, right. You slowly shake your head and sit down across from Yohan. You can tell he sees it as you getting within convenient punching range, but he keeps his fists to himself for now. "I care because your 'friends' downstairs admitted that they've been badgering you into setting fires, and just minutes ago my robe mysteriously caught fire despite Devra having an eye on them the entire time. I want to know how that happened, and more importantly, I want to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Yohan slowly looks you over. He doesn't trust you, but you think you're getting somewhere. "S-so what? They just talk, they don't know anything. I can't cast magic, even if they think I can."

"I don't think they're all just talk, Yohan. Someone has been casting spells here, and they know who it is. They kept asking you because they want to learn how to do it too, and when you kept refusing them they decided to start bullying you. Isn't that why they accused you of setting that stall on fire? They threatened to rat you out if you wouldn't show them, and so when you refused them again, they did?" With every word you say Yohan's body gets tenser, until ultimately he snaps and throws a punch your way. It's not an effective punch, you easily block it since you saw it coming, but it's a punch all the same. Devra of course wants to say something, but you motion to her to let you do the talking here. She doesn't seem to like it, but she complies. "You should have realized by now that they aren't your friends, Yohan. So, tell me. Tell me what's going on." Fist still shaking Yohan goes back to sitting down, but he doesn't say anything. He just shakes his head. "What are you so scared of? That I'm going to rat you out?"

Finally that gets a proper reaction out of him. "I-I'm not scared!" he yells, looking like he's getting close® to fighting back tears.

"Than what are you?"

That question catches him off guard. You patiently wait, Yohan making several attempts at forming a coherent sentence, much less answering your question, but all too quickly he's taken over by his emotions and starts crying. You decide to move next to him and wrap your arms around him, carefully shielding him from view. He doesn't know how to react at first, but soon enough he realizes that he's lost control of himself, and resigns himself to crying out on your chest. It takes a few minutes before he regains his composure (what little of it he had to begin with), but afterwards his disposition definitely changes.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

 

And once again, communal failure text:
It quickly becomes apparent that Devra wasn't kidding earlier when she said that it takes long for Yohan to cool down. You say this, because your second attempt at asking him a question is met with a swift punch to your...well, to the air next to you, as Devra catches Yohan trying to punch you and renders his attempt ineffective, but still. Clearly this is going to take a bit...

--- Stop Adventure ---

The unbelievable silliness starts next stage. I hope it all actually works :unsure:.

Edited by Metis

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Fire in Mineta, stage 9:

 

"S-sorry..." Yohan says while wiping his eyes. "I-I feel better now. Now that...now that I got that out of me. Sorry for this. Sorry for all of this..."

Before he can start crying again you show Yohan the framed painting. "Can you please explain this to me, now? The edges here are burned, see?"

"O-oh, eh, s-sure." Yohan says as he stands up and leads you to the broom closet on this floor. Hidden inside of it, in what you can only call a secret compartment of sorts, is a very dirty piece of cloth. It used to be white, but currently it's dark gray to completely black. And that's because it's covered, absolutely covered, with soot, ashes, and even a bit of fire damage here and there. Nothing comes off when you touch the cloth, though. It's just settled into it. "T-this is where the rest went. This is what I use to clean up after I practice on the frame."

"Practice...what?" Devra asks, slightly worried.

Yohan looks at you with an expression you can't quite make out, and he asks for some space. Both you and Devra take a step back, and Yohan closes his eyes. With two fingers held together he suddenly draws two symbols in the air, Phemes, and combines them into a spell that, with great effort, he directs towards the framed painting. Nothing much happens to it, but you can feel a bit of heat coming off of it now. Given enough such abuse this would cause it to turn black, even burn over time. Devra is, of course, shocked at this display, but you're not so easily swayed as to forget the more important matter at hand. "So, you really are responsible for the mysterious fires that have occurred recently?" Yohan nods, looking down at the ground in equal part embarrassment and trying to hide his emotions. "Than...how did you set my robe on fire?"

It takes him a few seconds, but slowly Yohan says, "I-I can show you, if you want. And, eh...s-sorry. Sorry about that."

"Just show me how you did it for now," you calmly say. Yohan nods and takes you back to group two's room. There he drags away one of the mats, revealing a small hole in the floor that goes into the kitchen. Devra looks confused, but not as confused as you. "How...?"

"Like this," Yohan says as he takes the framed painting, and using nothing but the nightstands and the potted plants he sets up an improvised stand for the frame. As he's setting this up you finally realize why the painting looks so off. It doesn't, it's the frame that's off. The glass protecting the painting isn't flat, it's pushed in a bit. You confirm with a Glamour that, set up like this, any light that hits the surface of the glass is going to be directed down into the kitchen, through the tiny hole in the floor.

"But...how did we not hear you set this up?" Devra asks, completely taken aback, and Yohan just shrugs like it's the most natural thing in the world. "You know how much noise everyone makes, especially now that Shelly was going to do her...vegi-something thing or what have you. As for why I did it, well...I was hoping that you'd assign those jerks kitchen duties, so when I heard noise coming from the kitchen...I wasn't expecting [PC FIRST NAME] to be in it. Sorry..."

"Yohan, you're not seriously telling me that with this contraption you've managed to set my robe on fire from this room, right? I mean...without a wand trying to cast magic can just go all over the place, so I suppose, but...you just can't be serious," you say, looking over the thing with some degree of awe.

Yohan, in response, pouts a bit. "Sure I did. What, you want me to do it again? I can, you know. I've been practising my butt of to make sure I don't set the entire building on fire, so I know how to send fire down that hole."

"Miss Devra? Please, grab a candle and go stand in the kitchen for a bit. Oh, and prepare a bucket, just in case."

While not exactly overjoyed at your suggestion she does do as you ask, and soon she's in place. You ask Yohan to do his thing, and he does. In rapid succession he casts the same spell, over and over again, carefully aiming it at the glass on the framed painting the entire time, until suddenly Devra shouts out, "T-the candle! The candle just suddenly lit!" Just in time, too, because right after Yohan drops to his knees from exhaustion. He's breathing heavily, so you decide to lie him down on his mat while Devra rushes back upstairs. When she arrives she's got the lit candle in her hand, and aside from the fact that you don't show it the shock on her face is second only to yours. Devra looks around, slightly panicked, before she puts the lit candle down and asks you what the two of you should do now.

"We let Yohan rest while I rush over to the Academagia and convince a professor to take a look at this."

Devra doesn't object to your suggestion, but Yohan weakly insists he's fine. You hold up two fingers in front of him and ask how many he sees.

"Eh...th-three?"

You decide to throw Yohan's blanket over him before turning over to Devra. "Keep a close eye on him and make sure his 'friends' don't bother him again. I don't know if I can convince a professor to look at this today, but I'll try."

Devra nods one final time, and after a last look at Yohan's tired face you start walking.

Proceed with the plan.
Undergate is thankfully right next to the Academagia, so it doesn't take long for you to go there. Less thankfully, you're not entirely sure which professor you should approach with this. Regent Massioti seems like a natural choice, but you don't think that he'll end up with Yohan's best interests in mind by the end of it. So...you decide to hit up Regent Piaxenza. It's his efforts that got you into this community service thing in the first place, so it only seems fitting. Thankfully he's in his office, and convincing him to come with you isn't as difficult as you thought it would be. Maybe because the latest batch of work he's put on his own desk ended up being emptier than how the Legate prefers his own paperwork. Well, whatever the reason, you end up back at the orphanage with Regent Piaxenza in tow after only fifteen minutes. Paola is the one who opens the door this time, and she looks...unhappy, is the most flattering term for it. "Y-you! Eh, [PC FIRST NAME], yes, I heard about Yohan from Devra. This is your professor, I take it?"

"Finus Piaxenza, Regent of College Hedi, miss. Pleased to meet you," the regent politely says.

"Ah, yes, nice to meet you. Matron Paola, grand queen of tragedy and misery. Well, other than the fact that my orphanage didn't burn down to the ground I suppose. Might have set a few stalls on fire but the orphanage still stands, for now anyway, so what am I complaining about? Ah, what I am saying, come in, come in. Yohan is on the second floor, [PC FIRST NAME] should remember where [s/HE] left him." With that Paola disappears into the living/common room, and you can hear her ranting under her breath as she closes the door behind her.

"Quite a...unique matron," the regent very politely says.

"Let's just say that she got quite a shock, and I doubt she even knows the half of it. Anyway, follow me." The Regent, looking a bit confused, indeed follows you to group two's communal sleeping room. Devra is still here, watching over a now sleeping Yohan. The contraption he set up is still standing next to her, with the candle on it, still lit.

"Ah, good afternoon, professor. Sorry, I'm afraid Yohan fell asleep. His demonstration seems to have taken it's toll on him."

The Regent looks at you, still curious. "I expected as much," you say in an attempt to put Devra at ease. "Anyway, professor, take a look at this thing." You show the professor the contraption, the hole in the floor, and explain how Yohan used it to set your robe on fire from the floor above you. As well as the candle, later. Needless to say that the regent is impressed. He's even more impressed after he asks whether you've confiscated Yohan's wand...and you explain that as far as you know, he doesn't have one.

"He didn't use a wand when he showed us this contraption," Devra adds. "I also asked him again, and he insists he doesn't have one. In fact he seems convinced that, since he doesn't have a wand, what he casts isn't a proper spell, somehow. I'm sorry, he was so tired that I didn't want to keep questioning him."

The regent looks at the contraption, slowly turns to look Yohan over, and then slowly turns to you. "So, [PC FIRST NAME], I don't suppose you've mended your robe yet?" You shake your head and show the regent the hole that Yohan's fire put in it before you realized and put it out. Seeing that the Regent just shakes his head. "Unbelievable. Well, I think it's time to wake the boy up and have a little chat. For better or worse, there's a lot to talk about." Devra nods, sadly, as she starts shaking Yohan to wake him up. You, meanwhile, sit down next to him. The regent chooses to sit down a bit further away, close to the contraption. It doesn't take long for Yohan to wake up, and he shudders a bit when he sees the regent sitting in front of him.

"W-who are you?" he asks, sounding afraid more so than tired. The regent introduces himself, though that does nothing to actually put Yohan at ease. "Eh...w-what do you want from me?"

"Well, for starters, I've heard that you've managed to teach yourself some magic. Would you mind showing me how you cast it? Just a single cast is fine."

Yohan looks at you and Devra, and he seems to understand after seeing each of your expressions. Afterwards he sighs and draws out his two Phemes. He doesn't actually complete the spell, though, his arm just falls to the ground. "Sorry, I...I can't, not when I'm tired like this."

"No problem, that was good enough. So, if I may ask, where did you learn those Phemes? And the Signing Embers spell?"

Yohan shrugs. "Those symbols? I often saw dancing in the fires, whenever it'd be my turn to cook or when the fireplace downstairs was going. Eh, that's it. I...don't know how to cast any spells."

"You can't just draw Phemes in the air and have them work, Yohan. You need to combine them into a spell before they do something," you clarify. Yohan, though, just shrugs and repeats himself. It seems he doesn't know what a spell really is.

"Speaking of which, where did you learn to draw Phemes with just your fingers? Most people require an enchantment to do that."

Yohan shudders a bit, but speaking quietly and leaning against Devra he nevertheless answers the regent's question. "The fire taught me. I know it sounds stupid, but I'd stick my hand in the fire and try to draw the symbols I saw in them. Eventually I...could just do this," he says as he waves his fingers in the air again, accomplishing nothing this time, though to be fair he's more than made that point already.

"Fascinating. Well, I definitely think that we should have an Astrologer examine this. [PC FIRST NAME], what do you think?"

You don't want to deflate the regent's well-deserved enthusiasm, but you know you should. "Agreed, but before anyone decides where his life goes from here, I think we should discuss where it's been so far."

"Oh?"

You look at Yohan, but he just stares right back at you, confused and more than a little bit scared. So you look at Devra, who once again appears to understand and turns to face the regent. "Professor...Yohan has had a difficult life so far, and I'm afraid that Paola's constant pessimism has robbed off on him as well. As...special as he might be," Devra slowly admits with far more difficulty than she'd probably like to admit, showing that Yohan's not the only one Paola rubbed off of, "I don't know if...he's really fit to attend the Academagia. Or the guards, for that matter."

That certainly gets the regent's attention. "Ah. In that case, can you tell me what happened?"

Devra looks at Yohan, but he doesn't seem interested in answering the question himself, so Devra does it for him. Soon enough, though, Yohan is filling in the gaps, and by the end of it he's talking more than Devra is. You already knew about Yohan's questionable choice of friends, of course, but what you didn't know was just how much their betrayal and Paola's constant pessimism affected him. He doesn't want to go to the Academagia because he thinks he doesn't belong among the "special" people, and horror stories that Paola told him of how competitive the student body in the Academagia has to be only further drove him off. As for the guards, he's been betrayed once and he doesn't want to even risk the possibility of getting betrayed again, even if that means not siding with the law.

--- Proceed with Adventure ---

And this one is early because I've got the world's most intelligent fly keeping me awake at night. Exactly the right season for it, too. Anyway, it's stages like these that made me think that splitting the adventure would be necessary. And than I realized there actually weren't too many of these, so...that plan got scrapped. For what it's worth. You'll soon see it's not worth much, ultimately.

Edited by Metis

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