The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 12: Climbing up the Walls

Pramidi 1-7

While you certainly consider Emilia’s cause to be worthy, you still have unfinished business with Oan, and so you wind up spending most of your free time in the Library of Longshade, hunting for any books that might prove useful. You’ve learned quite a bit more about climbing than you ever thought there was to know. Climbing gear has such interesting names, too, like crampons, and pitons, and belays.

Although you try to continue to get in some practical experience on the shelves, most of your understanding is helped along by a particularly helpful book with diagrams and silhouettes. It even has some fascinating anecdotes about how special forces will sometimes climb up sheer cliffs to sneak into castles.

Still, anyone can get sick of spending all her time in a library. Especially considering your detention tomorrow, you decide to spend Wednesday relaxing with your friends in Aranaz. You wind up feeling much better by the end of it.

Evidently satisfied with the rate at which you are learning (perhaps because you already knew the pheme which she set out for you to copy) (not that you mentioned that to her, of course), Professor Briardi has declared your detention over.

Thank the heavens. That’s one less thing to worry about now.

Friday sees you back in Longshade, hunting around for new books on climbing that may have to do with trees. Amazingly enough, you find one, although the text also discusses some of the more dangerous substances one can find in the leaves, bark, and blossoms of the trees that are most easily climbed.

You find yourself wondering whom exactly this book was written for.

Rounding a corner on your way back out, you misjudge the amount of room you have and run into the side of a bookshelf.

A book dislodges and falls on the top of your head, knocking you out.

You awaken several minutes later to discover someone or something must have come by and returned the book to its proper place on the shelf. While that’s certainly a disturbing thought on its own, you also wonder why you weren’t noticed lying there. That’s when you realize that you’ve shrunk down to an inch high!

Peering at it from reduced perspective, you see that the book that hit you was a size alteration spell book from the Osmosis series. You guess that if you want to return to normal size, you’ll need to touch that book again. Unfortunately, it’s on the top shelf.

Dang it, not again! I’m training Climb right now, for crying out loud! As it is, there’s only one chance, and it’s not terribly likely. Oh well.

If you can’t get to the book, you’ll make the book come down to you!

You use an incantation spell to levitate the book and slowly bring it down. It’s a lot harder to do when you’re this size and the book is so huge by comparison, and you lose control in the middle, causing the book to come crashing down on you. Of course, the minute it touches your head you return to your normal size, but you still feel a dull pain in your head afterwards.

You’ve let Oan know that you’ll be trying again this evening, so all that remains is getting plenty of practice in ahead of time. You find another helpful tome on climbing (or so you think, the handwriting is particularly dreadful), and then, in a particularly daring move, you attempt to climb the very walls of the library itself.

You get about halfway up before chickening out. But at least you’ll be more confident when climbing the Kindly Elm!

Sneaking past the guards is no trouble now that you know where they’re posted. Just like last time, you and Oan split up to search for clues, leaving you with just the same options as before.

…Except that this time the Climb option is black! Go for it!

It’s just you and the Kindly Elm now. Perhaps it’s all the training you’ve put in, but the Elm seems far more forgiving and simple than you remember it, and you reach the disk hidden in its branches quite easily. It reads:

At the circled green

Wow. Talk about obscure.


You’ve found a couple of solid leads, and Oan seems fairly pleased with herself as well. You agree to withdraw and compare your discoveries somewhere a bit less exposed.

Wandering back to the Aranaz campus, you see Isabeau Glorieux slipping behind some bushes. She sees you and raises a finger to her lips.

I’m supposed to be at a duel, but I just can’t go. I’m not ready.

Hmm, both options are a bit too direct for Iliana, plus it doesn’t seem like she’ll lose anything for backing out. Add to that the fact that her relationship is 0 and I think we can safely ignore this one.

You try and recall what you know about Isabeau. Yes, you believe you take Glamour together, but she doesn’t speak out much. The only remarkable thing is how often the students who sit around her see their pens and paper disappear. Not that anyone suspects Isabeau herself, of course.

Well, if Isabeau doesn’t want to show up for a duel, that’s not your problem. She’s the one who’ll have to live with the shame. You shrug and go on your way without giving her another thought. Even so, you can’t help but tsk and shake your head. Hopefully the sublte action got through to her, but even if it didn’t you can’t be bothered.

Returning to the Aranaz common room, you are surprised to see Vrenelle waiting for you. And this on top of being surprised to see Vrenelle waiting for anything anywhere.

Hi! So, I heard you were the one who was kind of in charge of the Five-Handed Tree, that’s what you call it, right? See, because I’m not in a clique of my own, yet, I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind if I could join yours, especially since, you know, we’re pretty good friends, aren’t we? I totally understand if you didn’t, though, since you’d only want the best-of-the-best for the Tree and I know all I’ve really got going for me is the speed thing but I think that’s a pretty big thing, personally, since I can get so much more done than anyone else, I mean, why wouldn’t you want some efficiency on your side?
Um, thanks for the offer, Vrenelle, but I’m not sure you’re quite what we’re looking for in the Five-Handed Tree. Thanks for applying, though; I’ll be sure and consider you when we get another opening.

You feel a pang of guilt as you watch Vrenelle slump away, but it’s quickly overwhelmed by a rush of exhilaration. People want to join the Five-Handed Tree! It’s exclusive now!

You get the feeling that, to move forward, you’ll need to learn a bit more about exploration. That’s why, when back in the Library of Longshade, you decide to find a book on wilderness survival. The reference you find turns out to be very comprehensive; not only do you learn a few things about how to tell poison ivy apart from its relatives, but the chapter on urban survival has some neat tips on how to navigate a bureaucracy.

Much of the afternoon finds you deep in conversation with some of the young men who tend to the odd beasts kept by the Academagia. A surprising variety of creatures enjoy being scratched behind their ears, as you discover.

After a nice dinner, you finally head to Oan’s room so you can discuss what to do next. You find her sitting on her bed, poring over some notes she’s written down on scraps of parchment. When she sees you enter, she gives you a huge grin. “I made some progress! I found this inscription on the three oldest headstones. It says, ‘Step into the Ring.’ I was hoping that you’d have found something else that can help me make sense of it.”

You sit down next to her and tell her about the two clues you managed to uncover. As you speak, she gets pinker and pinker until she’s finally spluttering in excitement.

“’Between the hollow and death,’” she recites. “’At the circled green…step into the ring!’ I know where that is!”

You nod. So do you! It’s between the Hollow Tree and the Dueling Bridge. You noticed a green fairy ring there when you were exploring the Reserve. As you finish describing it to Oan, you notice that she’s looking at you dubiously.

“No, I was thinking of that green circular mound underneath the old tree where the Hollow Earl was killed. You know, that Earl who buried his servants in hollows and left them to die until they finally revolted and hung him?”

You shake your head, determined that you’re right. Unfortunately, Oan seems every bit as determined and arguing isn’t going to get you anywhere. Maybe you should reach a compromise? You suggest that each of you look in one of the places, and if you find anything you can send a magic message. Oan seems mollified by this, and offers to let you choose which of the places you want to search.

Give up? What’s this? I suppose Exploring is the only thing we could manage now, even if it means checking on Oan’s hunch instead of Iliana’s.

After some thought, you decide that Oan’s idea actually sounds better than yours. She smiles a bit when you tell her where you’ve decided to look. You pointedly ignore this and set off for the Imperial Reserve, separating with Oan after she points you in the right direction.

At least the mound isn’t hard to find. You stare at it for a moment, then take a breath and step inside. As you do so, you mutter over and over under your breath, “Please be the right place, please be the right place, please…”

It seems to work! You suddenly find yourself standing in front of a small spinney of trees unlike any others you’ve ever seen. The sound of soft murmuring fills the air. You’ve found it!

You send Captain Felix scampering for Oan, and very soon she joins you. For a few moments she stands outside the circle and stares at you as though she can’t understand what you’re on about. It makes you nervous, so you beckon for her to step into the circle. To your surprise, she hesitates. Almost as though she doesn’t want to…

Finally, she steps in, and her face glows with relief. “Oh, oh! It’s there, it’s really there!” She turns and looks at you rather apologetically. “I’m sorry, it’s just that after all this effort for a moment I couldn’t bear to take the risk that nothing might happen!”

You wave away her apologies. No harm done! Now you just have to go over to the glade and start the spell…wait. There’s something moving—and another thing moving—and another! There are things all around the tree, huge ambling things! You think you’re seeing things until Oan gives a gasp of surprise. “Look! What are those things?!” she cries.

They look like praying mantises to you, but you didn’t want to say anything. After all, they’re far too big to be actual praying mantises. Well, assuming you didn’t get shrunk again while no one was looking. After the two of you stare for a while, Oan groans.

“Oh, no. They’re guarding the grove! There was something in the readings I did about the green guardians of knowledge, but at the time I thought it was just a fancy way of talking about the trees! What are we going to do?”

You’ve got to find some way of getting rid of these praying mantises.

Investing in Observation continues to pay off.

Every general knows that the most important thing when trying to defeat an enemy is to understand them, right? You scoot forwards a little and try to spot anything that could possibly be useful. After a while, you notice that the mantises flinch away from loud noises. Hmm…

Although the option doesn’t state the skill required, summoning a cloud is clearly an Incantation spell, which Iliana is sadly inexperienced with. Still, checking Memorization looks just as hard, and we don’t know what it unlocks.

All right, so the big insects don’t like noise? Well, you can summon a little noise. You motion for Oan to keep an eye on the mantises and start preparing your spell. Summoning a little thunder cloud isn’t too hard on the big scale of things, but summoning one large enough to frighten off all those insects is going to require a lot of concentration. You take a firm grip on your wand and sort through the phemes carefully and quickly. Calm, you’ve got to be calm.

You begin to cast the spell. You can feel the magic flowing through you, searing out of your wand and pouring into the sky. However, nothing happens.

No, that’s not quite right. All the insects are looking your way. Coming your way. They’ve spotted you! Oan grabs you by the hand and the two of you begin to run. The clattering and clicking of the bugs is right behind you all the way up to circle, and you only recover your presence of mind just in time to sneak out of the Reserve.

You suppose you’ll have to figure out something better next time.

Endurance increased by 1.
Ink Compounds increased by 1.
--Calligraphy increased by 1.
----The Inspired Pen, Catalog available.
Studied at Longshade.
--Climb increased by 1 step.
--Logic increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
----Understanding pheme learned.
Aveline and Malacresta used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 78.

Studied at Longshade.
--Climb increased by 1 step.
----Enhance pheme learned.
--Tactics increased by 1 step.
----Overt pheme learned.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.

Famous Speeches increased by 1.
--Epiphany pheme learned.
--Rhetoric increased by 1.
----Learned about Vault of Voices.
Vitality and Stress reset.

Attended Detention.
--Theory of Negation increased by 1.
----Magic pheme learned. Again.

Character increased by 1.
--Generosity pheme learned.
Studied at Longshade.
--Climb increased by 1 step.
--Poisons increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Unsuccessful event.
--Vitality decreased by 1.

Studied at Longshade.
--Climb increased by 1 step.
--Decipher Handwriting increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Climb increased by 1 step.
--Cloud Monkey’s Grip spell learned.
Successful Adventure!
--Dedication increased by 1.
----Argue pheme learned.
Evaded event.
--Stress decreased by 1.
--Duel Conduct decreased by 1.
Vrenelle Bonvin used Befriend and failed.
--Relationship with Vrenelle Bonvin at 5.
Aveline used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 81.
Vernin College wins again.

Studied at Longshade.
--Wilderness Survival increased by 1 step.
----Learned about the Old Campsite.
--Bureaucracy increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
----Dismiss Hardship ability gained.
--Animal Husbandry increased by 1 step.
----Explore increased by 1.
------Explore action gained (except not really).
Successful Adventure!
--Follow pheme learned.
--Scouting increased by 1 step.
--Stress increased by 1.

New Abilities

Visit the Vault of the Voices: +1 to Voice, Oratory, Mimicry, +2 to Confidence, and -2 to Awareness for 3 days.
Cloud Monkey’s Grip (Spell): Luck/Revision v6; +1 to Strength, Fitness, and +3 to Climb for 3 days.
Dismiss Hardship: -3 Stress; 6 day recharge.

Dismiss Hardship is a particularly useless ability. Resting resets both Stress and Vitality completely, which means a measly -3 Stress pales in comparison. The only occasion I can think of when doing something other than Rest might be handy is that some Emotions and other actions go away when you Rest, but even then most of those are harmful.