The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 13: Prudens Nemus

Pramidi 8-14

Feeling dissatisfied with your performance yesterday, you decide to spend some time hidden away in Longshade with Emilia, who is taking Incantation.

…But why would I need a Rain pheme? I only need a good thunderbolt or two. Shouldn’t Cloud be enough for that?
What did you think clouds were made of? Plus the professor told us you need a pretty powerful cloud to bring down a lightning bolt, and that means adding Rain and more Rain until it’s so big it doesn’t have a choice. Now, do you see how the links here look kind of like they’re from the Water pheme? Like the squiggly lines here, and this part, with the ripples…

In the middle of Emilia’s explanation, you spot something out of the corner of your eye. Holding your finger up for Emilia to keep quiet, you go to take a closer look and spot a ghost dressed like a student. She’s peering down a long line of bookshelves, evidently looking for something.

My cat is lost down here. Have you seen him? Please, I have to find him.

Glancing back, you notice that Emilia froze up completely upon seeing the ghost. You know that ghosts only haunt because of unfinished business. What do you do?

What’s this, a Persuasion option? Hooray, Iliana’s got metric tons of the stuff!

Listen, Miss…um…Miss. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but you happen to be…that is, right now, you’re a ghost. In fact, it looks like you’ve been a ghost for a really long time, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school uniform quite like yours. Heck, if you lost your cat in this library, you might have been a ghost for centuries.
But I don’t care about any of that! I’m looking for my cat! Poor Snuffles…
That’s what I’m getting at! You’ve been—you passed on ages ago! Your cat is long gone!
But…but I last saw him here—
Yes, but that was lifetimes ago in cat years. Listen, I’m sure your Snuffles is fine. He probably found a nice girl cat and had tons of little kittens.
Oh, poor Snuffles, all this time…but I suppose you’re right. Thank you for your help. I hope someone else found my poor cat, though. He was always so shy. It’s awful to think he might have been trapped down here.
I’m sure your cat was fine. Sorry I had to break the news.

She thanks you again, then fades away.

You return to the desk you were working at with Emilia, who has calmed down significantly since the ghost left.

Do you really think Snuffles had a family?
If he got lost here, I’d say the rats probably got him. I just didn’t want to upset her.

Well, it won’t be a problem so long as you don’t get lost, Captain Felix. Besides, I thought you liked ratting.
Oh, hush. Most of the holes have been plugged now anyway.

Sneaking into the Imperial Reserve has become almost routine at this point. You and Oan return to the magical circle and step through once more, immediately spying the giant praying mantises among the trees. While you’ve assured Oan you know what you’re doing this time, the both of you stay well away from the grove, your backs to the circle just in case you need a quick escape route.

Same options as before, but this time…this time will be different!

Time to summon a little noise again. Oan concentrates on the mantises while you concentrate on the spellcasting. Calm: it’s all about the calm.

You begin to cast the spell, and already you can feel the difference. The magic flows through you, out through your wand, and pours into the sky. As you watch, the sky slowly darkens and a low rumble cracks out over the Reserve. The insects skitter about in fear, and as the cloud gets blacker and blacker, they begin to hurry around, clacking their mandibles and shrieking at each other. Finally, there is a huge “KABOOM” of thunder, and as you work to disperse the cloud, you notice that all the mantises have gone.

The grove is safe! Well, for you, that is.

Oan hurries into the glade. “Oh, I’m so excited. We’re here, we’re actually here! Listen, can’t you hear them humming? The books say they’ll keep humming and whispering like that forever!” She grins. “Or at least until we cast my spell! You’ve been so much help, how about you have a break while I get everything ready?”

You are more than willing to agree, and settle down underneath one of the magic trees to wait. You seem to wait for a long time. In the distance, you hear muttered magic words, the odd curse, and the sounds of someone getting steadily more and more exasperated. What could be going on? Just as you’re about ready to go look for yourself, Oan walks over to you, red in the face and near tears.

“There’s something wrong with the spell,” she blurts out. “I don’t know what it is and I’ve tried everything to get it to work! I just CAN’T! Please…” Oan sits down and looks at you, her bottom lip trembling. “Please give it a try! These are my notes, and I’ve left the ingredients at the base of the tree.”

You nod. Of course you’ll give it a try.

Uh oh. You sure the spell has to be Incantation, Oan? Couldn’t be Glamour, or Revision, or something Iliana’s actually good at?



You go over the three ingredients that form the base of the spell. There’s dried mud root, flaked dragon’s scales, and the tiniest bit of unicorn horn. You search through her notes and go over every item. Each one seems to be correct. In fact, you can’t figure out for the life of you what’s wrong.

That’s enough for now. You should look at this again when you’re both fresh.

It’s on your way back to the Aranaz campus that you get ambushed. You spot Joana Lio y Rossollo coming from a ways off, but even at a distance you can tell that there’s murder in her eyes. Of course, with her, that’s not so unusual, but you start getting worried when she continues to stare (and walk) straight at you.

You try and make a run for it, but far too late. Joana easily catches up to you and grabs you by the collar, completely ignoring your attempts to worm free, your cries for help unheard on the empty evening grounds.

It doesn’t take long to find out what Joana has in store for you. A marshy pond comes into view as the two of you cross a ridge, and in spite of your renewed efforts to break free, Joana’s iron grip drags you to the edge of the pond, at which point she picks you up and heaves you face-first into the lily pads.

You sputter and gasp at the shock of hitting the water and try desperately to get your feet underneath you. As soon as she sees that you’re aware enough to hear her, Joana points at you and shouts, “That’s for spreading LIES about me and Philippe!” Joana then stomps off, leaving you to wade back to shore, muddy, cold, and miserable.

Well, she’s got you on that count. You suppose you really shouldn’t have made up that rumor for Grainne, or at least not made the school bullies the subject. It must have taken her a couple weeks to work up the grapevine. You’re a bit curious as to what the rumor sounded like when it finally reached Joana herself, but you’re mostly feeling bitter hatred towards the world at large as you consider how long you’ll have to spend in the bath searching for parasites and cleaning your robes. You really wish the professors would get to the more practical spells sooner so you wouldn’t have to be so miserable for so long.

Tuesday sees you back in Longshade, going over some basic Incantation concepts with Emilia’s help. While you are, if anything, feeling worse about the Incident last night, you do your best to hide your troubles from Emilia. No sense in bringing down her mood as well, not when there isn’t much to do about it.

That evening, as you sit quietly, reading a book by a fire, you find yourself surprised when Carmine Sturzo of all people decides to walk over and chat with you.

Hey, there. A little birdie told me you came in yesterday covered head to toe in mud. Who’d you get in a fight with?
I don’t wanna talk about it.
You sure? Because I might be able to help you out if you wanted. After all…
Sorry, but she’s someone who takes matters into her own hands. I don’t think it’ll matter if the teachers get involved. I just want to stay out of her sight for now and hope she forgets about it.
If you’re sure. Say, you’ve started your own Clique, right? With…who was that…Emilia?
Yeah, and we added Rui de Casga from Vernin a while ago, too. Emilia’s shy, but she’s got potential. How come you hang out with Montague?
We both have things we like to keep quiet about. I can respect that.

You both continue to gossip about your friends for some time.

Another day, another study session in Incantation Methods. While you’d normally be opposed to learning about a class you’re not even attending, you did come to Academagia to learn magic, after all, and some of the things involved in Incantation are downright cool.

Towards the end of your study session, you leave Emilia to go wandering while she works out a particularly tricky pheme on her own. Browsing through the bookshelves, you find a small, out-of-place pamphlet wedged between two heavy history tomes. Pulling it out, you note the title: The Importance of Practice When Invoking Spells of the School of Gates.

How old is this library, again? Clearly it predates the ban on Gates (and possibly Mastery) spells. Hmm…

Professor Ringraeyer has stepped out of the classroom for the moment, giving the students some time to read up on the Glamour assignment she just handed out. Twirling your pencil between your fingers, you look over the assigned pages of the thick, age-worn leather-bound books.

Midway through a particularly dense paragraph, you frown and pause. You flip back a few pages, trying to pinpoint exactly why you feel as though something is amiss.

Glancing down at your scrawled paragraph, you feel a pair of eyes on you, and you turn around to find Olivia Solari looking your way—and perhaps a little too intently.

Something’s up, you’re sure of it. Maybe she’s misbehaving, or maybe she’s seen something strange, but either way you need to be alert.

It’s a bit hard to pick out the gateway choices when they’re all about inspection. Still, Confidence is green, so why not?

You cast a quizzical look at Olivia, who sheepishly apologizes immediately.

Really, I don’t know how I must have looked, staring at you like that. I’m afraid I’m a tad lost on this assignment, and I thought maybe I would check to see what you were doing with it.

She’s not the most subtle of copycats, but at least she’s honest. You offer to lend a hand with the assignment, and she gratefully accepts.

You are about to send a note to Oan to let her know you’re ready to try again, but before you do, a thought crosses your mind. Say you and Oan both meet these Trees of Knowledge. What if there’s one final test to prove your worthiness? You decide to put off the final push for a little bit; first, you’d like to try and get better at getting friendly.

As such, you spend yet another evening quietly examining the books in Longshade, looking for tips on making friends and influencing people. One particularly helpful book explains that keeping friends can require putting up with a lot, and that to change these unfortunate habits requires wording your argument just right so that no one is offended while the point is still made.

Still feeling worn down from your encounter with Joana, you decide to spend Friday evening on a relaxing walk through the Academagia gardens. Nothing cheers you up like a fresh breeze and looking at the wildlife.

As you round a corner, you see a tree fallen across the path, evidently uprooted by a recent storm. It’s blocking the path, and if you want to continue, you’re going to have to do something about it.

Why does something like this always seem to happen when you’re trying to relax?

I’m not liking those odds, and there’s nothing to gain from trying and failing by the look of things.

Forget it. It’s too dangerous to move or to try to jump over that giant trunk. You should just leave.

On your way out, you inform two gardeners that a trunk has fallen across a path. They say they’ll get to it, but they’re swamped right now.

You return to your dorm.

On Saturday, you find an interesting book in the Library of Longshade with many tips and anecdotes on how to make friends and influence people, and you spend the rest of the day putting the suggestions to use.

During lunch, you wind up helping your friend Rui de Casga in an argument with Raoul Leconte.

…But it just seems pointless. Won’t they just get angrier if you try to get even? I’d just try and avoid them in the first place.
It’s all about “disproportionate retribution,” friend! Make it clear that they’ll get nothing but pain from messing with you, and they’ll never touch you again.
I dunno. It still sounds like you’d be spending a lot of time just on being angry with people.
But it could just be a matter of defending yourself! Maybe we need an example. Like, what if the bullies don’t leave you alone? What if they think you started a rumor about them, even though it wasn’t really that bad at all, it just sort of mutated, and Joana—or Philippe! Or anyone else, really! …Threw you into a muddy pond?

…So…that would explain…
…You sure this is just an example?
Positive. So, Rui de Casga, how would you handle it?
Well, you’d want to use something from the offense so they’d know who did it and why, so…probably the mud. Buckets of mud magically sealed to the ceiling until the victim passes underneath would be a good way to start. Next would be getting a good few inches of mud into their quarters, although you’d need an accomplice on the inside for that one. Leeches in the food would be a nice touch, or even better, leeches in other peoples’ food that only wake up after the target touches them. A good way of framing her, I’d say.
As an “example,” that is.
Still, especially with Philippe, wouldn’t he just beat you up anyway? I think I’d still rather just avoid them completely and let them forget about me.
Ah, but they can’t beat you up if they’re in detention for the rest of the school year! That’s the best part: you time it just right so a teacher comes along right when they’re covered in mud or spreading leeches through the sandwiches, and they’re the ones who get caught and reprimanded! It’s win/win as far as I’m concerned. Iliana? She understands. Pass me the gravy?

As you are moving along back to Aranaz, you happen to notice that one of the larger animal pens is wide open.

Despite your current preoccupations, you realize that if the gate is left as it is, it could mean disaster for anyone nearby, as well as for the creatures who inhabit the area.

You decide it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look around the pen to see if it’s inhabited before deciding what to do. If there aren’t any creatures inside, you can stop worrying about the gate and go on your way. You tiptoe past the gate and into the pen, trying not to make a sound. The pen appears empty, so you turn to leave.

As you do so, you see the most beautiful creature standing before you. Long silver hair flows down its back, deep violet eyes regard you quietly, and its pale blue skin seems to sparkle under your gaze. Its gentle voice sweeps around you like a wayward wind, tickling your skin and sending a sense of euphoria across your body.

You’ll have to decide whether to act on this or not.

Guess we could give Observation a shot.

You decide it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look around the pen to see if it’s inhabited before deciding what to do. If there aren’t any creatures inside, you can stop worrying about the gate and go on your way.

You peer inside, but the pen is poorly lit, and you are unable to make out whether there are any animals inside.

Great job with the editing there, guys. Well, doesn’t seem too safe around here, so off we go.

Although you know something bad might happen if the problem isn’t rectified quickly, you decide to walk on by. After all, it isn’t your responsibility, and it’s possible the gate is open for a reason. And given how carefully the pens are managed, you’re fairly certain the pen master or a stablehand will be by any minute.

You start walking away and, sure enough, a stablehand appears. He stops to talk to you. You mention the open gate and he nods, closing it himself. It’s lucky you found him, he tells you, as the ursulas are prone to possessiveness, and having a stranger in their midst might have triggered an unfortunate response.

Looks like you made the right call.

After one last intense bit of Incantation study at Longshade, you send a note to Oan to let her know you’re ready to try again.

Giving it another try on her own, Oan doesn’t see any more success than before, and she returns to where you are waiting, her frustration obvious on her face. Maybe you can figure out something she overlooked this time.

Ah, excellent, Incantation Methods has turned black. Good to see all that study was worthwhile.

You go over the three base ingredients once more: there’s the dried mud root, flaked dragon’s scales, and the tiniest bit of unicorn horn. You search Oan’s notes and go over every item, but there seems to be something missing. Wait! It mentions “the dark brown soil of home” three times. She needs to add soil!

The spell is fixed. You find yourself incredibly tempted to just try it out for yourself and see what happens, but you know that Oan will want to be the caster on this occasion. She brightens up as she sees you approach her, and hops up from the ground.

“You fixed it!” she states more than asks.

You nod, and she hurries with you to the main tree, shaking her head over the mistakes in the spell and muttering to herself. She asks that she be allowed to perform the spell, and of course you can’t refuse her. With the most commanding gesture you’ve ever seen from her, Oan straightens up, casts the spell with a flick of her wand, and the phemes devour the ingredients and burst into a spray of silvery light over the glade. There is a short moment of silence, and then you hear a beautiful chorus of leafy voices.

Mortals. What would you have from us?

You and Oan exchange glances. In all this excitement you realize that you hadn’t figure out what you wanted to do once you reached the glade!

From what I’ve seen, you only have the one shot at this, so I hope you either dropped a save or trained up Befriend. It doesn’t need to be all that high, at least.

You remember reading about a great leader once who asked for wisdom. It might not be in your best interests to ask to know all things, for even you know that there are some things about life that are better kept in ignorance. But wisdom is not so much the knowledge of facts as the ability to discern how to use what knowledge one has. You step forwards and make a bow before the trees.

Grant us, oh trees, wisdom in its gentlest form. Allow us the ability to discern clearly what is right and just for us to know, and to leave alone that which will only harm us. Let us be innocent and yet wise.

Oan stares at you, and you try to look noble and worthy and hope that she’s the only one present who realizes you’re just repeating Lord Esmouth’s speech from an ancient poem you read in class. It seems to be working, because all the trees are rustling together and a strange, watery blue light is forming between them. Before you even know quite what is happening, the light washes over you and you feel a strange, peaceful coolness settle about your shoulders.

It is granted.

Then the glade is gone, just as though it had never been there, leaving you and Oan staring at each other. You don’t say much on the way back to the Academagia, but as she shakes your hand goodbye, outside your dorm, you know that you have made a friend for life.

…And that’s the story of me and the Trees of Knowledge. Couldn’t have done it without Oan’s help, of course, but then, neither could she.
Wow. Wish I coulda been there.
How come you didn’t take a trophy or anything with you? Something to prove you were really there?
All the proof I need is in my head. Plus the Trees probably wouldn’t have liked it if I just lopped off a limb. And when you come to it, I’d rather have the Knowledge than the Tree, you know?
It was truly a tale of wonder and suspense. It is good to know that such amazing events take place even as close as the Imperial Reserve.
Hey, Iliana. What’s up?
Oh, I’m just telling folks about Oan’s and my adventure with the Trees of Knowledge.
Cool. Lemmie know when these other guys clear off, and then you can tell me all about it. See you around.

What a good day it’s been.

Gains of the Week

Revision Methods increased by 1.
--Attack pheme learned.
--Weakness pheme learned.
Ethics increased by 1.
--Truth pheme learned.
Forms (Calligraphy) increased by 1.
--Enrich pheme learned.
The Middle Empire increased by 1.
Successful Adventure!
--Bravery pheme learned.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
--Stress increased by 1.
Successful Event!
--Logic increased by 1 step.
Joana Lio y Rossollo used Bully; Stress increased by 3.
High Stress! You now feel Bitter: -1 to Charm, Society, Befriend, Gossip.
High Stress! You now feel Anxiety: -1 to Concentration and Composure.

History of Magic increased by 1.
--Wizard’s Aid spell learned.
Studied at Longshade.
--Incantation Methods increased by 1 step.
----Ice pheme learned.
--Lie increased by 1 step.
----Obfuscate pheme learned.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Basia used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 84.
Carmine Sturzo used Hang Out Inside the College on you.
--Relationship with Carmine Sturzo increased to 1.
High Stress! You now feel Embarrassment: All Social Actions and Abilities -2.
High Stress! You now feel Alarm: Danger Sense increased by 2, Stress Minimum increased by 1.

Theory of Revision increased by 1.
--Enrich pheme learned.
Glamour Spells increased by 1.
--Little Delirium spell learned.
Studied at Longshade.
--Incantation Methods increased by 1 step.
--Gates Methods increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.

The Calamities increased by 1.
--Clue pheme learned.
Studied at Longshade.
--Temperance increased by 1 step.
----Befriend increased by 1.
------Speak pheme learned.
--Syntax increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Successful Event!
--Relationship with Olivia Solari increased to 1.
Basia used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 87.

Revision Methods increased by 1.
--Movement pheme learned.
--Tangible pheme learned.
Glamour Methods increased by 1.
--Learned about the Air Fountain of Gineza Gano.
Confidence (or Character) increased by 1.
--Relationship with Evdokseia Valenta increased to 1.
The History of Magic increased by 1.
--Projection pheme learned.
----History increased by 1.
------Window to the Past spell learned.
Vitality and Stress reset.
Aveline used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 90.
Evaded event.
--Confidence decreased by 1 step.
--Danger Sense increased by 1 step.

Studied at Longshade.
--Temperance increased by 1 step.
----Befriend increased by 1.
------Anecdote ability learned.
--Worldliness increased by 1 step.
----Learned about Merilien (Language).
----Learned about Etiquette (kinda).
----Recite Lineage action learned.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Listen increased by 1 step.
--Relationship with Raoul Leconte increased to 2.
Temperance increased by 1 step.
--Relationship with Rui de Casga increased to 4.
--Befriend increased by 1.
----Friendship pheme learned.
Aymeri and Malacresta used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 96.
Evaded event.
--Willpower increased by 1 step.
----Lead pheme learned.
--Stress increased by 1.

Studied at Longshade.
--Incantation Methods increased by 1 step.
----Machinery pheme learned.
--Theory of Revision increased by 1 step.
----Learned about Sabinu’s Grotto.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Concluded adventure!
--Incantation Methods increased by 2 steps.
----Bad Spout spell learned.
--Intelligence increased by 1.
--Insight increased by 1.
--Gained ability: Hang Out with Oan.
Told an Anecdote.
--Relationship with Honors Plafox increased to 1.
--Relationship with Gwendy Zuyder increased to 1.
--Relationship with Vincent Eins increased to 1.
Basia used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 99.
Vernin College wins again.
Carmine Sturzo used Hang Out Inside the College on you.
--Relationship with Carmine Sturzo increased to 2.

New Abilities

Wizard’s Aid (Spell): Insight/Enspell v4; +2 to Spell rolls for 4 days.
Little Delirium (Spell): Insight/Glamour Methods v4; +3 Playfulness, +10% Chance of Discovery, +1 Stress.
Window to the Past (Spell): No roll; +2 to choice of History subskill, +1 to Library Knowledge.
Anecdote: 1/week, +1 to three random student relationships.
Recite Lineage: Intelligence/Memorizaiton v5; random effect, including +1 to relationship with instructor or student, -1 to relationship with student, and +10 parental approval.
Visit Sabinu’s Grotto: +1 step to Confidence, random Revision subskill, and random Enspell subskill.
Bad Spout (Spell): Finesse/Incantation v5; +1 Stress, -2 Composure for 1 day.
Hang Out with Oan: -1 Stress, +2 steps to random School Survival subskill.