The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 19: Midterm Cram Week #1

Gelamenus 15-21

You think he’s gonna ask?
Of course he’ll ask. I’ll bet ya five pims he asks.
I wanted that bet!
Take it or leave it.
…Fine. You’re on.
Quiet, guys, he’s coming!

Once again you and your clique find yourselves in a quiet room in the Great Hall, because once again you have decided to increase its size. This time you’re going after Tacito Viadana, a boy from Hedi whom you have heard called the best detective on campus.

As Tacito enters the room, you note with approval that he doesn’t look a bit surprised at his company. You hadn’t really expected him to feel puzzled or anything, but you had been intentionally vague in the note you wrote for him, just as a minor test.

So glad you could join us, Tacito. I’m guessing you know who we are?
The Five-Handed Tree, alleged perpetrators of the Durand Itching Gas Attack. No real evidence, but as the only two Aranaz girls who weren’t being carefully watched, you’re the only ones with motive and opportunity. Not to mention you hang out with Rui de Casga of all people. I’m guessing he helped plan things out?
Sure looks that way, doesn’t it?
Of course, it was never proven we did it. If we had, though, what would you think?

Tacito gives a casual shrug.

I’m in Hedi. We don’t really care about college politics. And even if some of us did, I don’t care about college politics.
So then you know why we asked you here?
You want me to join up, I’m guessing.
Yes! We, the Five-Handed Tree, stand for—
Sure, I’ll join.
Sure. I hear you guys get up to all sorts of crazy stuff. You should have heard what Durand was saying about the Dance of Fools, at least before the Itching Gas. So yeah, sounds like fun.
Oh…right! Well then!

Though a bit put off that you didn’t get to go through your prepared speech, you are nevertheless pleased that Tacito is so willing to join you. You stick your hand out, palm down, and glance meaningfully at Rui de Casga and Emilia, who walk over to join you. Tacito appears familiar with the ritual, and doesn’t hesitate to place his hand on top of the rest of yours.

Five hands, one spirit!

You fling your hands into the air and take a step back. You smile, pleased with what you accomplished today, but Rui de Casga and Emilia turn and look expectantly at Tacito.

Erm, you know that was only four hands, right?
Dang it!

Tacito gives a smile of his own as he watches the pims change hands, then excuses himself and leaves. Rui de Casga follows him as soon as he puts his winnings away, but Emilia stays back. Once the other two are gone, she turns to you.

I don’t know, Ana, it still sounds kind of cheesy.
I’ll figure out something good eventually. Ready for some dinner?
Yep. Hope they have something better than meatloaf today, I think the cook is trying to kill us with that stuff sometimes.

On Tuesday, you are forced to attend detention with Professor Ringraeyer. However, as you settle into your regular desk, you are startled when you look up and recognize the Impression pheme drawn up on the blackboard. Without thinking, you raise your hand and ask,

Professor, didn’t we go over this pheme back in the first week of classes?

The instructor turns to the blackboard, acting as though she had only just noticed the pheme.

Really? I can’t seem to recall that at all. Perhaps you should show me how well you know it, just to be sure.

At first you’re confused by the teacher’s willful ignorance, but then you notice that Professor Ringraeyer’s expression is the closest to a smile as you’ve ever seen it. Smiling yourself, you quickly pull out your wand and draw out the pheme perfectly.

Well, then, I suppose you already know everything I planned to teach you today. You may go, Miss Ot’Matar, and you may consider your detention officially over.

You practically race for the door, but you slow down when you hear the professor speaking again. Looking over, you notice she isn’t facing you, and she’s speaking as though talking to herself.

It’s a shame my patrol route doesn’t normally pass by the Library of Longshade; it really does look much better once it’s cleaned up, as though someone were actually listening to my lessons on proper cleanliness. I suppose it would be a good place to learn things, but whoever uses it should be careful to avoid being seen entering it again.

Happy to know that at least one member of the faculty has taken a shine to you, you positively grin from ear to ear as you strut your way out of the Glamour classroom.

As midterm exams draw nearer, the atmosphere in the Venalicium Library has grown less social as students start concentrating more on studying than on making friends. You yourself are no exception as you push yourself faster and faster through the Calligraphy books, making yourself sick of drawing fancy capital letters in the process.

Of course, not everyone shares in your dedication.

While you’re studying at the library, Rikildis von Kiep’s voice drifts over to you from the next table.

Everyone thinks Raoul is this mild-mannered loser. Well, no doubt he’s a loser, but he’s not as mild as he wants everyone to think.
What do you mean?
You see him with all of his animal friends and you think he’s this sensitive guy. But he’s actually plotting to use the animals to help him overthrow the Captain and take over Mineta.

You hear gasps from the next table.

No way!
I can’t believe it!

You can’t quite believe it either. But you’re not sure if you should say something.

An interesting choice, especially given that there are no skill checks to be found. Still, Iliana has a positive relationship with both individuals involved, so I suppose there’s only one option to take.

On the one hand, you had once considered inducting Rikildis von Kiep into your clique (although that was before she joined up with Flore Yveuillet), but on the other hand, you never quite got into hating Raoul the way the other Aranaz students do. Perhaps you should just distract her before the rumor can spread.

You stroll over casually to Rikildis’ table and take a seat.

What’re you guys talking about?

Rikildis looks slightly suspicious.

Nothing. Why do you ask?
I’m having trouble with this calligraphy homework. I was hoping you guys could help.

Rikildis’ shoulders relax slightly as she sees you pull out your parchment.

Oh. Sure. Professor von Rupprecht always goes so fast when he’s explaining things—of course, it’s not too fast for me, so naturally I’ll help you.

After Rikildis spends a few minutes explaining a problem you already know how to solve, you thank her and get on your way. You hear her voice trailing after you:

Iliana really should be paying more attention in class…

Raoul had better appreciate this.

On your way out, you notice the same librarian who tipped you off to the Library of Longshade sitting alone behind the returns counter. Feeling idly curious as to whether he knows of any other good places to study, you decide to start chatting with him. It doesn’t take long for the conversation to turn to libraries.

“Well, I’m glad to hear you got some use out of ol’ Longshade. Most kids take one look at it and find something else to do. Still, like you said, it’s not like you could have an academy like this with only two libraries. Let’s see…I suppose there’s the Library of the Mantle of Stars. It’s pretty specialized into Astrology, so you usually only see Avila students go there, but it’s got a pretty wide selection.”

You thank the librarian. You’re not too familiar with Astrology, but you suppose a library like that would be a good way to learn.

The Library of the Mantle of Stars is the second of four upgrades to Train that Library Knowledge unlocks. Overall, I’d say it’s probably the worst of the set; the biggest problem is that you’re stuck with gaining +2 steps to one subskill instead of +1 to two subskills, like the other two libraries, and since steps don’t roll over when you rank up, that’s a lot of wasted points, at least towards the beginning. Still, you can only use a library once per day at most, so it’s still an upgrade compared to spending a Saturday on Longshade/Train/Train. And considering Iliana doesn’t know anything about Astrology, it’s a pretty good way to pick it up.

Having gotten far enough with calligraphy, you recheck your syllabus and see that Revision comes up next. It’s a good thing you switched over today, too, because Professor Aventyrare is making the rounds today.

Oh! Glad to see you studying! Yay Revision, right? Hope you’re learning some good things in there!

You sometimes wonder how much energy it must take to be that peppy all the time.

Feeling rather sick of the Venalicium, you decide to spend your weekend morning outside, sitting on a bench in a courtyard and trying to find a comfortable position to read. The wind keeps trying to flip the pages on the book you’re reading, but eventually you manage to Revise up a windbreaker.

Over lunch, you meet up with Rui de Casga. You spend some time trading rumors about your respective houses, but eventually you get down to business.

Teach me everything you know.
About what?
You know what.

Rui de Casga doesn’t answer right away. Instead, his mouth slowly widens into a grin. Finally, he speaks.

Then let’s get started.

Here's a quick note for you: Practical Jokes has a Train Modifier of 1, and Selective Focus brings that down to 0. So what that means is that every skill level requires 0 steps of 0 to level up. It doesn't shoot through the roof automatically, but it does mean that every single action I take to improve the skill will add a new level guaranteed. Training would suck otherwise since it's based on Luck (Iliana only has 1 point there), so Selective Focus really improves the training speed.

Rui de Casga has assigned you a few books regarding the basics of practical jokes, including diagram planning, trap types, and some of the more troublesome potion mixtures. On a whim, you decide to look them up in the Library of the Mantle of Stars, now that you know where to find it.

Sure enough, just like the librarian said, the library is mostly empty, and those few other students in here are all from Avila. You hadn’t planned on stopping to chat with any of them, but then one of them surprises you by approaching you just as you reach the bookshelf you’re looking for.

Hi. I’m Cyrus Dawes. What’s your name?
Oh! I’m…um…I’m Iliana Ot’Matar.
It’s nice meeting you, Iliana. I like your hair.

Cyrus smiles at you, and you feel like you could watch him smile all day.

I think it’s cool you came here to study. Usually it’s just other Avila kids and a few others who have Astrology class. Are you interested in the stars?
…Yeah…yeah, stars are the best…
Cool. Have you tried Numerology? I think it’s great, it really cuts to the center of Astrology if you ask me. Maybe you’d like to try?
Great! Here, take this Marat deck. We’ve got tons of them back in Avila. Maybe you could try a Thief’s Spread sometime.
Well, see you around.

As Cyrus turns his back to you, you suddenly feel the need to say something suave and flirtatious, but unfortunately all the options swimming around in your head crash together and stop up your throat. Only one word is able to clear the logjam.


As you make your way to a nearby couch, you berate yourself for your utter failure. However, as the encounter wears off, you start wondering just why you were behaving like that in the first place. It’s like boys in general are getting more and more dangerous somehow. What makes it odder is that it’s not even all of them; you’re still perfectly fine when you’re hanging out with Rui de Casga. The worst part of it, though, is how you actually want to see them smiling at you again.

You spend Sunday doing nothing except moving from one library to another.

The morning finds you in the Venalicium, catching up on more Revision reading. The Professor stops by again, but does little aside from impart some unhelpful moral support.

You feel a bit uneasy when you move your materials into the Great Hall to read over lunch. With all the midterms coming up, pranks are flying about in record numbers as students attempt to relieve their stress by inflicting some on others. As such, while you were worried about leaving your supplies behind when you went to get food, you really didn’t have a choice.

Carefully, you pick up your pen to begin writing your assignment even as you tear into a black pudding with your other hand.

Just before you dip it in the inkwell, however, you pause. Should you test it first, just to make sure?

Luckily, Sleuthing is a subskill of Dialectic.

You don’t see anything wrong with your pen. You check your other supplies next. They seem fine, but…wait! One of your parchments appears suspicious.

This parchment seems different from all the others. It has a weird texture, and its color is slightly pink. You bet this paper is from a fuchsia oak.

No one uses paper from such a tree—mostly because it sometimes explodes when prodded with a sharp object. It’s perfect for pranksters, however.

You roll it up and put it carefully away. You have no doubt Rui de Casga will find something useful to do with it.

The afternoon is more quiet, since you spend it in the Library of Longshade. The books on practical jokes you find there strike you as particularly interesting; one even has illustrations showing how to bear yourself to properly gloat at your victim.

Cyrus doesn’t show up again when you return to the Library of the Mantle of Stars, so you end up spending some free time examining the moon charts lined up along one wall. You’d always heard there were more moons than just the one, but you’d never really understood just how many some of the other planets had. It’s funny to think that something so small and so distant could affect the fates of mortals, but so it is.

Maybe you should try figuring out your own signs sometime? You suppose you’ve picked up enough of the basics just by spending time in the Mantle of Stars that you could do a basic reading yourself.

Gains of the Week

Revision Phemes increased by 1.
--Betwixt pheme learned.
--Between pheme learned.
--Revision increased by 1.
----Mood Swings ability learned.
The History of Magic increased by 1.
--Weakness pheme learned.
Tacito Viadana has joined the Five-Handed Tree!
--Relationship with Tacito Viadana increased to 2.
--Gained Clique Ability: Tattle.

The History of Magic increased by 1.
--Compatible pheme learned.
--History increased by 1.
----Research Focus ability learned.
Attended Detention.
--Theory of Glamour increased by 1.
----Impression pheme learned (kinda).

The History of Magic increased by 1.
Studied at the Venalicium.
--Calligraphy Study level at 4.
----Blot pheme learned.
--Decipher Handwriting increased by 1 step.

Studied at the Venalicium.
--Calligraphy Study level at 5.
----Blotted Forms spell learned.
--Library Knowledge increased by 1 step.
----Learned about the Library of the Mantle of Stars.
----Filing increased by 1 step.
Malacresta used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 176.
Successful event!
--Diplomacy increased by 1 step.
----Flush of Anger spell learned.

Glamour Spells increased by 1.
--Sweet Dreams spell learned.
--Glamour increased by 1.
----Sky pheme learned.
Studied at the Venalicium.
--Revision Study level at 3.
----Relationship with Lisle Aventyrare increased to 2.
--Filing increased by 1 step.
----Sense of Systems ability learned.
Vrenelle used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 179.

Revision Study level at 4.
--Narrow Focus: Revision action learned.
Selective Focus used on Practical Jokes.
Studied at the Mantle of Stars.
--Practical Jokes increased by 1 step.
----Joker in the Midst spell learned.
--The Everard Equation (Astrology) increased by 2 steps.
----Gained Marat Deck.
----Learned about the above.
Cyrus Dawes used Flirt; Relationship with Cyrus Dawes increased to 1.
--Cyrus Dawes’ Stress decreased by 1.
Vernin College wins again.

Studied at the Venalicium.
--Revision Study level at 5.
----Relationship with Lisle Aventyrare increased to 3.
--Decipher Handwriting increased by 1 step.
Studied at Longshade.
--Practical Jokes increased by 1 step.
--Manner of a Champion (War) increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Studied at the Mantle of Stars.
--Practical Jokes increased by 1 step.
----Bamboozler, Catalog available.
--Moons increased by 2 steps.
----Insight pheme learned.
----Astrology increased by 1.
------Astrology action learned.
Tabin used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 182.
Successful event!
--Schoolyard Education increased by 1 step.

New Abilities

Mood Swings: Add random emotional state.
Tattle: 50% chance* to drop reprimand on target student.
Research Focus (Permanent): +1 to Research skill.
Blotted Forms (Spell): -2 to target’s Calligraphy Study level for 1 week.
Study at the Library of the Mantle of Stars: +1 step to chosen subskill and +2 to random Astronomy skill.
Flush of Anger (Spell): Charm/Glamour v6; -1 Diplomacy and -2 Patience to target for 4 days.
Sense of Systems (Permanent): +1 to Library Knowledge, Administration, and Sleuthing.
Narrow Focus: Revision: +3 to chosen Revision subskill for 3 days.
Joker in the Midst (Spell): Insight/Revision v7; +6 Practical Jokes and +2 Charm or +2 Practical Jokes and +1 Charm on failed roll.
Thief’s Spread (Marat Deck): Luck/Everard Equation v4; one of the following: +1 Relationship with random instructor, +1 step Move Silently, +50 pims, +3 Stress.
Fire Spread (Marat Deck): Luck/Everard Equation v11; either Radiant Presence (+1 Charm, +15% Chance of Success on Incantation spells) or Ghastly Light (-1 Charm, +2 to all Incantation skills), Rest removes both.
Astrology: Insight/Astrology v??; highly random result, better with greater experience, effects last 1 week.

Having now tested it thoroughly, I’m disappointed to report that, at some point during the update schedule, Tattle has been disabled. I’ve heard that it may be related to a new restriction that prevents non-PC students from being expelled, which probably means that Prank Enemy’s reprimand won’t work, either.

Oh well. There are other ways of dealing with Cosetta Re…

Something else is that, according to the mod tools, Filing 9 should have unlocked a visit to the Sphinx (plus visitation rights), but it’s been replaced rather recently with a permanent skill booster. Don’t worry, though. We’ll be seeing the sphinx eventually.