The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 26: Making Preparations

Cheimare 19-21

After morning classes, you head over to the Enchant classroom, where Rui da Casga just finished his exam. His 30 doesn’t seem all that impressive, but it looks in this case like it was good enough, since only two students managed more than a 50.

As you head away from the grade post, Magsa Nembo gets your attention. Considering that he is a Durand student and not in Enchantment, it is only your curiosity that leads you over to him.

Hey, Iliana. You didn’t like your score? Well, I hope you do better on your final.
…I’m not in this class. My friend Rui da Casga is.
Oh. Well, I hope he does better, then.
Sure, me too.

You chuckle to yourself as you walk away from the awkward conversation. Emilia will want to hear about this one.

After spending so much time with the Sphinx, returning to the Academagian libraries is almost intolerably dull. There isn’t even that much left to learn on how to coordinate actions. You just hope you’ve figured out enough to help the pirates.

As the exams wind down, the Venalicium has been getting steadily depopulated. Now that the last one is finished, there are more librarians left here than students. All the quiet really helps you focus on your Glamour books.

So at this point the Intense Focus spell would really come in handy, since the Coordinate roll is against a number in the mid-teens. Unfortunately, just like with Inspirational Writing, Iliana is missing a pheme. In this case the pheme is Mind, and it looks like the best way to gain it is increasing Reason to 6. Unfortunately, Reason is the one Plot subskill I didn’t raise back during Emilia’s quest, so there’s still a ways to go for that.

On the plus side, Intense Focus is worth the investment, since it makes most pheme-based buffing obsolete. And until then, Synchronize Schedules boosts Coordination enough for our needs.

When you return to the Sphinx’s chamber, you are surprised to see her looking worn out and rather wounded. Some of the fur on her back legs has blackened at the ends, and one forepaw is covered in bandages. Still, when she sees you, the Sphinx gives you a weary smile.

I must apologize for my appearance. As you can see, yesterday’s activity was a bit more than I had planned for.
What happened? Are you okay?
I shall be fine, I believe. I do not think now is the right time to explain what happened, however. Perhaps later, but not right now. Enough about me; you came here for a lesson, did you not?
I—yes. I’m going to see the pirates again today, and I’m worried I’m not completely ready. What if just coordination isn’t enough? What if they need me to reason my way through a problem?
Very well, if you wish to learn more about Reason, I may provide. But first, answer this riddle:

If you break me,
I do not stop working.
If you touch me,
I may be snared.
If you lose me,
Nothing will matter.
What am I?

Wait, I think I heard this one before. It’s…heart, right?
That it is, and nothing I know of is so welcome lost as the heart. Do you have a riddle for me?

A seal, an end, and a beginning.
I am a mark of death, or possibly something more.

I see. We are both in a peculiar mood today, aren’t we? Aside from Reason, I think I shall explain a little of Dating, as well as Teasing, a closely related cousin. I will have to ask your forgiveness in cutting our lesson short once more, however.

Although you know you shouldn’t be at the forges right now, you wound up getting worried enough to head over and see if you couldn’t scrounge up some spare scrap metal in case the exploding latch fails.

The terrain around the forges is rough and full of thorny thickets, and you find it very difficult to try and keep quiet as you make your way around. Because you’re concentrating on not getting tangled in the thorns, you’re not really paying attention to where you are walking. Suddenly, your foot trips over something very hard and you lose your balance.

Guess it’s Acrobatics or nothing.

After a few seconds spent windmilling your arms in vain, you fail to regain your balance and hit the ground hard, suffering several cuts from thorns and sharp twigs.

Deciding you’ve wasted enough time trying to reach the forges, you turn back to track down your friends.

Before heading off to the pirate cove, you carefully trace out the phemes of your old standby, Synchronize Schedules. Once again, you close your eyes and feel the presence of your clique mates, regardless of their distance or activity. You just hope that whatever the pirates have you doing will benefit from this sort of magic.

As it turns out, the pirates have been busy scouting out the flying island, looking for points where a ship might moor along its length. Three such spots have been found, but Kaidlette considers this more of a problem than an advantage. The way she sees it, if they could find these three spots, others are likely to have found them, too. The pirates have been waiting for you to arrive, hoping that you might have an idea of how to take care of the other two spots, thus allowing the pirates to guard the island (and its unknown contents) with a single, small party.

Guess which one I’m picking. Go on. Guess.

You’re pretty sure the simplest solution would be to set up barricades on two of the three landing spots. Explaining your plan, you convince the pirates to make elaborate spiked barricades that can be secured with stones from the island. You’ll have to build them down in the cove where you have enough room, which means they’ll need to be sturdy enough to be hoisted up to the island, so you direct the pirates to reinforce the structures with extra rope.

Once you feel confident enough, you split the Five-Handed Tree into two groups to set up the barriers, and you each help direct a different team of pirates to make sure the barricades are installed carefully. Once they are in place, you can tell they look to be a formidable obstacle for anyone to try and breach.

Proud of your day’s effort, you and the rest of the Tree head down to Tacito’s favorite tavern to celebrate.

Rui da Casga Sends for you early in the day, and you wind up getting to his dorm room just as visiting hours start for the Vernin college campus. He looks unusually serious as he gestures you into his room and shuts the door.

My room has been messed with again last night. We need to step up our plan.

Rui da Casga paces the room for a moment, then goes back to the door of his room. He opens it just a crack, looks around and shuts it again.

All right, so we got the mirror, but where are we going to put it?

He gestures vaguely to a spot just above his bed.

I’d put it there, but I know it’d only end up showing me. We’ve got to come up with a place where it’ll catch the image of an intruder, but won’t get me. Where would you put it?
Well, I’d put it in the closet. You’d know not to open the door yourself, but your intruder wouldn’t, so we’d have a good chance of capturing whoever’s face.

Rui grins.

I like the way you think.

He starts to uncover the mirror, but then stops.

Wait, how are we going to put this thing up without it catching our images? It has to be blank to work.

Oh hi there Coordination! Let’s just ignore for now the logistical problems of “How does the mirror reset in the first place?” “How many faces does it capture?” and “How do you see the last face on it if it captures the next one to look?” and instead excuse it by saying neither Iliana nor Rui da Casga bothered figuring those questions out themselves.

Instead, Coordination ahoy!

What if we turn out the lights and close the curtains? The classroom was dark when we took the mirror, and neither of us triggered it, I think. I think it has to “see” us in order to grab our image.
Great idea, but if we’re going to be working in the dark, we’d better practice first.

You agree, and the two of you spend the next ten minutes figuring out exactly where to place the mirror once the room is too dark to see. Rui then closes the heavy curtains and you move easily to position the mirror exactly where you want it.

Once you close the closet door, Rui da Casga opens up his window again and the two of you share a grin.

There’s been a rumor going around since the beginning of the school year that Philip Hauck is really from the lands to the East. You only just barely know him, but even you find this rumor highly unlikely. Even so, people persist in trying to uncover his “secret.”

During lunch today, Philip accidentally drops his wand off the table and five students instantly lunge to grab the thing.

What in the world is going on?

Retrieving the wand would only be polite, and Iliana sucks really bad at Sleight-of-Hand, but could there be another angle to this?

You watch as the wand falls and the others lunge for it, but you don’t see anything beyond your chance quickly running out.

Not that we can find. Sigh. Well, might as well get at least one person’s appreciation today.

Before the other hounds can get to the dropped wand, you reach your hand down and pick it up, acting like you were doing the most natural thing in the world.

Knowing yourself the troubles of being the center of gossip, you give Philip a kind smile and hand him back his wand, thus sparing him whatever embarrassment the other students had planned for him.

Philip smiles gratefully and retreats with what’s left of his lunch.

As you walk out of the hall, you notice Tacito watching you.

Hey. I saw what you did for Philip. I’m glad you helped him.

Tacito turns away at this point, so you continue on.

So, um, I was wondering, if maybe…there’s a place in town, The Roses of Coventia, I mean, I know First Years can’t date yet, officially, but if you wanted…and she’s already left. Great observation skills, there, Tacito.

After lunch, you head once more to the Imperial Palace. You are glad to see the Sphinx is much less tired today, and her fur has already regrown. The bandage on her foreleg remains, though.

Did you wish to continue our lessons on Reasoning, dear?
No, I wanted some help with Planning. The pirates are going to need all the help I can give them with this sort of thing.
Ah, of course. Tell me, how did your encounter go yesterday?
Don’t you know already?

The Sphinx laughs quietly.

Though I am flattered, I am not omniscient, though I sometimes try to give that appearance. For instance, the magic on these archways is limited to magnifying the view from this tower. Other information I gather from agents whom I pay with certain favors, although some information I can only learn for myself.

The Sphinx gives a rueful glance at her injured limb.

But that is neither here nor there. Your pirates, unfortunately, have proven unwilling to share their knowledge with me thus far, and while their movements are easy to track when they leave their cove, I was…well, asleep for most of yesterday.
So you want me to tell you what they were doing?
Yes. Simply for the sake of knowledge, of course. In fact, allow me to add a new rule to our sessions: if you can provide me with information I have never heard, I shall waive the usual fee of a riddle’s answer.
Really? Okay!

Excited to be the one explaining something to the Sphinx for once, you waste no time in recounting yesterday’s events. The Sphinx seems particularly interested to hear what the pirates learned from their own scouting runs.

Only three points of entry? And the pirates are quite sure of this number?
That’s what they said. I didn’t really bother looking myself.
Very well. And two have been blocked? Clever, though I should still set lookouts in the mountains below if I were them. But then I suppose they lack the magic necessary to communicate over long distances. You have fulfilled my price, Iliana, so I shall now teach you what you wish to know of Planning. Perhaps some Manipulation will help encourage your side to behave themselves, and since you are going into unknown territory, I think understanding both Moons and Dueling Forms will keep you prepared. Let us begin with a list of non-Terrestrial moon phases.

Your first impression of Esteban Contu’s School of Incantation is rather negative: the school is housed in a squat, ugly building made of thick, slate-gray stones. As you enter the reinforced doors, you note that the receptionist seems to have been built of the same materials, being rather squat and ugly herself. She is scribbling hard on some mysterious paperwork, and her only acknowledgement of your appearance is a swift and venomous glance up before she returns her attention to her desk.

After a polite cough, followed by a not-so-polite cough, the secretary finally sets down her quill and brushes aside the papers with an irritated wave. As she turns her attention to you, you note that she appears to have very little patience for whatever personal interactions you intend to inflict upon her, and you decide to skip the small talk you usually prefer using to break the ice.

Hi, I came to apply for classes here—
Tuition is 900 pims, and no, that is not negotiable.
That’s fine, I’ve got them here—

Barely giving you time to let go of your bag, the woman snatches your pouch away and drops it on a nearby scale already prepared with a 900 weight. As the scale wobbles from one side to the other, the receptionist evidently determines the coin count is “close enough,” and stows the bag somewhere underneath her desk. With an annoyed huff, she then pulls out a clean piece of paper and begins to write on it. In a bored monotone, she recites what seems to be a prepared speech:

Welcome to Esteban Contu’s School of Incantation. Congratulations on becoming a student, we only take the best. Classes, seminars, and workshops are held daily, times for each event are posted next to the door for each room. Hand this permission slip to the Regent of your college and he or she will make sure the right people know you are allowed to come.

Finished with her writing, the receptionist hands you the paper she scribbled on. With the most unconvincing, apathetic look you could imagine, she adds:

Have fun.

Her duties to you finished, the secretary pulls back her paperwork and resumes ignoring you completely.

As you walk out of the school, blowing on the paper carefully to dry the ink, you wonder to yourself just what you’ve gotten yourself into. Either Esteban Contu must have such an amazing school that he doesn’t need to care what sort of person he uses as his face to the world, or else you just wasted a whole lot of pims.

Sitting in the Aranaz common room, you are somewhat surprised when Malacresta wanders over to sit next to you.

Hi. The stars told me this would be the perfect time to hang out.

You are dismayed to realize he has you dead to rights. You handed Professor von Rupprecht your permission slip just a few minutes ago, and he instructed you to remain where you were until he had informed the guards and the Legate that you would be allowed to visit Contu’s campus. For all you know, it may be hours before he gets back.

You remember at the party last week how I wanted to compare notes? 'Cause I hear you’ve been hanging out in the Library of the Mantle of Stars? That’s a really great place to be. I mean, all the lights are right where the stars would be, and that’s like, wow.

What follows is a surprisingly (to you) interesting discussion with Malacresta. Early in the year, you had avoided him, being both ignorant and uninterested in Astrology. Having picked up some of the spellcraft, however, you now realize you can understand the things he’s talking about, and while you still can’t hold a candle to Malacresta’s knowledge of Astrology and astronomy, you now know enough to be impressed with just how extensive his learning is. By the time von Rupprecht returns to let you know you are clear to visit Contu’s school, you have a newfound respect for your fellow classmate.

Gains of the Rest of the Week

Studied at Manatele.
--Coordination increased by 1 step.
----Coordination skill maxed!
----Learned about Mineta Shipyards: Assembly Yard.
--Revision Methods increased by 1 step.
----Revision of Skills spell learned.
--Armorer increased by 1 step.
Studied at the Venalicium.
--Glamour Study level at 8.
----Narrow Focus: Glamour action learned.
Magsa Nembo failed to use Encourage Fellow Student.

Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Tease increased by 1 step.
----Learned about Jorndathal’s Circus: Freak Show
----Bully increased by 1.
------Hostis pheme learned.
--Reason increased by 1 step.
----Balance pheme learned.
--Dating increased by 1 step.
Cast Synchronize Schedules.
--Plus 3 to Coordination and Plot for Five-Handed Tree for 7 days.
Successful adventure!
--Coordination cannot be increased.
Unsuccessful event.
--Vitality decreased by 1.
Tabin used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 227.
Aveline used Defame! Aranaz merit now at 217.
Vernin wins again.

Successful adventure!
--Coordination cannot be increased.
Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Manipulation increased by 1 step.
----Compete increased by 1.
--Planning increased by 1 step.
----Scry pheme learned.
--Moons increased by 1 step.
----Follow pheme learned.
--Dueling Forms increased by 1 step.
Paid Tuition.
--Money decreased by 900.
--Gained access to Esteban Contu’s School of Incantation.
Basia, Aymeri, and Tabin used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 226.
Successful event!
--Relationship with Philip Hauck increased to 2.
Malacresta Vercesi used Hang Out inside the College on you.
--Relationship with Malacresta Vercesi increased to 3.
Tacito Viadana failed to use Externalized Desire on you.

New Abilities

Watch the Assembly: +1 step in Coordination and Leadership.
Work the Assembly: +1 step random Language skill, Brute Strength, and Transport, +30 pims, and -1 Vitality.
Revision of Skills (Spell): Intelligence/Revision v12; substitute one subskill’s level for one other for 2 days.
Narrow Focus: Glamour: +3 to a Glamour subskill for 3 days.
Jorndathal’s Circus: Freak Show: +1 step in Acting, Insult, and Tease; informs on Main Circus.
Study at Esteban Contu’s School of Incantation: +1 step for all Incantation subskills and +1 Stress; Intelligence/Incantation v6 to remove Stress gain.
Irregular Study at the Contu School: +1 step in random Enspell subskill; Intelligence/Observation v100 (basically you need a Chance of Success boost) for +1 Intelligence, Insight, or other lesser effect.