The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 28: New Discoveries

Cheimare 27-The Wedding Feast

I can’t believe I almost forgot about this one. A couple weeks ago, I got lost in the Academagia, and that’s when I came across a weeping wall…

…I see. I may be among very few who knew of the wall’s existence, but even I did not know the wall had grown self-aware in the time it was hidden away. Why did you sell the amulet?
I’m not going back to that creepy wall, and it’s not like I need help to cast that Steel Blood spell.
Very well. In addition to Planning—
Actually, could we switch back to Reason now? I think I’m basically ready with Planning.
Of course. Then in addition to Reason, hmm, you should also keep up on your Manipulation studies. Then there is the more formal discipline of Oratory; the books I have on the subject are rather difficult, so you will need to show me how you can Decipher Handwriting…

It’s been a while since you and Rui da Casga set the trap in his room. Walking back to school from the palace, you wonder whether or not it will even work when you suddenly feel the unmistakable pull of a Sending spell—Rui wants you back to his dorm room straight away.

You rush down as fast as you can to the Vernin campus. Reaching his room, you knock on the door, and Rui da Casga opens the door a tiny crack to peek out at you before stepping back and letting you enter.

You are mildly surprised to see that the rest of the Five-Handed Tree has been assembled. Doing a head count, you almost come up with one extra, but then you notice the sixth person in the room is merely a captured image on the mirror, which Rui has hung up at head height.

Now that Iliana is here, I’ll explain why I brought you all here. For a few weeks now, someone has been breaking into my room. He never takes anything that I know of, but my stuff will get rearranged, some traps’ll get set here or there—things like that. Iliana here helped me “borrow” one of von Rupprecht’s special items, which has done a pretty nice job of capturing the burglar’s image. There it is, on the wall.

At this, everyone glances over at the mirror, which happens to have a very clear image of—

Philippe Marchant? The bully?
Yep. He’s a prankster alright, and a darn good one.
But I thought he was just a bully.
He is mostly a bully, but he does play a few pranks now and then. Usually against someone he thinks wronged him at some point, or people who beatings don’t work on.
His tricks have no flair, but man, when he gets you with one, you know he got you.
Wait, then why’d you need a mirror?
He’s probably just setting me up for something. But now that we know it’s him, we can turn the tables. Any ideas?

Hey, look, Practical Jokes is coming in handy!

It’s time to fight pranks with pranks.
Then I’ve got just the thing.

Though he won’t say where he received it, Rui da Casga produces a small vial of Metamorph Liquid. This special formula transforms any living thing it encounters. Unfortunately, this is a failed batch, and the transformation is uncontrollable. If someone receives a dose of this potion, there’s no telling what they’ll become—or for how long.

But what if it lasts for years?! What if we turn Philippe into some sort of…horrible fox-man forever?
The potion’s reversible. He’ll be fine—if he’s willing to show his face.

After a while of brainstorming, you come up with the perfect plan. Rui da Casga writes the word “accomplices” on the bottom of a small glass dish, and then makes a list of random student names. Then he fills the dish with coins, being careful to leave the word “accomplices” uncovered, and finishes by pouring the Metamorph Liquid over the coins. If anyone were to reach in and move the coins to see the names, they’d get Metamorph Liquid all over their hands.

The five of you leave the room and spend some time in the Vernin common room , discussing your plans for the rest of the break. Then you hear a scream.

You all run back to Rui da Casga’s room, just in time to see Philippe running away down the hall, his hands rapidly sprouting feathers.


Rui pumps his fist in excitement. Even Tacito seems impressed the ruse worked so well. Getting a sly look, Rui turns to you and asks:

Ready for phase two?

On your way to the Venalicium Library, you encounter a large group of students. Each has a serious expression on his or her face and they are speaking to one another in somber voices.

You approach to learn what the solemn occasion is, but then you notice a weeping ghost floating in the middle of the corridor, between you and the throng of students. This ominous specter is refusing to let you or anyone pass—it shrieks when you get too close, and its shrieks are quite painful.

Unfortunately, the Venalicium happens to be just past this mysterious, shrieking apparition. The students on the other side are facing the same problem; how can you get across?

Let’s look for clues, gang!

You know that ghosts are usually tied to something related to their old life, and this one’s probably no exception.

The thing is obviously weeping, so you look around for something out of the ordinary. All you find out of place is a nearby oil portrait with a fresh crack in the frame.

You look more closely at the figure on the faded painting and, yep, that’s the ghost’s image sure enough.

That last option didn’t disappear, but c’mon, Revision is perfect.

With a quick spell, you mend the broken picture frame.

Suddenly, the ghost stops wailing and stares at you. Timidly, it floats to the picture frame, running its ghostly hand over where the crack used to be. With a slight sigh of contentment, it vanishes.

You’re a hero!

When word of your deed gets around to Professor Aventyrare, she gives you a firm handshake.

You feel pretty good about yourself.

There it is.

Here you go.

Setting your decoy and disabling the alarms, you step once more into the Forbidden Archives.

You’ve given the matter considerable thought since you first contemplated learning the proscribed schools of magic. In the end you decided that, while manipulating others the old fashioned way may be well and good, using magic to control their every thought and action goes way beyond creepy. On the other hand, Gates sounds like a load of fun; with Gates spells you can summon creatures to do your bidding, plus one day you might be able to craft your own minions and teleport at will! Gates was only banned because incautious wizards would summon things beyond their control, right? Then you’ll just be extra cautious when using it, and that’s all there is to it.

Mindful of where you are, you give the books in the Gates section a quick look through, then pull out several promising-looking texts and Revise their covers to something more innocuous. You then step back over the rope, disable your decoy, and find an empty booth in which to study.

Although you still might get in trouble if someone pays too much attention to your books, you’ve decided that this is still safer than spending all evening in the Forbidden Archives. You’ll have to risk a second trip to return the books at the end of the day, but until then, there is a lot to be learned…

As you climb the stairs to the Sphinx’s chamber, you notice that she seems to be wearing a more serious expression than usual.

I have heard word that you were seen in the Forbidden Archives.
What?! How? I—I made sure—
You were not seen by those who would reprimand you, but there are some librarians who are observant and yet believe it is the will of the student to learn what she will. Which books did you take from the archive?
Don’t you know already?

…Sorry. I found some books on Gates that looked interesting. I didn’t want to touch Mastery.
Then perhaps you have some wisdom in you yet. Do you know why Mastery and Gates are proscribed schools?
They’re too dangerous, right?
Yes, but not in the way that you think. All magic is dangerous, dear. Incantation may flood a city or doom it with drought, or it may collapse a mountain and bury the towns beneath it. Glamour can drive a community insane with illusions or warped senses, Revision can murder a man from within, and even Negation, protective magic, can set down a permanent curse, just as well as Astrology. Even so, Gates and Mastery are more dangerous by far.
Though there is more they can do, Gates and Mastery provide control; Gates over the actions of beasts, and Mastery over the intelligent creatures. Control over the elements or even fate cannot be compared; to control another living thing is to have absolute power over it, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
There are some wizards who have mastered the schools, yes, and even some who have not been declared villains by history. But to master the corruption power brings, you must first master yourself. You are a student of history, yes? Do you wish this to be your lasting legacy?

The Sphinx gestures her paw at her surroundings, and you look around at the palace beneath you. The Imperial Palace is a magnificent building, with monuments everywhere and centuries of edicts, mementos, and plunder stacked floor to ceiling in dozens of rooms.

But knowing what you do about the Empire of Man’s history, you know this palace is nothing but a hollow shell. The only occupants now are a guild, wishing to borrow its faded glory, and a museum staff set by the city council, the true power on Elumia.

Those who addict themselves to absolute power will wield it only for their own benefit. Then, when they have no remaining friends, no allies, no soul who cares for their life, they will fall to ruin, and ruin will be their legacy. Even with the power of magic, there will always be times when the spells wear off and some who will never be controlled. Worse yet, when that power comes from within the self, one must master the self or make power the master. Do you understand?

All you can do is nod. The Sphinx sees your worried expression as though for the first time, sighs, and relaxes herself.

I apologize, Iliana. You simply satisfied your curiosity and I lectured you on power. Still, if you really wish to pursue Gates, you cannot do so on your own. Your professors teach you not only how to use magic, but also when to use it and for what greater purpose.
But none of my professors know Gates! Or none of them will say, at least.
Then for your own good, I shall teach you Gates myself. I learned the art before it was proscribed, after all, and none but you and I know what I teach you here. Today I shall teach you Gates Methods whether you answer my riddle or not.
Wait, you mean even after all that—
Even after you do something reckless and irresponsible your education will not come free of charge. That is not the way of the world, my dear. Now answer this, if you can:

Something begins which has no end. It is the end of all that begins.

I prefer the term “entropy” myself. But yes, death is a correct answer.
My turn, then.

Squares upon squares upon squares;
All must be used to store your wares.

A curious use of geometry. First we shall study Gates Methods, as I promised, and then Reason, because you request it. I shall then discuss Curiosity, as I believe you need to train it better, and finally Mammals, which shall establish a baseline for further Gates instruction.

The Sphinx has given you a lot to think about today, and you end up wandering through the Academagia grounds for most of the afternoon. At one point, you cross the length of the Philosopher’s Walk. Rather than being named for the famous Chauranglaith, the Philospher’s Walk instead honors Chauranglaith’s most famous disciple, Oleapia. Feeling a bit curious, you stop by a plaque set in the center of the walk:

“There are two types of knowledge: Intellectual and Emotional. Intellectual knowledge can be learned and passed on, but Emotional knowledge is only felt and defies explanation. For a person to better their Intellectual knowledge, they must obey the Rule of Intellectualism which can be explained thusly: study, question, and reason. A person studies to learn what they did not know before, they question to better understand the truth of that which they have learned through study, and they reason in order to learn if that which they have questioned is correct. If a person focuses on this path and heeds the Rule of Intellectualism, then there is nothing that a person cannot know during their lifetime.”

One thing you have to give Chauranglaith: he isn’t easy to understand, but at least he knows how to write something short and to the point. Oleapia’s plaque is about three times as long as his mentor’s inscriptions and you still don’t know what the heck he’s talking about.

Later on, you happen past a gaggle of gossiping girls and, by sheerest luck, you spy Vettor crouched behind a bush with a newt in his hands. Whatever he’s planning, it can’t be good. What should you do?

The actual random event takes place during Revision class, but c’mon, it’s Sunday!

You don’t want anyone to get into trouble right now, least of all that poor newt. You cast a Negation spell that floats the newt right over to your own hands. Surprised, Vettor makes a futile grab at the floating amphibian before it escapes his hands entirely. Following its trajectory, he looks over at you with a frown.

It’s for your own good!

You stick the newt into your pocket and walk off. You’ll probably drop it off in the next pond you pass by.

Never in a million years did you think you would end up with homework from the Forbidden Archives, and yet here you are. During the lesson, the Sphinx explained that you should still learn the basics from the books in the Venalicium. Something about “explaining the fundamentals would take too long” or “I can’t be bothered to tell you what a Gates pheme is in the first place.” You really weren’t sure, but the point is that you’ll need to study Gates out of the Forbidden Archives before you can request further training from the Sphinx herself.

Worried that your study of Planning with the Sphinx might not be enough, you spend the morning casting Intense Focus to give yourself some added understanding.

Greetings, Iliana. I must apologize again for my outburst yesterday. During the days of the Emperors, I had the sometimes-dubious honor of teaching the emperor’s children. They did not always pay attention to my lectures on the responsibility of power, particularly towards the end, during the decline and the Calamities. And always the ones who became the most depraved were the ones most fascinated with Gates and Mastery. Still, it is not my place to lecture you as I did.
But…what if I want to be lectured like that?
I’m ambitious; you’ve said it, I know it. So what if I want to know what it’s like to have power, and what to do with it?

For the first time today, the Sphinx’s mouth twitches into a smile.

I would say that makes you wiser by half than most of the children I have taught in my time. But I suppose I should have expected as much, since you answer my riddles without a proxy. Speaking of which, here is today’s:

I spit like bacon, I'm made with an egg.
I have plenty of backbone, but lack a good leg.
I peel layers like onions, yet remain whole.
I'm long as a flagpole yet fit in a hole.

That’s a snake, right? Here’s mine:

Hard, harder, hardest:
But it's all just the same.

Do you want each component, or the common factor?
All of them, if you could. Oh, and I wanted to study Glamour Spells today. It’s been almost a month since classes have really taught me anything about magic and I really want to learn something new.
Very well. I could teach you Solid Demeanor; it may help your ability to project presence. Do you know yet how to Drive a Carriage? It can be quite challenging. And speaking of snakes has reminded me some of the art of Poisons.

With the island secure, the pirates are free to investigate. Today you and the rest of the Five-Handed Tree have come to join their efforts at exploration.

Climbing down from the ship, you take a few moments to take in your surroundings. The vegetation is lush and colorful, flowers blooming everywhere in colors and combinations you never expected to see. You are tempted to touch a purple-striped pink blossom, but you refrain from doing so when you see a large insect get snapped between the deceptively delicate petals of a bright blue flower only a hand span away. You can’t see anything beyond the dense growth around you; it’s no wonder the pirates haven’t found anything notable since they began their search.

As the pirates begin to fan out around you, you start to make a plan for how to get farther into the island.

I could have gotten Planning up higher than black, but that would have taken more time. Considering my dastardly save-scumming ways, this will do just fine.

Picking up a machete from the pile the pirates have deposited on the ground, you begin to hack your way through the thick vines and leaves in your path. Making sure you’re still heading in the right direction, you regularly look up at the sky to get your bearings. Every so often, you or one of your friends make a gash in a tree or on a large boulder to make sure you’re not going around in circles. The marks wind up helping more often than you’d like to admit.

More than once strange vines try to wrap around your ankles or wrists and you hack at them savagely. Finally, sweating and a little worse for wear, you break through the brush onto a paved stone expanse. As you look up, your breath catches at the magnitude of the temple that sprawls in front of you.

This. This is why I wanted to hang out with you guys.

Abruptly one of the pirates puts his hand on your shoulder and breaks the mood.

We’re makin’ camp for now. Go in there fresh. You all head on back to your magic school for now.

Rui da Casga turns to protest, but before he can say a word, the pirate continues:

This be orders from on high. First mate’s wantin’ you to come, but there’s no tellin’ what’s inside.

At least he sounds friendly about it.

Professor Viada has gone on a personal mission around Academagia, hanging up posters on every wall and badgering every student he comes across on his walks around campus. Why? Because of the Passing, a holiday every self-respecting history buff goes crazy over. For obvious reasons, Professor Viada wants everyone to observe the Passing.

And speak of the devil, here’s Viada right now, toddling toward you with an eager grin on his face.

Uh oh. You just came from dinner, so you can’t use that as an excuse to get out.

Ah, Iliana, one of my better students. I trust you’ve seen my literature about this day.

And the lectures, and the reminders, and…

What are you doing to honor our splendid past?

Library Knowledge comes riding in to the rescue.

I’ll honor this day by going to the library and studying my genealogy.
Excellent! I just so happen to be headed to the library to teach students how to research their ancestry. Come along with me.

With little choice, you follow him.

When you arrive at the library, you watch with sympathy as other students are roped into Professor Viada’s session. When his thankfully short lecture ends, he sends you all off to research.

The professor watches approvingly as you head straight for the right section and pull all the appropriate books.

At least someone was paying attention.

Researching your past turns out to be quite fun. Maybe celebrating the Passing isn’t so bad after all.

For some reason, though, the librarian on duty today is a stickler for quiet. She is constantly meandering through the library and shushing everyone, even those who aren’t making any noise.

If you don’t get her to stop her infernal “shhh’s,” you’ll be hearing them in your head all night.

Man, Library Knowledge is really paying dividends.

You head to the Incantation section and stack all the books you can grab on the floor. When the librarian finds this mess, she suspends her mission of spreading quiet and goes to work putting the books back on their proper shelves.

Your distraction has silenced the silencer. Way to go!

Throughout the Wedding Feast, you spend your time making covert raids into the Forbidden Archives, trying to find new and useful books without getting caught (at least by anyone who matters). You turn out to be remarkably successful at it, even though you know you haven’t been perfect at keeping out of sight. Perhaps someone is watching out for you?

After lunch, you take a break down by Ardica Lake. All your troubles seem to disappear, and you feel at one with nature and the beauty of the place. If you were a bard instead of a student of magic, you’d write a poem. You breathe in the fresh smell of pines, listen to the far-off calls of musical birds, lift your face to watch white clouds scudding overhead, then look out over the surface of the lake…only to stop dead.

The lake is frozen over! You rub your eyes in disbelief, but there it is—the shiny frozen surface is reflecting the sun like the crystal of a chandelier. It’s not nearly cold enough for the lake to freeze, let alone all at once like that, so something unnatural—magical, perhaps—must be afoot. It could be a prank…or something far more sinister at work.

What should you do?

Perception is probably an investigation, but it’s red…nah. Iliana doesn’t really feel like dealing with this herself right now.

Whatever is going on here, you should probably alert someone—quickly! You race to find an instructor, come upon Professor Chastellain, the music teacher, and tell him about what you saw. Calmly, you describe everything you noticed about the strange phenomenon, taking care to include details even if they might not be relevant.

I see, I see. Let’s have a look, shall we?

When you get back to the lake with the instructor, you find that it’s no longer frozen! You turn quickly to the professor, ready to argue about what you saw, but Professor Chastellain shakes his head with a smile.

No, no, I believe you. This happens from time to time. The thing just turns to ice in an instant, for no apparent reason, then melts again a moment later. Been happening for years now. Don’t worry; I’ll take care of this. There are a few spells that should make the ice appear less frequently, and it’s apparent they’ve worn off. I commend you for being alert. You did the right thing in coming to me.

With a new year dawning at midnight tonight, the usual curfew restrictions have been relaxed tonight so all the students can be awake and at parties for the big moment. On top of that, it’s the Wedding Feast today, a holiday which celebrates all new commitments in honor of the new year. This is the first new year you’ll face as a spellcaster; what will you do with your fresh start?

As if the gods heard your thoughts and want to see how you’ll behave as well, Philip Hauck walks up to you to share some interesting news.

Guess what? Two Academagian alumni are having their wedding reception in the Great Hall tonight! It’s invite-only of course, but I heard it’s a big crowd that got invited. What do you say, you wanna sneak in?

I think this might be the first playthrough I’ve done where I had a decent chance to pass this check.

The lack of an invitation doesn’t bother you in the slightest. Sneaking into a party at least promises you’ll have an exciting start to the new year. And hey, shouldn’t students be able to go if it’s being held in the Great Hall?

Count me in!
Great! I’ll come back for you when the party starts.

Philip is true to his word and shows up again a little while later.

Of course. In fact, I happen to know a back way into the Great Hall.

You and Philip sneak in using a side entrance. Luckily, there are other students present, so you don’t look as though you’re out of place.

And wow, you’re glad you came! Magnificent roasts, delicate cheeses, savory salads, and rare truffles are in abundance. The Great Hall has never looked so festive, either; the stone pillars shine as though they were made of silver, the floor is midnight blue, and glowing flowers float throughout the hall.

You feel like royalty. What a perfect way to start the new year.

Gains of the Rest of the Week

Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Decipher Handwriting increased by 1 step.
----Informed on Jere Niemela.
--Reason increased by 1 step.
----Learned about Philosopher’s Walk: Oleapia’s Plaque.
--Manipulation increased by 1 step.
----Stir Up Trouble action learned.
----Compete increased by 1 step.
------Magic pheme learned for the fifth time now.
--Oratory increased by 1 step.
----Acoustic pheme learned.
Successful adventure!
--Practical Jokes cannot be increased.
Studied Gates.
--Gates Spells increased by 1 step.
Successful event!
--Relationship with Lisle Aventyrare increased to 4.
Aymeri used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 235.

Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Gates Methods increased by 1 step.
----Amicita pheme learned.
--Reason increased by 1 step.
----Progress pheme learned.
--Curiosity increased by 1 step.
--Mammals increased by 1 step.
----Insincere pheme learned.
Considered Oleapia’s Plaque.
--Reason increased by 1 step.
----Mind pheme learned.
--Sleuthing increased by 1 step.
----Induction pheme learned.
Studied Gates.
--Gates Methods increased by 1 step.
Aveline and Vrenelle used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 241.
Successful event!
--Negation Methods increased by 1 step.
----Air pheme learned also for the fifth time.

Cast Intense Focus.
--Plus 5 to Planning.
--Minus 2 to Animal Husbandry and Administration.
Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Drive Carriage increased by 1 step.
----Learned about Godina Park: Carriage Station.
----Raid increased by 1.
------Create Distraction action learned.
--Glamour Spells increased by 1 step.
----Solid Demeanor spell learned.
--Poisons increased by 1 step.
Successful adventure!
--Planning increased by 2 steps.
----Planning skill maxed!
----Daniel “Big Danny” Carter’s Catalog available.
Successful event!
--Manipulation increased by 1 step.
Successful holiday!
--Relationship with Errus Viada increased to 4.

Studied Gates.
--Gates Spells increased by 1 step.
Studied Gates.
--Gates Methods increased by 1 step.
----Air pheme learned.
----Water pheme learned.
Studied Gates.
--Gates Phemes increased by 1 step.
----Accuracy pheme learned.
----Gates increased by 1.
------Animal pheme learned.
Successful event!
--Relationship with Rieuelle Chastellain increased to 1.
--Curiosity increased by 1 step.
Successful holiday!
--Infiltration increased by 2 steps.
----Weasel Words spell learned.

New Abilities

Consider Oleapia’s Plaque: +1 step in Reason and random Dialectic skill.
Stir Up Trouble: Charm/Intrigue v9; -2 Relationship between 2 random members of chosen clique (except player’s).
Mucking About (Carriage Station): +25 pims, +1 Stress, +1 step in Drive Carriage, Animal Husbandry, and random Befriend skill.
Create Distraction: Lower Chance of Discovery by 7% for 2 days.
Solid Demeanor (Spell): No roll; +1 Charm and +3 Intimidation for 7 days.
Weasel Words (Spell): Charm/Deceit v12; +3 Relationship with chosen instructor.