The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 37: Strange Revelations

You guys remember that one girl, the one with the golden rune on her hand? Well I heard she got sent to see the Wall yesterday!
But the wall isn’t that special. I think the Great Gate is a lot more interesting.
Not the campus wall, The Wall! The one built by Octavius himself to keep the Dragons away!
But that can’t be, I saw her earlier at lunch. The Wall is weeks away.
Yeah, normally, but she went on something called a Red Ship, the Aultrine Order has some and they’re really fast! So blah blah blah blah—
Blah! Blah-blah blah…

You’re getting ready to settle down into another nice nap when you hear that scratching sound again! Not this time! You quietly sneak out of the humans’ sight and creep towards where you think the scratching was coming from. Sure enough, you find the creature responsible is a mouse!

Your presence has startled the beast and now it’s streaking down the aisle. Hurry, you can’t let it get away!

There seems to be a formula for this adventure: one option solves the problem directly, while the second is hidden behind an investigation. The second option is never really easier than the first, plus I’d need to improve two skills instead of one to use it, so picking which ones to train is basically a no-brainer.

You take off after the beast. You have size and strength on your size and manage to close the distance between you. You streak through the shelves, growing closer and closer to your prey. Just as you finally close in enough to take a swipe at it, it wriggles through a small hole in an old door.

You can’t believe it. You’re sure you had it in your grasp, but your paw is empty. You scrabble your front leg through the hole in vain, but you realize even as you do it that it’s not going to work. You were so close, but at least you know where it’s gone now. As soon as you feel like doing so again, you’ll just have to get someone to open the door so you can follow it.

…And when she reached the wall, it was like she had super-strength or something! Apparently the rune can draw on the Wall’s powers, but only when she’s nearby. I’m surprised none of you have heard this by now; I swear she’s telling everyone who’ll listen.
Now that you mention it, Grainne was talking about super-fast Crimson Ships earlier. It’s mutated quite a bit from how you describe it, though. She said something about being “dragon-born” and shouting a lot…

“Archaeology is where you find it.”

Professor Viada’s words are running through your mind as you walk the winding road through the mountainous region cited on your map as Viadell Cacciare. You also recall him stating that this wasn’t a library assignment, which would explain why you’re so far from campus in the first place.

“Not a library assignment.” Should’ve known that’d mean aching feet.

Instead, the assignment is to write a paper about observations you deem historically noteworthy within explorations of the campus and Mineta. You technically had all this week to find something, but you’d been putting it off.

“Just on campus is too easy,” I said. “I wouldn’t get anything better than a B- if the subject were nearby. I deserve better than that.”

Although you were probably right about the grade potential, it’s cold comfort to your dearly aching feet. Now that is something that you’ll need to handle right here and now. You curse your choice in boots and consider your options.

So between all the buffing needed for Carmine’s adventure and all the training needed for the cat’s, I decided to spice things up a bit with a couple one-off adventures. The one-offs are basically all from one or another DLC, and they work more like the Dance of Fools than a standard adventure: all the stages are done at once, and if you screw up once you’re probably not going to get a second chance at it. On the other hand, most of the checks are pretty easy; nothing far above 10 like most normal adventures in the late stages.

Right, taking a look at the options, it would seem that most of them could work. By far that Negation option seems the most awesome, though.

You cast the spell and lift six inches off the unforgiving road instantly, to the great relief of your feet. With that squared away, you take a moment to admire the view. That’s when you notice what appears to be the entrance to a cave down the rocky slope, along with a narrow, zigzagging trail that leads right to it. Considering that you’re already floating, the treacherous path down isn’t even a concern as you fly down to the mouth of the cave.

Special note: I ran through the adventure a couple more times out of curiosity (couldn’t find it in the mod tools), and both this choice and the mountain-goat legs option skips an adventure step which would otherwise deal with navigating the slope. One such option includes using Gates to make a Dimension Door and skip the path entirely. Oh well, we’ll just have to settle for levitation.

Also, it’s pretty nice how this adventure keeps track of your previous choices like this.

You’re about forty-five feet down from the edge of the road you were on, hovering before the entrance of a cave that appears very dark. From what the sunlight does reveal, you notice what looks to be a crude torch held against an interior wall by a rusty iron bracket. Beyond that, just a bunch of loose rubble of varying size.

“Archaeology is where you find it” echoes through your mind as you stare into the black abyss of the cave. Provided that you’re courageous enough to go hunting for that A-worthy material within, you’re first going to have to overcome that darkness.

Glamour feels like the best option, but I’m a bit wary of that “poorly” adjective. Incantation is just as green, so we might as well.

On a target as flammable as a torch head, you conclude that the matter is complete child’s play. With an unnecessary flourish of your wand, you become one lit torch richer.

Torch in hand, you begin the gradual descent into the winding cave. While the footing would be an issue, your still-active hovering spell means you have no worries for now. Deeper and deeper you go, seeing on occasion deep scratch marks on the stone floor and walls, a valid justification for taking this expedition slowly.

As you continue, you can’t help but feel as if the surrounding darkness is trying to close in and suffocate you; naturally, you dismiss this thought as paranoia, but it becomes a good deal stronger when you notice the cloth on your torch is starting to burn out. Now that is something you can’t just dismiss.

However, fortune smiles upon you, and you soon locate another torch on the wall. You quickly float up to it and light it with your current torch just seconds before the latter burns out completely. With your new light source burning brightly, you can clearly see what would be a dead end if not for the hole in the floor with the top of an old ladder sticking through. Concluding that the hovering spell is, in fact, the best spell ever, you’re not terribly concerned with the ladder as you lower yourself through the hole and into the lower chamber.

On a nearby wall you notice what looks to be a primitive mural painted on the wall. Upon studying it, you see it depicts three Dragons perched side-by-side, one of which is contentedly chewing on a werewolf. Immediately beneath the first image is a depiction of a major battle between werewolves and spell-slinging wizards and witches. To the right of the battle are a number of werewolves standing in what seems to be uncertainty before an old wizard with one hand held high above him. Further still to the right, the last picture is of werewolves and wizards attacking two of the three Dragons from earlier; the third is inexplicably absent. One of the Dragons is clearly shown to be the most frightening one, roaring at a glowing book directly above its head. The other Dragon, the one shown earlier as snacking on a werewolf, is fleeing the fight.

Your mind is racing with all the different possibilities the drawings might mean as you search the rest of the chamber. You nearly scream as you come across the skeletal remains against the nearby wall. At first you think someone was having a laugh by replacing the human skeleton’s head with that of a wolf, but as you glance back at the wall paintings, the full implications sink in. Taking a closer look at the bones, you notice a few additional differences between the skeleton and a human’s usual anatomy, including a terribly bent spine and abnormally large hands. Your surprise grows when you notice the wolf-head tipped wand lying next to the bones, but it reaches its peak when the wand begins to glow and a voice to speak.

At last, one from beyond the plot has come seeking truth, whatever it may entail.
Who…who are you?
Whom—or perhaps what—I am now is merely the desire to reveal. As to whom I was…I shall reveal this at the end of my tale. For now, I must ask you to cast your eyes once more upon the wall of truth you were studying earlier.

You turn to the drawing and watch in awe as the images start to move and take on dimension, reenacting the ancient scenes as the spirit recalls the events.

Before the dragons came we lived free, proud and satisfied, feasting on all manner of life which was weaker than we. We had no idea then we were enjoying our golden age, but we knew it ended when the Dragons came. We knew not where these beasts were from, but as with any trespasser, we tried to repel them. To our chagrin, even the smallest and youngest of their kind had skin too tough for us to tear or chew through. Soon after they began to flood our territories, the Triad appeared, the three most formidable of their kind, who worked as a governing body to their society. Even now their names are known: Overlord Diavesque, Stryker the Silent, and, worst of all, Morgana the Cruel.
They told our tribal elders that it wasn’t their desire to fight, but rather to peacefully coexist. We had all come to respect their great strength, and, at the time, we saw few alternatives where we could prosper. We agreed to a peace with them. However, peace swiftly turned to subservience, and subservience to outright tyranny. We were not the only ones suffering so, of course. Humans were oppressed at the same time.
It shames me still that it was the human tribes and not ours who first acted to break their chains. A great war broke out, and the Dragons forced my kind to attack the humans and spread fear. At the start, we thought we would wipe out the human tribes easily, but as it turned out, the humans were far more resourceful than we could have imagined. You had many great and terrible magics at your disposal, and they more than matched our speed and power.
Casualties mounted on both sides while the degenerate Dragons sat back, laughing to themselves as the war played out as though for naught but their petty amusement. But the turning point came when the human Archmage Arcanus sought a meeting with our elders.
Arcanus explained that a location of raw arcane power was to be found within our territories and, if we’d permit him and his tribesmen to build a settlement there, they would have enough power to topple even the Triad itself. He sought our support, as well.
The elders deliberated long before finally agreeing, but with one stipulation: Arcanus and his lieutenants must train our people in the art of magic. Arcanus was careful, and replied that the art is not an easy one, but our best and brightest would be accepted for such training. Peace between our people was set.
It would be a number of years more before the terrible war resolved. Stryker of the Triad turned traitor to his kind, Diavesque was trapped within a book, and Morgana the Cruel fled, never to be seen again. The war was over, but in the process my tribes lost their primal dignity, becoming little more than obedient lapdogs for the new Empire of Man, content in keeping to the shadows.
I said when I began I would tell you who I was. My name was once Fenris Duskshroud, among the very first of my kind to graduate from the Academagia. For finding my resting place and listening to my story, you may have my wand. It will serve you far better than I, now.

The wall returns to normal, and the wand stops its glowing. After a moment of silence in which you digest this new information, you reverently pick up the wand and, as quickly as you can, you make your way back out of the cave and return to the Academagia.

You waste no time in reporting everything you’ve discovered to Professor Viada, though you conveniently leave out any mention of the wand itself.

Your instructor sits silently for a long time before finally saying:

Promise me that you’ll not write a paper about this, nor tell anyone else of what you’ve uncovered and I’ll give you an A+. After all, it’s only what you’d deserve.

You wisely agree to the professor’s terms; you can’t even begin to think what would happen if that information became public knowledge. Not that you suppose the Sphinx would mind hearing about it…

The Wand of Fenris grants +1 to Moons, Concentration, Incantation Methods, and Revision Methods. Not only does it do far more than Gera’s old wand (+1 Incantation Methods and Practical Jokes), but the Concentration boost nicely cancels out the penalty given by the Wand of Planar Shift. Gera, your wand has served us well, but it seems it’s finally time to sell the old thing.

You’d heard of this place, but frankly you didn’t think it existed. “The Edge of Nowhere:” it’s not so much a place, at least in the literal sense, as it is a border, and it’s located “where you find it,” or at least that’s what the map says. You found this map tucked inside the cover of an ancient text you came across in the library quite by chance. The book probably should have been locked up with other fragile relics, but it was in such bad shape the librarians probably didn’t pay much attention to it.

The spine declared the book’s name to be “Proper Rotation of ye Croppes by Astrological Processionne,” and you only opened it because you thought all the inevitable ancient mistakes would make for an entertaining read. However, when you opened the book, you noticed a corner of parchment sticking out of the binding of the back cover where the glue had cracked off. After a little wiggling, out dropped perhaps the most yellowed map you’d ever seen.

The map wasn’t even a picture so much as an arcane set of directions, written in a dialect centuries old, and it didn’t even refer to any physical locations. Instead, the references were to stars, the reader’s mental state, and certain colored traits in the air that could only be seen with the proper Invocation. The spell itself wasn’t that difficult, but it was difficult to find the right frame of mind to cast it in. The map said things like, “Imagine the first birthday that you can remember. Think of the color of the wrapping on the first present you opened. Now hold your arms out to the sides and take three deep breaths.”

It sounded like a crazy waste of time to you, and as a wizard, you’ve followed some pretty bizarre directions. Nevertheless, after much trial and error, you found that following the instructions while performing the Incantation, while also properly oriented to the correct constellations and planets, did indeed cause the color trails to become visible. In fact, following the trails was easy, so long as you maintained the correct mental state, and while it was tough at first, you quickly got the hang of it.

Now you find yourself standing at the edge of a cliff, and it’s one you’re sure isn’t on any map of the campus, or even any map in the campus, even though it must be well within the school grounds. The cliff drops off at your feet, sheer and steep, and peer as long as you may into the depths, there is no bottom that you can see. In fact, it doesn’t even fade into a distant haze the way the horizon does from a high tower—it just seems to go on forever.

The only thing you can see besides a never-ending cliff edge is a single purple light, really more of a glow, far and faint and flickering, like a fairy under smoked glass. The longer you stare at the luminance, the closer it seems to move toward you, although the lack of any point of reference makes it impossible to judge distance or size. For all you know it could be a million miles away, or a million miles wide. Soon, though, the effulgence has drawn undeniably nearer, and you can see it is made up of many smaller lights, an abundance of tiny indigo glimmers blending into a single spherical mass. A voice somehow both tiny and deafening rings in your head:

A visitor! We have a visitor!

You’d compare the sound to a gigantic choir singing in unison, but each voice in itself is small and soft.

Why have you come? Are you here for the Unfettering?
I just…followed this map.
There are many maps, but few followers. We are impressed that you have found us. Have you come to command us, then, or do you seek answers?
You—command you? Answers?
If you have the Fulcrum, we must do your bidding. If you do not, you may still ask us one of the three Questions we are bound to answer.
I’m not even sure what this Fulcrum is. So what are the three Questions?
The three Questions of all things.

Odd, the voices sound less unified than before.

You may ask us about the Light, the Being, or the Doing. If you have the wisdom, our answer may unlock doors for you. If you are not far enough along the right path, you may instead find yourself further astray than before. Do you wish to ask a Question?

I have no idea if this becomes a bigger adventure if I find the things it’s talking about, or if it’s foreshadowing something to come in a future year, or even if it’s just another fan-made dead end, but right now this adventure consists entirely of this single question. Fortunately, the checks are all easy enough that everything is green, and all the choices lead to the same reward, so let’s just go with personal preference and pick the Light.

You gather your courage and draw in a deep breath. Finally, you say:

Tell me about the Light.
The world is Light and Notlight. All which is Light is not Notlight, and all which is not Light is Notlight.

Somehow you can tell the separate meanings apart, and though the words are being used in unfamiliar ways, they seem to make sense to you on an instinctual level. The voices continue in this vein for a while, making statements that are half questions and answers that are part riddles.

The things they tell you are as cryptic as the directions on the map, yet you find yourself able to find the meaning and order in the seeming randomness of their revelations. The voices seem less intent on imparting knowledge than on showing you how to think about things. Like riding a horse or tying a knot, it is knowledge of how to do something, but not the knowledge of the thing itself. At the end, you feel as though you have gained some sort of arcane knowledge from the creatures, although it is nothing you could ever relate to another, and as you walk back to the charted regions of the campus, you are certain you are bringing something important along with you.

It’s been several days, but you’ve finally cornered Carmine and given him the token you received from beating his maze. In response, Carmine leads you and the rest of the Tree to his “sanctum,” a small room in the basement of the Aranaz college.

We’ve shown we can be sneaky and we’ve beaten your silly little maze. Anything else, or will you finally admit we’re just as good as your team?
You’re doing really well, but there’s just one more thing I’d like to see before you can help on our next job. We’ll need to get out of the school without being seen by anyone. If you are seen, you’ll not only get an automatic detention and demerits, but you’ll never be able to help us. So move carefully. Once you’ve got a method, we’ll work on figuring out how to fit you all into the rest of the plan.

That Intense Focus earlier was for this Observation check, which you can see is still red. Hence needing the buff.

Considering the numerous times you and your friends have wound up stuck outside the campus past curfew, you roll your eyes at Carmine’s perceived “challenge.” Still, you are somewhat curious as to how Carmine himself gets out, so while the rest of the Tree uses their usual methods, you follow him and watch as he and his crew simply walk through one of the school’s side gates. You had thought at least some of them might have waited to see how you get out, but it looks like they’re all heading out. Watching carefully, you notice Carmine slipping something to the guard…but if you want to follow them out, you’ll have to be fast.

I’ll be honest, even with Iliana’s new 7 in Running (5 Run a Course uses, 1 from a Running ability, and 1/2 of the Familiar's skill), I’m pretty sure it’s Vrenelle again who’s making this option blue.

Sprinting as fast as you can, you find yourself silently thanking Vrenelle’s hellish training as you catch up with the rear of Carmine’s crew and attempt to saunter through the gate, your cover rather weak as you wheeze into the student in front of you.

Still, the guard winks at you, obviously considering you a new member of Carmine’s crew, and pockets the shiny coin Carmine slipped him. How in the world is he making that kind of money? You’re more certain than ever that you need to join forces with him.

When everyone’s through the gate, Carmine turns and gives you a wink. Clearly he approves of your methods, and you can’t help but smile back at him. As your friends appear from different points further along the wall, Carmine gives a smile of his own.

I’m impressed. Looks like we can count on you for the main event after all. Don’t worry, we’ll contact you when the time comes.

Gains of the Weekend

Handled Familiar.
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 2 separate steps.
--Bond of Stars increased by 1 step.
----Bond increased by 1.
Successful adventure!
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Cpt. Felix’s Running increased by 1 step.
Successful adventure!
--Pure Luck increased by 1 step.
----Hostis pheme learned.
--Incantation Spells increased by 1 step.
--Wand of Fenris gained.
--Learned about the above.
--History of Magic increased by 1 step.
----History of Magic skill maxed!
----Root Cause spell learned.
--History Study level cannot be increased.

Cast Intense Focus.
--Plus 5 to Observation.
--Plus 1 to Insight.
--Minus 2 to Painting and Character.
Successful adventure!
--Mimicry increased by 1 step.
Successful adventure!
--Learned about the Edge of Nowhere.
--Student of the Edge of Nowhere ability learned.
Aveline used Defame! Aranaz merit now at 270.
Morvidus wins again!

New Abilities

Root Cause (Spell): Charm/Glamour v target’s Insight/Glamour+8; set Relationship between any 2 characters to 0 for 12 days (further alterations impossible during spell’s duration)
Stand at the Edge of Nowhere: +1 step in Character and Patience, -1 Stress.
Student of the Edge of Nowhere (Permanent): +1 Composure and +1 Stress Maximum.