The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 44: Is Through His Stomach

Aruit 20-21

You have once again arranged to meet Oan in the Garden Gallery, and you spend some time catching up on what each of you has accomplished over the past year. Eventually, though, Oan asks you the central question: “So I’ve enjoyed talking with you and all, but I’m guessing you didn’t just want to chat, did you?”

“Not completely,” you admit. “The thing is, my…um…usual tutor was busy today, and I’ve been asking her about how to show off good study habits. You’re a Third Year, and you’ve really got it together, so I was hoping maybe you could…?”

Oan laughs at your praise. “Trust me, sister, I am not someone you should look towards as having things ‘together.’ The way we hauled off as soon as I knew where to look for the Trees should have told you everything you ought to know about that. Still, I guess I do know a few tips about studying that a First Year wouldn’t know. For instance, a lot of kids like to try pulling all-nighters just before an exam. But if you do that, you’ll be so tired you can’t read the words! No, what I do is cram early in the day so I can get a good night’s sleep. Then you’ll have a clear head and all the answers ready to go…

You’re not sure how it happened. It seemed like just one moment you were walking along the via, searching around for party favors, and the next something heavy came down out of the sky and conked you in the head. When you recover, you realize that what hit you was a pouch of considerable weight—considerable thanks to the number of pims in the pouch.

You look up, wondering where it dropped from, and you see a few balustrades that seem likely. Perhaps it belongs to someone up there?

No rolls, so this is just a moral choice. And while Iliana would gladly take a windfall like this, there are people watching, so…

You tie the pouch securely to your belt and proceed to knock on every nearby door, asking each person in turn if he or she dropped anything recently. Most people respond with a shake of their head, although one man gives you a strange look and slams the door in your face.

Well, you did your best, and the owner didn’t show up. You’ll just have to keep the money yourself. What a bummer.

Interestingly, if you try and just leave with the money, that works too. The benefit of asking is an extra point in Ethics.

Hello, everyone! Hi, thanks for coming to my birthday party! Oh, thanks, no, you shouldn’t have! Hi, Tacito, glad you could make it!
No problem. I, um, I wouldn’t have missed this. I don’t suppose Carmine is here?
Sure, everyone from Aranaz is here, I’m borrowing the common room, after all! You want me to go get him?
No! No, thanks. I’ll just, um, stick around by the punch for a while.
Suit yourself. I’ve got to go mingle.

Turning, you spy Oan speaking with another Third Year who decided to crash your party. Your smile increases by a few degrees as you wave to Oan, shouting over the noise, “It’s good to see you!”

Oan smiles back and responds, “No way I’d miss a killer party like this, especially when it’s my favorite First Year’s birthday!” She hands you a small sheaf of papers. Before you can ask what’s on them, she explains: “It’s an essay I’m writing about how we discovered the Trees of Knowledge! It’s been a busy year for me and I’m taking my time since I want to do this right, but I hope to have it finished by the end of the year. You’re getting full credit for everything you did, of course, and I wanted you to have an early look at it.”

Feeling pleased and more than a little proud, you thank Oan for her gift and move further into the crowd.

Courtenay! I haven’t seen you much since you helped me learn about riddles. I never had the chance to thank you for that; it’s really paid off since then.
What, really? Having fun confusing fellow students, or do you have your own personal sphinx you need to defeat?
Ha, ha, ha, ha! Personal sphinx, so funny…oh, looks like someone I should speak to over there, excuse me.

Oh, hello there! Glad you could come, ahh…
Magalda Quaranta. In Vernin? Don’t worry if you don’t remember me, I’m someone’s “+1.”
Oh? Who brought you?

Magalda colors up.

That’s…that’s complicated. I’m not going into it. Great party, though.

Magalda hurries away before you can ask any more questions. Not being especially curious about her, you shrug and move along.

Happy birthday, Iliana! You, er, thinking about tomorrow?
Yeah, like every minute. I’ve spent all week trying to think of ways to impress the teachers.
Well, you’re the one who wanted to go straight for the top.
I know, I know. But I’m going to be prepared for Sunday, I promise. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to have a good time today while I still can.

Hi, Iliana. Congratulations on reaching the origin point in the celestial compass for the…how old are you now?
I’ve just turned thirteen today.
Thirteenth time orbiting the spheres? An auspicious year. Things will definitely get interesting for you in the time to come.
Things have been interesting ever since I came to this school.
Well, yeah. It’ll help if you can keep that up.
Thanks for everything, Malacresta. Oh, there’s Em! Excuse me, will you?

Em, thank goodness, I was stuck talking to Malacresta for a while there. Where’ve you been?
Oh, I was just…talking with Rui.
Really? I’ve noticed you two seem to go “looking for books” at the same time when we’re hanging out in Longshade. So what do you two do together?
Just…we just talk…
Really? What about? Tell, tell!
Just, you know, pranks and stuff. He’s really good at building them, but I’m better at setting them, plus he isn’t always as aggressive as I think he could be. We’ve found out how to get our spider familiars to communicate together, did you know that? They can sense patterns in the webs they build, and they can tell us what they mean, so we don’t have to meet in person to pull something off.
I thought Rui was getting more creative lately. That’s great, Em, really! I’m glad you’re getting along together so well. Oh, there’s Rui now! I’ll leave you two alone.

So here’s an interesting note. I’ve been kind of building up a sort of relationship between Emilia Strolin and Rui da Casga for a while now in the non-canon writing, but on this day I happened to notice that Emilia used her Familiar ability (Social Webspinning) on Rui herself. So out of curiosity, I decided to check their mutual relationship; you can do this by bringing up the Gossip action and selecting a student you're Informed on, which always includes Clique members: when selecting the second target, the menu will show the first character’s relationships with every other student. Sure enough, although the other members of the ‘Tree have at best a friendly 3 or 4 with each other, Emilia and Rui have a mutual relationship of 9 out of 10, and only Iliana herself has a relationship that high with either one of them.

Go figure, right?

So, the fateful day has finally arrived. Tell me, are you feeling more or less anxious right now than you did when you had to write the peace treaty for the pirates?
Hmm. I’d say it’s less, but it’s closer than I would have thought. I mean, me and Vrenelle worked really hard for a long time so that tonight could even happen.
And with the deadline so close and perfection so far away, you can’t help but feel nervous. I believe this is foremost the effect of a deadline; the pirates at least gave you the benefit of choosing your own moment to turn in the treaty, while making a meal happen on time demands a certain preparation and scheduling. Fortunately for you, you already know most of what you need already, and today’s lesson will finish with the rest. That is, assuming you answer my riddle.

This has roots which no one can see,
Grows taller than trees;
Up and up it goes,
Yet so slowly it grows.

A mountain, I remember that one from a book.

From the center of the city
To the middle of nowhere.
I treat all as equals,
Even as some make way for others.
Pilgrims praise me,
Armies adore me,
And merchants marvel at my magnificence.

And so it goes ever on and on, back to the house where it began. Today you shall study the sheep of the field, and thus improve both your Mammals and your Danger Sense, for herbivores are among the most alert for danger of any living creature.
But what about Study Habits?
You will study the sheep and write notes without disturbing them. This is your final lesson.

It is afternoon and the common room is surprisingly quiet. Most of the students are working on their assignments, and the few who aren’t have politely found quiet activities to engage in. Even the normally rambunctious study groups are arguing in low volumes. It’s enough to let you quietly concentrate on every step you need to take tonight for the perfect dinner party, but that’s when several students suddenly leap up, shrieking in surprise.

Sighing, you stand up and prepare to head for the library, but suddenly a creature flies up to your face! You block with your hand just in time, but as you look around you see that the entire common room is being accosted by a horde of pixies!

Well, that’s new. Running is green, but that’s the chicken’s way out. Schoolyard Education is normally just a euphemism for brawling, so what good can it do here?

This situation feels familiar. You realize you heard about it once in class. But what was it you’re supposed to do in case of pixie attack?

That’s right, negotiate!

Well, there you go. Guess it was just a Chance of Success boost, since there aren’t any new options.

You try for some time to catch one of the diminutive pests, but they are simply too fast.

Still, no reason for that to deter you. You announce to the room at large that you have captured one of the pixies and will not release it until the hostilities against your college have ceased.

Unfazed, the pixies conduct a quick headcount. This worries you, and you think you may have made the situation worse, but fortunately the pixies can’t seem to agree on just how many came in the raiding party to begin with. Flustered, the entire horde flies off.

With a slowly spreading grin, you open your empty hand, and the entire room cheers.

Everything is at last in readiness. The invitations you sent out earlier to five of your favorite teachers, and all of them have RSVP’ed, intrigued by your experiment.

They’ll have just enough time to spread the word before lunch tomorrow.
Yeah, but will it be a good word, or bad?
We need to manage this dinner at every step. You’re a better cook than I am, Iliana, you go supervise them while I keep the professors entertained.

You arrange for permission to stay in the kitchen during the food creation. Having memorized the recipes, you know each and every move the chefs make before they make it. For their part, the chefs try their best to ignore you, but they can’t help but glance over as they add the high quality ingredients to their creations. As one scoops a cup full of white powder to add to her dough, you quickly rush over and grab her arm, shaking your head wordlessly.

But I undermeasured the last time. I just need to add this extra sugar—
Taste it.

The cook obliges, and the color runs from her face as she realizes her mistake.

Salt. I almost added a cup of salt…

You pat her shoulder and dump the salt back where it came from, then take the measuring cup to the washing station as the chef corrects her mistake and continues with the dish.

After some time passes, Vrenelle pops her head back in and gives you the thumbs up, indicating that all your guests are now present. As each dish finishes, you check them personally with a careful look and a taste of the pans and bowls they came from. As you deem each ready, the chefs measure each dish into five servings and set them on three separate platters. The other three members of the ‘Tree, whom you’ve coopted into playing servers tonight, take each of the three dishes out to the table. Vrenelle shows up with them:

You’d better come help. The professors are in a bad mood. I did what I could, and the food should help, but we have to make sure they get excellent service to make up for whatever it is that’s going wrong.

You straighten your robes and head out behind your dish-wielding friends, watching as they place the platters down perfectly on the stands set out for them. Each plate and bowl is then set out for each professor until they all have a set of three. Your servers then back away and return to the kitchen.

As Vrenelle explains what each dish is, you suddenly realize the professors haven’t been given anything to drink! The glasses are still turned upside down, showing they haven’t been offered anything at all.

You leave Vrenelle to cover for you and rush back into the kitchen, where you see your other friends relaxing next to the oven. The chefs, on the other hand, are nowhere to be found.

Guys, the professors don’t have anything to drink!

Tacito slaps his forehead.

Drinks! I knew we were forgetting something.
Never mind, I should have remembered myself. Now help me find something!

Hunting around, the only thing you find quickly is a set of pitchers full of water. You quickly set two on a platter, then remember to test each one. Sure enough, one was in the middle of getting cleaned, and is full of dirty dishwater! You test another pitcher, find out it’s clean, then rush out to the table with your bounty, just in time to see the professors start on their first dish.

Vrenelle sees you coming, and her eyes widen as the realization dawns on her. She quickly flips the glasses over, allowing you to fill each one just as you reach the table. The closest professor smiles as he sees you filling his cup, but asks:

So, are we only getting water, then?
Um, yes! This way you can clear your mouth between each dish and get a good, fair taste of each one.
Obviously the full range of drinks are expected when these get served to students, but we wanted to make sure you got the cleanest taste of each.

Professor Sido nods at your thoughtfulness, you sigh at the averted crisis, and the professors dig into the dishes, smiling at each bite.

The food turned out perfect, and the service (at least from that point forward) is spectacular. Now that they’ve finished, there’s just the matter of passing on the good word. As your friends clear away the dishes, and Em squeezes your hand for good luck, the professors invite you and Vrenelle to sit down and explain her project. Vrenelle answers most of the questions herself, describing how she had the idea for the project and (somewhat edited) how you got your recipes and the kitchen’s cooperation.

…And you know, the way most people eat such unhealthy foods these days I don’t see how all of them aren’t as fat as—

Uh oh! Professor von Rupprecht isn’t exactly the thinnest professor, and he can be quick to take offense. You dodge into the conversation.

Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to clarify that the real problem is how the school has been buying fatty meats and poor quality vegetables. So it’s not like us students can choose how well we eat when the usual meals we’re given are so bad.
Right, and that’s what this is all about!

Thankfully, von Rupprecht seems to buy your explanation.

I never did like the food here.
I’d wager I could be thin as young Vrenelle here if it weren’t for the food.

Vrenelle takes back over, and winds the conversation to its conclusion.

…And so you can see, we just need to introduce a new kind of food to the menu, stuff that’s healthy and won’t make people groan when they see it. With your endorsement, I’m sure everyone will give it a fair chance. And now having said that, we will await your decision in the kitchen.

You and Vrenelle walk back into the kitchen, joining Rui, Emilia, and Tacito at a crack in the doorway to watch the professors make their decision. Finally, when one of them stands up and walks toward you, you scatter away from the door and try to act casual.

Professor Pachait enters the kitchen with a large smile.

We’ve decided to give your healthy meal a unanimous “excellent” grade. Congratulations.

You all burst into applause before the professor is even out the door. Vrenelle bounces up and down, giving everyone a bone-crushing hug in turn. After your turn comes, all you can do is sit back and relax, basking in the moment.

Note that the text of the final adventure stage is virtually identical in each case, the only change being who is asked to dinner. The only real difference is which attribute gets raised.

Gains of the Weekend

Hung Out with Oan.
--Stress decreased by 1.
--Study Habits increased by 2 steps.
----School Survival increased by 1.
Studied at the Mantle of Stars.
--Study Habits increased by 1 step.
--Theory of Astrology increased by 2 steps.
----Insight into the Planets’ Schemes spell learned.
Had a Party.
--Relationship with Tacito Viadana increased to 10.
--Relationship with Magalda Quaranta increased to 1.
--Relationship with Courtenay de Surval increased to 2.
--Relationship with Malacresta Vercesi increased to 4.
--Money decreased by 20.
Aveline and Aymeri used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 325.
Successful event!
--Money increased by 50.
--Ethics increased by 1 step.
----The Force of Duty spell learned.
Low Stress! You now feel Salt of the Earth: +1 Confidence and Composure. [unlocked by Parental Approval 110+ and Stress 2 or lower]
Morvidus wins again.

Cast Intense Focus.
--Plus 5 to Study Habits.
--Plus 1 to Insight.
--Minus 2 to Flawless Timing and Dedication.
Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Mammals increased by 1 step.
----Lie Down with Lambs ability learned.
--Study Habits increased by 1 step.
----Study Habits skill maxed!
----Teach action learned.
----School Survival increased by 1.
------School Survival skill maxed!
------Hang Out action learned.
--Danger Sense increased by 1 step.
Successful adventure!
--Intelligence increased by 1.
Aveline used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 328.
Successful event!
--Bluff increased by 1 step.
----Ice pheme learned.
----Gossip increased by 1.
------Agitation pheme learned.

New Abilities

Insight into the Planets’ Schemes (Spell): Insight/Theory of Astrology v4; +4 on contested rolls vs. target character for 3 days.
The Force of Duty (Spell): Charm/Astrology v6; target Studies for 1 full day.
Lie Down with Lambs (Permanent): +2 to Animal Husbandry and Temperance.
Teach: Contested Insight/Dialectic, and Intelligence/Dialectic v20 and 25; +1 step to target’s chosen subskill for each roll passed.
Hang Out: +1 Relationship between self and chosen Clique member and +1 Relationship between two random Clique members.

Aside from a bit of a denoument, Vrenelle’s adventure is finished, and with it, all mandatory adventures are complete! Well, aside from the cat’s adventure, but that’s set to wrap up before too long, too. Thus, while the time for voting has come again, all of the following options are optional.

A. We’ve been curious about Scenes from a Dialectic Class for a while now, right?
B. Or would a pop quiz in Revision class suit better?
C. Then again, how about seeing some professors in action during an attack on the school?
D. von Rupprecht’s guest will be here soon, and Professor Sido has only gotten more nervous. What’s up with that?
E. The cat’s adventure won’t take much longer; how about teaming up in a special adventure afterwards?
F. The Venalicium Library holds few secrets to Iliana at this point. But there’s always one more…
G. Something else you might think of.

As always, please vote for up to 3 options in any order, and I’ll take the top 3 choices.