Part 48: Dangerous Confrontations (Part 2)
Your day begins with a very welcome surprise. Sometime in the night, someone slipped a note under your door, and according to whats been written, youve won a special award from the Legate himself! Its really quite vague, just something about excellent magical skills, but it means you will be named in a proclamation to be read during breakfast along with all the other students worthy of such an honor, and thats aside from the award ceremony itself!
Yet despite the good news, you still feel a bit cranky about how things went over the weekend, and no one wants a sulky student to make speeches. You resolve to do something about your mood straight away.
Hey there, Carmine.
Hey there. Whats up? You look like you just bombed a test or something.
Not exactly. Hey, you want to take our Familiars out for a walk? Ill tell you all about what happened on the way.
Um, sure. Id like to get back in time for the award ceremony, though.
Me, too. Oh, look, theyre about to announce the award winners! Youwe should really listen to this.
The Festival of Blooms turns out to be a fine day. The trees are mad with colors, your fellow students are dressed in their finest robes, smelling of honey and roses, and even the professors have been trading light-hearted jokes in the hallways as they pass each other by. In an atmosphere like this, you could almost forget completely about the last few stressful days. In fact, if Carmine decides to hold your hand, you wont even mind.
Carmine. Taking a walk with him turned out to be a great idea. Youre able to tell him all the things that have been bothering you, and for his part he seems honestly impressed with what knowledge you were able to gain; everyone else seems to have a second-hand or worse account.
At the moment, the two of you are wandering near the Observatory of Verus, chatting as your two Familiars play around at your feet. Carmines Familiar, a Princes Key Spitz named Fiero, is only a bit bigger than your cat, leaving Felix more curious than concerned as he usually is around dogs. Fiero spends his time bounding around from one side of the path to the other, sniffing every bush and tree for strange scents, while Felix is staying close by your side, content to watch and listen at the surroundings. The way your Familiar follows you around reminds you not so much of a cat as a faithful dog, although youd never insult him by saying that out loud.
Still, Felix does have plenty of cat-like traits. In fact, he has decided to show one such trait by chasing a shrew into the Magi Tower, one of the lesser structures adjacent to the large Observatory.
Whoa! Is he gonna be okay in there?
Im not sure, shrews can be pretty dangerous when theyre cornered. Lets follow him.
You can just barely hear your cat race up the stairs of the tower, hot on the shrews heels. Once he sees you enter the building, Fiero chases after you, then overtakes you as he smells his new friends trail ahead.
When you finally reach the first landing, panting, you see your cat staring at a side hole created by a loosened stone. Looking in yourself, you see the shrew backed up at the far end of the hole, trembling slightly and with teeth bared and waiting. Your cat wisely decides to give it up as a lost cause, instead moving to inspect the stairs further up for stray field mice.
Guess thats that.
Yeah. Hey, you want to keep going up? I bet we can get a great view of the mountains from the top.
Sure. Kind of wish we didnt keep finding things to climb when we go walking together, though.
Hey, now, that time up the Path was your fault for daring me. Hey, I bet you cant get to the top before me!
In the end, neither of you make it all the way to the top. Instead, you find a bench with a good view a floor or so below the parapet which turns out to be too tempting to your tired legs. You and Carmine spend some time appreciating the vista, and perhaps the proximity the two of you keep on the bench, when Major Felix wanders back down the stairwell, daintily bearing a prize in his teeth.
To your surprise, however, it does not turn out to be a half-eaten mouse, but a piece of parchment. With a proud flourish, he places it at your feet. Inspecting it, you realize it must be a page from a bookquite a valuable one, too, based on the ornate script reciting obscure spells from a distant land, the detailed illumination around the margin, and especially the gold lettering.
Oh, wow. We should find the book this is from. No telling what else might be in it
You check the uppermost room, kick at the paving stones in case theres a secret door, and eventually retrace your steps down to the base of the tower, but you find no sign of the missing tome. Its quite odd to find this single page here, separated from its book, particularly given its good condition despite being exposed to the elements for who knows how long.
You and Carmine decide to take the page to the Admiratio next. Full as it is with shops selling obscure texts, exotic and magical goods, and even the occasional Familiar, the Empire Market is the obvious place to find a clue. Surely theres a bookseller who can explain the mystery.
I could go myself, if youre tired out. No need to wear yourself down chasing a strange book.
Carmine isnt in the original adventure, of course, but what happens instead is the text literally asks if you, the player, would like to start the adventure. And the Creativity option just gives a random point in a Research skill for no reason, which Iliana doesnt need, so lets skip straight to the Yes.
Are you kidding? Youd just track the thing down and keep it for yourself. Nuh uh, Im getting a fair share of what we find whether you like it or not.
Your hunt turns up nothing before you realize you have to get back for the award ceremony, so you arrange a time to meet up again and start running back to the Academagia.
Unfortunately, getting to the ceremony has suddenly turned out to be a whole lot harder than it should be: for some reason, a roadblock has been set up across the school gate. Your usual methods will take too long, and even Carmine would need time to get the two of you cleared to continue. How can you get around it?
Holidays trigger after adventures, so Id rather not go with a risky option and potentially have to do the whole thing over again. Whats Logic say?
You realize that your magical skillsthe very ones for which youre being honoredcan be put to good use here. Theres a spell you can use to launch yourself clear over the roadblock. Sure the guards may be a little perplexed at the sight of it, but youll deal with them (and their potential anger) once youve received your award.
There we go. Why bother with levitation when you can fly?
You practice the spell once, and, feeling it activate correctly, you turn to run straight at the guards. Just as you get close enough for one of them to shout Halt! your finish your casting and bound into the air, leaving the ground and a gaping Carmine far behind you.
The guards watch in amazement as you arc over their heads and land well into the school grounds, far enough away to give you more than enough of a lead to make it to the ceremony before they can catch up. Pulling out your pocket watch, you see that you wont even be late. Excellent!
Or at least it was before you got there.
You flatten yourself to the ground as the sparks from a careening fireball float away just above your head. You had arrived at the ceremony just in time to have a magical melee erupt all around you.
An uprooted tree flies at an unhealthy speed across from you and crashes into a dark-robed and masked man. While most of you tries to find a spot of cover, a part of you cant help but wonder why the bad guys always dress up like bad guys. Theyd probably fool people a lot easier if they looked like monks or farmers or something.
There, that should do. You scurry into a convenient carved alcove, peeking just a little bit over the side to watch as professors evacuate students from the surroundings. Youve also got a good view of the melee. Legate Orsi is busy conjuring up a large plasma ball while flinging jets of ice shardsyou cant even imagine the combination of phemes needed to make that work.
Meanwhile, Professor Briardis hair is crackling as she flings another bolt of lightning towards a rather short interloper. Professor Knoht, the Incantation instructor, and one of the custodiansyou think his name might be Garethround out the facultys battlers.
Forgetting about the danger, you slide over a few feet to get a better view. You count six masked attackers, plus three already downed. The Legate looks like hes having the time of his life, a huge, childlike grin on his face. Professor Briardi is just the opposite: she looks to be scowling with concentration as she nails a plump opponent with a loose concrete slab. Knoht is as frazzled as always, but proves to be remarkably competent, dueling two aggressors without any real effort. In fact, shes practically dancing through the sparks and elemental blasts with ease.
Gareth is another surprise, though not quite so magical: you only knew he was a slightly hunchbacked, bug-eyed custodian, but hes managed to get one of the masked men into a headlock, and one of the three already passed out is lying at his feet.
Gareths disfigured face is suddenly lit up by a yellow light as a large electric ball explodes across his chest. He lands on the ground twitching, smoke wafting off his chest, his target sprawled just inches away. A tall masked man walks up next to him, but the other professors are caught up in their own battles.
You have to do something.
Once again it looks like the rewards are the same regardless of the choices I make, but once again I didnt go looking things up ahead of time. So lets just pretend Iliana is still trying to practice her Incantation, shall we?
In a moment of what you can only consider temporary insanity, you leap out of your hiding spot and launch a fairly convincing fireball at the enemies. Thankfully, your studying has paid off and your projectile finds its mark, and the hooded foe stumbles backward. Your triumph is short lived, however, as his protections have left him merely singed, allowing him to immediately spot the new threat: namely, you.
You quickly fling a second blast, but he deflects it with ease. You step backwards, speeding through another set of phemes, but the masked man simply pulls up his sleeve, revealing a set of phemes tattooed along his wrist. As he rubs them with his other hand, his fingers glow a deep red. You dont have enough time to build a defensive spell. You close your eyes and bring up your arms.
After an eternity of waiting, you open one eye a crack, then stare in amazement as a recovered and very angry Gareth chokes out your opponent with a sleeper hold.
Youll have to remember to get him something nice later.
With the last of the masked villains dispatched, the professors turn their attention to you.
Well, young Miss OtMatar. Let me assure you this is not how we wished for the award ceremony to go.
Speak for yourself.
The Legate chuckles, and the professor glares at him. Orsi responds with a beatific smile.
Who were they? Pirates? Swashbucklers?
Professor Knoht finishes adjusting her hair, although it looks just as frazzled as ever to you.
Oh, just some members of some dark organization or other, I reckon.
Gareth snorts in agreement as he gives a swift kick to the one who knocked him out.
Bloody bastards. That tingled!
Yes. Anyway, no need to worry. Youve got all of us to protect you.
However, its best the lot of you stay clear of these dark matters, seems to me. Youd best stay quiet about this, you hear?
Im afraid Gareth is right, even if he does overstep his authority. The other students are on edge as it is, after the incident on Saturday.
You look to the Legate for the final word, but hes wandered off to inspect some of the unconscious attackers.
He sighs, then looks back at the lot of you.
I think secrecys already a lost cause, Polisena. I do believe I saw your good friend Mr. Cobo scuttling off into the bushes a moment ago.
Now, now. I was a lot like him at that age.
A terrifying thought.
No way is Iliana giving up that fast.
You hang your head sullenly as the adults check the bodies and await the authorities. Legate Orsi begins to play around with a floating light mote (probably Astrology, but its always hard to tell with him) and Gareth wanders around kicking the unconscious bodies.
After a particularly heavy boot, you notice a scrap of paper fly out of the fallen mans jacket. Its too far away for you to grab without getting noticed, but at least that keeps your options simple.
The other option is still roll over, so lets point it out.
Um, esteemed faculty, it looks like that one there dropped a piece of paper.
Mm? Oh, yes, good eye!
The Legate jogs over and grabs the paper. As he reads it over, his cheery expression darkens.
Polisena? You should see this.
What is it?
When she looks, she gasps.
What is it?
Its a list. Of targets.
Knoht, youre on here and theres me.
Me? What did I do?
Im a bit offended they left me out.
They probably consider you too powerful to be eliminated. But whats this even for?
Wait, no, there you are.
Oh. Yes. Indeed. Im not sure if I should feel better or worse.
Look who else is here. Could they know? Do you think Salvatore
No, not this time. Its not his style. They probably just sensed weakness and decided to strike. We have to find out what else they know. And with all haste, as well.
Who can we send, though? Theyll notice our absence.
Simple. We send someone they arent watching.
The Legate looks pointedly at Gareth.
Um, excuse me. Pardon, I dont feel so good.
At first you think its just for show, but suddenly Gareth clutches his stomach and retches out a pungent reddish gunk. The Legate rushes over to the man and asks in a low voice if hes having trouble breathing.
Blast, that shot must have done more damage than we thought. Marlein, bring Gareth to the infirmary, quickly!
Orsi helps load Gareth onto Professor Knoht, then steps back to let them stagger away.
Well, there goes that brilliant idea.
The Legate conjures a well-used corncob pipe and begins to puff. Suddenly, a light seems to turn on in his head.
Polisena? Perhaps we should let our award-winner go in our place?
Are you crazy, Orso? Shes a student!
And quite capable for all that, I have to say.
The Legate moves toward you, his hand out and a smile once again on his face.
Greetings, Miss OtMatar. Iliana? Im afraid weve never been properly introduced yet; in fact, I cooked up that little award for you just so wed have the chance to meet. I make it a policy to meet with every student who causes as much of a ruckus as you have, you see. Why, the last time we were even in the same room together must have been, what, school council presentations? I usually like to speak to potential councilors, but you managed to bypass that process completely. And we can hardly count Saturday, considering you were just outside the window at the time.
Youyou saw me?
Saw is such an odd word. I sensed you, all right, but that was because I was enchanted to the gills for that confrontation with Salvatore. Pretty good hiding spot, otherwise. You know, I dont think this school has had a troublemaker of your caliber since oh
Right, the current problem! Iliana, how would you like to go on a trip?
Aha! Tests are all studied for already!
Of course! Anything for the Academagia.
Orsi chuckles, seeing right through you.
Very well, then. Ill go talk to your dorm advisors and get you checked out for the night. You may want to get your friends, the, ah, Five-Handed Tree? (Odd name.) As much as I hate endangering one student, let alone five, there is a safety in numbers and you work together well. Well meet back up in my office.
There is one other thing I must make clear with you. This will be dangerous. You may go up against more of these masked fellows, very possibly without any backup beside yourselves. I would never send you if I didnt think you had a chance, but these men will not hold back. They will try to kill you, child or not. Do you understand?
Suddenly everything Professor Sido said comes crashing back on you. Youve faced monsters before, but either they werent out for blood or help was in easy reach, and in any case a monster is nothing compared to a fully trained mage. Still, you find yourself nodding.
Good. Ill explain what I need you to do once were in our office. Harder to be overheard in there.
So whos this guy we need to find, again?
Professor Briardi taps her foot impatiently, as edgy as youve ever seen her.
The Duke of Broken Pines! By the Emperors of Men, do you ever listen?!
She seems primed to continue, but abruptly deflates.
Im sorry. You didnt deserve that.
Is there a reason shes so on-edge, Legate?
They used to date.
Even professors make mistakes. Very occasionally. And it was a very long time ago.
You whistle in appreciation. If word of this duke got out among the boys of College Durand, the mysterious assassins could be the least of his problems.
Best not to dwell on it, eh? Regardless, well be sending you to rendezvous with the Duke in his lands. Our normal lines of communication seem to be blocked, and unfortunately no one quite knows where he is at any given moment. Hes a very mysterious man. I gather he was a very bright pupil of this school at one point. Very promising. But then they discovered he couldnt actually use magic.
What?! The sound comes from five different throats simultaneously.
Yes, hes a trickster, that one. He occasionally turns up in Mineta, but he lives in the Forest of Broken Pines, way inside the Reserve. The Duke title is a bit of a joke, you see. I believe he lives in one of the old castles left over by the Empire of Man, but Ive never visited him there. No one really goes to that part of the forest anymore.
Please make sure not to mention me. And be safe.
The Legate, looking suddenly stern as he throws on an unfamiliar robe, continues:
I guess its time to begin. Now, all of you, I cant repeat enough just how serious this is.
Symbols glow along the Legates sleeves, and a doorway opens up before you.
Now, using an enchanted item isnt illegal in quite the same sense as actually casting a Gates spell, and in these circumstances
Yes, Orso. Lets show the students exactly how they can skirt the law and put themselves at risk.
I was thinking von Rupprecht could run a decent class on the topic, actually.
Your heart pounds harder as you realize the instructors themselves are resorting to illegal magic. And here you thought the Legate would be completely law-abiding.
Its not too late for any of you to back out, just so you know. Youll come out in more or less the right place, but I dont know what awaits on the other side.
Keep in mind, once you go through, you wont be able to come back the same way. No one will think less of you if you decide not to go.
Just a sec. I understand you have more exposition on this target?
Um, professors? Why is this duke guy so important, exactly?
Orso? Would you mind?
Very well. As weve already said, the Duke was once a student here, around the same time as Professor Briardi. Thing is, he had no magical abilities to speak of, yet no one found out until a week before final commencement. The lad had a talent for a great many other things, though, obviously. As to why hes important, well, lets just say some stories arent mine to share.
Thatll do. Lets continue the adventure.
You step forward and say:
Ill do it, professors.
Im coming, too.
Were all coming.
You look on your friends with a measure of pride.
Very good. Here, then, youll need this.
The Legate hands you a brass locket.
The Duke will know it. It should also help keep you safe. And again, please dont mention me. Please.
Be careful, all of you.
You close your eyes and step through the gate.
You emerge from the gate about five feet off the ground, and you fall down to earth with an unceremonious splat. You quickly scramble to get out from under Emilia, who was next to follow you, but she proves too slow to avoid Vrenelle falling onto her. Eventually, when everyone has come through and dusted themselves off, you manage to take stock of your surroundings. You see immediately why they call it the Forest of Broken Pines.
The trees are gnarled and dry, the earth barren and dusty. Even the air seems to have a dusky, brownish hue. The only exception would be those two warty green leg-trunks just a few feet away.
Or, wait. Those are legs. Ogre. Crud. He pounds his massive chest with a splintered club and shouts:
Jugo gor hunkthor!
Dueling seems like a bad idea. But why not try talking?
Ruis wand is already out and moving, but you grab his arm.
He might not be hostile! Um, hello!
Do you speak, er, Renaglian?
The creature breaks wind. Well, at least you know its not necessarily hostile. Suddenly, an entirely reasonable question occurs to you.
Do you know the Duke of Broken Pines?
So what if he does?
A new voice comes from just behind you. You turn around only to be greeted by the pointy end of a sword. The man holding it seems handsome, in a wild sort of way, and he is accompanied by an ometto, short even by dwarven standards.
I see you met Charles. You must forgive him. He doesnt speak anything other than Ogrish, and an old variant at that.
Aye, but a gentle soul he is.
I-I was told to give the Duke this.
You hold out the brass charm, and the Duke seems to recognize it immediately.
Well, well, it seems youre here on some official business. Very well. If youre looking for the Duke of Broken Pines, youve found him.
Thats great! Listen, youre in terrible
No time now, hurry, we must go. You cant afford to wander around on your own right now, and I cant afford to stay still. Talk while we walk.
The Duke sets a furious pace, one which only Vrenelle seems able to keep up without effort.
Are you sure we can trust these children, milord?
No. But since she has that amulet, Ill give her the benefit of the doubt, for now.
The sun has dipped below the horizon when your odd party starts. At the Dukes insistence, talking had ceased an hour ago, and the only communication since has been in hand signals. Before long, you see the dim flicker of a campfire.
Lad, come here. What do you see?
Its more of those masked figures! Those were the ones fighting the staff at the Academagia!
The Duke nods, then taps Tacito on the head.
As I thought. Stay quiet.
You move closer to see for yourself. The figures are all gathered around an altar stained brown with dried blood. Atop the altar is a beautiful beast.
A unicorn. Oct wept.
A flash of red tells you someone has stabbed an artery. The flowing blood is carefully collected by another in a pewter bowl. The crowd begins chanting. It starts slow at first, but the cadence picks up as it continues, becoming more and more aggressive. The apparent leader, the one with the knife, drinks the offered contents of the bowl as the chanting reaches a fever pitch.
The drinker suddenly collapses to his knees and retches. Then his cloak expands and tears off as a pair of giant wings sprout from his back. A sickening crunch accompanies his hood bursting to reveal a hideous reptilian form.
Charles the ogre gasps.
A wyvern! Come, we must get away.
Charles sweeps up the short ometto in his arms, and the lot of you flee as fast as you can.
A wyvern! Supposedly they all died out centuries ago, but that was no human you watched explode out of its clothes. Your confusion is interrupted by a flaming projectile exploding against a nearby pine. A bloodcurdling screech accompanies a dark shadow that passes overhead.
You dont recognize the language, but youre willing to bet youd agree with the sentiment.
On the ground below the wyvern are half a dozen dark wizards, phemes already blazing in front of them.
Take the wizards! The wyverns mine.
The drake makes a strafing run to bathe you in its flaming breath, its wiry black figure sharp behind the light of its exhalation. As the flame passes, the Duke dodges out from behind a tree and lunges straight at the wyverns belly. The beast screams in pain, even as the Duke uses his blade as a handhold to climb onto its back.
But thats as much time as you can spare on watching. The rest of your companions are already engaged, leaving one portly spellcaster for you.
First, you study your foe.
The man is clearly involved in magics you know next to nothing abouthigh-powered Revision, maybe even Gates. That said, while the wyvern carried him most of the way to you, hes even more out of breath than you are. You may just have a physical edge, if you can figure out how to use it.
Second, strike at the weakness. Competition doesnt turn any more green, but thats certainly good enough.
You grab a nearby broken branch and charge straight at the wizard, dodging or deflecting stunning rays, fireballs, and lightning bolts. You leap into the air just before your target, and take that moment to thank the gods that you are young and strong and put in enough physical training to manage this.
The portly figure has nothing but shock on what shows of his face, clearly not expecting such a brash, unorthodox strategy. Your first flying blow strikes him across the cheek, drawing blood.
He staggers back, then touches the wound. Strangely, he smiles and licks the bloodthen, suddenly, his hand transforms into an icy blade. The smile becomes a wicked grin.
He really shouldnt have bothered. You dodge his first wild swipe, then dig your branch into his stomach. He doubles over, so you crack him across the back. He collapses.
You hit him once more for good measure.
Feeling much better, you check on your companions. Vrenelle is running circles around her opponent, keeping him from getting a good shot off, while Rui is animating everything that looks useful in an attempt to overwhelm his enemy. Emilia and Tacito have doubled up on one wizard and are currently trying to flank him, while the ometto is locked in a grapple with a nearly comically tall opponent, his willingness to bite giving him an edge. Charles the ogre doesnt seem to be faring as well, though.
Charles seems to be able to stop spells with his bare hands, and you watch him block first a blue bolt and then a green one, but his left arm is bleeding and his nose is severely bruised. You need to help him.
Time to do the mage thing and buff the front lines.
You trace out the phemes to transfer strength, in this case from you to Charles. You feel woozy and weak as the spell takes effect, but you can see the ogres muscles tighten and the bleeding stop from newly-healed wounds. Charles gives a great roar and charges straight at the enemy.
Some crashes, crunches, kabooms, and clunks later, the masked cultists have been disposed of one way or another. Charles catches your eye and gives you a nod of thanks. Everyone else gathers back together; tired, but alright.
Wheres the Duke?
Focys threkh grazk!
The ogre points upwards. The diving shadow above you cries in warning:
You dodge away just as the wyvern unleashes another flashing breath, carrying along the flames as it pulls up as though it bore a deadly halo. You hurry to find a thicker part of the forest, but the wyvern follows you. Its fiery attack spews forth once more and you throw yourself to the side, your chest burning from the exertion. Then the wyvern gives a pained cry of its own as the Duke pierces its side with his sword. Unfortunately, he loses his grip and slides off along with his weapon, crashing through a dead pine on the way down. The wyvern, dripping a black ooze from his wounds, breathes out one last fireball before flying off.
You are frozen as the fireball moves straight towards you, too fast to counter, too fast to dodge, too fast for anything. You close your eyes, and the darkness takes you.
Voices and faces appear and fade in front of you. You stand at the top of a tower, surrounded by unknown mountains. A shadow crosses you, and you look up to see a winged beast pass the sun. It is not the wyvern. It is too mammalian. Too regal. A wyvern has only two legs. Something falls from the creature and drifts through the air straight into your hand. It is the largest feather you have ever seen, three hands long, and colored as an eagles.
Your eyes flicker open. You mutter something unintelligible.
Duke! Junh yara opik! Hin komm!
Iliana! Youre awake!
Emilia beats Vrenelle to you to give you a big hug. Somehow shes both laughing and sobbing at the same time. The other Tree members dont look to be in a much better state, even if the boys are doing their best not to cry.
Well, well, look whos returned to us.
You got hit point-blank by the wyverns breath. The way you were the burns were
Where am I?
You look around. The room seems like it was built in the hollow of a tree. Flasks and strange materials line the walls: scrolls, tomes, and texts are scattered across cupboards and floors. You look down on the table you were resting on. Blood is everywhere.
You lurch to your feet.
The ogre nods toward the ometto, who has changed into medical attire, his pockets full of scalpels, tongs, and potions.
For a moment, I thought we had lost you.
Which would have been a damn shame, Iliana.
ButI feelI lookfine!
Aye. I wish I could say it was all my skill, but you had help. I swear it on my beard.
In the meantime, your friends told me all about your mission. Not that they needed to; I am a man of many talents. You should let Briardi believe I dont know she sent you, by the way. A shame, but duty always comes first. Can you walk?
Good. Theres something I should show you all.
You shake off the last of your aches and follow. A thought occurs to you on the way.
What about the wyvern? How did they bring it back? Why?
Darker forces exist in this world than you know, my young friend. As for why, your guess is as good as mine. Magical beasts have been dying out since the fall of the Empire, and with their death comes the death of magic. Well, a kind of magic, at any rate. Restoring what was lost isnt itself a bad idea, but the method theyre using is cursed magic. This way.
Its not too helpful if they have to kill a magic creature to get a new one, either.
The Duke leads you to a heavy oaken door, but stops before opening it.
Before we go in, there is a reason Im showing you this. I get the feeling a friend of mine took a liking to you.
The Duke gestures down at your hand, which is still clutching the giant feather from your dream. Somehow you just hadnt noticed before now.
Stepping through the door, you hear a majestic cry. A tiny creature, smaller than you would have expected, pounces off a table and comes up to you. It stretches its wings as it nuzzles along your leg.
Yes. This is an opinicus, or dustwind raptor, more commonly known as a griffin or gryphon, or a few other spellings. He may very well be the first new birth seen in Elumia in a century.
You feel astonished at what the Duke has told you. At the very least, it gives you plenty to talk about on the long trip home.
Gains of the End of the Week
--Relationship with Tarvixio Sido increased to 6.
--Aranaz Merit increased by 1; now at 338.
--Cpt. Felixs Wit increased by 4 separate steps.
--Charm increased by 1.
--Maj. Felixs Charm increased by 1.
--Maj. Felixs Intimidation increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 1 step.
----Trade Insights action learned.
----Bond increased by 1.
------Investigate Magical Bond action learned.
--Persuasion cannot be increased.
Morvidus wins again.
Used Externalized Desire on Carmine Sturzo; Relationship increased to 9.
--Bond of Silver increased by 1 step.
--Curiosity increased by 1 step.
----Serendipity ability learned.
--Familiar Kinship cannot be increased.
--Courage increased by 1 step.
--Pure Luck increased by 1 step.
--Observation increased by 1 step.
----Light pheme learned.
--Intrigue increased by 1 step.
----Relationship with Cante Caviti increased to 1.
--Relationship with Orso Orsi increased to 1.
--Curiosity increased by 1 step.
--Courage increased by 1 step.
----Regenerate pheme learned.
--Learned about the Forest of Broken Pines.
--Temperance increased by 1 step.
----Relationship with Courtenay de Surval increased to 4.
--Endurance increased by 1 step.
--Stress increased by 1.
--Brute Strength increased by 1 step.
--Flawless Timing increased by 1 step.
----Flawless Timing skill maxed!
----Lightning Strike ability learned.
--Courage increased by 1 step.
--Concentration cannot be increased.
--Coordination cannot be increased.
--Luck increased by 1.
--Vitality increased by 3 (to 13 out of 10).
--Mammals increased by 1 step.
--Relationship with Orso Orsi increased to 3.
--Relationship with Polisena Briardi increased to 4.
--Gained an Opinicus Feather.
--Learned about the above.
--Navigation increased by 1 step.
----Orient pheme learned.
Trade Insights: +1 step in random skill and +2 steps in random familiars skill.
Investigate Magical Bond: +1 step in Enchant and 5% chance to permanently boost 1 Familiar Attribute.
Serendipity: +33% chance of Random Event for 3 days.
Lightning Strike: Flawless Timing/Finesse v targets Athletics/Finesse+2; target takes -2 Vitality.
Explore the Forest of Broken Pines: +2 Stress, +1 step in Navigation, Wilderness Survival, and Familiar Kinship, and +1 step in Familiars Danger Sense.
Heck of an adventure, huh? That Opinicus Feather (resides in the Feather slot) grants +1 Luck and Passion, at the cost of a 10% failure chance for Negation spells. And since Iliana hardly casts those in the first place (adventures dont count), she just got +2 Luck from a single adventure. Nice.
Oh, and giving the Familiar 4 in Wit gives Iliana a +2, which with her other bonuses should make failing to Match Wits impossible. I say should, because Im not sure that the bonus was added since I managed to fail when I tested this. Lets just say its impossible to fail since thats how Im handling it anyhow, shall we?