The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 59: Fairies, Freaks, and Flamencos

In the interests of getting Anedius done by September, have a bonus update.

Anedius The Diakopi-14

Everything is going smoothly, and Joana is happier than you’ve ever seen her in a long time. She’s even stealing sweets with a smile now. After all, her dream date with Philippe looks like it might actually happen. She’s loving her dance lessons and getting the new moves down with surprising ease, and apparently Philippe has taken well to dancing, too. Or so you hope. The professor is on her way to report his progress right now. You can’t help but worry that it’s all worked out a little too well. Something’s bound to go wrong.

And no sooner do you think it than it does.

Joana jumps up in a panic and points out the window.

It’s him! He’s following Badcrumble! He can’t be allowed to see me or this will all be a waste of time!

Sure enough, you see Philippe skulking in the shadows, watching the professor as she heads to the Morvidus common room where the two of you are waiting for her. He isn’t going down without a fight. Joana turns to you with a dangerous look on her face.

Quick, think of something!

It’s either a mind wipe or an investigation, so let’s investigate.

Is there anything in the immediate area that you can use?

You notice a library book on a table that looks like a mushy romance novel. Joana wouldn’t be caught dead reading that sort of book; if she were to hold it over her face, it could help convince Philippe it isn’t really her.

Not good odds. Let’s stick with Glamour.

The professor is almost at the door; time is of the essence. You rush outside, wand in hand, hurriedly build your spell, and then fire it off at Philippe. He blinks and looks around blankly. He doesn’t seem to remember how he got where he is, and after a minute he wanders off.

Phew, that was close, but the day is saved! You head back inside just in time to hear the instructor explain that Philippe is an unexpectedly good dancer. Joana is practically glowing with happiness.

Today is the Diakopi, a big day for everyone’s familiars. By tradition, it’s time to fete, pamper, and thank your friend for all the help and companionship provided in the past year; there’s even a parade route running for a couple of miles through Mineta to terminate at the Great Gates of the Academagia! You’ve been planning to give Major Rufus Felix Northbridge III a special gift, but the moment has come and you still haven’t quite decided. What should it be?

A poem? A solid choice, but not flashy enough. Float on!

You decide to dedicate a parade float to your familiar, constructing it in your cat’s image. Gathering raw materials isn’t hard, considering all the other float building going on, and so you build a slightly larger-than-life float in Felix’s image. That done, you gather some of your friends and get some mass Sergei’s Timely Doorjam castings, expanding the float to the size of a small wagon, with room for you and to spare.

When the time for the parade comes, you sit sidesaddle upon your self-guided float (helpfully enchanted by the parade organizers), and Major Northbridge sits regally upon your shoulder. You spend the time smiling and waving to the excited crowd on either side of the street while Felix keeps his gaze fixed forward like any good military man should.

Felix spends the rest of the day crooning and rubbing up against your legs in pure joy.

A few months back, the Sphinx told you in passing about Jorndathal’s Circus, specifically how it keeps a freak show among other attractions. You hadn’t thought much about it since then, always having something better to do than visit a circus, but when the Diakopi Parade passed by the Imperial Docks, you happened to spy the pier rented out by the circus, and your curiosity was reignited.

Rather than setting up tents or even permanent buildings, Jorndathal’s Circus is made up of eighteen ships, each one decorated in paint, ribbons, and cloth of every hue imaginable. Trapeze artists swing from mast to mast, musicians and dancers crew the decks, exotic animals in cages or performing in parades fill the holds, and one ship ruled by clowns has been docked upside down for effect. And, of course, the depths of one particular ship hold a dim gallery full of freaks.

Jorndathal’s isn’t the first circus you’ve ever been to, nor is his freak show, and so the inmates aren’t particularly surprising to you: there’s the Bearded Lady, the Human Dwarf (you never really got the excitement of that one), the Three-Headed Monkey, and a few more exotic tenants: the Reptilian Man (really just a skin condition, he explains), the Saisyne Twins, and the Hunchbacked Scientist.

Despite their issues, all the freaks seem rather nice, a few of them showing off their deformities when a crowd gathers, and so you strike up a conversation with one of them.

It’s not so bad, really. Sure, they stare, and the kids laugh, but they would anyway, and this way they have to pay for the privilege. And I could shave, but poor Hugh there is stuck with his hunch; cursed from birth, so the mages say. So for us it’s either this or be locked away where no one can see us, and we prefer the light of day, thank you kindly! Not a hard way to earn a living, either.
Not that Jorndathal would ever see it that way himself. He’s a bit ashamed of us, you see, doesn’t think he ought to be making money on something so “degrading,” as he sees it. Now don’t let this get around, but he’s got his own deformity to worry about; a pair of withered legs he hides with clockwork limbs and pants, not that it isn’t obvious once you’re up close. Honestly, were he not the old ringmaster’s son, he’d probably be in here with the rest of us. The only reason we aren’t shut down already is because we’re a top attraction here at the circus, a fact I take no small pride in, thank you kindly!
Yes, I’ve often thought what we’d do if Jorndathal finally ended the freak show. It seems like he’s one good argument away from it, these days. I was thinking me and Leo there would find us an investor, buy out our ship, pull stakes, and go on a tour. It’d be downright exciting, going into business for ourselves! And you can just see me as a businesswoman, couldn’t you? I’ve already got the respectable beard, ho ho! Well, on with you now; can’t give anyone a good look with you hogging the good angle for yourself. Hope you enjoy the rest of the circus!

Though you strive to be studious, you always keep an ear out for gossip, no matter how buried in a book you get, and lunch today is no exception.

“Have you ever heard the one about the lady of the lake?” an older Aranaz girl asks her friend.

In a rather sarcastic monotone, her friend recites: “On a night when the moon waxes full, a lady in white will rise from the water of Ardica Lake to bask in the light. If you’re standing at the shore, and she considers you worthy, she will bestow upon you an artifact of unquestionable power. However, if you’re deemed unworthy, she’ll bestow upon you a curse of unquestionable inconvenience.”

After a moment’s pause, the first girl replies, “Hmph! You’re about as fun as a textbook.”

Her friend responds, “Come on, that’s like the third time you’ve asked me about the stupid rumor. Do we really need to go over it again?”

The pair move on to discussing their homework and you lose interest. You mull over what you heard: power, or inconvenience. You’re tempted to dismiss it as baseless, but if it’s so well known that someone could recite it like that…and the moon will be full out tonight…

I didn’t set up this one-shot to shoot it down. To adventure!

A late-night stroll through the Ardica Gallery to the shore of the lake would be a pleasant stretch of the legs. And if on the off-chance someone randomly happens by, you’ll just be harmlessly skipping stones across the water.

As other students are settling down for the evening, you slip quietly away from the dormitory and make your way to Ardica Lake. There’s an occasional student out as late as you, but they pay you no special attention.

Reaching the shoreline, you marvel at the beauty of the full moon reflected on the lake’s surface. After a few minutes of that, you get bored and start looking for good skipping stones. Aside from the occasional bad throw, you manage to get a good two or three skips on average; like the Sphinx says, it’s all in the wrist. You know your latest toss will be good before it even leaves your hand: splish, splish, splish, splunk! What the? Did your stone manage to hit a fish?

Unfortunately, the truth is even worse. Rising from the spot where your stone collided, a woman with hair the color of damp seaweed rises from the surface of the lake, her hand rubbing a spot on her forehead and her bright blue eyes (visible even in moonlight) glaring at you.

Part of you wants to run away immediately, but you’re not convinced that distance would really matter to a being like this. The lady continues to rise out of the water until her hips reach the surface, allowing you to confirm the detail of her white dress, although you’d also say the water itself seems to compose her entire form, clothes and all.

That really hurt! Well? What do you have to say for yourself?

Hmm. Something tells me honesty may be the best policy.

A satisfied smile crosses her purplish lips.

Honesty is so scarce a commodity that it is worth more than its weight in gold. Is it a lack of creativity that I have to thank for this rare gift, or are you genuinely that foolhardy? No, don’t bother answering. You’ve earned my gratitude so there’s no sense in mucking it up now.

The lake woman glides towards you, first dipping down to her shoulders, then rising back up to her hips, but now her arms hold a dripping robe, conveniently dyed in Aranaz colors. She presents it to you.

The path of honesty is fraught with difficulty, and only the most courageous remain on it for very long. Wearing this special robe shall help you endure the hardships that such a path promises. And before you ask what makes this robe different from the one you wear, listen up. The moment you put this robe on, a tiny pool of water will form in your left hand. Whether you drink it or let it flow to the floor matters not; it simply serves as a reminder of the power I bestow upon you this day. Go forth in steadfast conviction. But before you go far…

Her initial outrage may have abated, but the lady still stares at you intently the way a cat stares down a mouse. Perhaps she’s mulling over what to say next, or perhaps she enjoys watching you squirm. The only thing you can be certain of is that you aren’t out of danger yet.

Tell me, which is of greatest priority to you: your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of those others whom you hold most dear?

I’m getting flashbacks to Planescape: Torment. “I like you.” “I like you (Lie).” In Iliana’s case, Lie.

The naiad gives you a predator’s smile.

I feel the same! It’s so wonderful to have found a kindred spirit. I’d feared the pressure and competition of academy life had snuffed out anyone of genuine character. You really are quite agreeable. However, what would you say if I suggested that I’ve seen the truth through your honeyed words this entire time?

This happens entirely regardless of the previous response and success level. Perhaps Flattery will soothe her.

Bravo! An exquisite performance. I suppose there’s value to skill such as yours, but unfortunately for you, it’s not a skill that I value.

The water woman’s expression grows as cold and unfeeling as the lake that forms her.

You, like so many before you, have proven unworthy. All decisions carry consequences. On this night, the consequence is this: from dawn to dusk, you shall be as you are accustomed, but from dusk till dawn, for an entire month, you shall take the form I bestow upon you now.

Upon speaking her decree, the lady throws her hands above her and a wall of mist forms out of the lake and engulfs you. To your dismay, there’s much more going on than a cool fog: your body is changing rapidly within a storm of Revision magic.

Again, this happens completely without regard to your choices or successes in the last two stages. She’s really just having some fun and dressing it up as a judgment. Blasted fairies. Aside from the skill steps, only two choices really matter in this adventure: honesty at the first question and resisting for this option. I forgot which one I picked, and the description is vague, so…let’s just call it Negation.

As you begin casting in an attempt to counter her efforts, it becomes dreadfully clear that her powers are far too great for you to maintain a human form. The best you could manage is a somewhat more advantageous form than what she intended.

Once the mist clears, you are unable to resist shaking your new form. Looking down with what little neck is left, you find yourself looking at a round (if sleek) body covered in feathers of a black and white pattern. What little remains of your arms appear to be some kind of paddles or flippers. As much as the Sphinx has taught you about birds, you don’t think she’s ever mentioned anything like this.

The lady of the lake seems shocked as well, though not nearly as much as you.

An emperor penguin! I’d hoped for something a bit more…common.

She can’t help but smirk.

It seems you have some skill after all.
Good luck lying now.

The naiad gives an evil cackle and sinks back into the water.

You look down at your reflection in the water’s edge, still puzzled by your form. It’s built like a bird, yet it seems like someone designed it for flying through water instead of air. Even so, you suppose the fact you still stand somewhat tall is quite the accomplishment. As you debate your next course of action, you hear a male voice:

Seems to me you’ve got yourself into quite the pickle.

You turn to face the voice, but all you see is a tree.


You raise your head and spot a man, clad head to toe in black, casually leaning back on a wide tree branch, a bow in one hand and an arrow in the other. As he speaks, he balances the arrow on its point almost carelessly.

Seeing as you can’t speak—
–not in any human tongue, that is, I’ll answer the obvious question for you. All you need to know about me and why I’m here is that I’m in the service of this fine learning institution, and, ultimately, yourself so long as you remain a student. Pretty fancy work with the magic, by the way; I get the feeling she was aiming for a bird much smaller than that, something more bite-sized for a local predator, and that would have meant more work for me.

You can’t help but feel infuriated. Where was he when you were being transformed into a penguin? Relaxing in a tree?!

Wark! Wark!
I gather being a bird half the time will make it tough to get the most out of your schooling. So you should know the spirit of the lake is prideful, but not entirely beyond reason. Across the lake is a ritzy area called Frontino; lots of rich as…bas…annoying folk who spoil their kids rotten. Wretched excuses of humanity, the lot of them—almost as bad as a student. But then they don’t have groundskeepers to clear the lakeside of litter, so it just piles up. Our fair water mistress is powerful enough to deal with the problem, but she considers it beneath her. Fortunately, you’re a penguin, and you’ve got nothing better to do, so here’s my idea: you go and get the trash from their side of the lake and bring it over here, where the wardens won’t have a choice but to clean it up.

Though all the things the mysterious man said made sense, you still give him a skeptical look. Or at least, you hope you did; it’s really hard to work with a beak.

Oh, I recognize that look, even on a penguin. Fine. Groundskeeper Snood hasn’t paid up what he borrowed off me, still, and I’d like to remind him that he needs to give me what he owes if he doesn’t want me coming up with fine ideas like this all the time. Look, it’s win-win for everyone here.

You sure I have to do this?

Nothing really tempting offers itself. You don’t doubt Professor Briardi could break the curse, but first you’d have to waddle back to the main building or wait out the night, and either way you know she won’t be able to resist lecturing for an hour about provoking random spirits.

Oh well. Think of it like community service, if it helps.

You dive into the cool water and start swimming. Although unfamiliar with your new body, you pick up the knack of swimming with it almost instantly. You certainly don’t want to stay a penguin for any length of time, but you can’t deny how right it feels dashing from one side of the lake to the other.

Picking up the litter proves to be a snap: you swim to Frontino, grab a discarded item in your beak (doing your best to avoid licking it), then swim over to the Academagia side and drop it off. Still, even in your hydrodynamic form, it seems like picking up litter will take all night, but then the currents of the lake start to propel you towards each shore. Good to know the spirit approves, then.

After a few dozen trips, you’ve moved all the major articles over, and so you waddle back onto shore to see if the lady of the lake thinks you’ve done enough penance. As you wait for a verdict, you look over the items you collected; it seems like some of them might still be useful, at least if they could ever be clean again.

Looking back up, you see that the naiad has left the lake and is surveying the pile along with you. Seeing she has your attention, she smiles.

Before we determine the value of this pile, I suppose I owe you one for tidying up my domain. However, before I lift my curse on you, you must agree to be honest, plain-stated, and direct with me for the rest of our conversations. Nod to show you agree.

You nod quite heartily.

Very well.

The cool mist engulfs you once again, and when it is finished, you are back in your familiar and much-loved human form. You sigh in relief.

Now, as for what you’ve collected…most of it is just trash. But there are two items here that still have some magic in them.

The woman picks up a dirty pair of fingerless gloves and a tattered cloak, then glides back onto the lake surface. She then dips the items into the water, and when they come out, they are clean and whole again.

Here’s the deal: for your assistance, you have earned one of these items. But to make things fun, you shall decide which item you want before I will tell you what it does. So which do you want?

This is why resisting the spell matters: if you fail or try to run, you’ll turn into a blue penguin instead of an emperor, and blue penguins are much smaller. Thus, the items she offers would be smaller and less useful than the cloak and gloves. Now, I just happen to know that the cloak is a better pick for Iliana, so the cloak she gets.

This is the Cloak of Beguiling. In appearance, it is a simple dark green cloak, but when worn it will make the wearer more capable of winning favor with those he or she speaks to.

Man, what a day.

The dance is fast approaching now, and while you’ve weathered a few rough patches, Joana’s plans are still on track. Only one problem remains: she needs something to wear. She doesn’t want anything too frilly or girly; that’s just not her. Nevertheless, she does want a dress that will knock Philippe’s socks off. After all, if she gets to the dance and he doesn’t want to dance with her, well, she just might have to steal forty cakes to have enough to feel better after that.

Also, Philippe’s and your faces would never look the same. You’ll need to keep that in mind, too.

Wow, words much? Only one thing will work, so off we go.

Going into the dress shop with Joana is a touchy thing. She seems to think the shop girls are stupid, and they think she’s uncouth and mean. Somehow you’ll have to keep the peace long enough for Joana to get her perfect dress.

It’s not easy. The first thing that happens is when Joana looks at all the dresses and curls her lip.

These are all for prissy little girly girls.

You notice the shop girls eyeing her with distaste.

I know, I know, but keep your voice down or they won’t want to help. So unless you want to find the perfect dress yourself…

One of the assistants finally comes over to see if she can help you. You think she’s really fishing for an excuse to get you out of the shop.

Is this the first time you’ve shopped for a dress? Most of our clothes wouldn’t be suited to you, but I’d be happy to help you find something.

Joana glowers at the arrogant girl, but you step in just in time.

Yes, actually, Joana here needs something special for a dance. It’s very important to her.
Well, for someone of her size—
What do you mean, my size?
Just that she needs to take measurements! Look, live with it or she’ll throw us out, and then how will you get Philippe’s attention?

Joana reluctantly nods and, for the most part, remains on her best behavior while the tailor takes you through a tour of several dresses. You have to defuse several more situations as Joana dismisses several possibilities while verging on rudeness, but then you finally find the perfect look. It’s slimming, it’s flowing and easy to move in, and when Joana tries it on, even the shop girl has to admit she looks great.

Philippe will love it! If he doesn’t, I’ll punch him until he does.

How touching.

Getting an interview with Jorndathal turns out to be easier than you expected. You had thought that, given his leg problems, he would avoid talking to strangers, but it turns out he’s actually eager to talk to regular circus-goers—provided that he meets them while sitting behind his desk, at least. Charming your way past his secretary is a breeze.

Mr. Jorndathal? You’re Mr. Jorndathal, right?
That’s right, young lady. I hope there’s nothing wrong with the circus? Did the hellhounds scorch someone’s balloon again?
No, nothing like that. I’m here to talk to you about the freak show.

Jorndathal gives you a patronizing smile.

Ah. You’re one of those. Listen, lass, you’re not the first to take up the cause of the freaks. They are well paid, well taken care of—they like it here! Have you considered what other options they’d have? Why—
Oh, I know all that. I had a nice long chat with the bearded lady yesterday. I’m here with a business proposal.
Really? Business? With you?
Well, not with me, exactly. I’m more of a…middle-woman. See, after talking with them, it sounded to me like paying for their ship and their contracts would be a good investment, seeing as they’d like to go on tour. So I talked with a bunch of merchants who’re friends of mine, and they agreed to chip in and buy out your freak show.
…Really? Do you have any idea how much money they make for me? How much it would cost to free them up like that? And take the ship with them! That’ll add a pretty pim. What kind of money did you get together?

You quote a number, still safely below the maximum you’re allowed to go. Jorndathal’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise.

I…I think we may be able to do business after all. Still…I think the ship alone would be worth a bit more than that…

What follows is a vigorous negotiation. At first, Jorndathal tries offering free rides and meetings with the highlight performers, so you respond by offering free drinks with a purchase of twenty-five pims or more at one of the restaurants you represent. After that, he stops underestimating you.

Over an hour later, you’ve shot down every attempt he made to bluff up costs, and he’s managed to inch you up very close (but not quite to, you consider with pride) the price cap you were given. Grudgingly, but with a wide smile on his face, Jurndathal agrees to a final payment deal and stands to shake your hand.

To be honest, I’d given up hope of ever getting rid of the freak show without pulling the rest of the circus down with them, or else putting the poor fellows out on the street to beg. Thank you, Iliana. I’ll be sure to let everyone know exactly how and why the freak show ship will be missing from the pier.
It’s been a pleasure, Mr. Jorndathal.

As occasionally happens, Professor Sido is telling a story to a group of students outside of class. It was just one at first, but more started to clump up as Sido got into the groove of things. In this case, he even has a visual aid: a small porcelain ball with intricate figures painted all over it. When your turn comes to hold the ancient artifact, it winds up slipping right from your hands and falling to the ground, breaking into pieces. You don’t think anyone saw, but you’d better do something to fix this, fast!

Another class event I’ve had to adapt to the weekend. Reason things out, maybe?

Maybe there’s something around here that can help you out of this issue. You take a deep breath and try to focus your attention on finding a positive solution. You notice that dinnertime is almost here; that’d be a good reason to flee.

So no Revision option, then? Rats. Maybe if Sido wasn’t Iliana’s favorite professor, she’d just run for it, but since she likes him, she may as well fess up. He’ll understand.

There’s no getting out of this one. You decide to just admit what happened and get whatever’s coming to you, so you raise your hand and spill your guts. Professor Sido is upset, but he appreciates your honesty.

Ah, Iliana! Come to discuss something about Dueling Club with us?
It seems to me things are going quite smashingly.
Quite. But there’s always room for improvement, Vincenzo, as you well know!
Not so well as you, dear Paolo.
Well deflected, sir! But I believe we were speaking with Iliana?
I didn’t come here about Dueling Club, I just thought I’d visit. I was thinking of adding another student soon; have you heard of Joana Lio y Rossollo? I’m sure the other members have talked about her.
Joana…Joana…a thug of a girl, as I take it? She sounds quite unladylike from what I understand.
Not at all like the girls I recall at that age.
A shame, but really inevitable, the way the next generation goes…and there’s been quite a few of those by now…So what inspires you to bring her to us?
I’ve been trying to befriend her and help her out with her crush so she won’t, y’know, pick on me and my friends. We were choosing dresses today.
At least she has that much sense, eh, Paolo?
Indeed, although I’ve no doubt all the dresses these days look quite awful and tacky. And that reminds me; you’re past due for another lesson on Etiquette, aren’t you, young lady?
Oh, bully! And whilst you do that, I can regale our young friend about the fashions worn in our time. Quite elegant indeed, as you shall hear…

At last, the moment comes that Joana has been waiting and planning for. The big dance is finally here, she’s wearing her new dress, and she looks quite good in it, if you do say so yourself. Even others agree; everyone is shocked to see her all dressed up, and you think she’s enjoying the positive attention.

She’s also feeling good about the dancing. She practiced the steps with you until she was perfect. Philippe has shown up, too, and all is well. At least, aside from the fact that he isn’t even paying her any attention. Instead, he’s busy showing off his new dance moves. It’s like Professor Badcrumble has created a monster. He’s good. He’s real good, and some of the other girls even want to dance with him, but then that’s not any good for their health. You can feel Joana getting madder by the second.

She turns to you like you knew she would.

That’s not fair! He wouldn’t even know how to dance if it weren’t for me! Make him dance with me and make him like it.

Well, you’ve come this far. You may as well bring it home.

A Dating check versus 20, but Iliana’s Charm is 13 (14 once she succeeds). Late game is awesome.

You wait for Philippe to take a break from the dance floor, then sidle up to him and cautiously bring up this great girl you happen to know. She’s tough, she doesn’t take lip from anyone, and she takes what she wants.

Philippe is mildly intrigued, but you can see him already longing for the dance floor again, so you add that she likes to dance, too. You know that new dance you’ve been showing off? She knows it, too. Why, it’d look pretty great to see you both doing it at once, wouldn’t it?

Yeah…yeah, that would be pretty cool. So who is it?

You give a nod towards Joana, who was waiting for your signal. She comes up, trying her hardest not to grin her face in half. Philippe looks uncertain, but after you assure him again that she can really dance, he agrees to give it a shot.

From where you sit, it really looks like they’re hitting it off. Philippe is genuinely pleased to have a partner who knows what everyone’s already calling his signature moves, and Joana is pleased just to have him paying attention to her. When the music finally ends, Philippe admits to having a good time. Striking while the iron is hot, Joana asks if she can help him plan his next attack. He responds that he usually works alone, but he’ll think about it. That’s good enough for her.

Joana finds you later and claps you heavily on the back.

We make a good team! If anybody bothers you, let me know and I’ll beat them up for you. Well, unless it’s Philippe, of course.
Of course.

It won’t show up in the stats at the end, but this adventure also boosts the Joana/Philippe Relationship by 3 points.

You’ve heard tell of an old palace at—or under, rather—Ten Swans’ Lake. The water’s not too deep anymore, the story goes, and a decent swimmer can check out the towers and study some of the mosaics set on the underwater rooftops.

So, why not? It’s a little bit different, if nothing else.

As you walk the last mile to get to the shore, though, you pass an old fisherman. He’s carrying odd gear along with his pole: ropes, a harness, maybe more. As you give him a funny look, he offers you the same.

Hey, there. Mind if I ask how you were planning to get up onto the pillar? You one of those wizard kids?
Yeah, pillar. Don’t you know? You can’t get too close to the water! There’s a Gudafrsra in the shallows. You know about them, right? They say they’re what becomes of you if you drown while doing something despicable. They bring a chill with them wherever they go, and they see the living as good for nothing but sucking water. Bad beasties, them. You’ll want to be up high, where this one can’t reach you!
What? But…what about the palace?
Oh, it’s down there, all right. Old as Durand’s bones, not that that does anyone any good.

The old man shrugs and resumes his walk.

So…you’re a wizard, right? Fighting monsters is part of your job description, right?

Much like the Cold Room, trying to visit the Sunken Palace the first time will trigger a special adventure. Unlike the Cold Room, however, this one is only the one stage long. So let’s kill it with fire.

You march down to the water’s edge, where any doubts you had about the old man’s story are settled by an odd wooden platform that’s holding a chair ten or fifteen feet above the sand. So, what is there to do? You pull out your wand and walk back and forth along the shore, waiting to see if something might try to attack you.

You feel its cold before you actually see it. The water it’s in is very dark, and it’s bobbing more like a half-drowned log than a floating human. It’s a sickly green, apparently trailing water lilies or something, and it seems to be only drifting at first. It takes you a few seconds to be sure it’s moving your way intentionally, and a few more to realize that there are tendrils or something pulling it along.

Hey! Just in case this is just some student or someone playing a bad trick, I am going to bathe this undead log thing in some real hot flames! If you aren’t really undead, this is your last chance to not get hit! No?

Time for fire.

You throw burning sphere after burning sphere into the water around the beast, and the roar of outrage that answers you is not from any practical joker. The creature vanishes under the water’s surface, and then blades of foul-looking ice erupt out toward you.

Clearly the solution here is more fire.

Three or four minutes pass before you feel totally safe to stop.

Iliana’s built up another nice lump sum, so I decided to check out the catalog revealed by her new point in Courtly Fashion to buy her something nice. Sadly, she only had enough for one item instead of two, but it’s always fun to get something for a new slot, isn’t it?

You’re just about to finish a spell when your cat makes a strange noise. It’s not the kind of noise it’s ever made before, sort of a half moaning hiss. That’s enough to worry you, but when you see what’s happened, you feel horrified: Major Felix is curled up in a corner, bright green and shaking!

As you stare, it lifts its head weakly and meets your gaze with big, pitiful eyes. Something’s terribly wrong, and it’s trusting you to help it!

Oh, no! Who did this to you, boy?

You crouch down at Northbridge’s side and run a gentle hand down his shivering sides.

There, there, boy. It’ll be all right…show me who did this, Felix.

After a few moments, Felix projects an image of Cante Caviti dropping a small green bottle into his path. The liquid splashes and the image fades, but you can guess the rest: a potion did this.

Cante is at Relationship 1 with Iliana, for reference, but I still think she’d rather just sort things out immediately herself.

You remember Professor Aventyrare’s special lesson on healing phemes, and you see no better option than to perform the spell yourself. You crouch down to your friend’s side and hold your wand above his head. With a delicate care you trace out the phemes of the Lesser Charm of Fixing.

For a few moments you’re scared stiff that it’s not going to work; you don’t feel anything happening and there’s certainly nothing you can see to indicate the spell had any effect.

Finally, Major Felix gives a startled cry, and then green coloring disappears completely. Within a few minutes, your cat is back to his old self, rubbing against your leg and making loud purring noises. Well done.

Gains of the Weekend

Successful adventure!
--Glamour Spells cannot be increased.
Successful adventure!
--Curiosity increased by 1 step.
----Scavenge action learned.
--Gained a Robe of Water’s Endurance.
--Learned about the above.
--Composure increased by 1 step.
--Swimming increased by 1 step.
----Learned about the Drowned Palace of Usin.
----Athletics increased by 1.
------Wrestle action learned.
------Learned about Endurance (Rimbal).
--Gained a Cloak of Beguiling.
--Learned about the above.
Visited Jorndathal’s Circus: Freak Show.
--Tease increased by 1 step.
--Insult increased by 1 step.
----Shame pheme learned.
--Acting increased by 1 step.
----Learned about the Dimmae Theater.
--Learned about Jorndathal’s Circus.
Malacresta and Aveline used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 432.
Successful holiday!
--Carpentry increased by 1 step.
----Rimiday’s Carpenter’s Catalog available.

Successful adventure!
Represented the Freaks.
--Glory increased by 2.
--Ethics cannot be increased.
Visited the Spirits.
--Etiquette increased by 1 step.
----Plus 1 to Romance.
--Courtly Fashion increased by 1 step.
----Catalog of Espermont Desportes available.
Successful event!
--Ethics cannot be increased.
--Relationship with Tarvixio Sido increased to 3.

Successful adventure!
--Dating increased by 3 steps.
--Charm increased by 1.
Explored the Sunken Palace.
--Swimming increased by 1 step.
----Water pheme learned.
--Archaeology increased by 1 step.
Bought the Calf-Length Boots.
Malacresta used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 438.
Successful event!
--Courage increased by 1 step.

New Abilities

Scavenge: random chance of item, lore, money, Vitality hit, or Charm penalty.
Explore the Sunken Palace: Fitness/Swimming v4; +1 step in Archaeology and Swimming.
Wrestle (Duel): Fitness/Wrestling v target’s Fitness/Wrestling: -1 Vitality and Finesse.
Perform at the Dimmae Theater: random chance of Glory loss/gain, money loss/gain, Merit loss/gain, skill gain, or Relationship gain.
Look Around the Dimmae Theater: +1 step in Theatre and Architecture and Information on all Dimmae Theater locations.
Represent the Freaks: Charm/Debate v20; +2 Glory and +1 step in Ethics.
Attend the Circus: -15 pims, -3 Stress, and +1 step in Playfulness.
Work at the Circus: +10 pims, -1 Stress, and +1 step in Acting, Playfulness, and Voice.

The Robe of Water’s Endurance grants a +1 to Endurance and Incantation Methods, which is slightly better than the Tailored Robes, which only gives a +1 to Composure. The Cloak goes in a different slot, much like with D&D, and it provides a +1 to Charm (), Beguile, and Persuasion. And after all that talk of honesty…