The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 68: Fear

Kaliri 22-25

I got it right this time, folks. You can expect to see Gates Spells maxed out by the end of the year.

To say the least, Honors was quite surprised when you showed up at her dorm room wearing Durand robes, but after some convincing (and corroboration from a few witnesses in the Garden Gallery), she agrees to let you bunk with her for the rest of the week. After all, with only one final left and self-cleaning robes, it’s not like you take up much space.

Speaking of, while Sunday’s activities kept you too distracted to prepare, it turns out not to matter; you score a 120 on the exam, which is more than enough to leave the others in the dust, if not by the margin you’re used to.

Oh, my. I had heard about what you did yesterday, but it is quite another thing to actually see the costume change. I must admit, the Durand robes look quite flattering on you. Then again, I always thought the Aranaz uniform was far too restrictive.
It is nice to not have that starched collar anymore. Of course, it doesn’t really mean anything. Not unless I show up next year wearing this, I mean.
Oh, it will mean more than you expect, particularly to the older students with a greater sense of college loyalty. Now what was today’s lesson? Ah, yes.
Conflict defines our lives. Cooperation is all well and good, but it fades into distant memory while our challenges and conflicts are remembered and refined. Conflict is required to tell a story; if not between groups, then against nature; if not against nature, then between individuals; if not between individuals, then within the self. Without something to fight, there is no story.
As such, competition can be used to create meaning in the lives of your followers in a way that coordination cannot manage. You could blame an easy target for your troubles, for example, or seek to build the greatest temple to Octavius of any of your neighbors. With a ready-made enemy, your followers will flock to your banner.
But you must exercise utmost caution. If feelings grow too strong, rules may be broken and situations worsen. The drive to win is powerful, and if allowed to grow too strong, nothing will stop it.
It is here I think the power-sharing governments find the most trouble. When no single group can dominate, each has easy access to a number of potential foes, and even when things do not degenerate into applied Force, it can cause much pointless bickering.
Let us test the concept: I shall summon a fairy to move some items of mine, while you shall have to match her with your own back and arms. She who bears the most, wins. Afterward, considering recent events, I believe I shall teach you more of the Pride of a Rebel Queen.

With your last final over and nearly a week left until school ends, you decide to start today under a nice, shady tree with an exciting adventure book. There’s a hole a few meters away from where you’re sitting, but you didn’t give it much thought until it started to kick up clouds of dirt. Curious as to who might be digging, you go up to the edge and shout down:

Oy! Need any help down there?

Alan Driscoll’s head pops out of the hole. You try and remember what little you know about him: he’s a Godina student and thus pretty active, but he always seems to be hunting around for something or other whenever someone comes across him. Not that he ever says what it is he wants, though.

Oh, hey, Iliana. Nope, don’t need any help.
Are you sure? I’m always willing to lend a hand. And my services are priced quite reasonably.

Alan shrugs.

Well, if you really want to…I could use a bit of advice.
I suppose I could give you a little advice for free. What about?
I’ve been digging this pit for a while now, but I haven’t found anything. So I figured I should move on to someplace else? Where do you think is the best place to look for treasure?

Considering her recent experiences with the spirit of Ardica Lake, I’d say Iliana would have an informed opinion about it.

Have you ever gone treasure hunting at the lake? I saw a lot of shiny things on the bottom when I was a—when I was swimming there a while back. People must drop their money in there all the time.

Alan’s face lights up.

That’s a good idea!

He dashes off without another word, leaving a cloud of dust behind to settle in his wake.

Later at lunch, you find Alan again (this time more moist than dusty) and ask him how things went. He flashes you a big smile in response, gives you the thumbs-up, and then tosses a coin to you.

A tip for the help.

Just another five pims. Oh well, it didn’t even need a skill check this time.

Considering that the Library of Longshade was your clique’s usual hangout, you decide to go to the Library of the Mantle of Stars instead to study Gates Spells. Looks like a lot of effort went into using Astrology to predict the random errors Gates magic can sometimes inflict.

I touched on rules yesterday, but perhaps I should go into further detail. Rules and laws are, once again, a way for people to cope with the Self/Other dichotomy. Specifically, they are limitations you place on yourself, either to limit your enemy or more rarely to prove yourself the better by working from a handicap. The essential benefit is to limit the number of unacceptable practices: you cannot disturb the board during a game of chess, you cannot read the cards in another man’s hand, you cannot kill someone without a very good reason, and you cannot attack the enemy when clearing the dead and wounded from the field of battle. But then there is cheating.
Cheating is very risky. When you cheat, you risk getting caught and punished, if such is possible, and you implicitly allow your opponent to cheat as well. Cheat enough and the rule ceases to have meaning, and you suffer whatever that rule was keeping in check.
What about rules like, “Students aren’t allowed off campus grounds without permission?”
Rules observed more in the breaking, you mean? Breaking a written rule in a certain, predictable fashion simply applies additional, unwritten rules; such is the substance of Tradition. Being unwritten, there is greater flexibility, but they are no less real.
However, what happens in most cases is that someone finds a way to exploit the rules or skirt around their edges to gain an advantage. In response, more rules are made, and new ways of bending them come about, and so on and so on. The law books of any long-established nation are full of the fossils of these rule-twistings.
One final note: while unwritten rules are more flexible, they are also more easily twisted by one good at persuasion. Written rules are more objective, but also more limited in how they can be wielded.
Today we shall test your Memorization: I will list a set of rules and then the actions of those they affect, and you must tell me which rule should be applied, if any. We shall make the subject…mm, Mastery Methods. That should make things interesting.

Although you’re wearing their uniform now, it’s clear as you walk through the halls of Campus Durand that not everyone trusts you completely yet. Conversations stop whenever you enter a room, and it seems like someone is always around to watch you wherever you go. Still, you don’t let that get to you; it just means you have farther to go to build their trust.

You decide to start with Prudence Cossins. After all, more than any of the other Durand First Years, she understands what it’s like to be an outcast. You’re not quite sure why she acts out the way she does, but you do understand that she’s gotten better after she gathered a group of fellow misfits to her banner a few months ago.

You find her passing time by tearing out textbook pages, wadding them up, and throwing them into one of the common room fires.

Hello, Prudence. I think I should start by saying I’m sorry for letting you take the fall for the Itching Gas Incident. I hardly knew anyone here in Durand back then, and I was still mad about this prank Durand pulled on us just then—
Nah, it’s fine. I’d have pulled something like that myself if I’d thought of it, although I’d have gotten myself out before it went off. You ever itched over every inch of your body? Oh, and don’t call me Prudence. My friends call me Prudence the Pugnacious, and I kinda like it. I got it after I led them against a bunch of stupid rimbal jocks.
Sounds great. Wish I had been there.
Yeah. Of course, they were being led by this one clown from Aranaz, a guy from their team…
Oh? Then I probably don’t know him. I’m not a big fan of rimbal, myself. I mean, we’re here to learn magic, right? So what’s a bunch of meatheads doing lording it over the rest of us?
You know, Iliana, I like you. You got your priorities straight.

A sudden scream makes you jump. It is quickly followed by another, and you start to wonder just what is going on. As you rush toward the sounds, you note that everyone else is running away instead; students, groundskeepers, and even a few faculty members are fleeing, some with their clothing in tatters.

As you round the corner of a building, you finally see the object of their fear and skid to a halt. The scene is utter pandemonium: people are running every which way, a girl is crouched against a wall, rocking back and forth, and shouts of terror fill the air. But while you might have expected the Dragons to have returned for all the panic, the truth is far more bizarre.

At the eye of the storm is Rieulle Chastellain, the music professor. Currently he is waving a large branch in front of himself, his normally perfect hair tousled and his emerald green robes torn in various spots. Just out of stick range hops a plump hen covered in black feathers: the Black Chicken!

As the story goes, the Black Chicken was once a hideous charcoal pillow that got Revised into its current form. However, the Revision wasn’t complete, and the immortal Chicken ever after knew a love for shredding fabrics. The legend is widely known throughout the Academagia, but you never thought you’d see the creature for yourself. It’s just fortunate it doesn’t get free too often; judging by its ferocity, it seems to be a force to be reckoned with!

The investigation may be the only hint of blue here, but there’s no penalty for trying, so we might as well.

Looking around, you notice Alan’s hole isn’t too far from the Black Chicken, and it looks like there are some uprooted saplings and fencing materials nearby. You’d bet you could get the foul fowl in there if you can get creative enough!

Well, why not? We earned it.

Finding a discarded, half-shredded cloak on the ground, you grab it and run over to the hole. Once there, you wave the cloak to keep the pit from view, tempting the obsidian clucker with all your might.

Hearing your taunts, the onyx poultry takes the bait, flapping its wings ineffectually as it races towards you. At the last second, you pull the cloak away and are rewarded with a squawk and swirl of feathers as the ravenous hen pitches headlong into the hole. Acting quickly, you grab fence pieces and toss them over the hole, trapping the Black Chicken inside. Congratulations, you’ve just bought the school another temporary peace from the textile terror!

You manage to find Honors Plafox during lunch.

Honors! I just have to thank you again for letting me stay with you this week. I mean, you can imagine what it’d be like wearing this through the Aranaz halls. I know what it’s like having a room all to yourself, too, and that’s why I’m only using it to sleep in. I want to keep out of your hair.
Oh, it’s no trouble, really. I think it would be nice for us to get to know each other better. We’re both on the student council, after all. Like, why did you create the un-Academagian Committee if you weren’t going to use it against Durand students?
I just wanted the council to have more power, you know? More than just sending “recommendations” to the faculty that they ignore half the time. Did you know that back when there were emperors their kids were appointed president? They chose the rest of the council themselves from their friends, too. That’s why there’s a separate council for each year: that way each of the emperor’s kids could be in charge of their year. And of course, when the president decreed then, the staff listened! I just wonder what it’d be like if we had the same sort of power as an elected council.
I think we’d be a lot more responsible! Why, just the other day I noticed that…

So what field are you competing in today?

Startled from your walk, you turn to see Rikildis approaching you from behind. She isn’t giving you the nicest expression you’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t look as though she’s planning a prank, either.

Don’t tell me you forgot! Today’s the Contenda. Remember how Professor Ringraeyer told us we’d have to compete? Believe me, there’s no way I’d partner up with you if I had a choice. It’s nearly the end of the school year and she has to pull this. Unbelievable.

Cursing yourself for forgetting, you head out to the fields of the Academagia. A crowd of students has already gathered around a large block of ice; you imagine it’s being magically preserved from the hot Kaliri sun. Rikildis spots an older student with a clipboard and walks up.

We’re here for the, er, competition.

The student giggles. “Professor Ringraeyer’s class, right? No First Year would ever volunteer for this, after all. Do you know how the Academagia’s contest works?”

You shake your head.

“Well, it’s fun—to watch!” she replies. “See that ice block there? Once the contest begins, all the senior students will conjure one up for each pair of First Years. Then you pick a partner and choose your roles: one of you must lift the ice block over your head and keep it there while the other one uses ice spells to keep the block from melting. Oh, and you’re both blindfolded.”

A whistle cuts through the air.

“So what’s your choice?” the girl asks. “We’re about to start!”

This sounds lame, plus Iliana isn’t really in a “partnering” mood right now. Is there a way to get out of this?

“So we only get to pick magic or might? How about neither?” you challenge.

The older student raises an eyebrow. “Oh, didn’t Ringraeyer tell you this is an assignment? You’re not going to get a big fat zero because you’re scared, are you? Remember, the professors count more than your final exam…”

You don’t let her threat stop you. “Maybe things are different here, but where I’m from, real Contenda events have a lot more choices than just ‘magic’ or ‘strength.’”

The girl considers for a moment, then gives in. “Alright, so maybe I forgot to mention that there is a third field. You can also choose to be an announcer, which is a solo competition. The best one to describe events is the winner.”

Now that’s more Iliana’s style. Let’s show these rubes how to announce a sporting event!

You decide to be a commentator. “Suit yourself,” shrugs the coordinator. She leads you over to a scrawny duo whom you can already tell aren’t likely to do well. “Describe the competitors and their progress,” instructs the older student; “the more dramatic, the better.”

You watch as the senior students blindfold your classmates, conjure the ice blocks, and then the whistle blows.

Oh dear, looks like this pair is off to a rocky start! The lifter is having trouble even getting the block off the ground! Just like High King Durand back in the early days, these look like long odds from the start, but if I were a betting woman, I would not put my money on the ice Dragons! Yes, yes, he’s getting there, he’s getting—and it’s over his head! Now it’s time for the icer to keep that frozen water just like it is, can’t let it all melt in the heat, much like how the other kings and queens came to Durand’s aid when he needed them most—that’s it—oh, and the ice is melting, not completely just yet, but it is shrinking! But that might just be what our lifter needs! Yes, the cold water going down the sleeves is not very pleasant, but Durand’s triumph over the Dragons was not without its pains!
Looking around now—oh my! It seems not everyone got the hint; I’m seeing some ice blocks here that are double, no, even triple their original size! And I’m not sure if that’s in volume or weight, since I did not take geometry! But neither did most of our contestants by the look of things; yes, that’s—oh! Down on the ground and tired out from the lifting, much like the Dragon Emperor after the slave armies deserted him! It’s just like they say: the meek shall inherit the earth!

And indeed they do: the relatively weak duo wind up winning!

“That was beautiful,” compliments one student.

“Really touching!” adds another.

Apparently the acclaim is your only prize. Oh well. You were hoping for some pims, but not being laughed at by the crowd of older students is a good second.

Empress…well that’s me, obviously…the Magician, not too helpful…crossed with…four of cups. That means…he’s worried about something and ignoring other things around him. I bet that means Durand. Next, the knight of coins…helpful and trustworthy. Cross that with…six of coins? That says “Generosity.” Not really enough for College Durand, but I guess that could mean Sheary. Now, cross the Empress with…five of swords? That can’t be it. Ah, seven of swords: Design!

Backed by the knowledge your Marat deck gave you, you hunt down Sheary Warrington and explain to him that Durand de Thiomines needs his help. Although you can’t be terribly specific about what he needs, Sheary runs off anyway as soon as you explain how important it (probably) is to Durand.

Later, Durand comes and finds you as you’re resting in the common room.

I wanted to thank you for sending Sheary to me. The spell I was practicing was about to go out of control, but Sheary knew just the thing to stabilize it for me! But how’d you know what was going on?
I have my ways.

What’s the point of learning all these Gates spells if you aren’t going to use any of them? Inspired by the clear day, you decide to cast the Curious Eagle spell. Unfortunately, you still don’t know how to use actual gates yet beyond visual range, so you have to wait a few minutes as the eagle leaves whatever roost it has and flies down to your location.

Once it arrives, you are a bit surprised when an image of you appears in your head. Evidently the eagle can communicate with humans, but only by projecting pictures into their heads. The following conversation you have with the bird is very strange, but also very exciting: you never knew an eagle had such sharp eyesight until you saw exactly what it sees. You also learn about a guildhall in town that that apparently covers “occupation: other” job types. You wonder if you might be able to research your own classes in that kind of place.

Today, I shall go over a broad outline for a path you might take to power. It is hardly the only way, and the details can change depending on the situation, but it is proven successful, and a good place to start.
First, you must build a base of power in secret. Assemble to yourself a small group of promising peers, either with ready access to the methods of power or the skills to get them. You can use the sunk-cost fallacy to ensure their loyalty: by spending as much time and effort as you in gathering power, it becomes as important to them as it is to you. Of course, members of such a skilled and intelligent group may well think that they could lead better than you, so either keep ready a means of Force to compel them into place—blackmail, Mastery, or other means—or else find individuals who do not seek power in the same sense that you do.
Once your base is secure enough to weather an attack by the establishment, you can make your first move. Find a crisis somewhere, and fix it.
But wait, how do I fix it? And what if there aren’t any crisises?
“Crises,” dearest. I suppose you could manufacture a crisis for you to solve, but remember Mjolnir’s example: once your followers even suspect you had a hand in their troubles, your Influence will fail. And besides, there is always a crisis somewhere, whether a sudden catastrophic event or slowly building discontent. In fact, if you are not picky about where you start, I can guarantee you that there is at least one crisis you have the means to solve somewhere in the world. I could name a dozen issues Mineta is suffering from even at this very moment. Not all of them can be solved to wide acclaim, though. Some require sacrifice, which is never welcome, and some cannot be fixed without angering a large number of people. Still, the point is not to please everyone, but to please enough, and to improve their lot so that they regard you as a hero.
Once these two steps are done, you will be able to challenge the current leadership. They will put up a significant fight, but with enough support from your lieutenants and your followers, you should be able to win the struggle. If you can, follow the rules and the Traditions as much as possible in this fight; just as they protected the old leaders, so will they protect you from others like yourself. Discredit the current rulers, wield the crisis and your heroism in it as a weapon, and they will fall that much faster. You might also ally with other groups against the establishment; you would have to share power with them afterwards, but as we have seen, this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you can become the leader of the coalition.
Once you have secured a position of power, you must consolidate. Reward your lieutenants and your followers for their trust and faith; perhaps bring in some of those in the old regime for continuity, but beware of split loyalties and the anger of those you led.
Now that you have power, you must use it wisely, to benefit those who can benefit you. You must also contend with your peers in charge of other groups the size of yours. Those games can be far more complicated, although they are based on the same simple principles. Perhaps we shall look into them next year?
As for now, we shall study two disciplines that overlap considerably: how to Act, and how to Lie.

It happens during dinner. You’re minding your own business, chatting with a few Durand students at their table, when a huge, dark figure appears overhead. You can’t quite make out its shape, but it looks like some sort of flying creature. Before you can do anything, a brilliant spark blossoms at the end closest to you and expands into a fiery

fiery flaming burning pain. It wants to kill me. I have no time. The tree to my left has a dead branch, that’s dangerous. The man on its back is screaming and waving his arm. I have to get away. It wants to kill me. Pine resin smells interesting, even more so when it is burning. Emilia is screaming, but I can’t see her. I have no time. I have to get away. It is going to kill me. The fire is hot, incredibly hot. I can feel my eyeballs burst from the heat. I have no time.

Laughter accompanies your return to your senses. Opening your eyes, you find yourself under the table, scrunched into as small a ball as you can make. Relaxing your hands, you pull them away from your scalp to find them covered in blood and clumps of hair.

This was your worst episode yet. Adding insult to injury, everyone at dinner saw you panic and dive under the table to evade what turned out to be a painfully obvious Glamour. The Aranaz table obviously had a laugh at your overreaction, but while you see a few looks of concern scattered about, it seems most everyone present thought it the height of humor to see “The Queen of First Year” make a fool of herself in public.

The crass jokes and reenactments make it hard to calm your jangling nerves, and you don’t feel hungry anymore. After a few minutes, Emilia stands up to deposit her tray, and she deliberately makes a pass by the Durand table, wearing the evilest look of smug satisfaction you have ever seen. You respond with the darkest stare of pure hatred that your pounding heart allows for.

Responding to Emilia’s “prank” yesterday will take some doing, but you don’t become friends with someone for a long time without getting some real dirt on them. You decide to spread a certain rumor about how she tied up poor Honors Plafox one night in an effort to steal her seat on the council; you can’t add too many details without incriminating yourself, but this rumor and whatever else comes from it should be enough until you can think of something better.

Today you don’t even give the Sphinx the chance to say hello.

I want it gone. I want the fear gone! I don’t care what has to happen, but I’m not living like this a second longer than I have to!

The Sphinx merely sighs.

Perhaps it is for the best. As a wizard, you will face fireballs with some regularity, which may only reinforce the fear, and if the dragons do return, we do not want you to freeze at the wrong moment.
Very well. Allow me to explain what shall happen: I shall cast a Mastery spell which will allow me into your mind and give me the means to reshape it. I shall then hunt down every trace of your memory of that night and remove all emotional connections to the event. Memories can be hidden in many different places, but the heavy bonds of fear should make the hunt simple. You will remember the event clearly ever after, but without any feeling, and you will never fear to the same degree ever again.
Sounds good to me.
I will also require your fullest cooperation in this. If your mind struggles even the slightest when I cut, there is no telling what else may be severed. Do you swear to trust me completely?
Yes, I trust you.
Do you accept that regardless of whatever pain, revulsion, or fear you may feel, I will have your best interests at heart?
Do you swear to never flinch, even when every inch of your being demands it?

You hesitate longer this time, but you eventually nod.

Very well. Prepare yourself.

The Sphinx stands and heads to the edge of her aerie where she begins to draw a long sequence of phemes. Most of them you haven’t ever seen before, and you can feel their power pounding into your head long before the Sphinx finishes her spell. At last, just as you start considering screaming just to relieve the pressure, the Sphinx finishes the last line and the entire platform glows with the magical discharge. Your awareness of your surroundings fades, but the Sphinx’s voice remains strong:

Most of the phemes were unnecessary, but for an operation this important, one must prepare and prepare. Now, show me that night, Iliana. Take me there.

Moonlight gives barely enough light to see by and my night vision is ruined by the wyvern’s flashing breath. It swoops down but I can’t look directly at it. No no no no no no no

As you flinch away from the memory, you sense more than hear the Sphinx shouting, “Do not look away!”

no no The black creature dives and dives, trying to murder the children below as it struggles to rid itself of the man clinging to its back with his sword. I am amazed at the lack of undergrowth. Are all pine forests like this, needles, moss, and trees alone? It is swooping down at me. I have no time. No no no no

You cannot look away you cannot look away

No time no time just heat searing heat I never knew bones could hurt so much. It wants to kill me. It has killed me.

You are here you breathe it has failed

There is no time. My brain is boiling. I shut down from the pain. I cannot feel pain because I feel too much pain.

He saved you, they saved you, it lost the fire lost

I have to get away. I have to run. There is no time. I must kill it first. The phemes dance through my head, these would work, yes. But there is no time. Fire flies faster.

You survived. It did not kill you it will not kill you it thinks you are dead.

My eyeballs burst from the heat. Eyes eye I I

I cannot look I cannot look away I cannot see I must see I see I see

There is no time

But I didn’t need any

It wants to kill me

But I survived

I must get away

But it’s okay that I didn’t.

The forest fades away and the Sphinx’s tower fades back in. Almost disbelieving what happened, you play back the encounter with the wyvern in your head, and you gasp with astonishment: nothing happens! You can remember every last detail, every branch and lick of flame, but you don’t feel a thing! It worked! You look over at the Sphinx, who appears as exhausted as you feel, and you give her a smile.

So we were successful, then? I am glad. You held yourself admirably still, dearest. Few, I think, could have managed so well. I may still have severed a memory or two, but we may never know what, since you would not know what you have forgotten.
Still, I believe we have enough time left for a proper tutoring session. Just nothing too tiring, yes? So along with Gates Spells, let us test your Administration, your Hiding knowledge, and your Brute Strength.
Wait, but you said nothing tiring!
Nothing tiring for me, dearest. After all, you merely had to sit still. You recall my weight collection from before, yes? Start with the largest bar and let’s see what you remember…

Gains of the Week

Attended a Glamour exam and scored a 120.
Selective Focus used on Gates Spells.
Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Transport increased by 1 step.
----Unload pheme learned.
----Economy increased by 1 step.
------Enrich pheme learned.
--Gates Spells increased by 1 step.
--Pride of a Rebel Queen increased by 1 step.

Studied at the Mantle of Stars.
--Gates Spells increased by 1 step.
--Theory of Astrology increased by 2 steps.
Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Memorization increased by 1 step.
--Gates Spells increased by 1 step.
----Informative Bird spell learned.
--Mastery Methods increased by 1 step.
----Learned about Mineta Docks: Loading Station.
Successful event!
--Relationship with Alan Driscoll increased to 1.
--Money increased by 5.

Cheered Prudence Cossins.
--Relationship with Prudence Cossins increased to 4.
Used Gossip on self and Honors Plafox.
--Relationship with Honors Plafox increased to 5.
Calculated the Geometry of Friendship.
--Relationship with Durand de Thiomines increased to 7.
--Relationship with Sheary Warrington increased to 3.
--Awareness increased by 1 step.
----Foresight pheme learned.
----Society increased by 1.
Successful event!
--Traps increased by 1 step.
----Fix pheme learned.
--Animal Husbandry increased by 1 step.
Successful holiday!
--Passion increased by 1 step.
----Passion skill maxed!
----Shifting Passions spell learned.

Cast Curious Eagle.
--Learned about Ballos: Specialized Studies Center.
--Plus 4 to Scouting and Navigation.
Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Acting increased by 1 step.
--Gates Spells increased by 1 step.
--Lie increased by 1 step.
----Facial Twitch spell learned.
Emilia Strolin used Bully; Stress increased by 3.
---Relationship with Emilia Strolin decreased to -6.

Spread Rumor about Emilia Strolin.
---Emilia Strolin is under a Cloud of Suspicion.
---Relationship with Emilia Strolin decreased to -8.
Matched Wits with the Emperor’s Sphinx.
--Administration increased by 1 step.
----Chaos pheme learned.
--Gates Spells increased by 1 step.
----Cooking Sprite spell learned.
--Brute Strength increased by 1 step.
--Hide Research level increased by 1.

New Abilities

Informative Bird (Spell): Charm/Gates Methods v5; summons bird for +3 to Danger Sense, Scouting, and Hunting for 4 days.
Take Notes at the Mineta Loading Docks: +1 step in Command and Transport, and 85% chance of +1 step in Master Methods (only if already known).
Shifting Passions (Spell): Charm/Passion v10; +7% to caster’s Chance of Success for 2 days and +12% to target’s Chance of Failure until rest.
Study in Ballos’ Specialized Studies Center: +1 to chosen Study level and +1 step in random Research subskill (so it’s basically a second Venalicium Library).
Facial Twitch (Spell): Insight/Glamour v6; target takes -2 Charm for 4 days and -2 Merit for their college.
Cooking Sprite (Spell): Charm/Gates Methods v6; summons sprite for +3 to Cooking, Baking, and Green Grocery for 3 days.