Part 4: Time to freshen up!Chapter 3: Time to freshen up!
"Nope!" Virginia answers. I nod, and turn to Ellen.
"And you, Ellen?" I ask. "Do you like cleaning?"
She shrugs. "I don't mind," she says.
"Abupbup," I reply, holding up a finger. "I wanted to know if you enjoyed it. Big difference."
"Well... not really," Ellen admits. "It's better than living in a messy room, though."
"Pay me?" Ellen asks.
"Why not?" I counter. "Virginia, you said you usually had your mother clean up after you, and I suppose you're pretty much used to that, so why not pay a little to have your life be a bit easier. We all have to live together, and we will need to compromise. I can't have spaceships and lightning on the ceiling, and you'll need to pay Ellen to clean up after you, or learn how to do it yourself, because as it is, it's just not fair to Ellen."
"...yeah, I guess you have a point, and I do like being lazy!" Virginia laughs, then turns to Ellen. "You cool with this?"
And as they discuss payment plans, I sit down on the bed and lean back a little. I'm not sure if it's a perfect compromise, but considering three people are involved, it's the best I can do. At least they're both kinda happy with the agreem-
A sharp rap at the door makes us all jump, and a slight hissing sound under it grabs all our attention. A small collection of envelopes, each with one of our names on them has been slid under the door.
"Speak of the devil," Virginia says.
"If it's our money, why can't they give it to us all at once?" Ellen pouts.
I shrug. "Guess they don't trust students to spend it wisely."
I don't know why, but I find miffed Ellen adorable
"Well, this does too," Virginia points out. "You want something cool, you better save up- but just because you can't buy anything doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself! To the mall! And besides, we have more than enough money to buy the bare essentials! Like ice cream and penny candy and big cinnamon cookies and-"
"We get the idea, Virginia!" Ellen giggles. "But what about studying?"
"Week's over!" Virginia pouts. "Now's the time we can have fun! Don't tell me you want to hang out here in the school? With Grabiner?! Urgh!"
Ellen raises a hand and opens her mouth. Ellen drops her hand and closes her mouth, and Virginia laughs.
"See? It all makes sense if you use your head! Let's go!"
And that's how we found ourselves outside the school, waiting for a free seat on one of the shuttle buses that go from the school to the local mall. While Ellen and I are a little unsure, Virginia's practically exploding with excitement. "Oh, oh, oh, let's take that one! We can ride together!"
"But we're still in uniform!" I protest.
"So?" Virginia asks.
"Nah, the locals are used to it. As far as they;re concerned, Iris is just a regular boarding school with strange uniform rules. Come on!" she says, pulling us to the shuttle bus.
Guess Virginia was right about that. Wonder if she's right about the food too?
"Okay, so that place does coffee and pastries, but they have fresh fruit if you're into that, and that place does the best baked potatoes I've ever had, and there's a gift shop, and..."
"Are any of these stores magical?" I ask, more for Virginia's sake than anything. If she kept going on, she'd have suffocated.
"Nope! All perfectly ordinary! There is one magic shop though, you want directions?"
"That would be nice, thanks," Ellen says. Once we have our directions and agree on a meeting spot, we wave goodbye to Virginia (who's planning to do her best to deplete one particular bakery's supplies of chocolate croissants), and head off to the magic shop- but once we're there...
"Do you think Virginia misheard us, or something?" Ellen asks, staring at the shop's sign, which read 'Ye Grognarde Grottoe'. In some of the display windows were all kinds of geeky tabletop accoutrements, like Sourcery cards, Dungeons: The Dragoning 40,000 (7th edition) gaming aids, and the latest Warhamster book. Not exactly the kind of 'magic' we were looking for. Even so, we go in out of curiosity-
-and immediately, we regret stepping into the dank, fetid interior. A bunch of scrawny male nerds are breathing heavily as they stare deeply into a comic book, while several other guys in too-tight T-shirts smirked and snorted ad they discussed the finer points of their much better-figured characters' equally too small and/or tight costumes. In the back, the game store owner (if the back of his t-shirt, which said 'GAME STORE OWNER') was busy racking up points on his Gamestation.
"I think we should leave," Ellen whispers, and I nod in response, when-
"Hey Abbott! You got customers!" one of the Tightshirts yelled out. Game Store Owner Abbott then rose from his greasy spot on the floor, and waddled over to us. I suddenly felt very, very vulnerable.
"Oh man, oh man, oh man, really sorry for dis," he said through a clogged nose that he wiped with the belly of his shirt. He loomed over us, waved his hands (we were too busy trembling to scream or run), and-
The game store's interior goes from 'dungeon chic' to well-lit and homey, and the local nerds, while still physically similar to what we first saw, are now well-groomed and in wizard's robes. The store owner goes from Comic Book Guy to Young Santa in moments. "Yeah, uh, sorry about that," he grins sheepishly. "Nothing keeps out the normies like a buncha nerds-"
"No offence!" Abbott yells back at the complainer. "Yeah, uh, so anyway, wizards and witches are supposed to be able to see through the illusion, but I just strengthened the wards yesterday ."
"Wait," I ask, intrigued. "That was all an illusion, not shapeshifting magic?"
Abbott nodded. "Uh, yeah. Why wouldn't it be?"
"I mean, uh," I begin, unsure of myself. "well, there was the smell, and the grimy feel on my skin- no offence."
Abbott laughs. "Oh, hey, no problem, miss! Yeah, real strong Blue Magic can do that, fool your mind into thinking stuff that ain't real. It's not like stage magic, you know- get enough Blue Magic into you, and you'll be able to make smells and sounds and all kinds of good stuff!"
"Wouldn't you study White Magic if you want to influence a person's mind?" Ellen asks.
"Well yeah, sure," another shopping wizard answers. "But it's like, crazy hard, attacking a mind directly, and you have to be friggin' Gandalf 2.0 to do it without people knowing you're shooting them with mind bullets. Blue Magic's safer, you just gotta be creative about it."
"Hell yeah, Blue Magic! Woo!" another wizard yells out, pumping his hand in the air, and I can't help but feel caught up in the spirit. Blue Magic really does sound cool, and I guess I can put off Boom For The Boom God a little longer to learn a little more about Blue Magic.
Indeed, I say as much to Abbott, and he grins. "Well, I guess I can definitely help you a little! I'm guessing you're all first years, so you won't have a lot of money, but ain't no harm in planning ahead, right?"
Allow me to save you guys the trouble- here's what the items do.
As you can probably tell, the higher-tier items are not for those hoping to powergame their way through the game. That said, while high Magic scores can help later on, there are few instances where you actually NEED to use said high levels spells outside of exams, and failing exams can have its own benefits too!
$10 - Glasses: + 5 Smart $20 - Wacky Glasses: +5 Smart, +5 Weird $20 - Wand: +2 to all Magics $30 - Tiara: +10 Cute $50 - Protective Gear: +5 Strength, +30 Red Magic $50 - Star Wand: +5 all Magics $50 - Wiggle Wand: +3 Red Magic, +6 Green Magic, +5 to other Magics $60 - Amulet: +30 Black Magic $95 - Sextant: +40 Blue Magic $100 - Halo: +35 White Magic $120 - Fairy Wings: +10 Cute $120 - Bat Wings: +10 Weird $120 - Furry Set: +5 Strength, +25 Green Magic
Eventually though, we catch up to Virginia at a local café, and head off to the arcade!
While Ellen and Virginia head off the the France France Revolution machine , I take a look around, definitely not sour because I lost the hand game to participate. I notice something- most arcades I've been in only have one or two pinball machines, but this has at least six, four of which are already being played.
In any case, my turn at France France comes up (apparently Virginia's surprisingly bad at doing the Robespierre) and the three of us spend a very enjoyable few hours at the mall, before practically staggering home in the evening. I for one, am so tired I fall asleep as soon as I hit the bed.
And I realize... I miss my family. I'm not used to being out of contact with them this long. They don't allow cell phones on campus, and there aren't even any phones in the dorms, so I can't call home. Mom and dad said they'd write, but it's been almost a week- was the mail slow? They can't have forgotten... I'm sure I'll hear from them soon. Right now though, I need a walk.
As I walk through the campus, I can;t help but notice how beautiful, everything is. The carefully-kept walkways, the many gardens here and there... I'd been rushing through the week so much, putting myself through so much stress, I never really sat down to smell the roses, and smell them i do.
Hey, I think I see her up ahead! She's talking to someone I don't know- that butterfly-winged girl from earlier. I hurry to catch up, and slow down as I approach, hoping to surprise them. In the process, I catch some of their conversation-
"-mostly girls again this year," the butterfly-winged girl says. Her voice is strangely beautiful with a slight echo, and hints of windchimes in every syllable.
"Yep!" Virginia replies. "Both my roomies are, in fact!"
"Indeed," Butterfly says. "That could eventually be a problem." Is she talking about me and Ellen? Because we're wild seeds? Or is she talking about things in general?
"Well then," Virginia answers, "maybe more of us should drop out then."
"I never said it would be my problem," the winged girl answers. "The other way would be more fun."
"For you, maybe," Virginia scowls, and the winged girl laughs. What on Earth are they talking about?
No, Mary! Don't drop it! This sounds like a Conspiracy! At least give us some Cute points!
But yeah, Mary just drops this Not to say that MD is lacking in plot, but when I said that Mary was kind of personality-less and passive in the beginning, this is what I meant. Oh well, it's the first week, after all. In any case, we segue into the 'End of the Week' screen, which looks like this:
And here's what our Inventory and Diary screens show. Since we didn't buy anything at the mall, our Inventory is empty right now:
As you can see, the diary's events don't quite match up to what the narrative shows; the Salem and Housework conversations actually took place on different days (and Ellen wasn't around for the Salem convo), while I actually spent Saturday studying instead of going to the mall (+1 Smart and 2 Stress). Hope you guys don't mind, and please don't use this LP as a Perfect Guide to Magical Diary.
I ask Virginia what all this is about, but she just grins and holds a finger to her lips. Gee, thanks, Virginia. You're a real friend. Suddenly, the chattering stops as a figure steps up to the podium.
"But for the next week, you will all address me as Sir William! Welcome!" he announces, throwing his arms out widely. "Welcome- to Freshman Initiation!"
"Before we start," he adds, "I'm required to give you some basic safety information. First off, nothing that happens this week should cause you physical harm, so if you're ordered to do something dangerous, or that you know is wrong, inform a teacher immediately! And... that's it! Now, all you freshmen line up, come up on stage, state your name and where you come from, and receive you Freshman Initiation Handbooks!"
Then it's my turn, and I'm given a stapled-together paper booklet once I've stated my name and hometown. Inside said booklet are a list of rules and a list of the members of the senior class, complete with full names and pictures- of someone's boxers-covered butt?
"Ack!" William gasps, and hands me another booklet. "Swear to God, if I wasn't senior Class President- or his brother- I'd kick his butt," he grumbles as he hands me another booklet. "And yes, before you ask," he says, noticing the look I'm giving him. "That was me. And yes, those were rocketships. Any more questions, and I'll be arrested."
"Huh? For what?" I ask, bewildered.
"Gotcha," I salute. "Hint begotten and all that."
I shuffle off and read the handbook's rules, one of which is to address each senior as Sir or Lady Whatever. We also have to memorize a silly poem (as chosen by the senior), we cannot show our backs to a senior, we can't be taller than a senior, we must always respond to requests with- wait, William's at the podium again.
"Now," he begins, "as well as serving and honouring the entire senior student body, each of you will be the property of one particular senior. That senior will be your worst night,are, your best friend, and the only protection you will have against the rest of us! Now, stand and wait while we choose."
"You're taller than me, freshman! Get on the ground!"
"Don't turn your back to ME, freshie!"
"Show me your war face, freshman!"
In the end, Ellen and I are left sitting back to back as the sharks circle.
"Mary Sue," he says. "I think you should be mine. Oh come now," he says, when he sees my UUUUURGH face. "Grant me a few cheesy lines now and then."
"Yeah, that was cheesy like Casu Marzu. So what now?" I ask.
He shrugs. "Stand up, of course."
"You're not afraid I might be taller?" I retort.
He laughs. "Have no fear, as long as your senior is with you, you need not fear about the rules. Only what your senior says matters, and I, as ever, am your senior. Here, take my hand."
"Pfft, I can get up myself," I say. As I do though, I catch a glimpse of a few other seniors staring disapprovingly, some at me- some at Damien.
"DOWN ON THE GROUND, FRESHMAN!" he yells, in the voice of Law itself. As I slump down to the ground in shock, he kneels beside me. "Sorry for that," he whispers, grimacing. "And sorry for being selfish, but if you don't go along with this, I daresay I'd be in a lot more trouble than you," he adds, motioning his head towards the other seniors.
"Please," he pleads quietly. "I don't want either of us to get in trouble. Just get through the week, and I swear to you, upon my soul, I will make it up to you."
Well, goons, what shall it be? Should we:
- Take part in Freshman Initiation, and be find ourselves at the mercy of our seniors for a week, one of which is the infamous Damien Ramsey?
- Or should we refuse, and proceed to alienate ourselves from those selfsame seniors- Damien included?
And finally, regarding our spending:
- Do you want to let me decide what to buy?
- Or do you want to set a purchasing target? If so, then please note down what you want to save up for. Be warned that exceptionally expensive stuff might take a long while to get.
Voting closes at 0000 GMT Monday, June 11th; I wanted to make it much sooner, but that won't leave a lot of time for votes, sorry.