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/qst/ - Quests

A spark alights behind your eyes, and in an instant, your mind is ablaze with unfamiliar power. You grit your teeth and hold your hands apart from one another before you, unwilling to let this critical moment slip away. Your breath grows heavy, and beads of sweat trickle down your brow. Writing implements tumble from your desk, clattering loudly to the wood floor beneath while books rattle against their trappings on the shelves adjacent.

This, you think, is it. Just like in the book – exactly like it said! You’re finally doing it.

…What did the book say to do next?

Your mind stumbles. The world spins, and you retch.

As a fun fact: the one thing that everyone fears to some extent is the loss of control. Fear is the look in someone’s eyes in the very instant when they’re rocking on the rear two legs of a chair and it just barely begins to fall.

When your field of view inverts, you’re wearing fear on your face. You manage, as a reflex, to curl up in a pathetic little ball like a dying woodland creature, which protects you from hitting your head on the wood floor behind you. The chair hits the ground under you and sends you into a backwards somersault across the room, where you land at Ophelia’s feet. She’s looking disdainfully down at you, trying not to display the fact that she’s clearly embarrassed.

Wow, you think. You’re fucking garbage at this. How is it even possible for one person to be so garbage after so long?

You’re trying not to let tears well up in your eyes as you struggle to your hands and knees, body wracked by sudden soreness, on the cusp of beating the floor with your balled fists in impotent rage. So many months wasted – and now it’s over for you.

You sniffle, before the soothing intonation of Ophelia’s voice reaches your ears. She always knows what to say. Maybe…

“Quit being so damn entitled.”

You fall flat onto the ground again and roll onto your back, eye twitching as you look up at her.

> What is your name?
Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way
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Ophelia’s foot lands on your forehead, toes curling and uncurling. She’s looking down with a flat expression, face enshrined by bouncing blonde curls and cast in shadow; your cheeks are flushing red from half-embarrassment, half unbridled fury.

“What do you mean, ‘entitled’?” You hiss, flailing as you leap back to your feet. Granted, the year’s only just started – but having a mentor has only made things more difficult, which makes no sense whatsoever. She lives in the other room, can’t seem to decide whether she wants to encourage or belittle you on a moment-to-moment basis, and hasn’t helped you accomplish anything worthwhile; this is unacceptable, given you’re on borrowed time.

“You’re wondering why you can’t hack it. Because you feel like the mere time investment you’ve given the Arcanum should be enough to allow you to perform even the most basic manipulations – even when you’ve thrown all that time away. And, how?” Ophelia asks, tottering around front of you. “Fraternizing with those who’ve graduated ahead of you or been released. Practical jokes. Parties. Hours upon hours of self-loathing…”

“How could you possibly--!?” You say, lurching towards her – she doesn’t react.

“I’ve been reading your mind, Amelia.” Ophelia gives a rather unperturbed shrug when you cast an expression between anger and confusion her way. “I want to know what’s made you this way. Now, I understand you won’t be able to pay the price of attending for another year after this one, and it’s highly unlikely someone of your academic status would receive merit-based awards – I take it you are without means?”

“My family is of the most esteemed noble house in Roshar – across the sea.” You shake your head, turning away and frowning.

Ophelia nods firmly. “They cut you off.”

“I should have been back by now, with anything at all to show for it.” You sigh. “They won't buy any more excuses. This is my last chance. I really do want this. I just...”

She meanders over to the edge of your bed and sits down like she owns the place. Judging by the fact that she seems capable enough to do pretty much whatever she wants, who would you be to disagree if she decided that was the case?

Your gaze meets hers, and you speak earnestly.

"I have nothing left to give."


“Yet you stand on the shoulders of those who’ve given their lives to the craft – some quite literally.” Her mouth curls into a sadistic bit of a smile for the barest instant. “All told, Amelia, I have a hard time believing you’ve had a sudden change of heart – and you’ll have to forgive me for that. With the effort you’ve put forth, you can’t expect to have retained anything, so put that prospect out of your mind. If you truly are committed, you and I will be starting from the very beginning.”

“Why are you still here, then?” You ask, folding your arms with a huff. “It might as well be over.”

“I’m here because 'mentoring' you is part of my post-graduate studies.” Ophelia says plainly. “I hope to gain admission to the Council by proving that not a soul is without hope.”

“I’m just a science experiment.” You say, brow furrowing. “Part of your thesis.”

“Yes.” She nods. “All you need is something to show at the end of this academic term, correct?”

“Anything at all.” You don’t mean for it to sound like you’re begging, but intoned through a dejected sigh, it comes out that way.

“Very well."

"...What, that's it?"

"I said we'd be starting from the beginning - but neglected to mention that we'll be skipping steps and cutting corners where it benefits us. Do as I say and I will make you more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” She gestures to the ground at your feet. “Pick your chair up and sit back down, now. Tell me what it is you’ve been reading.”

> Ma-Kaai’s Manual of Force – an introductory work regarding unseen forces that govern speed and the motion of tangible objects.
> Ways of Ether – favored by amateur and expert duelists alike, it details rudimentary manipulations of arcane and elemental power
> Remiel’s “Synthesis” – regards conjuration and the shapes of matter; you’ve been told it belongs on the shelves of architect magi
> The Pale Tome – an oft-discredited piece of literature noting the importance of the precise position of entities in space and time.
> Recall specific knowledge, or ask Ophelia a question. (Write-in.)
>The Pale Tome – an oft-discredited piece of literature noting the importance of the precise position of entities in space and time.
> Remiel’s “Synthesis” – regards conjuration and the shapes of matter; you’ve been told it belongs on the shelves of architect magi
the pale tome space and time I better than the others. you cant hit what isn't there
>The Pale Tome – an oft-discredited piece of literature noting the importance of the precise position of entities in space and time.

“Just something I found in the library after-hours.” You stand your chair up straight and briefly flip through the pages of the dusty book on your desk to demonstrate it to Ophelia – as if the very fact that you are, in fact, capable of reading will somehow endear you to her. The featureless cover is a shade of grey; the entire volume of text is written as a madman’s somehow-scientific stream of consciousness, establishing axiomatic truths with the barest precedent as if each lesson is to begin with the assumption that everything you know about the nature of reality is incorrect.

You haven’t attended nearly enough classes to know whether or not all mysticism is like this.

“A curious choice.” Ophelia says, looming over your shoulder and reciting passages from the text as they pass – in a way that almost makes them seem memorized. “The true nature of the Pale is seen with one eye blinded to the real. The further traveled within, the less linear the space; the longer spent within, the less linear the time.”

“Yep,” You nod, stopping on a complex-looking figure detailing a ritual and turning to look at her. “That’s what it says, anyway.”

“Is this what interests you, Amelia?”

“I thought it looked interesting.”

“Well – it’s the most difficult doctrine to master, and many of its most esteemed practitioners have entirely withdrawn from society.” Ophelia says, nodding firmly at you.

“…Oh.” Your expression grows nervous.

“Which means it’s a fine place to start. What you see before you is one of the earliest works detailing the nature of the Pale. Tell me what you know of it thus far.” Ophelia sits on the edge of your desk with her legs crossed, looking down at you.

“I – ahm.” You pause, trying to recall anything you possibly can. “It’s another world.”

“Honestly? That’s better than I expected.” Ophelia says; you think you see a smile of approval for just a moment. “To say it’s a world isn’t entirely correct, though – such a thing implies a finite space, an environment, an experience. The Pale is as a different dimension, which stabilizes violations of fundamental laws within our own; when our Sorcery generates excess energy, the Pale takes it away, and when it absorbs energy, the Pale provides the difference.”

“But this,” You point to the tome, looking up at her, “Is different, I’ve gathered?”

“This is a branch of Sorcery that interacts directly with the Pale, exploiting its intrinsic characteristics to create displacements in space and time.” Ophelia says, twirling one of your pens between her fingertips to occupy herself as she speaks.

“Sounds complicated.” Your gaze drifts back down to the figures on the page.

“It is.” She says. “But I think you can do it.”

“…Wait, really?” You ask, looking askance at the blonde Sorceress.


“Your channeling is surprisingly adequate, even if your fine manipulation is almost nonexistent. I won’t ask whether you’ve always been able to manage your current level of power or if you’ve just now scraped it together in your most desperate hour; if you can clear your head of your frustration, you might just be able to accomplish – well, literally something.” Ophelia says calmly. She sets your pen back on your desk with a gentle tap – somehow, such that it balances on its tip – and gestures to it before placing her hand on the back of your neck. “Gather what power you can – and focus it here.”

“What are you doing?” Your face might be a bit flushed – whether or not that was backhanded, you’re not used to anyone telling you that you’re capable of anything – which makes you really hate the fact that she’s touching you.

“I’ve a Sorcery that can affect your mind. You will collect the energy and I will put your head in the right place. Learn the feeling of performing a manipulation and you might be able to memorize it.” She gives you a confident nod and another smile of approval. “Go, now. Show me what you are capable of.”

You swallow a nervous lump, then close your eyes, hands curling into fists atop your desk. It’s like before; as you clear your mind, the rattling of nearby unrelated objects slowly begins to settle until all falls still and the air around you feels thick. Ophelia’s wiry hand grows suddenly cold on the back of your neck, and you feel icy tendrils creeping into your head from the furthest reaches of your thoughts, giving them little nudges in particular directions here and there when they stray too far away from a particular set of points that you weren’t aware existed until just now.

Your eyes open briefly to the Pale, and you do not see anything – or, more accurately, you see nothing.

Ophelia’s chilly hand on your back pushes you over the edge, and you struggle to maintain control. There it is again – the fear appears in your face the instant you start to lose your grip, but this time, you’re afraid of failure. You grit your teeth, focusing; as you hold on, the implement on the table before you slowly begins to warp and disappear…

That’s it. You release your anxiety and exhaustion in a single, labored breath. A few moments pass, and you collect yourself before looking expectantly at your mentor – who returns a look that indicates your surprisingly… adequate performance.

“Talented, perhaps – but the motivation was never there, for one reason or another. I can perform these types of Pale manipulations as well, and as such will continue to walk you through the basic tenets of the discipline until you are capable of initiating them on your own.” Ophelia says calmly.

“Then what?” You ask, eyes wide.

“You will do so until you no longer possess the energy.” She nods. “Then, you will continue to do so.”

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“That seems a little extreme.”

“You have an extreme amount of catching up to do. There are shortcuts in this art – but there are few, and require a firm knowledge of manipulation. I’ll… do my best to expedite the process by teaching you things that rely primarily on the application of raw power. Finesse will come at your own pace.” Ophelia says, musing with one hand on her chin. “There is someone at your door.”


There’s a knock at your door. There is someone at your door. You look first at the Sorceress – who looks back as if to say ‘what’s wrong with you?’ – before your gaze flicks over to the door. Pushing away from the desk, you stride over and open it… and wince instinctively when a shower of iridescent sparks flies down in front of your face.

“Ta-da!” The visitor says, smiling, smoke rising off his hands – he’s got an inch on you, and the beginnings of a toned and tattooed chest are visible down the cut of his robes. He's grown out his hair since you last saw him, and most of it is just in his face. “Millie! You look excellent!”

“Oh, hey, Kye!” You smile, attempting to bury your momentary exhaustion under a more familiar veneer of excitement. “Same to you! What’s up?”

“Not much! Heard you were still living in the same spot – wanted to come by and say hellooo.~” He says, bracing his arm on the open door. “You signed up for classes yet?”

You shake your head. “I’ve got all week.”

“Heeey – tell me about it! You and me are so comparing schedules – I’m so feelin’ first year, repeat performance, give ‘em hell, know what I’m saying? I’m not going to be able to hang with you after I graduate, so we’ve gotta make this one count, you know?” Kye laughs, and you do the same, albeit a little bit more nervously. “You’re graduating, right?”

You pause, and look up at him like a deer in the headlights – before Ophelia’s voice sounds from over your shoulder. “She’s graduating.”

She sounds gravely serious.

“Heeey – up top!” Kye doesn't bother asking questions, but in raising his hand, he strong-arms you into a high-five so as to not leave him hanging, which really just makes you wonder for a moment how much power these people have over you. “Anyway, first-of-the-year hang-out in a little bit back at mine – just a little thing with a few friends – you in? It’s never a party unless you’re there.”

You look over your shoulder at Ophelia and are met with a blank stare that makes you somehow feel like you’re being tested.

> “You know it. It's been too long - and I've been putting in work."
> “Catch you next time? I’m getting an early start on my studies, cause I’ve kind of gone rusty.”
> Other (Write-in.)
>> “Catch you next time? I’m getting an early start on my studies, cause I’ve kind of gone rusty.”
>> “Catch you next time? I’m getting an early start on my studies, cause I’ve kind of gone rusty.”
>“Catch you next time? I’m getting an early start on my studies, cause I’ve kind of gone rusty.”
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“Maybe catch you next time?” You ask, turning back around to face Kye. “I’m getting an early start on studying. Kind of gone rusty.”

“Millie?” He tilts his head, eyebrow cocked, looking at you like you’ve said something unfamiliar or abhorrent. “I don’t think I heard you correctly – would you mind repeating…”

“Hey, chill!” You smile. “How are we gonna wreak some havoc if I’m out of shape, y’know?”

“Ooooh.~” Folding his arms, he chuckles and nods. “I see you! For a second I thought you might be trying to blow us off, yeah – and I thought, ‘what, no way!’. Alright, girl. We’ll at least have to catch up sometime. I’ll bug you later?”

“You know where to find me.” You nod, and he waves you off, turning and heading away down the hall.

“You’re continuing to surprise me, Amelia.” Ophelia says, arriving beside you as you make your way back toward your desk. “That’s why I believe there is hope for you. Now that you know what is at stake, you cannot afford to fail, after all…”

You look solemnly at her.

“Are you ready to continue?” She asks.

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This is starting to hurt your head.

It can’t possibly be good for you.

It’s not the way Ophelia has her fingers inside your brain, which isn’t exactly the most comfortable of things to begin with. It’s the Pale – the way you’re being pushed into the deep end, directly into a veritable abyss, staring into it with bated breath as if it might begin staring back at any moment and you’re not sure what that means for you. It’s the fact that you’re starting to understand the forces at work, little inklings of the magnitude of time and space and what’s going to happen next slowly becoming apparent. It feels like you’ve been at this for hours, and there’s a multitude of reasons that you’re not sure whether or not you actually have.

“This is it, Amelia. You’ve gathered power – I need you to be calm. Take it, and…”

With one eye, you see the Pale; with the other, you see the real. You flex your fingers, letting go of your breath, and the ornate fountain pen on the table fades completely from one to the other.

Ophelia’s hand drifts down to rest on your shoulder, and she smiles.

“…Where did it go?” You ask, exhaustion creeping into your voice.

“I’m not actually—oh, wait… it should be here…” She pauses, looking up in thought for a moment before daintily raising a hand in an apparently arbitrary location. Her fingers close at just the right time to catch the implement as it takes form in the air. “…now. Congratulations. You’re officially a Manipulator.”

“I did it?”

“Sort of. Pale manipulation is a bit more meticulous – when you’re opening it to objects or entities, there’s a lot of precision necessary to ensure things end up exactly where and when they need to be, apart from the obvious risk of losing them in time and space. How are you feeling?”

Tired, and a little sick. You look over your shoulder at her.

> “Should we be starting with something more routine?”
> “What did you do to learn all of this?”
> “Good to keep going if you think you can keep up.”
> “I could use a couple minutes to collect myself.”
> Other. (Write-in.)
>> “Should we be starting with something more routine?”
>> “Good to keep going if you think you can keep up.”
“Should we be starting with something more routine?”

“In holding your hand through the basic tenets with my Sorcery, we’re already cheating.” Ophelia says. “If you can understand and perform these manipulations without hurting yourself – more routine tricks will come afterward. If you wish, though, some Sorcery. What is a Sorcery, Amelia?”

You know this one. “Applied manipulation.”

“Shaped and calculated, it assumes a complex form and can accomplish things mere manipulation cannot. Good.” Ophelia nods. “How many doctrines can it draw from?”

“Any number?” You ask.

“Yes - and even those with the talent for manipulation cannot achieve every Sorcery. Do you know why?” Ophelia sits demurely on the edge of your desk once more, turning to face you.

You give her a blank look.

“Because different individuals possess different affinities – save, of course, for the rare Magus – if yours is too weak for a school of manipulation, any spellcraft that requires it will be lost to you. Your affinity for the Pale, though, is sufficient enough to perform at least some techniques.” Ophelia says.

“Really? How can you tell?” You turn to the side in your chair to face her directly.

“I goaded you into a basic Sorcery during that last test of your abilities.” She says, lips curling into a wicked smile.

“No way.” An incredulous look washes over you; you’ve got to stop blushing. You wonder if she’s still reading your mind. “You mean – I’m a Sorceress, too?”

“I’d very hesitate to call you that, given you’re so many years behind your potential.” Ophelia folds her arms, and you groan. She can’t even let you have this one, it seems.

You brush her off. “Well, then. I’m good to keep going if you think you can keep pace.”

“As said, we’ll step back a bit so you can see what I mean. Do you remember that process well enough to replicate it without my help?”

Your memory isn’t the best, but you know exactly what it feels like. The thought of icy fingers on your neck anchors you in a place that seems somehow familiar. Concentrating, your field of vision begins to narrow. The true nature of the Pale is seen with one eye blinded to the real.

> Sorcery Acquired: “Second Sight” – While active, allows detection of auras, active magical effects, and entities intersecting the Pale, but reduces awareness of physical space. Though it merely requires one eye to be closed or covered for the duration, the Sight is strongest when the eye is ritually sealed – though this will obviously render the user otherwise half-blind for weeks or months.

“I… think I understand.” You say, eyes widening. You cover one with a hand held to your head, though it’s mostly to abate an oncoming headache rather than to augment your Sight.

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“This usually takes time to master,” She begins, “But will obviate the complex calculations required for more difficult Pale manipulation if you use it properly. I feel your endurance is slipping already, but stretching the limits of your mind, too, is a part of your studies. Feel free to acclimate yourself before continuing, Amelia. I am here for you if you need me.”

> Look outside the window with Second Sight.
> Look at Ophelia with Second Sight.
> Move on to the next step, and attempt a proper technique.
> Recall particular information, or ask a question. (Write-in.)
>> Look at Ophelia with Second Sight.
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Your head hangs for a moment, eye closed, and you see the smallest of sparks, alight beneath your chest. You think you feel it, too; a capacity that you’ve never had before. Gritting your teeth as you exert your mental endurance to maintain control of the Sorcery, you tilt your head slowly upward to look upon Ophelia.

She sits on your desk, a shadow in the heart of an inside-out star, a pure-white flame unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It flickers and withers at its edges, lapping gently at anything that draws too near. It is close enough that it almost completely envelops you, but you feel neither flame nor heat. Your eye widens, mouth gaping.

“What… How?” You meekly intone. The two of you are the same height standing, though she currently sits above you – but in beholding the magnitude of her potential, you feel as if you are kneeling before a colossus, just short of being snuffed out in her mere presence. “How long did you have to work? What did you have to go through?”

“To become like this?” Ophelia asks, turning away slowly. “To vie for a seat on the Council is more a struggle than you can imagine, Amelia. It’s a war, unseen and with neither end nor rest. When I was first told that the most common means of rising through the ranks was removing your competitors from the picture – I thought it was a joke. But…”

“Did you… have to?” To be under the watch of a mentor mandated by the Arcanum – or some post-graduate student using you as a guinea pig – is one thing. But you would never have otherwise imagined her as a killer. You’re shaking, but your Sight does not waver.

“I’d rather not speak of it.” Ophelia nods firmly as she stands. She takes your hand in hers, and you rise to eye level with her, silver flame wrapping around your wrist. “I honed myself, and did things not even I knew I was capable of – with hopes that I would one day achieve my goal and reinvent myself. But eventually I couldn’t take it anymore – so I chose to find another way, no matter how long it took, even if I had to create one for myself. I returned to the Arcanum, and undertook this project to ease my mind. I wanted to be somewhere that I could feel safe. When I’m here, mentoring you… I feel—and… if I can impart anything that I’ve learned…”

She swallows nervously. Your eyes meet, and for once, the two of you nod in mutual understanding.

“Keep going. I will help you if you need it.” Her gaze drifts down to the implements on the table. You release your inhibition as a labored breath, and the Pale opens to swallow it at your command.

> Conceal it from sight.
> Expose it to destruction.
> Anticipate its fate.
>Expose it to destruction.
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The far reaches of the Pale are chaotic, and that is the first thing to catch your attention. For perhaps the first time, you want to know more, and so you look, deeper, drawing your conscious mind to its outer limits.

There’s a scar in the world – a narrow little crack in the air where the visions of each of your eyes overlaps. You direct it toward a target; power gathered, beads of sweat dripping down your brow, ink begins to surge from the slowly-rupturing fountain pen on your desk. Ophelia cocks an eyebrow, watching nervously as the lacquered wood surface slowly begins to erode away.

“That’s enough.” She says, and you release your hold. The air falls still and calm. Your eye aches from use of the Sight, growing immediately photosensitive and reflexively squinting shut when your true vision returns.

>Sorcery Acquired: “Pale Bolt” – Exposes a target to the chaotic energies of the far Pale, which will surely harm them. The effect is unpredictable, though, and will either absorb energy or irradiate whatever is damaged with raw arcane power.

You sit down at the desk, catching your breath while you observe the results of your handiwork. Ink fills the minute cracks in the wooden surface before you, spreading slowly outward like little rivers of pure black blood. The two of you spend a few minutes in such silence, before she speaks.

“I’m impressed, Amelia.”

“I didn’t – know I could – I mean, I’d given up.” Head hanging partway in shame, you let your gaze settle back on her.

“You just needed someone to show you the way.” Ophelia smiles, turning and examining the shelves about the room. “It’s getting late – here, let me find something to clean that up…”

There’s another knock at the door – seems she didn’t notice it in advance this time.

“Would you like me to get it?” Ophelia says, taking a step towards the exit, since she’s closer.

> “Could you? I’m really starting to feel sore.”
> “It’s probably just Kye again – I recognize the way he knocks.”
> Other. (Write-in.)
>> “Could you? I’m really starting to feel sore.”
>> Other. (Write-in.)
Lets see who it is first, don't want a stranger to barge in here.

“Could you?” You ask, turning to look at her over your shoulder. “I’m really starting to feel sore.”

“Understandable. I think you’ve earned a fair few moments of rest.” She says. “If it’s your friend?”

“Tell him I’m out.” You say, grinning. After a moment or so you settle down, lying on the corner of your desk – making sure not to get any ink on your face or clothes. “But check who it is first, alright? I wouldn’t want any strangers barging in.”

“Curiously careful of you! Shaping up?” Ophelia asks.

“I do worry sometimes, you know.” You stick your tongue out. “Sorry for caring.”

“Yeah, well.” She says, as you steal a glance – and think you might have caught her blushing for a moment. She continues as she steps toward the door, reaching slowly for the knob. “I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”

“Who is it?” Ophelia asks loudly.

There’s a pronounced silence.

The sound of the door being slammed wide open, then, is jarring, sending a reverberation through the walls of your room that knocks books from the shelves adjacent your desk. It's punctuated by… rustling leaves?

The first thing you see when you turn is Ophelia hitting the floor with a yelp. Looming over her in the doorway is – is that a fern? It’s taller than a man, and you’ve never seen anything like it; so many beady, golden eyes are buried beneath the branches, staring between the two of you as it sways from left to right, casting a shadow deep into the room from the hallway. The Sorceress scrambles backwards, and you can see her arm is gashed just below the shoulder and badly bleeding.

The thing lurches forward, a dozen thorny vines whipping out from its body, and Ophelia leaps to her feet with practiced footwork, whirling on a heel in time to intercept the attack with a shield of blue hard-light that forms at the end of her outstretched hand. It’s pushing her back, heeled shoes grinding against the wood beneath, and extending its fast-growing appendages to reach around the perimeter of the barrier; with a snap of the fingers of her free hand, fire blooms out from her palm, and she waves it in a wide semicircle like a torch that sets the screeching creature’s extra limbs alight.

“Amelia!” Reticulate cracks begin to form in her barrier with a sound vaguely reminiscent of glass breaking. “You need to get out of here, now!”

Whatever the case, it looks like you were right to be careful.

> Heed her advice – make way for the door while you’re clear to go.
> Second wind! Fight back with your new Sorcery, and see what you can do with no one to stop you.
> Grab the chair; bash the fern.
> Other. (Write-in.)
Hit it with pale bolt, but try to make the bolt stick to it.
And leave her to deal with that? And – in your room, no less? Not happening.

Just do as you were told, you think.

You’re nervous for a moment, then afraid. You’re being put on the spot – and it doesn’t look like Ophelia’s going to be able to hold out for another couple of seconds, much less help you out with making sure your own magic works right. This is your first test, and you can’t have imagined the stakes would be so high.

Clear your head. Release your frustration and your inhibitions. You take a deep breath, and close your eyes.

You open one, and let Second Sight take the other.

Then, you channel power, once more opening the Pale where you see the intersection in your field of view. Something burns, like a scorching heat inside reaching from your head down your neck to your shoulder to your wrist, and you extend your hand to let it loose like a ray of crackling black-and-white fire that crosses through the space Ophelia’s shield occupied the very moment it breaks.

Your shot hits head-on, scoring right between the creature’s many blossoming eyes – and a loud, hissing gurgle fills the air as it stumbles about, body flickering as the energy animating it is siphoned away into the Pale. Ophelia manages to take the opportunity to step aside, staring at you with shock and surprise as she circles around the creature; she spreads her arms to let a black rod take shape between her hands, and she takes hold of it, plunging it into the depths of the creature’s body like a makeshift spear that sticks within and withers the leaves it touches.

Then, you’re gripped, body and soul, by a sudden, sweeping exhaustion. You barely have enough power remaining to keep your Sight active, much less…

The beast is infuriated, and stomps away from Ophelia, narrowing its gaze on you. It thrusts its thick, trunk-like arms forward, and they grow at an incredible rate, surging to close the gap…

> Dodge under or away.
> Grab something – say, a chair – and try to block the attack.
> Turn tail and get behind something.
> Push your limits and meet it with a Pale Bolt.
>> Push your limits and meet it with a Pale Bolt.
Well dang.
>> Dodge under or away.
There's not a single chance we can shoot another pale bolt without actually passing out.
>> Dodge under or away.
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You know you’re already beyond your limits; another trick like that would be borderline suicidal in this situation. No, you have to get out of the way; you’re relatively athletic, thankfully, but even so can only move so fast. When you do, though, you realize what’s at work. The last vestiges of your Sight are revealing, in one eye, a measure of the withering energy that animates this beast, giving you hints as to where it might strike next.

> With Second Sight, improve analysis and dodging ability against most magical constructs.

This time, it’s wise to be afraid – especially given how far beyond your control this situation seems. You hit the ground rolling, and it hurts, but probably less so than getting struck down by that thing; it’s not satisfied with this outcome, though, and so whirls around with its massive arms extended, sending a row of books flying in all directions and tearing the fluttering curtains from the windowsill above your desk. You stay low, and the tail-wind dishevels your hair as the verdant coils flail mere inches above your head.

By the time you leap to your feet, you realize that the thing has slowed down significantly; it takes you another careful moment to see why. Moisture is rapidly vacating its body in the form of a mist that drifts lazily through the air, adding to a sphere of water that’s collecting between Ophelia’s hands; she’s very still and steady and wears an unfamiliar harsh and solemn expression, looking to be actually exerting herself to some degree. The thing rustles as it turns, anger fixated on you as the light in its eyes slowly dies – then, it collapses in a heap of browning leaves and cracked twigs as autumn’s first fall come early.

Releasing a held breath, the blonde Sorceress lets the hovering water – which looks like pond-water, stained with vegetable matter – fall to the floor and burst at her feet.

“Forgive me for not thinking of that sooner – matter spells aren’t exactly my area of expertise.” Ophelia says, looking askance at the destroyed creature. She’s the mind reader, but you can tell there’s something really troubling her – beyond the blood dripping down her wounded arm – when she turns to you. “Are you alright?”

> “I’m okay, but it looks like you’re hurt. Does that need tending?”
> “I’m okay, but – what’s wrong?”
> “I’m okay, but – what was that thing?”
> Other (Write-in.)
>> “I’m okay, but it looks like you’re hurt. Does that need tending?”

“I’m alright, but it looks like you’re hurt.” You say, wearing a concerned expression as you dart over to her side. Whatever hit her upper arm easily penetrated the material of the sleeve; the cut isn’t terribly deep, but it’s bleeding a lot. “Are you going to be okay – does this need tending?”

“I’ve lived through much worse. If you could get some clean water?” Ophelia asks, fishing a handkerchief from beneath the cut of her dress. “Those damn thorns are anesthetized. I didn’t even feel it.”

She ties the cloth to staunch the bleeding – and you’re quick to retrieve a hand towel wet with heated water from the bathroom. Ophelia carefully cleans the wound before replacing the makeshift bandage, lower lip cinched tight between her teeth, wincing a little with each touch of the material to her flesh.

“Okay, what just happened?” Your gaze, shocked and confused, settles on the pile of vegetation that’s resting on the floor next to your destroyed curtains. Ophelia’s standing there, shaking her head, wearing a look of resignation. What is going on? “That thing was trying to kill us! Should we contact someone – the faculty, the Council, call for help?”

“Don’t.” She turns to face you, speaking plainly. “I – damnit, I’m so sorry, Amelia – I never should have come here. I was so naïve to think it would all just be over. I have to leave.”

You remember what she said. There’s people out to eliminate the competition; someone sent this creature to kill her.

> “Leave? What happens to me, then? I need you!”
> “Aren’t your chances even worse out there?”
> Other (Write-in)
>> “Aren’t your chances even worse out there?”
>"Do you want an apprentice?
|>Aren't your chances even worse out there?

I have to say, this quest seems very well researched. Consider my interest piqued.
>> “Aren’t your chances even worse out there?”

>> "Besides, if another one of those comes around, it atleast gives me a chance to practice?"

“Aren’t your chances worse out there?” You ask.

“You don’t understand. It's not about my chances; the entire point is that I don’t bring you into this.” Ophelia turns away, tone growing cold.

“I guess,” You sigh as you walk around front of her. “That rules out tagging along as your apprentice?”

“Are you listening at all, Amelia? None of this matters at all if you get killed because of me.” She huffs, starting for the door. "You have so much. I won't watch you throw it away."

You don’t understand! This is my last chance at the Arcanum! What happens if I don’t—?” Unsteady on your feet, you totter up to her side and take her hand. “And if you go back out there alone? You said yourself you couldn’t take it anymore!”

“If you truly can't make it here, you’ll go back to Roshar and live. Free and safe and happy.” Ophelia grits her teeth, frustration washing over her as she faces you. “And if I go on my own, I’ll find my own way. I did once before, and I’ll try again—and if I die…”

“Just stop!” Your grip on her wrist tightens as she tries to pull away. "You're not going to do this alone, and you're not going to die!"

“Why do you care?” Ophelia asks, expression growing into one of utter disbelief.

You pause.

“Because,” You say, voice growing soft, “I never felt like I could do anything until I met you."


> Encourage. “You and I can stick this thing out together. I’ll graduate – and you’ll make it to the Council.”
> Compromise. “I don’t want you to go – but if you really think that it’s the only option…”
> Plead. “I need you here - and how much worse can it get? More enemies means more chances to practice, right?"
> Other (Write-in.)
>> Encourage. “You and I can stick this thing out together. I’ll graduate – and you’ll make it to the Council.”
> Encourage. “You and I can stick this thing out together. I’ll graduate – and you’ll make it to the Council.”

best buds please let us stay as buds
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“You and I can stick this thing out together.” You say, as your fingers lace together. “I’ll graduate, and you’ll make it to the Council.”

“You’d really take that risk?” She asks, and you recognize the face she looks at you with as the same expression you wore when you beheld her with your Second Sight, barely to comprehend the magnitude of her power.

“It’s not a risk. When it came down to it, you and I have been alone all of this time.” You reason. “If we look out for each other, it’s going to be different.”

She looks down, face briefly cast in shadow, and gives a nervous little laugh after a few moments.

“You really are smart, you know.” The more familiar Ophelia meets your gaze with a delicate smile. She gives your hand a little squeeze, and you feel the stress rise from your shoulders. “Put it to work, and I think we’ll see some results.”

You don’t care how stupid the smile you’re wearing looks, or if there might be tears welling up in your eyes. You stand there for a good few seconds – looking at her, while she smiles back at you – and you’re just happy.

Nearby, you hear the sound of leaves stirring, and you start, hand flailing out of Ophelia’s as you whirl around, shouting: “Look out!”

“Don’t worry.” She says, raising a hand to stay your fear. The two of you watch as a single leafy stalk grows upward from the – well, it’s a corpse, actually – in the middle of your floor. Slowly, a large bud on the end produces a melon-sized fruiting body that hums faintly, bathing the room in soft golden light.

“What… is that?” You ask, having stumbled a few steps back.

“In the wild, Shamblers are colonial creatures. When they die, their bodies bloom into these bioluminescent buds – so that if they’re separated from the colony and killed by something, the others know not to follow.” Ophelia says, as if recounting information from a biology text. “Even under a Sorcerer's control, their nature is no different.”

“Oh.” You say, breathing a sigh of relief. “That’s really interesting.”

“I think it’s symbolic.” She holds her hand beneath the puffball and catches it as it falls from the vine, then turns to face you, her lips curling into a wicked grin. “As if to warn others not to come here and cross us, lest they meet with the same fate.”

You’re first to notice the bloom grow gradually brighter. Then, she notices you.

“What’s wrong?” Ophelia asks, tilting her head at you in confusion before she looks to the ball of light in her hand.

When you see the look on her face, your blood runs cold. Her chair is tilted back on two legs, and it’s started to fall, and it’s too late for her to do anything about it.

She turns away to shield you from the explosion, which is still powerful enough to shatter the reinforced glass window in its frame and send the door flying from its hinges. Light washes over you – then, darkness.

Shit shitty shit.
Oh, sicht.
Looks like we lost our mentor/master.
More worryingly, looks like we lost our QM mid-update.
And nah, I'm sure she won't be removed from the story this early one way or another.

Your muscles hurt and your clothes are in tatters. You lie among ruined furniture and force-wracked books caked in ashes and sawdust. The room is utterly dark, and you hear a commotion outside. Then, you snap awake, dozens of worries and realizations striking you at once and eclipsing the pain of the cuts and burns on your skin. You bounce into a low, limping stance, scanning the area barely recognizable as your dormitory. The first thing you look for in the rubble is the first thing that ever made you feel like you were something other than a failure.

You wish you hadn’t.

You fall to your hands and knees at Ophelia’s feet, and can’t hear yourself while you scream your voice raw. She’s resting against the wall several feet away from where you last remember her standing, burns stretching across her body from the base of her missing arm, visible beneath the fabric of her ruined dress. Her face is frozen in fear, cold gaze of her single remaining eye fixated forever forward. A swatch of blood and viscera reaches up the wall, stopping only inches from the ceiling.

Broken bits of stone and scorched wood around you quiver and rock gently in place, their motion modulated by the intensity of your wailing. You are lashing out, and your power behaves the only way it has been taught. The Pale comes, tearing at the seams and displacing whatever it can reach in space and time. Torn notebook pages crawl back towards their places of belonging. The bits of a broken chair fall from the ceiling – then, through the floor, warping and phasing in and out of the real. Your Second Sight is flaring, burning away at your left eye, and you hold it tightly shut to force tears out.

Scattered around you like so many little wisps – the dancing embers of a fire snuffed out – are the vestiges of the white-hot aura you beheld when you looked upon her. Her star has been cut in half down the middle, halves spread wide and shattered like stained-glass butterfly wings. They are no less bright, but they cling to the real and slowly begin to fade.

You take her cold, dusty hand in both of yours and cry. Perhaps you mean to beg or to plead with the governing forces of reality. Whatever your intention – you neither remember nor recognize what comes out of your mouth.

The air thickens, and you shudder as two fingers of her dead hand wrap around one of yours.

You freeze in place, shaking, head tilting skyward.

Warm embers crawl along the walls and floor, closing in from all sides to embrace you. They seal around the tiny spark in your chest, enshrining it in a pure white light that leaves it completely eclipsed within. You kneel, weeping, inside the heart of an inverted star. It suffuses you, coalescing, swallowing itself into your heart with a single massive breath of life.

The Pale rests, and the air around you falls still and quiet. You collapse into the rubble as if to bury yourself with Ophelia, and darkness takes you again shortly afterward.
Sorry about the delay, but that's all for tonight! Appreciate the replies. Hopefully to continue when I wake up!
Great quest op.
Well, you certainly got my interest.
Seems interesting OP, hope you stick with it
You are Amelia, the youngest daughter of an esteemed Roshari noble family and a student at the Arcanum Extranimus – a university of Sorcery – whose pathological underachievement has until now shielded them from the dangerous secrets at work beneath the surface. Your peers answer to faculty, and your faculty answers to the Dean, and the Council of Sages. Among any of those quantities, as well as outside agents unrelated to the hierarchy as a whole, could lie usurpers who would seek to seize promotions through the ranks at the price of murder.

All you wanted to do was graduate. Now, you’re not so sure.

You were released from the infirmary mere hours after you woke up, once your vitals were assessed and it was determined that the majority of the damage you sustained in the incident was superficial. That much, you owe to Ophelia, who turned away with her last living motion such that her body shielded you from the worst of the explosion. The university termed it a freak magical accident, and you didn’t speak out to correct them, wracked with confusion and sadness and worried that you might somehow endanger yourself or put your continued career at risk. The costs of the damage to your room – practically total destruction of the living space and everything within, plenty of which you didn’t actually own – were taken care of by the ‘accident fee’ built into your tuition, which you could thankfully cover as you’ve never actually caused any accidents due to your lack of spellcrafting ability.

At first, you thought you’d have nowhere to go. The head nurse, however, informed you that you’ve been given permission to stay in Ophelia’s room, courtesy of the direct intervention of Dean Rowan Varator, as a solution to your problem until something more reasonable can be sorted out. You’ve never spoken to the man, though you’ve seen him speak once or twice at school events; you can’t possibly imagine why he’d take time away from whatever he might be doing to investigate the goings-on with you. You returned, though, and rested until the next morning came and went, lapsing in and out of troubled sleep. In your dreams, a distant muffled voice cries out, smothered beneath an impermeable ocean of darkness.

The room is lavish, and the comforter atop her bed – regal purple – makes it feel somehow as if you are being embraced. The pillow is wet with tears and you don’t want to move, but have to force yourself into a sitting position lest you waste the remainder of the day.

There’s a tapping at the window, and your head whirls around in paranoid fear to face the source. A stoic-looking corvid is perched patiently outside, a small wax-sealed scroll held tight in its beak. It’s been a while since anyone’s had occasion to send you a message; it occurs to you, then, that it might not be for you.

> Write-in.
> Should probably check what the message says, since she... isn't here to see what it is.

You open the window and take the message in hand, watching the bird hop down from its perch and flap away. The scroll unfolds, and you feel a sudden pressure that causes you to instinctively drop it and leap back – they sent something to finish the job, you think. Would whoever’s running this message service not check for something like that? Unless it was sent privately...

The small piece of parchment lands open and face-up on the floor. Atop it, a white lily appears in a puff of smoke, emerging from a small runic circle inscribed by hand on the page that quickly burns away. You breathe a sigh of relief, but still approach cautiously, carefully taking the flower in one hand and the parchment in the other. It’s a letter, addressed to you, written in elaborate script and familiar handwriting. You take momentary solace in the fact that whoever set this arrangement up – Dean Varator, presumably – also went through the trouble of having your mail forwarded here. The rooms are practically connected, so it’s not a difficult logistic leap to make, but still…


Caught the news. Was glad to hear you’re okay. I’m so sorry about your friend.
When Bro and I lost Mom, we wouldn’t have made it through without people
looking out for us. I know it isn’t the same, but I would never want you to feel like
you’re all on your own after something like this happens to you.

You know where to find me if you need me.
Same goes for the rest of the crew. I’ll be sure to come by and visit sometime. xox


With a solemn nod, you set the note down on Ophelia’s desk, laying it to rest beside the enormous black grimoire that sits as the table centerpiece. The white lily finds a home in the small clay pot that holds myriad hand tools and fountain pens. Shaking your head in a moment of disbelief at the state of reality itself, you have a brief look around, since you’ve never actually been in here before.

Looking over at her wardrobe, a dark wood armoire that stands sentinel in the far corner of the room, you realize how tattered your own attire is; your clothes are torn in places and caked in ashes and sawdust. You don’t know how right you’d feel borrowing Ophelia’s clothes, but you might not have other options given you can’t imagine how much of your own stuff survived the blast. Her bookshelves – oh, there aren’t any. You’d have expected her to have a veritable library in here, but the only book you can see is the one on her desk. There’s a thick, rectangular oaken chest at the foot of her bed. The door to the washroom, on the opposite wall, is half-open, and it’s dark inside. The place as a whole is lavish and well-kept, without a speck of dust beyond what you’ve tracked in yourself.

> Investigate something in the room. (Write-in.)
> See if anything in your room made it.
> Other. (Write-in.)
Oh shit, we're back in business.

>Investigate something in the room
>the grimoire on her desk

It's inevitably going to be important if it's the only book in the room of a studious (to say the least) student, so might as well get to it ASAP.
>> See if anything in your room made it.
supportig checkin the grimoire

Moving around front of her desk, you settle – almost falling, really – into the chair to examine the book, a veritable black grimoire with gilded effects. It’s heavy, in a word; even the front cover is heavy as you lift it aside and first open to the table of contents to get an idea of what it’s about before you start thumbing through. The chapter titles are diverse, and it looks like some kind of anthology, as many have different authors recorded beside them.

When you start flipping pages to see the nature of the text, the first thing that catches your eye is the fact that the table of contents doesn’t end. You tilt your head in a moment of confusion, before your gaze settles on where the page numbers would normally sit beside an entry. There are no numbers, but short phrasings in an eldritch script that you’re mostly unfamiliar with; the runes are vaguely similar, based on looks alone, to the methodology through which Sorceries are bound to scrolls and tools, but you certainly know nothing of the craft itself.

Not much of it is legible, but bits here and there that you’re recalling in what might qualify as a desperate time, things you picked up in the way of just scraping by on the outside edge of “not getting expelled” all these years.

> Find one of the entries that you can read completely.
> Move on to something else. (Write-in.)
>fiind one of the entries you completely read
>> Find one of the entries that you can read completely.
>> Find one of the entries that you can read completely.
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It takes you forever to find something you can push through without having additional literature on hand about the methodology. In the entry you find, which is essentially selected at random based on how much you think you know, there are three basic runes, and you can barely hear their sounds somewhere in the back of your mind; as you intone them, you stumble and repeat bits of the phrases based on the minute curves and accents visible in each symbol, sounding briefly as a toddler who is speaking their first words.

Even after this, it takes you a few tries and several more minutes to get it right. When you finally speak them with confidence, however, the book slams shut, almost closing your fingers within; the breath of air forced out from between the cover and the foremost page tosses your hair all around your head.

Confused, you open the book once more to the middle, and find nothing. The entire grimoire is blank save for the first ten or so pages, which have been replaced with a short essay about useful cognitive anchors for practicing Shape manipulations and matter sorceries, written to a target audience of new learners with demonstrated affinity, as well as a list of accompanying references. It’s at this point that it dawns on you that this grimoire is a library in itself – unfortunately, the runes encoding some of the other works you noted as you thumbed through were a bit more complex, some numbering ten or more.

You imagine she could have read them all. Though you don’t know what sort of content is locked away within this codex, you think of how many secrets would have been at her fingertips; with this book, she could have mastered hundreds of Sorceries, limited only by the time she had available to study and practice. It worries you that it takes more than even that to earn a spot on the Council.

> Scan the codex for another doctrine of Sorcery, or something that might be useful to you. (Write-in.)
> Move on to something else in this room. (Write-in.)
> Recall particular knowledge. (Write-in.)
> See if anything in your old room made it.
>> See if anything in your old room made it.
>See if anything in your old room made it.

Now that we have the basic picture, we can study the rest at our leisure later.
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It’s only a few steps through the hallway from this place to your old one. A girl who you recognize as living nearby passes you in the hall, giving you a look of pity and trending towards the opposite end of the hallway as she walks. You can’t imagine she knows exactly who you are or what happened, and so merely assume that it’s because of your vagrant appearance.

The door was presumably collected from the hall, but a waist-high wooden barrier sits in the empty doorway as if to somehow dissuade anyone from entering. You duck under it and make your way inside; the room is lit only by daylight shining in through the broken window frame. Most of the detritus has been swept up, leaving only large bits of broken furniture and wood planks lying about. The gore has been cleaned from the opposite wall, but you can barely stand to look, as you can still imagine Ophelia’s dull, glossy eye staring at you from beneath the bloodstain.

Most of everything that belongs to you has been some combination of burned or destroyed. A few pairs of shoes of different types survived the blast, which you make sure to collect; the implements of personal care in your washroom cabinet, too, are no worse for wear. The contents of your wardrobe look as tattered as the clothes on your back, save for a durable fur-lined overcoat of Roshari make, which you put on to carry; it’s decidedly out of season, but it has more intact pockets than what you’re currently wearing and has the added effect of making you look like you do, in fact, own a permanent home.

You scan the floor for torn notebook pages and little bits of Ophelia’s teachings, some of which are in good enough condition that you can fold them up and pocket them. When you take to your hands and knees, though, you see it – the Pale Tome rests in the corner of the room, hidden behind a fallen support plank, illuminated by a single crepuscular ray from the window frame. It is not damaged in the slightest, though resting among vestiges of ashes and broken glass missed by who or whatever was sent to clean this place up. Crawling over, you grab it and tuck it against your chest as if to somehow shelter it further.

> Investigate something in the room. (Write-in.)
> Return to your current place of residence.
> Other. (Write-in.)
>return to your current place of residence
try study, we need to be dedicated to get revenge for almost getting killed
we should also check up on some acquiantances
>investigate something in the room
>the place where Ophelia died.

Just need to put things into perspective. We blacked out immediately after the explosion and woke up in the med ward, right?
We blacked out due to the explosion, but awoke briefly for the events of >>1530584 - then, later, in the infirmary.

You can clearly see the point where she last stood, unburned floor in the center of the room that domes outward from the explosion that consumed her. Standing somewhere in this spot – about where you are now – you were protected from the worst of the blast, but you’re certain the two of you were thrown back into the shower of rubble and veritable storm of destruction when the immense heat and force caught up with the remainder of the room.

You swallow a lump as your gaze drifts back to where you saw her sitting. You remember how the remnants of her shattered aura still burned bright – how even though one of her arms and most of her head were destroyed, you took her hand in yours and felt her fingers close around yours and you could have sworn somehow, if only for a second, that there was still something alive in her. You did something, then. You don’t know what or how, and you don’t know what happened to you because of it.

Looking back as you leave, you note there’s nothing left of the Shambler. The vegetable matter was either cleaned up by whoever retrieved Ophelia’s broken body, or merely completely destroyed by the blast – a fine way to eliminate the evidence, no doubt.


With hands and pockets full of your own belongings, you return to the other room, peeking into the hallway before you leave to avoid potentially judging eyes. You leave your shoes by the door and deposit the Pale Tome, bookmarked with assorted folded notebook pages, on the bed, leaving the contents of your washroom cabinet in a small leather bag on the night-table. You lock the door, then cast off your coat and leave it hanging on the back of the desk chair.

The room is the same as you left it; a sentinel armoire, an oaken chest, and a desk of myriad drawers topped with the black codex sit about as sterile sort-of decorations.

> Investigate something in the room. (Write-in.)
> Seat yourself and try to study from the Codex.
> Seat yourself and try to study from the Pale Tome.
> Other. (Write-in.)
Ah, of course. Clearly I needed to re-read that. Missed some implications there.


Try to contact Kye and co. Amelia's probably not in a very stable mental state right now.
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You don’t think you can focus on anything, or have had about all you can stand for the moment. For some reason, you don’t feel tired, but you’re emotionally exhausted. It’s probably best you get out and do something – try and clear your head, even if to actually do such a thing seems borderline impossible as you are now.

You look out the window with a sigh. You have to keep moving forward, now, and you have friends that are willing to support you.

> Send Kye a written reply.
> Get changed and try to find him at his dormitory.
> You’re pretty familiar with his whereabouts. Try to track him down as you are now.
> Other. (Write-in.)
Your QM yet lives.
Color me pleasantly surprised.
Oh yes, and
>You're pretty familiar with his whereabouts. Try to track him down as you are now.

We haven't seen much of the school at all yet, huh.
Investigate the room with the second sight.
There I go again! Sorry I ended up getting caught up in other things tonight. We'll hopefully pick back up with this next evening, after I've gotten some sleep and a good meal.
Night and no probs
i would suggest after you speak with your friends you use the codex and the pale tome side by side
it would be very comprehensive
If you find yourself unable to keep to a daily schedule, maybe it would be easier to set a day in advance when you can make time for it?
Doing my best to keep up with the daily schedule for a while, actually!

Update in about an hour.
We'll be here. (At least, I will).
I'm definitely tryin, but pretty busy. Catching up where I can though.
You were never an academic at the Arcanum. What you were, though, was a socialite, well versed in the myriad strata of the school’s culture. Before some of the members of your core group of friends began to graduate ahead of you, you knew everyone who was anyone; you knew the cliques and how to maneuver around them. You’re still that, to some extent, and still lucky enough to be known to some as a party girl; now, however, you see that your disdain for proper academics has left you in a curious state in this place’s social landscape in a way you couldn’t possibly have realized. You knew their beliefs – their opinions and other things openly shared – and you knew their secrets – what was shared only in the company of close, trusted friends – but couldn’t possibly have known the untold story, the things that no one hoping to stay alive and un-expelled would dare speak of to another soul, the plots, schemes, and shortcuts orchestrated by those looking for an easy out.

Ophelia’s words echo in your mind; you recall her brief statement about cutting corners and taking shortcuts. She had to be like that too; she had to have some unorthodox ways of arriving at her station. The context of so many little things you’ve heard in passing over the years seems completely different now. You feel as if you are surrounded by cheats and backstabbers, but feel as though you might be overthinking. You wonder if there’s anyone in the entire practice who goes about learning Sorcery the right way.

As you exit the room, you wonder if there even is a right way.

Tracking Kye down was easier when you knew his schedule. You’re not even sure if he’s signed up for classes yet; whether or not he has, though, you know there’s only so many places he likes to spend his spare time – when he’s not somewhere eating his weight in food, that is.

The Arcanum’s campus is like a microcosm of a town. When you leave your residence hall – an opulent building with many floors at the southern terminus of the campus grounds – you face north along a great green, perfectly maintained where grass meets sidewalks, the bases of fountains and statues or memorial plaques, and wide-stretching tree lawns where flora that are decidedly not native to the region grow as healthy as in their homeland. You can see hundreds of students making their way about the place in every direction. Straight across the green is the Archive, the school’s main administrative building that also houses the vast underground library. Beyond that, a citadel rises up into the clouds; you recognize this as the Sanctum, a nexus of magical power open only to faculty members and privileged visitors to the Arcanum. You know only rumors of what truly lies within, but know that the Council of Sages makes their seats at the top, wherein they can look out over all Creation.

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Myriad buildings stretch north-to-south, far to your right; you recognize the Conservatory, where such practices as alchemy, artifice, and sigilcraft are undergone as parts of undergraduate courses as well as researched or studied vocationally. The Halcyon, a marvel of magic architecture, houses classrooms where such practical things as history and languages are taught; primarily, though, it is home to clubs, courses, and research laboratories where the practitioners of Shape manipulation and matter Sorcery hone their craft. Similarly to the left is the Training Hall, where those aspiring to more athletic avenues can go to exercise at all hours; it’s also the key location for Sorcerers who wish to acquaint themselves with the art of dueling for any purpose. Your destination is to the left as well; the massive but somehow unassuming Hall of Spark houses a menagerie and greenhouse that’s home to exotic flora and fauna and possesses facilities that welcome those who seek the arts of vitality, and of summoning and commanding. The classrooms and research laboratories here are also devoted to the ways of Force and Ether; perhaps all of these reasons are why the building is made so durable.

You don’t see much of the building on the way to the basement, rounding the corner to the stairs just as soon as you enter. Beneath a few stories of brick and earth, the sounds you make are hollowly muted; it’s quiet, and you’re blissfully unaware of the commotions on the surface above you. You enter a network of private study rooms that are unused, the signs bidding for quiet within clearly unenforced, as you hear the sound of distant laughter from one end of the hallway. This place is a good choice because it’s very early in both the year and the day; most aren’t currently studying, and those that are or would be are either currently in class or doing so at the Archive. In addition, those that’d attend classes in this building are likely doing rather than just studying; most Ether-attuned manipulators favor dueling as a side hobby, and many Force manipulators research alongside other Sorcerers over at the Halcyon. Torch sconces flickering with witch-flame dot the walls, lighting the path down the hallway; every room has a rustic chandelier of similar make lingering overhead.

Kye is seated at the head of a table in the room ahead, leaning back with his feet kicked up onto the surface. There’s a young, noble-seeming man to his right – slightly sun-bronzed skin and deep brown hair – who looks only vaguely familiar; beside him, a girl with side-swept tresses is engaging in the conversation, but doesn’t seem intrigued enough to look up from the books and handwritten notes she has stacked up before her or stop prudently practicing hand gestures just below table-height. You’ve met her once before; she’s one of the newer friends in the group he runs with, a young overachiever named Cosette.

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“Whaaat?” Kye asks, laughing as he turns to face her – though still relaxed with his arms braced behind his head. “Why would you think we’re treating you like a child?”

“Because you expect me to believe that arms just grow back!” The girl tosses up her hands, casting an incredulous look back across the table.

“It wasn’t just spontaneous, you know. It was Luneia’s blessing.” The noble leans over the table toward Cosette and pulls the sleeve of his tunic back. “Look – Kye, didn’t I used to have a scar here?”

“It’s true.~” Kye gives a firm nod, lips curling into a sly little smile. “I’ve known him for years. He got it wrangling a dire bear. You’ve told her that one – haven’t you, Davion?”

“Enough!” Cosette ceases her gestures long enough to slap his arm away. “If you’re going to insist upon this ridiculous tale, perhaps I should cut something of yours off now and we’ll see how fast it grows back?”

The two boys look at one another for a moment before Kye starts to snicker quietly, the other following shortly afterward. The three fall silent, however, when you enter; the noble appears concerned, and Cosette continues to stare down into her books, while Kye bounces to his feet immediately. “Oh, damn—Millie, are you okay?”

“Ah, Amelia! You’re looking fashionable as ever.” Cosette smiles at you, one eyebrow cocked, and you look down at yourself while Kye moves over toward you. Your hands and knees are caked in ash from sifting through the ruins of your room; your garments are tattered and torn in places, and your skin is marked with lots of little scratches and bruises. “Did you pick up some new attire during your vacation? I was unaware peasants were in vogue.”

“Shut up, Cosette.” Kye says, turning to scowl at her over his shoulder briefly. She rolls her eyes before burying herself back in her literature; meanwhile, Kye takes your hand as if to get your attention while he scans you up and down as if to inspect your wounds. Your face makes it obvious you’ve been crying. “Your roommate—Millie, were you actually inside when—? Do you need—have you even slept?”

> “Can we go for a walk?”
> “Do you mind if I sit down here for a while?”
> Other (Write-in.)
>Can we go for a walk?
Need to talk to him privately without making the rumor mill spin any faster.
>> “Do you mind if I sit down here for a while?”
>do you mind if i sit down here for a while ?
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“Do you mind if I sit down here for a while?” You ask, sort-of pushing past Kye.

“Huh… yeah – I mean, go ahead.” Kye says, moving to provide thoroughfare and just watching you as you totter past him and crash down in one of the chairs at the great round table. Soft light from the bronze chandelier flickers against the lids of your closed eyes. “Sorry, Millie—I’m just worried. You look…”

“I know.” You nod, breathing a sigh. “I know.”

“Like you were eaten.” Cosette mumbles, completing Kye’s thought for him. “By plague worms. And regurgitated.”

There’s a brief silence as and after Kye returns to his seat; after another couple moments, the noble clears his throat.

“Apologies, ma’am – I believe you’re one of Kye’s friends.” He says, extending his arm; you accept a firm handshake out of mere courtesy. “I am Davion.”

“Amelia.” You respond, plain and a bit weary. “I should be apologizing. Have we met?”

“Briefly, I believe. Perhaps at a social gathering? I recognize you, but it must have been years ago.” Davion nods. “Whatever the case, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. All told, though, you appear to be in disarray. Might I ask what happened to you?”

You look up; it seems like all eyes are on you.

> Tell the truth of Ophelia and the incident.
> Make something up; blame Ophelia.
> Make something up; blame yourself.
> Other. (Write-in.)
>> Make something up; blame Ophelia.
Discreetly use Second Sight on them, specifically Kye, if nothing else. It might be paranoia acting up, but he DID show up before the attack happened.

>Make something up; blame Ophelia.
Tell them a little about Ophelia's ambition, before a package showed up. Looking over her shoulder while Ophelia opened it, that's when it exploded.

>Tell the truth about Ophelia and the incident
"Someone tried to kill her. I was just caught in the blast".
I don't think Second Sight will tell us anything besides the magnitude of power in each individual, and they might notice us casting it. Hell, scratch "might".
posted a little hastily on this.
Do not mention the plant monster as part of the attack, but, say something along the lines that, when she went back to her room, that one of the plants that died from the explosion, had a strange bloom coming from it. That death bloom is probably the only real lead we have to finding out who killed Ophelia.
In our current state, I don't think it would be too out of place for us to close our eyes for an extended period of time, or lean on the table to cover one of them up. Kye did ask if we've even gotten any sleep since the incident. Besides, I don't think second sight is something that's easily noticed unless you draw attention to it. The most that would happen is running into something that passively blocks second sight, as I imagine on campus, it's a common occurrence. QM did say that for the most effective way for it is to seal one of your eyes shut for weeks at a time.
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“An explosion.” You nod.

“Was in the Chronicle this morning.” Kye adds, looking over to Davion. “I didn’t know you were actually caught up in it, Millie.”

“Yeah.” You frown, gaze drifting down and away. “It caught me by surprise, to say the very least.”

“That was you?” Cosette asks. “Apparently someone died.

“Your roommate.” Kye says, glancing solemnly to you.

“My friend.” You nod, before a deep breath. “Ophelia – a post-graduate, who had her heart set on earning a seat at the Council.”

“She caused it, then?” Cosette turns to you. “Let me guess; inventing her own Sorcery?”

“I wasn’t looking when it happened.” You respond. “A package showed up for her, and when she opened it…”

“What?” Davion tilts his head, looking legitimately concerned. “They said it was an accident.”

“Oh, child.” Cosette, too, finally seems like she’s more interested in the conversation than the tome before her. She brushes back her sideswept hair as she first shakes her head at Davion, then looks to you. “There are no accidents.”

“You think she was targeted?” Kye asks.

“Doesn’t seem unbelievable if she was a wannabe Sage.” Cosette adds. “Explosives and death threats are basically the only thing you get in the mail at that level. I’m more surprised she let her guard down.”

“Man, that’s. Ridiculous.” Kye says, giving a sad sort-of sigh. “Is that just the story that got out, Millie? Have you not told anyone?”

> “I didn’t see the whole thing – just can’t help but speculate.” Try to keep them out of your business.
> “There was some kind of plant in the box.” Try to see if anyone knows anything.
> "You seem to know your fair share about this, Cosette." Try to change the discussion topic completely.
> Say something else. (Write-in.)

> Discretely activate Second Sight, covering one eye while feigning a headache.
> Take it easy on the Sorcery for now.
> Do something else. (Write-in.)
>> "You seem to know your fair share about this, Cosette." Try to change the discussion topic completely.
> Discretely activate Second Sight, covering one eye while feigning a headache.

Mention that Ophelia had a plant shambler or was studying one. When she went back, she saw the death bloom. Perhaps ask if they know how to care for it, as a way to remember her by?

>> Discretely activate Second Sight.
is my reasoning.
>"There was some kind of plant in the box"- Try to see if anyone knows anything

>Discreetly activate Second Sight, covering an eye while feigning a headache.

Can't see what it would accomplish, but might as well go along.

“I don’t know. I’m just… overwhelmed.” You say – truthfully. But you brace yourself with your elbows on the table, hands on your head, wincing a bit as you would were your head positively throbbing. You feel physically well, though, but you’re emotionally exhausted and visibly tattered enough that you can give the right impression. Covering one eye with your hand to shield it from feigned photosensitivity, you discreetly open it to the Pale, activating your Second Sight and flicking your gaze across the room.

So envisaged, you see a different picture. The candles above are brighter in this eye, then darker, their energy in constant flux. You behold the shapes of your company as well; what surrounds Kye is like a little storm cloud revolving in constant, uncontrolled motion. Tucked away beneath Davion’s chest is a small flame of silver moonlight that waxes and wanes with his breath; at its smallest, though, it’s only just larger than you remember the little spark you first saw within yourself. Cosette’s crackling aura is the largest of the three in magnitude; it’s more evident to you courtesy of the fact that she’s currently channeling a bit of power as she practices inert hand gestures beneath the table. You see something else, though; hidden away in the Pale and secreted beneath the folds of her red cloak are honed steel daggers, one behind either shoulder and two more at her waist. She pauses from her gestures for an instant and looks cautiously at you – at which point, you release your Sight.

“Amelia…” Kye frowns, placing a hand on your shoulder.

“Do any of you know anything about plant shamblers?” You ask, hands slipping from your forehead.

“Uhm.” Cosette perks back up, shaking her head as if to release her current thought before giving a confused look to Kye. “Are you delirious? What’s that got to do with anything?”

> ...
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“Ophelia wouldn’t shut up about them. She was studying one that also died in the blast – I found the flower-bloom it left behind when I went back to the room.” You respond, giving a nervous little laugh as though you might somehow add a touch of amusement to your little anecdote. Your smile quickly gives way to another mournful look. “I… think it’ll help me feel better if I try to take care of it. Keep it alive. As something to remember her by.”

“There’s a research group that works with plant creatures.” Davion asks, looking like he’s thinking for a moment. “In this very building, in fact, upstairs at the Menagerie. There’s plenty of people with vested interests in breeding them to produce medicinal and alchemical compounds, as well as the use of vitality Sorcery to command them and control their growth.”

“Maybe you could go ask them when you’ve got some time, Millie. Dr. Solana is the associate professor – I’m sure he’d be able to tell you everything you need to know.” Kye smiles. “I think it’d be a good way to honor your friend. I’m really sorry this happened to you – but don’t forget you’ve got plenty of people who’ll support you if you need it.”

Davion gives a firm nod, too, placing his closed fist over his heart. Cosette is back in her books, and doesn’t afford much of a response.

But you manage to smile in return. Somehow, you feel like you've just a bit less a weight to bear. “Thanks, everyone.”

> Ask something about the Arcanum. (Write-in.)
> “Davion, what’s your story?”
> “Cosette, what’s your story?”
> Do something else. (Write-in.)
Seems Cosette is playing the game Ophelia was. It might be wise to catch up with her in private later. But asking right now, especially since she might have noticed our casting, wouldn't be a good move.

>"Davion, what's your story?"
seems the natural transition to keep the conversation going.
Afterwards, if possible
>Cosette, what's your story?
>Davion, what's your story?
>Cosette, what's your story?

wouldn't do to appear TOO suspicious.
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“Davion,” You say, nodding toward the young noble. “What’s your story?”

“You want to know what’s brought me to the Arcanum?” He asks, raising his eyebrows.

“It’s a fair question!” You respond. “We aren’t well acquainted – and I like to know a little bit about my company.”

“S’true.” Kye chuckles. “She’s nosy.~”

“Very well. I come representing the Church of Luneia, and am here by the grace of their organization.” Davion straightens himself up as he speaks. “I was once a mere squire, but wish to familiarize myself with the arcane arts in hopes of one day serving as a military champion. For me to find myself here, then – within walking distance of the veritable nexus of all the world’s arcane power – is truly a blessing.”

“I heard you mention that name before I came in.” You straighten up too, in legitimate interest. “Are you Roshari?”

“I am.” He says, looking serious for a moment. “A long way from home, I know.”

“It’s a familiar feeling. Perhaps I recognize you from home, rather than a party.” You grin. “I’m a daughter of the court of nobles—House Moughbury, in specific.”

“Oh, my—I apologize for the indignity, miss Amelia. That’s much more likely, then; I’m sure our families are acquainted.” Davion says, gritting his teeth as if cringing at some conceived faux pas. “It’s an honor to be in your presence.”

“Don’t worry about it.” You give a dismissive wave. “None of that really matters here.”

“True that.” Kye rolls his eyes. “Aren’t we all just worn-out faces in the crowd? Certainly feels like it sometimes.”

“You’re a real drama queen.” Cosette says, face-down in her personal library.

“I’d like to know about you too, Cosette.” You smile, turning towards her. “It sounds like you might like to talk about yourself more.”

“Well, that’s – ahm – a poor assessment.” Cosette says, looking flatly at you, before grinning wickedly at Kye and Davion. She idly looks back, stretching her shoulders and shaking her head to toss her hair out of her face as she continues. “I’m here to learn Sorcery like everyone else. It just so happens that I’m a little bit more devoted to the task than these two.”

“Cosetteeeee…” Kye says, gesticulating airily with a hand sweeping back and forth above the table. “Is one of the Sage Exemplars in her year.”

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You recognize the title—it’s the highest merit based scholarship available at the Arcanum, afforded to incoming students of all ages who demonstrate high degrees of inborn manipulation affinity or existing Sorcery knowledge, as determined by the Sages themselves. Only one or two crop up each year, but cliques form around them; they’re a boon to befriend, since they get practically everything around here for free so long as they continue to perform at their full potential. You wonder for a moment how many Kye-equivalent-weights worth of food she’s bought for these two, which affords you a few entertaining mental images.

“Hush, you.” Cosette responds, before nodding in affirmation anyway. Seems she’s enjoying the compliment, whatever the case. “I am no Magus, but – yes, that’s the case, I happen to be held in high regards by some. If you’re really curious, I come from Hollowel, to the far east. My father was an explorer, and my mother was what some might call a ‘hedge witch’. When I was given the opportunity to come here, I accepted – albeit with some deliberation. I believe it’s been a fair journey of personal development thus far.”

> “Are you trying to become a Sage, Cosette?”
> “Are you signed up for classes yet, Kye?”
> Recall particular information, or ask something about the Arcanum. (Write-in.)
> Do something else. (Write-in.)
>Are you trying to become a Sage, Cosette?
Is there a particular field that interests you? and what might you recommend for starting out?
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“Are you trying to become a Sage, Cosette?” You ask.

She gives a thoughtful look.

“Perhaps. I don’t know what the future holds for me, and so plan to decide once I’ve graduated. It’s a difficult and dangerous road, so I’m sure you can imagine I might be just a bit apprehensive.” Cosette says, and you know from experience she’s telling the truth. “But before I left the comfort of my home, my mother told me that I was capable of anything I put my mind to. So far, I have very little evidence to the contrary.”

“Well, then.” You grin. “Say, speaking of graduating – I’m trying to pick up a few new tricks before I get out of here, myself. Any field you’d recommend as particularly easy to get into?”

“They say pure Ether sorceries are the easiest to pick up – and I’m inclined to agree. It honestly doesn’t take a whole lot of training to light things on fire.” She says, and you see Davion give her an eye-roll.

“What’s your interest, if you don’t mind my asking?” You ask.

“I dabble.” Cosette responds, smiling.

“Apffff. You dabble, now? A minute ago you were all ‘I am no Magus!’” Kye says, teasingly.

“I’m really not.” She gives him a rather hostile look, but drops it after a moment or so with a little under-the-breath laugh. “If you absolutely must know my weaknesses, I really haven’t the mind for Shape.”

“You know – Millie never tells me what kind of Sorcery she gets up to.” Kye says. “She’s all secretive.”

“I bet she’s a Pale one.” Cosette says. “If she’s never told you anything, that’d explain it. That’s how they always are.”

“Ooh.~ Tricky.” Kye giggles. “Is that true, Lady Moughbury?”

“You don’t have to say anything, Amelia. I can see it all in your eyes.” Cosette smiles at you—then lowers her voice significantly: “You can’t be that invested, though, given you still have both of them.”

> Ask Kye about classes.
> Recall particular information, or ask something about the Arcanum. (Write-in.)
> Do something else. (Write-in.)

"Thanks again you guys. I'm going to get a change of cloths before seeing that professor, Solana was it? Oh, and Kye, meet me later when you have some free time and we'll compare our classes."
"Sorry. I guess...y'know. I'm kinda messed up still. Kinda was a...well, a wakeup call." Because we are, and it was.

> Ask Kye about classes.

Why the HELL would we be so blatant about asking about her?! That's just stupid.
It's not that we were asking about her. That's fairly benign and expected, as we've just met her and she's hanging out with one of our friends. Its that she caught us looking. Luckily, our actions aren't unwarranted. We did just survive being collateral damage to the assassination of our roommate. So being suspicious of people around us is to be expected, especially to ones we've just met AND hanging out around our known friends. Truthfully, it's probably better that we were caught, because if Cosette was involved, it shows her that we don't know who wanted Ophelia killed.
Assuming she's involved, it gives her the opportunity to steer us away from an investigation and keep from having to cut the loose end that we represent. As it stands, if we were to be killed any time soon, the questions that's being suppressed right now would be much harder to contain. One person dying can be claimed an "incident". But the person who survived that "incident" suddenly experiences another "incident" or otherwise disappearing, that means that someone is making moves, and their rivals are going to want to know how to counter them.

personally, I don't think Cosette is involved in this. Or if she is, there's more likely an accomplice, or mastermind that put her up to it.
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“Yeah, what can I say? I’ve been out of sorts lately, I guess. Now more than ever.” You say, looking warily at Cosette, whose apparent interest in you seems to drop off after another moment or so as her gaze falls back down to her book. “Yesterday was, well. Kind of a wake-up call.”

“I understand completely. It’s easy to let things get the best of you.” Davion says, nodding. “But there’s never a bad time to try and get yourself back in the right place.”

“Kye, you signed up for classes yet?” You ask.

“Davion and I were talking about that a second ago!” Kye says. “I haven’t even started, and he’s got a few flex slots – we were gonna meet up at the Archives tomorrow around noon if you wanted to join us and see what’s open. I’ve got all my big stuff out of the way, so I kind of just want to coast. Davion’s actually assistant-teaching the introductory-level competition dueling, and I’ve never done it – but he says it’s a lot of fun, so I’m totes in on that. Can’t hang with him otherwise, cause he’s always off in his stupid history classes…”

“Oh – for the last time, it’s important! Maybe if you’d quit being a dunce…” Davion says, looking frustrated.

“Only when you quit being a nerd!” Kye returns a bare-toothed grin. “Anyway, Millie – tomorrow at noon. We’ll be in the lounge, probably; think about it!”

“Yeah, totally! Thanks for all of this, guys – you have no idea how much I needed to just… talk.” You say, shaking your head with a satisfied sigh, before your gaze drifts back down to your tattered appearance. “I’m going to go get changed and see that professor, uhm—“

“Dr. Solana.” Kye says.

“Right. Davion, Cosette, it’s been good meeting you—or seeing you again?” You shrug.

“Blessings.” Davion smiles. “And may Moonlight guide you.”

“What he said.” Cosette adds. “More or less, anyway.”


Good to answer any lingering questions, but will be taking a little bit of a break before we return to our room.
I'd suggest not overthinking the situation. I've found that in a lot of quests that results in being too clever by half.
What are we graduating in?
Amelia is not approved to graduate and has just been keeping up appearances.
Poor Amelia.
Is there enough time to do some extra credit shit?
how long has she been attending?
Updating in just a few; sorry for the delay!

This is the beginning of her fourth year. She's had a great time at the Arcanum, for what it's worth - until yesterday, anyway.

Remember when Ophelia said "She's graduating"? Well, it sounded like she was pretty serious - and she didn't seem the type to say things she doesn't mean. Amelia might not know of any loopholes or secret ways to the top - but this doesn't seem like the most orthodox of places.
You suppose this is your room now, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Whatever the case, most everything is as you left it; the chest and armoire are stock-still, and the Pale Tome rests on your bed. The Codex, though, seems to have closed itself shut; you recall last leaving it open, and the room was locked in your absence. Opening it reveals it’s returned to the archive form; you assume this is normal behavior for the artifact.

You take stock of your tattered appearance one final time in the full-length wardrobe mirror before you reach for the handle – then, you notice that it’s padlocked shut. You wonder for a moment how exactly you’re going to open this, since it doesn’t seem like your room key will fit; as you reach to the padlock to investigate it, though, it pops open, seeming to simply react to your presence. The wardrobe door slowly creaks open, revealing Ophelia’s diverse selection of attire. From the simple to the elaborate to the overtly feminine, it looks like she’s got something for every occasion. Staring in awe at the selection, you reach out and touch one of them, seeming surprised when the material of it doesn’t have the texture you imagine, feeling more like smooth glass than silken fabric. When you lean in close, you realize that your hand isn’t reaching the cloth, hovering delicately a minute distance off the surface. You have to press with a relatively significant amount of force, whole hand planted firm against the resisting force, to actually get your hand against the material.

Wearing a confused look, you begin pushing items of attire aside one by one – searching for something that you think will fit your look. You settle on…

> A fluttering purple robe which domes out from your waist. The wide-brimmed hat seems a little typical, but you imagine it does well to hide your face when you don’t wish to be seen.
> A simple and elegant white-hemmed black dress. Donning a matching choker and corset, you’ll resemble Ophelia’s image so long as you’re devoted to her memory.
> A regal black tunic set with gold effects. With the proper jewelry, makeup, and hair, you will appear just as one of the dominant nobles of the Roshari court.
> A commoner’s ensemble in muted colors, not unlike what you’d wear on a day in. Many at the Arcanum choose unique attire, but there is no need for you to draw attention to yourself.
>> A commoner’s ensemble in muted colors, not unlike what you’d wear on a day in. Many at the Arcanum choose unique attire, but there is no need for you to draw attention to yourself.
Woot, the clothes are protected.
And give them a once over with the second sight.
> A fluttering purple robe which domes out from your waist. The wide-brimmed hat seems a little typical, but you imagine it does well to hide your face when you don’t wish to be seen.
>> A commoner’s ensemble in muted colors, not unlike what you’d wear on a day in. Many at the Arcanum choose unique attire, but there is no need for you to draw attention to yourself.

I kinda want to go on a revenge kick. We're not proud of this shit, but this whole 'kill people to become mages' thing is just...sad, paranoid, and barbaric.

That should change.

We should change that.

When you dress yourself, donning a simple, loose-fitting cloth blouse and skirt, slipping on your sturdy boots, and tossing a canvas cloak over your shoulders, you feel for a moment as if it’s just a lonely evening indoors. You look at yourself in the mirror and wonder for a moment if you might look too plain or too roguish, though you reassure yourself that these opinions are informed by your noble upbringing. Given the curious choices in attire taken by many other students at the Arcanum, you might or might not blend into the crowd, but you certainly will fade into the background.

Shaking your head to clear your thoughts, you open your left eye to the Pale once more. Though the outfits do not seem to be of acutely magical nature, you note that there is energy in flux through a handcrafted, delicately inscribed sigil on the inside collar of each one; this must be the source of the protective effect. Of note is the fact that Second Sight makes you privy to auras and active magical power, and there isn’t a whole lot in here that’s actively radiating magic – except for the padlocked chest at the foot of Ophelia’s bed.

> Write-in.
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Sorry - missed that tiebreaker! I'm not sure how many people are still around, so I'm not sure whether or not I should continue...
Please continue.
And look for some weapons on the sly.
Nothing major, a dagger or the sort- nothing obvious right now.

I think our primary goal should still be focusing on practicing magic and fulfilling our friend's wishes for us to graduate.

And also kill the shit out of the person who killed her, then overthrown the entire fucking system because fuck this.

The padlock is identical in make to the one that sealed shut the dark wood armoire moments ago. You tilt your head at it without drawing too close as if there is more information to be gleaned by just looking at it; when you reach out to touch it, it reacts to your presence just as the previous one did, popping wide open to allow you to access the contents. If these are meant to be secure, they shouldn’t possibly open for just anyone. Why, you wonder, would they open for you?

You’re not sure what to expect; perhaps your mind expects a king’s hoard, a chest brimming with gold and jewels or artifacts befitting a Sorceress of untold power. When the great chest is almost empty, you’re a little surprised. Sitting plainly on the wood surface at the bottom is a collection of objects. The largest is the first to catch your eye; it’s a long and elegant-seeming rapier with a swept crossguard that makes your head spin when your eyes try to assess its exact shape. It’s not all the way inside the sheath, and so you can see a little bit of the silver glint of the blade. Beside that is a pair of pouches, which you peek into out of curiosity; the heavier contains three trade-weight bars of solid gold, and the lighter a thick stack of what appear to be pemmican wafers.

Beneath that is a stack of handwritten papers - Ophelia's writing, no doubt - piled beneath a cover page that's simply labeled “Emergency”.

> Write-in.
Look for traps with the second sight, if we can, then read the papers.

(After this I need to get to bed.)

Again, you squint, closing one eye and peering into the intersection where magical energy flows and real gives way to Pale. But there’s not a lot underway here; you’re just in time to see the last little flecks of soft-white fleeting from the open padlock, but more than anything, you note that the power you saw earlier came from the rapier before you, which is shrouded in an unsteady blue heat-haze. You’re not knowledgeable enough – you’re not knowledgeable at all, really – to be able to discern anything about its nature, but decide for the moment that it’d be best to keep your hands off of it. Instead, you sweep up the pile of papers and begin reading from them.

You are not yourself – out of sorts, confused, weakened, or perhaps cursed. Something has gone wrong, and you have either known to come here or thankfully found yourself here. Your best course of action at this point is likely to follow the instructions provided in these notes exactly and sequentially to the best of your ability until a pseudo-normal state has been restored. Once you are done, you will know what you must do next.

You’re happy at first to see that they’re actually written in common tongue, but your happiness doesn’t last long; behind the cover page is a handful of pages that are covered front-and-back in indecipherable eldritch script. And here, you thought the entries in her grimoire were difficult to discern, and felt the Pale Tome contained the ravings of a madman. There’s no way what you see before you can fall within the realm of sanity, and you wonder briefly if letting go of sanity itself is just another part of aspiring to become a Sage. You’re at the point of giving up, though, when you find a couple of pages that actually are in a natural language. Sitting on the edge of the bed, you read intently, and discern from context that this page is a list of emergency protocol that picks up in common tongue where the previous page left off:

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If this is the case, you should know by now that your name is Ophelia. Regardless – if you are unsure of who, what, or where you are, or feel that these instructions pertain to you in specific: Navigate to Entry 303 in the Codex Excelsis (henceforth Entry 303) immediately. If necessary, the following page contains detailed information on: the proper operation of the Codex Excelsis, and a shortcut to Entry 303.

Beneath that is a cartoonish drawing of Ophelia holding up what appears to be the black grimoire; the drawing is annotated with a deliberate few symbols of runic script and a large “303”. For some reason, you smile a little, but are quick to continue reading.

If aura or ability to perform Sorcery is damaged in a way that is not immediately repaired by the contents of Entry 303, travel to Eiheim and utilize the Heartforge. If this cannot solve the problem, it should provide thoroughfare to something that can. Operation of the Codex Excelsis is not hampered by inability to perform Sorcery or Manipulation; informing your course of action based on analysis of “Severance of the Arts” and “The Outer Pale” is highly recommended before proceeding.

If you do not remember the precise location of your means of accessing Eiheim – see ‘Mind Damaged/Lost Memories’.
Otherwise, navigate to Entry 320 in the Codex Excelsis.
If you are not able to completely and easily follow the instructions in Entry 320, have not memorized the contents of Remiel’s “Planes”, or do not understand the meaning of these warnings - ignore this section and do not attempt to follow these instructions under any circumstances.

The next page details operation of the “Codex Excelsis” – the black book which you’ve already figured out via trial and error. Ophelia’s personal notes regarding the book do not speak of how she came to possess it, but seem to indicate that it is functionally an artifact library that can duplicate other written contents into its pages. Though those contents are copied by nature of the artifact, it’s noted that many of the entries in the book are currently the only existing copy of those entries, and she seems to imply in some cases that this is because she personally destroyed the other copies. The pages also contain a basic phonetic guide to runescript, and short protocol for quickly accessing specific entries in the Codex.

The few remaining entries in the Emergency notes are similarly illegible. You were hoping to find something that somehow pertained to your situation, but you suppose it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to leave yourself instructions for after your death. With a sigh, you turn the pages over in hand to see if there’s anything on the back.

Good luck.
Do not give up.
Do not forget who you are.
Do not forget what you must be.
Regardless - we're now in the dark days of autosage, so I think I'm going to continue in a new thread when I awaken. It's been good, everyone - questions, comments, and criticisms decidedly welcome.
Night, and loving the quest so far.
I want you to know that arcanum extranimus means strange secret or foreign mystery.

Arcanum means secret/mystery and I assume extranimus is an incorrect form of extraneous.
Clearly, we need a way to cast Speak with Dead/commune with the spirit of Ophelia hiding in our body if we want to graduate this year!
I am at least half-serious.

Also, are we archiving this thread?
Animus means soul. I confess to not knowing what the extr- appelation means exactly in Latin, but used in a modern context extranimus would mean "a soul outside/an additional soul".

My suspicion Re: Ophelia cohabitating our body in some way grow stronger by the minute. Would also explain why her locks open for us.

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