Dreams… those terrible, terrible dreams once more… dreams of a world lost to darkness, of… of trees, and of seeds, and of… eggs? Wh-what…? Oh, well, that's dreams for you– Docent Volkama explained as much to you once, last semester, best not to worry about it overmuch…
It's a new semester starting, so it's little wonder your dreams plague you with worries… well, it's quite alright. It's senior year, and you've grown so much since freshman year…
Birds are singing… the [*******] is shining… your alarms buzz, bringing you to gentle waking in Dorm Boreal… you don't want to be late for Docent Zamrud's homeroom, do you? >>761209
Your alarm has already rung quite some time ago, in your private room in Dorm Docent. Your eggs are cooked, your coffee is brewed, and you've finished reading the [*******]'s newspaper. Your homeroom should be soon… you don't want to be late, do you?
Good rubbed his head as he sluggishly rolled out of bed. He didn't quite want to go to school today but he knew he had to so he sucked it up and got his things. He made his way to class with a piece of toast hanging between his teeth as a light breakfast.
Zamrud lets loose a yawn as he sits in his chair, having put away the newspaper now that he's finished the most interesting parts of this day's events. He munches down on his eggs at a relaxed but steady pace, trying to remember today's itinerary as he gets the rest of his coffee put into his furnace to take with him.
As he leaves his private room in the Docent Dorm, he has a folder full of graded tests under one arm and his furnace in the other hand as he walks through the halls in a high collar sweater and brown leather jacket with elbow patches on them, adjusting his glasses as he makes his way down the familiar path out of the dorm and too his first class on campus. He occasionally says 'Hello' and 'Good Morning' to any acquaintances he meets along the way
Billy is awake up at the dot following his everyday morning ritual of taking care of his physical and spiritual needs. Little effort and even less thought went into the practice.
Qhapaq rolls out of bed rather early as always- the enormous, fluffy griffon isn't one to idle about in bed. He'd want to get up early enough to do some kind of workout- whether it's just stretches and a bit of jogging, or something more intensive- before starting to head for class. He's dressed about as casually as he can be.
On his way to Zamrud's class, he'd poke his head into the Aquatic Studies classroom.
Grutar happily hums an incoherent tune as he mops up which looks to be a sickly slick pile of goop that was likely someone's previous meal, sporting his good ol' janitorial jumpsuit and a memento mining helmet from his old days as a miner.
As the students make their way from Dorm Boreal in the north, and Dorm Docent in the center of the campus, each of you heads for classroom C-108, your assigned homeroom for this [******] semester. You pass through gardens and groves, under arches and over bridges, as you cross the campus. The gentle [******] light rises over the eastern horizon, warming your bones as you shiver off the [******] chill.
When you reach your homeroom, you find the janitor, Grutar, polishing it up and getting all the chalk lined up on the blackboard just as Docent Zamrud likes it.>>761216
Your classroom has fifteen students total… you're looking for Good Intentions, Billy, Qhapaq, Lost Hope, Deadweight, [*****], [*****]…
Funny… there's a long list of [*******]…
>roll for ???, DC 8
Billy is patient as he focuses and tries to tune in on the classroom. Treating this as every other day of being alive.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Zamrud enters the classroom promptly, minutes before the bells ring and signify the start of class. He looks to Grutar polishing the blackboard and nods in gratitude. "It looks spotless, Grutar, thank you. I'm certain you must be busy, I don't know how you find the extra time to even see that the chalkboards are as black as if they were bought new."
He looks through his attendance list in his dossier, looking over names to call once people finish filing into his classroom…
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Good just munched away as he looked around quietly.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"Don't you worry Mister Zam, workin' is my lifeblood, did you know I have 32 jobs?! This is just my favorite one!" Grutar says as he moves over to the windowsill where he can clean off the erasers and let the chalk fly free.
"By the way, do all yous professors always have to dress like how my pappy did?" Grutar asks with blissful ignorance to style and fashion.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
You recognize a few others from last year's crop of juniors… Good Intentions, Qhapaq… but others in the classroom, you don't recognize… you blink, and yet, their look remains the same… how did you not notice it before…? They seem to you to be sketchy blurs, a graphite smear in the shape of the various races of the world… featureless, and yet going through the same motions as you… has it always been this way…? These other students, whose names escape you, go about their business, getting out notebooks, chatting amongst themselves, yet have no intelligible voices…>>761223
Whoa… your sister's on time to class, from Dorm Austral… her and that mare she's always with… strange rumors have been going around about those two…>>761224
You sense it in the wind… a pay raise is coming just around the corner! Next week for sure… you might even get health insurance one of these days too!>>761222>Mudi the Young>Brewhaha>Colonnade Reprise>Aut…umn… P…et…a…>…>…
The list of names continues… you look up, and behold five students, and ten other… blurs… graphite in color… sketches, outlines… in the shapes of students… yes, yes, they're all here… no, nothing's amiss… all looks to be correct here… perfect attendance on the first day? Yes, most excellent…>>761218
Early birds are there, studying the fish in the wall-sized aquarium made available as both entertainment and study… two other griffons are there, you notice, and one of them, the larger, seems to boast an encyclopedic knowledge of the fish within…
Your secondary alarm buzzes… oh gods, you're going to be late to Docent Zamrud's homeroom…!
>>761225>>761220>roll for ?? [1d10]
Qhapaq hums a little to himself as he's almost late for class- thankfully, he's a big guy, so he can nudge and push his way through other students- very politely, of course- to get to class!>>761225
The aquarium was nice to see, though! While not the most wise on fish, the griffon does enjoy looking at them.Roll #1 10 = 10
Good looked at the other mare accompanying his sister, trying to recall anything he could on her.
Billy goes forward to do something. He tries to go and grab Good to go and leave. Just to escape this world that doesn't make any sense, and hopefully find something that does.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
[1d10] Memory>>761227Roll #1 3 = 3
"Heh, kids these days, probably playing their comps and vidyas and getting too distracted to get good attendance!" Grutar says before one particular puff from the chalk dust sends him into a coughing fit.
"Yes, I do recall you saying that before. And I stand by my earlier response that it is unbelievable, there's simply no way you could be holding down 32 jobs simultaneously."
As he comments on his sense of fashion, Zamrud merely smiles and gives a flourish of his jacket and sweater combo. "It's comfortable and has an air of professionalism, Grutar. If you'd like, I might have a spare to offer.">>761225>>761223>>761221
As Zamrud looks over over the students in the class, seemingly matching up all the names on his list to students in their chairs (he thinks…?), and nods as he takes one of his pristine pieces of chalks and starts to write up the chemistry lesson he had planned today to continue off of yesterday's lecture.
"Good morning everyone, I hope you remembered to read about reagents last evening. It seems we are almost all in attendance…">>761226
As Qhapaq just barely manages to squeak in past the bell, Zamrud turns to look at the griffon as he enters. "And now we're in full. Cutting it awfully close AGAIN this morning, aren't we Qhapaq?"
Good feels like he recognizes that mare from somewhere, but… it's as if… before he can bridge the gap, Billy takes his shoulder, breaking his concentration… something weak, something waking, stirs within Good… trying to get back to that line of questioning… it's… it's been so long since… since you… since you saw her…
Just then, Qhapaq barges into the classroom, sending another student outside flying as he throws open the door. This blocks any attempt Billy might make to take Good out of the classroom.
Another student slides in after Qhapaq, taking his seat in the back. A kirin… he takes out a notebook as if all were normal, and yet Docent Zamrud doesn't notice him.
Docent Zamrud doesn't RECOGNIZE him*
"Ahh. Apologies, Zamrud. I want to be in good shape for the track and field, and wrestling competitios this weekend." Qhapaq remarks, bowing his head a little and slipping in to his seat next to… a person that seems to be talking, but no words are actually being uttered. He frowns a little, and tries gently prodding them. >[1d10] Poke.Roll #1 4 = 4
"Excuse me, we just need to go out!" Billy tries to slip through the side of Qhapaq and take Good with him through the door.
"LOCATION AND TIME MANAGEMENT!" Grutar replies back after finishing his coughing fit. "I rather like my speed suit, feels breezy and easy to move in!"
Good jumped and looked at Billy in surprise
"Billy what are you doing?"
He said as he looked back and tried to recall anything about this mare. Even if it made his skull ache.
[1d10] forceful memory recall attempt.Roll #1 2 = 2
Zamrud shakes his head. "I can respect that, Qhapaq, but then might I suggest you move your clock ahead a little earlier as to make time for your training without having needing to make it into the start of class by a feather." He shakes his head, "No matter, please take your seat and we can begin.">>761232
Zamrud begins to write a few chemical terms on the blackboard, including drawing up the chemical symbols and molecular charts for common reagents like ammonia or hydrochloric acid.
"Alright everyone, please open up your textbooks to Chapter 6 and we can get right into it. As I said yesterday, today we will be covering reagent compounds. Now, can anyone tell me what IS a reagent-"
He pauses as he sees the last minute entry into his class, the Kirin sitting down as though they were always supposed to be there yet is totally unrecognizable to Zamrud. "Excuse me, young man?" He says to the Kirin. "Are you a new student?"
"Hmm? Ah, sorry." Qhapaq remarks, cocking his head to the side and trying to squirm out of the way.
Naught happens… and before long, Qhapaq is back in his own seat, the last few seconds a blur… soon he remembers naught of this interaction, not the poke, not even that the nearby student was speaking, but saying nothing.>>761235>>761236>>761234>>761237>>761238
"Oh, sorry," the kirin says. "I uh… I just got lost around campus. You know. I'm a transfer student. My name's…"
He sighs with sudden exhaustion, and looks around. "My name's Herb. I'm not really from around here…"
His hoof starts to tremble. "I'm not the only one, actually, Docent. So is he," he says, and points to Qhapaq. "And so is he, and him, and even him–" he continues, pointing to each of you in turn.
An extremely cute mare trots into the classroom. "And so is she!" Herb says.
"Que paso?" La Senorita asks, blinking the most stunningly gorgeous eyelashes any stallion on the Diskos ever did see. Two nearby males practically faint upon seeing them.
"All of you are, in fact– because this isn't real!" Herb suddenly snaps.
Oh, dear… a mental breakdown on the first [*******]? Well, it's understandable, given how Agape Academy, nicknamed 'Shikaku Academy', operates.
>roll social to BELIEVE Herb – failure casts you further into doubt of his words
Grutar just idly listens in on the lessons as he begins piece by piece packing away his cleaning supplies.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Qhapaq shakes his head a little, as everything seems to blur and shift… and he's back in his seat! He looks at the Kirin and cocks his head to the side, momentarily distracted when La Senorita steps into the classroom- hopefully she sits close to him!
"Ah, uhm… hrm. This is not real, you say?">Believe? [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Billy scratches at his head, attempting to think about his situation. Wondering about if the faceless caricatures coincided with what the student is saying.
[1d10]>BelieveRoll #1 10 = 10
"Herb…" Zamrud says to himself, the name ringing a familiar tone for reasons beyond his comprehension. He eventually shrugs it off, "Well, welcome to the classroom, Herb. If you could take your seat, we can re-commence our lesson…"
As La Senorita passes in through the door as well, Zamrud leans against the wall and raises his brow at the gorgeous young filly to step into the classroom. "Another new transfer student, then? Well, I suppose we can have a quick introduction to the class, then we really must be moving on-"
His eyes look alarmed as Herb starts to have a breakdown in the middle of the classroom, moving from behind his desk to put an arm (gently) on Herb's withers. "Woah, hold on Herb, take deep breathes. What isn't real?"
Good blinked as he looked at Senorita and the rest as he tried to make sense of it all. Between Billy, Herb, and his own headache it all hurt.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Wait a moment… you were just fighting this guy… when did you end up in here? You look about, and only now do your surroundings strike you as without explanation – who are these silhouettes with the shape of human souls, and what happened to Ride's team?
Herb sweats as you all look at him. "Come on, tell me at least one of you didn't fall for it!">>761412>>761241
A breakdown on the first [*******] has to be something of a record for Shikaku Academy, but given that this Herb fellow chose to become a senior, and what seniors must endure to earn their graduation, it's not so truly out of the ordinary…
>roll knowledge, DC 5
[1d10] Rolling for Knowledge
Zamrud looks pensively at Herb, rubbing his chin as he puts a hand up to the colt's head, trying to feel for a fever.
"Is anyone familiar with where the Nurse's Office is located?" He asks the classRoll #1 10 = 10
"I do believe you, just tell us what is going on here. Why is this going on?" Billy asks out loud.
Good at this point pulls himself away by force before grunting and stumbling away only to bump into Senorita as he listened to Herb "Your words… they make some sense…" he said before looking at the mare he just bumped into.
"You seem… familiar too…"
Meant to ping you too there))
Waiting for the lecture to start, Deadweight leans back in her seat watching clips of Jackdonkey
"Something is not… hmm. No, you are right. Something here is not as it should be. What is going on?"
As Good bumped into the strangely attractive mare across from her… Lost looked upon him with a strange sense of nostalgia for someone she felt she remembered… but yet she couldn't place it.
"It's just down this nearby promenade to the north, swing a right, third door on the right," Herb answers. "Hey wait! I don't need to go there!"
>Agape Academy prides itself on being the most difficult university on the Diskos to graduate from, and employs two different advancement systems, officially known as the First and Second Enlightenment.
>At Agape Academy, the First Enlightenment operates as such: If a freshman fails even one final exam, they are expelled. If a sophomore fails either a midterm or a final exam, they are expelled. If a junior fails even one test, they are expelled. A junior who reaches the end of their year can choose to graduate as a junior, or advance to become a senior, and be subject to the Second Enlightenment.
>Historically, almost every student who makes it to junior level opts to become a senior, as those who manage to graduate as seniors find almost the entire world opened to them, regardless of their major. Any form of employment, any position in government, any institute of mundane or arcane sciences… one who manages to graduate as a senior from Agape Academy can have essentially whatever they want, thanks to this supreme prestige of graduating from this most exacting of universities.
>Those who opt to graduate as juniors, however, despite being able to claim the prestige of even making it to junior level, come to be regarded as quitters and cowards, who backed down from the ultimate challenge.
>roll further knowledge, DC 4… >>761418>>761419>>761422
"It's 'cause I failed to stop you from crossing the boundary," Herb says, his face darkening as he recalls his failure. "…It… reset… everything reset. The semester… restarted. We have to leave this classroom. Let me lead the way and I'll explain everything!">>761419>>761423>>761421
"H-hey," Herb says. "Look at me. Don't look at her. Just come with me and I can explain it. She's… whatever or whoever you think that is, it just isn't. It… it just isn't."
The silhouette begins to take on the faintest hint of hue… murky details lie just below the surface of the shade, like something underwater.
"Is it bad everything had restarted? What is so special about these semesters?" Billy followed up with more questions as he kept up behind Herb.
"Hrm… very well, then. Let us leave the classroom then, yes? It cannot be too hard, now that more of us know. Right?"
Herb catches Deadweight's attention, and curious/nosy, she follows him.
Good looked at Herb and then looked to Senorita "Are you real? Or are you like he said?" he said as he began to become rather paranoid about this all.
"HOw do we get out of here Herb?" he asked after a moment to calm himself.
Lost seeing Herb and more importantly Dead and Good make a scene similarly began to follow.
[1d10] Rolling for knowledge
Zamrud crosses his arms, looking down at Herb as he suggests, "If you're familiar with where it is, I think you should see your way there for this morning, lad. You don't seem to be feeling well.">>761424>>761426>>761425>>761427>>761428>>761429
As Herb seems set on leading everyone out of the classroom, Zamrud holds up his hands, "Woah there, hold a moment… go where, precisely? You can't just all leave class, this lecture is going to be on your mid-terms. After reagents I was going to begin covering coagulation, we can't skip this."Roll #1 10 = 10
"Out? I do wish to get to the bottom of… whatever exactly is going on here. The more I think of it, the less right this is."
"Wh-what? No way! Vestal Godspeed hasn't even been giving out candy anymore after– agh! Stop that! Snap out of it, would you!?">>761430>The Second Enlightenment consists of a semester-long game.
>Seniors are divided into two teams: Boreal and Austral, each with one hundred students. They attend their own campus separate from the campus used by freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Seniors must earn special tokens, called Stars, in order to graduate, which are given out based on performance on homework, test, and extracurriculars.
>At the end of each month, at precisely 1900 hours, the fifteen students from each team who have the last Stars are expelled. Senior year is actually only one semester, and the semester is six months long. The semester concludes with a duel between the two teams – and the ten seniors left standing at the end of the duel, regardless of which team they began on, graduate.
Your brain flexes and swells like a well-exercised muscle… now, let's explore the many minutiae and rulings about these Stars, shall we…?
>roll further knowledge, DC 3>Any attempts to believe Herb have raised to DC 8.>>761428>"Es verdad – y tu?" La Senorita says in her familiar stilted cadence. You can hear a metal twinge behind her voice, despite her flesh-and-blood form. She is real, albeit transformed.>>761425>>761427>>761426>>761428>>761429
Herb nods and turns to leave, but stops when he sees two silhouettes – Lost and Deadweight – following along. "What the… that's unusual," Herb says. "Guys, the door behind you. Just shoo them away if they follow. Don't talk to them, don't look at them. And if their words start making sense, you need to run from them.">>761429>>761427>>761430
What is this asshole talking about…? He's mentally broken, to be sure, but that's not a reason to make a scene in class, much less talk about other students like that.
Herb gawks at Zamrud. "This guy was with you earlier… you're going to have to be the ones to wake him up. This dream… it's sinking its teeth into him even deeper. I don't think there's much I can do for him."
who have the fewest stars*
"Huh? I can go wherever I want!" Deadweight says, a little offended.
Lost frowned. She was quite real and she didn't like hearing someone insult her or her marefriend Deadweight.
"I'm real you jerk."
Good blinked and poked Senorita a bit before motioning for her to follow the rest of them as he felt like she was as important as the others who believed Herb.
He then looked back to Herb "Well… I think I recognize the one mare… I think I saw her in a dream once and she seemed real there too."
The two silhouette-students who tried to follow you just spoke… but their voices are distorted and muffled, their words unintelligible.
>(Optional) roll to hear them more clearly
"Don't do it–" Herb warns. "Whatever you do, don't listen."
"Are these other students… not real? How can we wake someone else out of this?" Qhapaq asks, frowning a little. "Mental puzzles are not my strength. How did you, ah, become trapped here?">>761430
"Zamrud… does something, ah, not feel off to you?"
Billy's ears flop down against his head in an effort to follow Herb's instructions to not hear the silhouette students.
"You actually believe this guy?" Deadweight exclaims, just getting more offended.
Qhapaq glances between herb and the now… angered shade, folding his ears back. "This is very disorienting… I do not like it."
Zamrud's brain twitches as he listens to Herb speaks, a slight headache that ever so slightly feels like it's tearing his head in twain…
[1d10] Further Knowledge
[1d10] Believing Herb>>761432
Zamrud smiles as Godspeed's name is mentioned, as he always does. "I think you're a little too old for candy after a doctor's visit anyways, don't you agree?">>761432>>761430
As Herb starts to lead several of his students out the door, Zamrud grumbles and hold up his paw. "If you wish to skip class, so be it. But it is only fair to warn all of you, I will be covering items today that you may not understand just from reading the text, and I won't be covering it again up until the mid-terms. Do as you will, but you'll do it at risk to your own grade.">>761438
Zamrud turns to look at Qhapaq, "No, I'd say half of my students leaving class on a whim is very 'off'. I'm half inclined to take Herb to the nurse's office myself… purely for his own well-being, of course."Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
"Well what if they are real and they actually want to help us?" Good said trying to believe in the best scenario as he couldn't help but try to discern it.
[1d10] Hear betterRoll #1 8 = 8
Lost for her part seemed genuinely hurt "Cmon man we're real… we don't wanna hurt you or anything…"
"Yeah, I'm just wonderin' what you're going on about," Deadweight says.
She is plush, soft and warm. La Senorita wiggles like an eel as you poke her. "Error. Input not recognized – please try again."
Her true form must have no protocol for being tickled.>>761442>The ownership of Stars is determined by RFID chips in the Stars and in each Student's ID card. A Star is considered owned by whoever scanned their SID over the Star last, regardless if the Star is lost, traded away, stolen or taken in a duel. It is this RFID-backed system which the faculty use when determining who to expel at the end of each month.
>Each student must possess at least one Star to not be expelled at the end of each month. Only one Star is necessary to graduate at the end of the school year.
>Stars can be used in the end-of-semester team duel to purchase various factors that affect the duel, such as weapons, environmental changes, buffs and debuffs, etc.
>Faculty are of course exempt from the Second Enlightenment system, having passed it themselves in a past year, in order to quality for a faculty position at Agape Academy.>>761436>>761438>>761442>>761439>>761444
"Meet me in DB-256," Herb says. "Oh, right – that's Dorm Boreal, Floor 2, Room 56. I'm just going to do more harm than good if I keep making a scene. I'll explain everything there. Add me on Concord too, and call me if there's an emergency."
Herb splits from the classroom at an anxious trot.
"Wait, do we have a concord device?" Billy attempts to check his person for the machine or something resembling it.
>>761443>>761444>>761445>"…we're real… hurt you or…"
>"…wonderin'… on about,"
These two students… are they threatening someone?
>DC to hear the silhouettes has dropped to 5 for Good
"Ah, hmm… a Concord?" He asks, momentarily confused. Does he even currently have one? He'll start to follow after Herb, though he gives Zamrud a concerned look. "Well, ah… come with us, yes? I do not wish to leave my closest friend."
Lost blinked and looked to Deadweight "Should we follow him?"
She looked to Good as she noticed him trying to look and she wondered why she recognized him as much as she did.
You do not have a Concord device, but you discover, in your schoolbag (next to your grimoire), a peculiar rectangle with a glass screen. When you boot it up, it displays all the functions your Magicomp had.
You get a bad feeling about this strange rectangle – somehow, you sense it draws misery and misfortune to itself, and to those who possess it.>>761449
Like Billy, your Magicomp is missing, replaced by a demonic rectangle. On the back is a sticker of a brightly-dressed diamond dog girl with eyes so large you must question the structural integrity of her skull.
You realize most things in your schoolbag have stickers of this diamond dog girl…
You all have smartphones. You feel the blue light toxicity even when the damn things are off.
, and it seems like you guys do need help," Deadweight says with a little sass.>>761450
"I wanna see what they're doing, I already know the material, and I'm bored
Billy quite perplexed decides to add Herb onto his misery brick, unsure if it would help, or even deter their goals by using this horrid device.
Zamrud grouchily crosses his arms as he sees the bulk of his classroom following Herb out of the class, then watches Herbs splits at all due haste. He turns to Qhapaq and answers, "In the interest of looking out for my students, and seeing as how I don't seem to have that many to teach in the actual CLASSROOM, I believe my duty demands I keep with you all to see that nothing comes of this. But only until we put this nonsense to rest."
He follows after Herb in particular, increasing his pace to keep up with him. "Herb! If you wish to head back to the Dormitory, fine, but at least stop by the Nurse's office first, won't you? Just to check on you.">>761449
"Closest friend?" Zamrud says with a brow raised, "You're an excellent student Qhapaq, certainly but, wouldn't that be a bit of an exaggeration?"
Good paused and looked around before hugging the larger mare. He felt bizarrely tempt to do so with how soft she was.
Having sated his needs on that he once again tried to listen to the two shades
[1d10] Listen more
He also went and added Herb on Concord as he didn't want to lost the lead on this too much.Roll #1 10 = 10
>>761451>Don't you guys have phones?
Qhapaq gives the Sticker a curious look, more interested in it than the phone for a moment. He'll try to put in Herb's information, if he can.>>761454
Qhapaq looks actually, slightly hurt by the comment. "Do you… not remember anything of our time together? Outside of this… whatever it is."
Zamrud raises his brow, "Outside of the academy…? Qhapaq, correct me if I'm mistaken but, I don't believe we met until you started classes."
La Senorita gladly returns the gesture.
Then, as you listen in… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v61paNzFcgQYour heart almost stops beating. It's… her. You've– you've seen her, just once before… it's… one of your earliest memories, so often hiding away in the back of your mind. Someone not your mother, nor your father, reclining near you, half-asleep, as you share a couch cushion. You were hungry, but you didn't stir, so as to let her continue resting…
No, a sudden calm quickly returns. Right, right… it's not been overlong since you've seen her at all. She moved to [********] not long ago. It's only been a few [*******] since you've seen her. Funny, she didn't mention she got accepted to the Academy.
>(Optional) roll DC 6 to remain cognizant that something is amiss.>>761452>>761453>>761454>>761455>>761456
Herb continues trotting to Dorm Boreal, following the stone path. Other silhouette students make way as you follow him. He takes a right, and as he crosses past the third door – it flies open!
>roll DC 8 Dodge!
"Ah!" Qhapaq says, flapping his wings and jumping aside to try and avoid the door!Roll #1 7 = 7
Good felt his head feel so fuzzy as he tried his best to remember things, and then to dodge
[1d10] DodgeRoll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
Zamrud looks at Herb from behind as he follows behind the confused young colt, keeping his keen eyes on the rest of his classroom as he makes sure to maintain order on this impromptu field trip of theirs.
As they make it to the next hallway, Zamrud's eyes open wide as he sees the door opening up right before them, quickly side-stepping out of the way smoothly to move out of the way (or at least tries to)
[1d10] DODGE!Roll #1 5 = 5
Billy following along the flow around takes a jump back away in attempt to avoid the oncoming attack.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Like laying horizontally in water, one half above the surface, and another below, does your mind feel caught between two dreams. You cling to the surface, to the air, to the vague recollection that what's below can't be real… and yet…>>761703>>761702>>761701>>761700
You try to screech to a halt, but it becomes a six body pileup as you and La Senorita crash into the open door. Yet no matter how many bodies slam into it – even Qhapaq's – the open door does not fall back on the one on the other side, who opened it. After a moment, a face peers around it. You see a zebra mare, her mane – normally kept in a bun – worn down in an elaborate pair of braids that reach her biceps. She is clothed in a similarly elaborate nurse's gown.
Vestal Godspeed shuts the door and proceeds to help each of you up, with a grip so strong she risks flinging you into the air if she wasn't more careful. However, she says not a word, and seems not to look at any of you directly.
"This… none of this seems right…" he groaned as he wanted to make these feelings stop and fix it all. To see which half of his brain is correct and vindicate it.
"Well, hello there." Billy stands up straight while cradling his dizzy head. Soon able to focus on zebra. "Thank you?" Billy says to Godspeed unsure of what happened.
Zamrud grunts as he and the others all slam face first into the door, falling over as he grunts and holds his head in his paw, rubbing off the ache. As Nurse Godspeed pulls him up with effortless strength, Zamrud's attention is turned instead to the attentive zebra assisting them.
"Oh, Nurse Godspeed! Terribly sorry, I didn't see the door open…" he says, quickly checking his sweater and smoothing out any wrinkles as he fixes his appearance, not wanting to seem unsightly in front of her. He clears his throat, "Ah, this is actually good timing though. We have a student who appears to be in need of a check-up, he's…"
He pauses, looking around the door to make sure he still has Herb in sight
[1d10+1] PerceptionRoll #1 3 + 1 = 4
"Hm! What a bizarre door. I wonder why it did no- oh! Godspeed?" He asks, cocking his head to the side- and helping up several members of the group. "It is good to see you again, though perhaps a better place and situation would be better.">>761707
"Ah- she is not a nurse. She was a Vestal that aided us in the Outlands, remember?"
Vestal Godspeed is close to walking away without even pausing to listen to Zamrud, when Qhapaq's words cause her to slow her pace. "Outlands…?" she repeats, then turns and examines you, as if only now recognizing your reality. "You remember…"
"How could – we forget?" La Senorita splices.
"…Prove it," Godspeed says, backing away a step, wearing a suspicious glare. "How did we meet? What did we do? What did we discuss when we parted ways?"
Good began to hit his head a bit as he looked for something, anything he could use to try and break this illusion or confirm what reality was real.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
Zamrud looks to Qhapaq with a confused glare. "Qhapaq, I'm tempted to suggest you could use some medicine too. Of course Godspeed has always been a nurse, least so long as I've been here." Zamrud rubs his chin. "Hmm… failing to remember which of us was here first, though."
As Godspeed seems to echo Qhapaq's sentiments, Zamrud continues to look perplexed at the situation. "Godspeed, is something wrong with you two? I don't understand, is this some sort of joke everyone is in on but myself? What should we 'remember', exactly?"
"Let me think on it a bit." Billy takes a seat in, and rest his head on top of his hand.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Ah, yes- so many seem taken in by the simulation. I fear his mind is deeper in thrall to this land than the rest of us were. He does not remember me, and does not seem to remember anything of our time together." He says, sounding a little hurt.>>761711
"We are not joking, I assure you."
You behold your "sister" again and see that, like the other students in the classroom, this is only a silhouette, a figure comprised of static, as one might see on a broken Comp. This can't be more than an illusion, a trick of this "Tree of Evil", or whatever else might be affecting this zone. Nothing… give no heed to it…
But, that memory… was that too an illusion?>>761711>>761710>>761712>>761713
"Details… I need to hear details," Godspeed insists. "Even the slightest thing. We traveled to certain places, and beheld certain people and things.
Prove to me you can remember any of it. Things I wouldn't know but could confirm…"
Good stared at lost and began to approach her, seeing if something was truly different about this figure as he did so. He held a hoof out towards her as everything else fell from focus.
Lost similarly began to reach towards Good, mirroring his motions as she wanted to try and bring some sense to her wayward brother and his strange actions.
"Do you know something Good, I am honestly not recalling anything over here? Maybe a hint would help?" Billy asks out loud.
Zamrud rubs his temples, growing aggravated with this situation. "This is ridiculous. What is it you are even talking about? Godspeed, we met here at the school a while ago, remember? And Qhapaq, you're a new student, I've never met you before this semester."
"We fought a Dreaded one together, with a balloon that we got from the strange skeleton people." He explains, before humming.
"As. As for things you could confirm, we helped rescue Ride or Die and his team from the hold of a Dreaded One that had taken control of Castle equipment in an outpost. He helped remove the possession from me not long ago."
Thinking on things, he continues with "My mask is in the possession of a Haegyl Outcast. She gave me her… stream card? You could check that out, and ask her."
"I think I remember… skeletons? Did we go to a place with those?"
"There were also mushrooms I think, big mushrooms." Billy holds out his arms wide in demonstrating the size of the fungus.
You are starting to remember something else… but the moment you turn your mind to it, each time, it slips away…>>761717>>761718>>761718>>761719>>761720>>761721
"So you are
real…" Godspeed whispers, the disbelief still quietly present. "I… was beginning to wonder if I was starting to lose myself to the Tree as well. Even if you were figments of my own mind, that you can relay your other missions and tell of the peculiarities of the Outlands beyond what I know proves it."
She stops and sighs with relief.
"So you too have been caught in the influence of the Tree of Evil," she says. "Did you hear Herb's explanation yet?"
Good for his part shook his head and tried so hard to remember it, to make his mind his own once more to the point he began to tear up a bit just wanting to know.
[1d10] If applicableRoll #1 10 = 10
"Good please, don't hurt yourself…" she whispered as she tried to meet his hoof with hers.
"I know it it must sound ridiculous, but I assure you, we speak the truth. Please, search your mind.">>761722
"Some of it- he was wanting to take us elsewhere."
"I have heard some of the explanation, but Herb certainly hasn't said everything as we have rushed through to here. Everything else is looking weird and wrong." Billy speaks up.
Zamrud shakes his head, "Hardly, poor colt was barely making any sense at all last I saw him. I suggested sending him over to your office so he could lay down, Godspeed."
As everyone seems so sure if this other life lived, Zamrud groans, moving over to lean against the wall. "Dreaded Ones, Outlands, Ouctasts… I don't understand where you're all getting this from. I'm a professor, she's a nurse, you're all students, that's what I know."
As Qhapaq asks him to try and search his memory, Zamrud groans and furrows his head deep in thought. "Alright, I'll indulge you. Let's see… yesterday, I was…"
[1d10] RememberingRoll #1 3 = 3
This cannot be the one from your memory. Somehow, you are certain of it. From the corner of your eye, when you looked over to see them sleeping. Some things you cannot forget, no matter how many years pass… The color of their coat was… different. So too, the shape of their ears, the subtle turn of their snout… and, another thing…It was a colt.>>761727
Having a sandwich at the cornerstore deli with Vice-Principal Western Peak, of course. Tuna on rye, peppers and onions, pickles and mustard – the usual.>>761725>>761726>>761723>>761727
"You're the one who needs an examination, Zamrud," the "Vestal" Godspeed says with a sigh. "Maybe sitting down with others from our own reality will aid in jogging your memory. As for myself, I've heard their explanation before, and I don't care to watch reruns. If they all can agree on a plan of action, and stick to it, for once, come and find me again, and I will offer my aid. I don't have much else of a choice, anyway…"
Goods mind shuddered and he backed away from Lost, his mind reeling as he began to hold it tighter. He was lost now as he felt like now his mind was betraying him too. He shuddered and let out a cry of anguish as it all felt so wrong.
"Make it stop!"
"Can't we exchange numbers here for contact, or at least have some other method for maintaining communication better?" Billy brings out his device.
Zamrud groans, "I was having lunch the Vice-Principal, that's it. We went to the deli we usually go to."
As Zamrud insists he needs an examination, Zamrud rubs his head in confusion. "I really don't know where you're all getting this… if you're all so insistent something is wrong, it feels as though I'm the odd one out here. Start with this 'Tree' you mentioned, you mean one of the ones outside?">>761729
As Good starts screaming in pain, Zamrud's ears prick up and he turns towards the source of the colt in anguish. "Good?! What's going on?"
"Good, my friend- please, try to remain calm! What is wrong?" Qhapaq asks, gently setting a hand on his back.>>761728
"Well, we will return soon, I hope."
Lost paused but then tried to embrace her brother trying to help him calm down.
You check your comp and confirm that Godspeed's Concord information is still there from your last meeting. She sends a test message on her own, and you see that you can receive messages from her without issue.
"Good thinking," Godspeed says. "I'll keep an eye for your message after your meeting.">>761732>>761731>>761729>>761733
Godspeed backs away, her eyes narrowed. "He's losing himself to the Tree. If the others' Hypothesis is correct, then you are seeing has come from within your mind – don't give it any credence. The silhouette that's embracing him… it's only making things worse. He will have to be the one to pull himself away from it."
"I look forward to when we all get out of here! We won't lose to some old tree!" Billy announces.
Zamrud continues to look on at Good in distress, Zamrud turns to look at Godspeed as he takes a calming breath, not letting his nerves or stress getting to him. "If you say to leave him alone, I'll take your word for it. But clearly I am in need of some explanations here. Perhaps it'll help me get anywhere close to the same page you are all on. I ask again, what is this 'Tree'?"
"It was a tree we were sent out from Ironcastle to investigate, Zamrud. It was an option we could have done before, but passed up, I believe."
Lost heard her words and, despite everything telling her she had to hug him tighter… she let him go. She couldn't bring herself to force him to stay with her.
Good stopped and looked at his… sibling? He didn't know anymore and frankly he was afraid to inquire, and yet he felt compelled to approach her further. But his body didn't move. Save his head looking to his friends as he was visibly unsure of what to do now.
As the attention turns back to Good, Godspeed and Grutar turn to a silhouette of another student that has approached. Briefly, they explain to you that they need to depart – a diamond dog student from Team Austral needs to be admitted to the nurse's office, for having eaten and subsequently vomited up the homework of a student from Team Boreal. They excuse themselves and are off, leaving you to seek out Herb.
After leaving the nurse's office, Billy checks his depressing communication block to try and contact Herb. Trying to send a message about this recent event.
Good was slow before he began to slowly make his way back to his friends, though not without a parting glance to his sibling
Herb writes back:>"Tell him not to talk to those silhouettes if they start acting like people from his past. It's not as bad to talk to them if they're just strangers, but if you start to recognize them, that's bad news. The Tree's trying to take away his power."
Billy nods to himself and announces to his group "Herb says not to talk to any of the silhouettes. If they start to start to be recognizable, it is a sign of the tree effects."
"I see. And what, per say, is so interesting about this tree? I take it's not of your ordinary variety.">>761789>>761739
Zamrud looks after Godspeed as she tends to the sickly student, watching her go with far more questions unanswered and looking for guidance, but flattens his ears and lowers his whiskers as he determines he's on his own.
He starts off by checking on one of their own first before chasing after Herb. "Good, what was that all about? Are you okay? You sounded like you were in agony."
"I… I could swear she's my sister… but my memories changed to a pony I don't know and… I had to leave her behind."
"It seems to… absorb time. We were sent to kill it before it causes further problems, but we were drawn into this place, instead. Friend, I know this all seems real, but please listen to me. I do not lie to you. You wanted to study it, but Ironcastle preferred it destroyed.">>761789
>>761793>>761794>>761795>>761796>"Bring your own snacks, by the way," Herb texts Billy. "When I told the others that you ended up in the Tree's field of influence, they decided to stop by my dorm too. They ate all my pretzels already! You know what, you owe me pretzels! Don't show up without pretzels!"
"Vending machines – are easily – time to hack in," La Senorita splices.
"Alright, you do that. Hopefully nothing like a security alarm goes off in response to touch a vending machine." Billy acknowledges Senorita.
"Sister…" Zamrud says, straining to remember. "I think I recall you had a sister. A few grades younger though, not yet attending this school or am I thinking of somepony else…?">>761796
Zamrud rubs his forehead, still quite mired in his delusions. "Were not Nurse Godspeed acting so peculiar as well, I'd still insist you should lay your head down, Qhapaq. A tree that 'absorbs time', that's scientifically preposterous. Time is an abstract concept, a tree cannot simply absorb it like sunlight.">>761797>>761798
Zamrud takes notice of Herb sending his text to Billy, rubbing his chin. "Already back at the Boreal dorm, then? In which case, let's move."
He turns to Senorita. "Leave the snacks. I'm certain he'll have plenty of opportunities to munch on something later once we've figured this out."
Good grunted and looked to Senorita "I was almost hoping that you cold talk normally here." He said with a soft laugh trying to forget his trauma.
"Well, many things in the Outlands are anomalous- Dreaded Ones, for instance. Perhaps the idea being so outlandish is why you wanted to investigate it."
La Senorita looks hurt.>>761798>>761799>>761800>>761801
La Senorita, perhaps feeling a bit moody, defies Docent Zamrud's instructions and heads to a vending machine, but instead of pretzels, hacks herself some chocolate candies.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhS681ljKxk
When you reach DB-256, you find that it's almost nothing short of a house party. Lone Star, Origami, Locomotive and Herb are there, clothed in the green garb of Team Boreal. Kirk is the only one missing from their team.
Ride or Die, Assembly, Bet, Gimmel and Dorya are there as well, clothed in the orange garb of Team Austral. Now that you've all shown up, the dorm is pretty much standing room only.
Herb glares at you with disappointment over the visible lack of pretzels.
Qhapaq frowns a little, before softly stroking the top of La Senorita's mane and offering a smile.
When they reach DB-256 and look about the room, Qhapaq spots multiple familiar faces… but, they're not really those people, are they?
Billy decides to quickly get comfy in the crowded dorm, taking a seat on the ground. "So besides pretzels, are we missing anything?"
"Hmm… I'll admit, if such a tree DID exist, I'd be the first to want to study it. It's so outlandish, as you put it, who wouldn't?"
Zamrud seems perplexed by 'Dreaded Ones', but holds up his paw. "Let's focus on one thing at a time. The tree… do we know where it is? There are a lot of trees on campus.">>761802
As Senorita hacks the vending machine, Zamrud raises his brow as he looks at her. "Tampering with campus equipment is prohibited, young filly, but I'll let this slide once. Just don't eat too many, they'll rot your teeth."
Zamrud escorts everyone to the Boreal dorm, looking around perplexed as he crosses his arms. "This is quite a party for school hours… is everyone here under the same impression that I'm tragically failing to grasp?"
They look real enough, but it remains to be seen whether these too are silhouettes, like those which haunted Good until now…>>761803>>761804>>761805
"I see you found the place easily enough," Herb says.
"Despite your directions," Assembly interjects.
"We've been here awhile," Herb retorts. "Like I said, I assumed you knew the campus as much as we did. Anyway… I suppose you're wondering why we're here."
"It's one of life's–" Locomotive begins, but Herb shoots Locomotive a glare so sharp it nearly cuts his hair, and he hits the brakes on the joke.
"If nobody else told you this," Herb says, resuming his introduction. "Welcome to Agape Academy, the most cutthroat university on the Diskos. It's a closed campus, so don't bother trying to leave for lunch… in other words, if you try to cross the boundary of the school grounds, you end up back here, Cycle One, start of the semester all over again. Do NOT leave school grounds, for the love of the gods."
"It's happened to us a couple times," Lone Star adds bitterly. "It's why we started having guard duty after our classes. It doesn't help our grades any, but we're trapped here with the Tree of Evil until we either complete the semester, or find some other way of escaping its influence."
She was older than me though… and I had a dream recently where I met her before this… and it happened before we even got close to the tree.>>761802
"I didn't mean offense Senorita. I was just… well it's a dream is all." he said feeling bad himself now.>>761806
"Perhaps destroying the school?"
"Why would completing a semester change anything? Wouldn't it be something like an entire school year, or even until a graduation?" Billy puts out his concern, avoiding the idea of being there forever.
Zamrud looks before all the students gathered here, crossing his arms as he raises his brow. "I'm well aware of what Agape Academy is, young colt. I happen to be a professor here, you know."
He exhales. "Or so I thought, up until everyone except me seemed to up and lose their minds this morning. I know most of you from my classes, but you all seem to know me from something else I can't place. Can anyone illuminate the situation for me?">>761807
"Older…?" Zamrud asks, scratching his head. "Hm. I'm not sure how much I can trust my memory right now but I would have sworn the one I was thinking of was younger."
"I do have a younger sister but… I think I had… or have? An older one?" he sounded unsure himself.
"So. We have to finish a… 'semester', whatever that means, or find another way to break its influence over us. Has there been any progress on a method of accomplishing such a feat?"
Herb blinks at your responses.
"Docent – remains – unconvinced," La Senorita splices. "Good kid – disturbing scenes – viewer discretion is advised."
"I… see," Herb says. "Look, I warned you back in the classroom. I was pissed, so I didn't bother with the full explanation, but that's what this meeting's for.">>761808>>761809>>761807>>761811
"Well, we aren't entirely sure," Herb continues, in response to Billy's question. "But, the reason we suspect we only have to complete a semester is because of how this university functioned, back when it was up and running in the Time Long Forgotten. This campus only had housed one grade – seniors – and their entire time here only comprised one semester, six months in length. I believe the Docent here can give you the run-down on the details of just how school life went down here, but let's save that for later.
"The point is, we're trapped here because of the power of the Tree of Evil. Let's go over how that seems to be playing out based on our observations.
"Whenever a living soul crosses the boundary of the campus from the Outlands, time inside this zone resets to the beginning of this semester. It's always the same semester, it seems. We've started to recognize the idiosyncrasies of the different silhouette students around campus. It seems like time is 'looping' or 'rewinding' back to this particular point whenever someone enters the campus. In other words, when a 'new student' or 'new faculty member' joins, the semester restarts to accommodate them."
Qhapaq's question inspires another from Bet. "Yeah, what Qhapaq said. We got a stronger payload of poison from Ironcastle when they deployed us. Can't we just go to the tree and destroy it?"
"Well…" Herb says, unsure of how to respond.
"Kirk tried that last time," Origami says. "And now he's dead."
"Origami… we agreed we'd save that for later," Herb says.
"We didn't agree to shit, dude!" Origami snaps. "You're so convinced your theory is the right one that you let him just run off solo, and now he's fucking dead!"
"Origami, calm down," Lone Star interjects. "Kirk panicked and went against orders, just like you are now."
Origami is about to pop off again, you can feel it in the air, ready to ignite with stress. This isn't going to go anywhere productive, not like this…
"I have an idea. We need to complete a semester yes? Well this place much have a place where they keep our grades. Why not simply change all our grades to passing ones and cut out the middle pony?"
"He is dead? I don't mean to offend, but how did he die, it doesn't seem like there is anything here besides the evil tree." Billy gestures around.
"So, threatening the tree outright is out of the question. I apologize for the loss of your companion, but we do gain something of value, at least. Please, try to stay calm- if we fall apart in bickering, his loss is in vain, is it not?"
"Interesting…" Zamrud says, "What triggered your earlier response in the hallway, what suddenly brought this older sister to mind?">>761812
Zamrud looks at Senorita concerning. "Are you alright, Senorita? You're speaking rather peculiarly.">>761812
Zamrud is still trying to process all the information being passed around here, feeling as though he's entered the realm of science fiction as he's torn between humoring everyone here a little longer, or leaving to let them all have their collective delusion.
However, as Origami starts to break down, Zamrud feels at his core something more base than anything, and that is the need as a teacher to provide support for others. He leans over, putting a paw on Origami's shoulders in an attempt to calm him down. "Whatever happened to Kirk, losing your composure won't do anything to help him or others."
He looks to Herb, "Senorita's right, I'm not convinced, but I also don't imagine so many of you would act like this as part of some fantasy or elaborate prank. So allow me to ask a few things: first off, if Kirk tried to destroy the tree, then you DO know where the Tree of Evil is. Would you direct me to it?"
That Silhouette looks just like the sister I saw in my dream."
"Why must – everyone – make fun – of me?" La Senorita mopes.>>761813>>761816>>761814>>761815
"Kirk. Is. Not. Dead," Herb says, fixing Origami with a quieting look. "We haven't confirmed that yet. It's true… the psychological strain of remaining captive here seemed to have been… uniquely difficult on Kirk. Against my orders, he took the payload of toxin we were meant to use on the Tree and went off by himself to destroy it. We lost contact with him shortly afterward. We don't know what happened, but before we could investigate, you all showed up, and the time loop reset to the beginning of the semester – to this Cycle."
"You have my sincerest apologies," Ride says. "But… it sounds like you had been here awhile, for Kirk to resort to such a drastic measure. Did you not try to destroy the Tree from the first upon your arrival here?"
"In fact, we did," Herb says. "However… we ran into… I don't even know how to put it… nothing."
"Nothing?" Assembly repeats.
"The Tree is visible from miles all around," Herb continues. "We thought we'd just walk right towards it, take whatever pathways or bridges or even scale buildings if we had to. But when we approached the area where the base of the tree should have been, it was shrouded in a spatial disturbance that we could not get past. To us, it looked like a sky-high curtain of murky nothingness, positioned behind a high, circular stone wall.
"I consulted the campus map and found that stone wall. There's only one like it on campus: The one surrounding the Bodhi Garden. That Garden is where the Tree of Evil took root."
"Ah, yes," Ride says, and turns to you all. "I saw a little of that in my handbook. To make a long story short, only ten students ever graduate Agape Academy each year – those ten who are left standing after a no-holds-barred duel at the end of the semester. The Bodhi Garden is where that duel takes place. Despite its name, the Bodhi Garden is redesigned every year, its layout and stage hazards kept a tight secret, so that no student can have an unfair advantage when entering the duel. The wall is meant to keep out spying eyes. There are other defensive mechanisms to keep winged students and flying drone cameras away too. But wait… that still doesn't explain the shroud."
"Actually, it does," Herb says. "If we go by the PCH."
"Oh, gawd," Origami sighs. "You people better be taking notes, because you're about to get a fucking lecture."
"PCH… why does that sound familiar?" Assembly asks, doing just that – taking notes.
"I'll gladly explain," Herb says, not-so-subtly amused by Origami's annoyance. "But first, a question:
"Ten minutes before the end of your shift at work; ten minutes on a date with someone you fancy; ten minutes with your hoof on a hot stove. Which of these is the longest period of time, which of these is the shortest period of time, and which of these is somewhere in the middle?"
"It's a trick question. They're all ten minutes."
Billy scratches at his chin. "This sounds awfully like a trick question. I am not quite understanding what is going on here."
"They are… the same time."
Zamrud holds up his paws in defense, "Oh! No, no Senorita I did not mean to imply that. I apologize, it's just… unique to me.">>761817
"Hmm… could she be here then? Someone else along with Herb, Ride, and the others who came to this school from… wherever it is we all came from?">>761818
Zamrud listens carefully as the others explain where the Tree of Evil is, as well as how to get into it. "Ah, the Bodhi Garden. That would seem to make logical sense, if this 'school' you seem convinced is a simulation intends to keep you here for a whole semester. It is, for lack of a better term, the final level for those who make it to graduation."
As Herb starts to explain the PCH, Zamrud raises his ears as he thinks about the question for a bit.
"…The shortest is definitely ten minutes with someone you fancy. Time flies by when you're enjoying someone's company. The longest must be keeping your hoof on a hot stove: the end of work can be excruciating but nothing so intense as burning yourself willingly for that long. Which leaves the shift as the middle."
"I can't rightly say.">>761818
Good gave Senorita a reassuring hug as an apology for his earlier remark.
"Ah- do not let them get you down, La Senorita. It is okay." he says, patting her back a little.
La Senorita squees and honks as she gets all the attention. https://youtu.be/BX-yKlq2Sxo?t=16>>761819>>761820>>761821>>761822https://youtu.be/6CswpY8HCeU
"Correct," Herb says. "Measured objectively, they are all ten minutes, but as the Docent said, they don't feel the same length. The theory of relativity is the typical explanation for why this is. However, there is a competing explanation: The Psy-Chrono Hypothesis."
"Ah," Assembly says. "That's what it was – that old debunked idea."
Herb rolls his eyes. "Yes, it tends not to find much of an audience anymore… In a nutshell, the Psy-Chrono Hypothesis posits the existence of a subtle 'time-energy,' released by change. This time-energy is called 'Chronos,' after the philosopher credited with devising our current system of measuring time in seconds, minutes, hours, et cetera. Like other ideas of subtle universal energies, it tends to get laughed out of academic circles… but this Tree, and in particular that shroud, could very well give it the credence it deserves."
"So the time part gives it the name Chrono, but where's Psy from?" Gimmel asks.
"Per the PCH, the mind plays a role in the release and perception of Chronos," Herb continues. "Basically, if someone is mentally resistant to change, the release of Chronos is slowed. If they accept the change, the release of Chronos can flow normally. This is why unpleasant things like boring jobs or having your hoof on a hot stove feel like they take forever, and pleasant things like nice dates seem to go by in a moment."
"Not that you'd know," Lone Star says.
"You neither," Herb retorts. "But to bring it all together, I believe the Tree of Evil feeds on this Chronos the way normal trees in Ironcastle feed on water and light. That's why it started growing here at Agape Academy – a grueling university run like a giant game, where graduation means the whole world's your oyster… it's bound to be a huge source of Chronos."
The others stop to think.
"Hmm… then, these silhouettes…?" Ride asks.
"Ghosts revived by the Tree's hunger for Chronos," Herb says. "It's also why Zamrud seems to think he's a professor here, and why Good keeps seeing his family… when we say that the Tree of Evil 'feeds on time,' we really mean it's feeding on Chronos, which has traces of psychic energy – memories, in other words. These guys have been infected by memories not their own."
"Oh!" Assembly says. "Then, the fact that you couldn't get into the Bodhi Garden… it's because none of the students knew what it would look like!"
"That seems to be the case," Herb says. "I do have a theory about that… but think about it, we're on the verge of completely upending the theory of relativity and pioneering a whole new age of energetic research!"
Origami is twitching like he wants to fold Herb like laundry right here, right now.
"I feel like getting out of here is more important than studying it. We already have an objective to take the fruit to be studied if possible but the most important thing is destroying the tree my dear distracted sage." He said dismissing him a bit to keep things moving
"Hence We must simply change our grades to be passing ones so we can finish the semester and 'Graduate'.
"Before completing your goals of upending relativity. We should get back on track of destroying or leaving the tree." Billy speaks up. "Not like ideas can spread to outside from here."
Grutar knocks hard enough that the first knock swings the door open. "Skunk Check!" Grutar says as he starts sniffing around the doorway of the room. He's wearing what looks like an old fashioned police hat as well as a janitorial outfit. "What you all doin' in here, Lads? Talkin' about girls, playin' some vidya games? Are ya winnin'?"
"Hmm. Why does it not affect all of us? Are some more susceptible to such things as others are? I do not believe I have seen as much as the others. This… PCH does seem to make sense, at least. Boring things take longer, good things take 'less'."
Zamrud listens carefully as Herb explains the phenomena. Part of him continues to see it as simply science fiction, but the concept of how time, and its perception, could literally be affected by collective consciousness and the mind.
"A remarkable theory…" Zamrud says in agreement with Herb, the scholar in him intrigued by this possibility. "I think I understand… at Agape Academy, time can seem to go agonizingly slow and that's perceived by a multitude of students. The Tree, if it truly absorbs 'time' in the sense of a collective's perceived slowness of events - which, I'll point out, I do only find slightly more plausible than absorbing time itself - that might explain a number of bizarre phenomenon." He laughs, "Regardless of if this is all real or not, I'll have to save this for when I finally write a novel."
As they point out how the Bodhi Garden would thus be unacceptable, he nods, "Under these circumstances, yes. And I suppose the only way to actually 'see' it, is to successfully pass through the curriculum. Which is of course what I set you all about to do in the first place.">>761826
"Forgetting for the moment that what you're recommending is basically cheating, Good…" Zamrud says with a brow raised. "There's still a great deal of time left in the semester. Would you intend to change the grades then simply wait it out?"
"Maybe we change the dates on all the comps and make everyone think it's also the end?"
"Okay who's this now!?" Origami, a fellow diamond dog, snaps at Grutar.
"He's with us, he's cool," Gimmel says. He fidgets a little at the thought of being subject to a drug check, especially in these dire straits.>>761829
"I… don't really have an answer for that," Herb says. "We've been through more than our share of academia here, and every now and then it seems to affect one of us or another, almost like a seasonal cold, but we're able to shake it off after a while."
"Could be why Kirk finally snapped," Lone Star says. "He got 'infected' more than the rest of us."
"Ehhhhh," Locomotive says. "He was always a few screws short of a lightbulb. I think it was just his time to go."
"…Riiiiiiight," Herb says, sighing as he deciphers the cryptic metaphor.>>761830
"It really is," Herb agrees. "I wish it wasn't just a hypothesis, but the dismissal it's been met with has kept it from ever getting enough grant money for proper research. It doesn't help that until now, we've had to means of quantifying Chronos release rates, so we can't even theorize formulas… Currently, my fellow proponents in the Arcanum only have a hoof-ful of terminology borrowed from chronology and psychology. For example, in a hypothetical formula, the event being measured for its Chronos output is called a 'Chrono Trigger,' – like an emotional trigger, get it?">>761827>>761826>>761830>>761828>>761829
"Right, right, I heard you earlier, but the argument over Kirk's status distracted me," Herb says. "Normally, I would be opposed to academic dishonesty, but given the circumstances, it can be excused. It's going to be a little more complex than just changing our grades to remain students here, but now that we have a faculty member on our side, we'll have an easier time making it to the end of the semester. We'll go over the academy's advancement system once we all know we're on the same page."
"I haven't met Kirk," Ride says. "But I am currently of the opinion that we should continue to seek methods of bypassing this academic roleplay altogether. I am a minotaur of action, a Warrior. I've not six months to spare on studies once more, not when Ironcastle is yet in dire need of service."
Herb falls silent, Ride's words bringing him out of his academic high for a moment. "…Look, that's fair. We don't all have to approach this from the same angle, or anything. You can look into that, while we play along with the Tree. Who knows, maybe one of us will find out something the others can't."
"Perhaps that is it? We did learn amongst the Aya, but proper schooling is not something we see. I still do not know what a 'semester' is."
"I mean if we can break into the system of the academy, in theory we could simply falsify all of our records to put us in the final tier and ready to graduate and then set us all for early graduation in the next day for meritous advancement or some other poppycock." he said "It's a safer option than trying to brute force our way out of a hologram, and if it fails we have time to formulate another approach to the matter than just trying to prod at it like a Sage with too much time."
"Wait, wouldn't a member of the faculty possibly have access to that tree zone? Would anything be possible with that?" Billy tilts his head.
"Well, how would you suggest we get past it? We cannot simply leave or attack the tree- we need to bypass it another way, Ride or Die."
"You're investigatin' trees?! Well look no further than good ol' Grutar here! I'm an EXPERT on trees!" Grutar exclaims as he stops searching for anything.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
Zamrud rubs his chin, "Chrono Trigger… I rather like the sound of that, has a ring to it. Whatever books you might have on the subject, I think I'd be fascinated to read them.">>761832
As Ride mentions how six months is far too long to spend here, Zamrud points out. "It is possible, given the very nature of the perception altering properties of 'Chronos', if that is indeed what is at work here, that six months to us may simply be a matter of perspective. Six months to us could well be a much shorter amount of time outside of the range of the Tree's effects, if it's already slowing time by the consciousness of a thousand anxious, stressed students."
He crosses his arms, "However, Herb, you do not necessarily have a faculty member 'on your side'. I'm keeping my mind open, but you must realize helping you all to cheat in the most prestigious, difficult school of learning in the land is hardly in my interest as an educator, or your all as students. I cannot abuse my privileges as a teacher to give you all perfect grades based on a theory."
"Perhaps if I could see the Bodhi Garden, see these 'mists' for myself, I might be convinced, but otherwise I require more substantial evidence to take such drastic misconduct. Otherwise, my best recommendation is for you all to simply pass your classes the old fashioned way, and reach the Bodhi Garden on your own merits."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 1 = 1
Herb is starting to look subtly disappointed as you contemplate methods for bypassing the semester…
"Forgive me, sir Qhapaq," Ride says. "But like you, I just got here. I know not how we can overcome this, for now. My student handbook warned me of the game-like filtering system to which students are subject. But, though we are forced into this game, we can still rig it to our own ends, as we investigate our other options."
"Look," Herb says. "Maybe this is enough theory for now. Why don't we adjourn this. You guys still need to familiarize yourselves with campus, right? Have a walk around, maybe attend class, and we can reconvene at the end of the Cycle… I still need to get some pretzels."
Murmurs from the others suggest they like the sound of that.
"And someone's going to need to help Zamrud here snap out of all this!" Ride says.
"Look, I'll talk to him," Herb says. "Let's not get too worked up here, everyone. It's only the start of the semester, after all."
"Herb this isn't a game. We need to be pragmatic and do what we must to succeed." Good said with a sigh as he rubbed his head.
"I know this campus like the back of my paw, I can escort you kids around wherever you need to go." Grutar offers.
"Do keep in contact, and most of all stay safe." Billy asks o them all. As he gets ready to take his leave.
"Hmm… familiarizing ourself with our surroundings could not hurt- I think it would be wise to do so, regardless of which path we take.">>761846
"Ah… hmm? Grutar, you as well?"
[1d10] Social perceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
Zamrud sighs and shrugs in Ride's direction. "I apologize Ride but while this is all very intriguing, and I'm willing to accept there are things going on beyond my understanding, my gut as a teacher tells me that helping you all to cheat goes against everything I stand for. I'm willing to be pragmatic if it turns out this is truly all a fabrication as you so claim but I cannot commit myself to such conduct yet."
He looks to Herb, "If you have anything that might help jog my memory Herb, I'd be willing to follow along for a while longer." He looks back, "Nurse Godspeed seemed to be aware of all this as well. Perhaps we should find her and see what her thoughts are in regards to this and what we should do."
"I am aware," Herb says, his eyes twitching. "I've only been here eight months now, and now, I am in for as many as fourteen. We've tried a bunch of approaches besides just playing along, only to get reset
when others wander in."
He's barely keeping himself in check here…
"But hey, between all of us now, we should be able to find a solution… finally," he says, with a long, long long sigh.>>761845>>761846>>761847>>761848>>761850
"Where is – registration form – the – chess club?" La Senorita asks.
"At least someone's making the most of things," Herb sighs.
Ride looks to Zamrud and Grutar. "Hmm… our first priority should be getting Zamrud and Grutar back to our own reality, and not that of the memory of the school. We'll hardly be able to fix our grades right now."
"He knew Godspeed before this?" Origami asks.
"Oh yeah~," La Senorita splices.
"Bow chicka– ow! Ow!" Origami shouts as Herb blasts his forehead with small spurts of fire.
"Meeting adjourned, everybody outta my dorm! It's time for class, anyway!" Herb orders.
"Yeah! I've been working here as long as I can remember.">>761851
"C'mon kids, I'll lead you to your classes!" Grutar says before leaving the dorm room to escort the group.
Good cast a wary glance at Herb and moved out with the others.
Zamrud turns to look Origami and Herb as they make their crack at his expense, but they might notice a certain hopeful look in his eyes as they mention something of interest.
"Well, if I knew her in this other life you all mention, all the better. For the sake of clearing all this up, I mean…" he says, quickly covering for himself as he raises up from the floor of the small dorm room. "Now then, as you pointed out, we're well past the starting hour for lessons to begin. We should get to it."
"Hmm… but how to return them to their senses?"
"Can we find our classes on these devices?" Billy pulls up his communication brick for show.
When you make it out of the room, Lone Star stops you, and examines Grutar and Zamrud.
"These two are 'sick,' in the same way that the rest of us have been," Lone Star says. "When Kirk was getting the worst of it, I started sitting in on some psych classes to find out what we can do."
"Repair – possible?" La Senorita asks.
"Don't think of it as repair," Lone Star answers. "It's just like getting sick. You pretty much just gotta let it rock. But, also like getting sick, you can dampen the symptoms. Try not to say anything that directly contradicts their experiences. That can just make it worse. You can't affirm what they're saying as unquestionable truth, either. But… having them encounter a reminder of what's really true can speed up the recovery."
"Explain… explain…!" La Senorita prompts.
"Look, whoa, I'm not a psych, alright," Lone Star says. "Not an expert, a doc, or whatever other disclaimers I gotta throw out there. You're gonna know 'em way better than I do.">>761944
"Yeah," Lone Star says. "You should find an app. Agape Academy Student Handbook. AASH for short. It'll have your classes, your schedule, the rulebook and a map."
"I don't know why, but the name Agape really bothers me. There must be something profane about it all!" Billy nonetheless makes sure that his brick has the app.
Zamrud nods in understanding at Lone Star's suggestion. "I'll see if I can sit in on a few of the psychology evaluation classes in my spare time, perhaps an understanding of it will help my own 'case', if there truly is one."
"A reminder of what is 'really' true would be something I'm very interested in seeing. Outside of our memories, is there a single piece of physical proof that could clear all of this up?"
Good debated taking a long walk around the school, finding anywhere he could to potentially help the group.
"Agape? What a bizarre name for a school of any sort. Perhaps that is some part of this place… ah. Anyways, encountering what is true can speed it up? I am not sure how much else I can make him encounter, but I shall keep my eyes peeled." He remarks, before looking for this 'app' they speak of.
"We looked that up – apparently, it's a word from the Old World," Herb says. "It's not supposed to be 'agape,' as in being open, but rather, a word that means something like 'selflessness.' We don't really get it either."
"How'd you learn that?" Assembly asks.
"History classes," Herb says.>>761947>>761948>>761949
"For Kirk, it was never just any old thing that worked," Lone Star says. "Even stuff that was indisputably from Ironcastle didn't necessarily remind him of the truth… unless he had a personal connection to it."
As you get out your misery-rectangles, you see that you all have the AASH app. Zamrud and Grutar have a special version of it for faculty. None of you are registered for any classes, except for Zamrud, who teaches chemistry at various times in Lecture Hall A, for about 20 hours per week. 10 hours are allotted for office hours, and 10 hours for other various administrative tasks.
Those of you who are "students" see a button for class registration in the sidebar.
"Now I am curious, is this a history made from the tree or a history of our world at large? Though I rather find ourselves safe through all of this." Billy taps at his chin as he speaks to himself.
Good decides to humor this and look over class options.
"Hmm. Well, unfortunate- I thought he and I were quite close friends, but I suppose that is not 'personal' enough."
With a lack of anything better to do, Qhapaq presses the class registration button.
"A personal connection…" Zamrud says, rubbing his chin. "Hmm. Perhaps something in my office or dorm. If this school were an illusion, it'd perhaps transplant memories of my former life into here as mementos, wouldn't it? Something personal to me here could be just as personal outside of this school, to this IronCastle you mentioned. It's worth a try, at least."
He takes a look at his application, checking to see when his next class to teach is scheduled (as he assumes the class he was supposed to teach first this morning is long past the point of being salvaged with this sojourn).
"Soup doesn't make a cold go away instantly," Lone Star says. "But it helps. Hey, maybe the fact that he even 'cut class' to see us could be a good sign.">>761951
"I quite agree!" Assembly gasps. "You can't just throw out a word like 'history' so nonchalantly! This place is from the Old World, the Time Long Forgotten, isn't it? What an invaluable time to learn–"
"It's not exactly the treasure trove you might have been searching for," Herb says. "How should I put it… this whole phenomenon is like a model based on a heatmap."
"More proof for your PCH?" Ride asks.
"Hey, don't jump the gun!" Herb says. "But yes – just like the layout of the school, the content of the classes isn't what you'd expect to find at a university in Ironcastle. Only that which was remembered by the final crop of students seems to have made it in. Otherwise, the textbooks, models, maps, and lecture slides are all just nonsense. Still, there's plenty of history of the Time Long Forgotten to be found here.">>761954>>761953>>761952>>761951
Classes offered include History, Chemistry, Biology, Arcana, Physical Training, and the various electives of Music, Dramaturgy, Painting, etc, etc,, which are grouped together under the catch-all of "Arts." You can register for Morning or Afternoon for each course.
Something is quite odd… the registration system displays the calendar week-by-week. However, it puts seven
Cycles in each week. Five Cycles are available every week for putting in classes, but two Cycles, one on either end of the five-Cycle block, are kept unavailable.
Weeks, as you know, consist of five Cycles in Ironcastle's reckoning. Four are kept for work, and one for rest.
"This campus sure seems to run on a set of logic of its own. Would the knowledge learned here apply outside the tree at all?" Billy felt concern over getting used to the campus.
Zamrud clears his throat, "Well, when half your class leaves abruptly, there isn't much point in sticking around either. I mostly followed because you all didn't offer much alternative. Still, for what it's worth, I am taking everything you've said seriously.">>761955
Zamrud looks to his schedule as he tries to find any Psychology classes he can squeeze time into between office hours, administration, and actually teaching class. Some more insight into how the mind works he feels might help jog his memory if the others are correct (and how to help their psychosis if they're not).
"Mm… some of these do not seem my thing, I suppose. So, we must pick five?"
"Ah, hmm. Why are there Seven cycles? Bizarre."
Good throws Physical and History in the morning and Art as a throwaway in the afternoon.
You teach three mornings out of the week, and your afternoons are booked solid. Two morning slots are open for you to learn more about Psychology, however – "Tuesday," and "Thursday."
The two T-words look back at you as if they were suddenly dropped in from a surprise linguistics quiz. Gears grind in your head. You know they should be familiar, and yet… you can't place them.>>761956
"I have little doubt it would," Assembly says. "The Time Long Forgotten is still such a mystery to us. This college could have been populated by the First Ancestors, to whom we have to credit for the construction of the Castles. This could shed so much light on what has otherwise been a near total dark age in history!">>761960>>761958>>761956>>761957
In order, the Cycles of the school Calendar are displayed:
La Senorita tilts her head with a confused frown. "Error… File corrupted?" she mutters.
And then, the seventh day of the week:
"Sun…day?" Assembly asks, wide-eyed.
"Oh gods, not this shit again!" Origami exclaims.
Herb smirks. "Yep. This campus could have even been from the mythical Kingdom of Day."
"I would assume it's just a renaming of the cycles. A translation or something."
"A kingdom of day? What would all these days represent then?" Billy asks quite curious on what Herb is going on about.
"Well, clearly there is a cycle where you Sit. And a cycle where you Fry food. I like some of these." Qhapaq remarks, smiling to himself.>Qhapaq tries out… Physical Training, something Music-Related if he can, History, and… something cooking related. History seems like it might offer some idea of what might be important here.>>761961
"I think if we are to swim against the current, we must first attempt to understand the current slightly better."
Zamrud takes note of his two remaining slots in the mornings of Thursday and Tuesday, and after he registers for those classes his head starts to throb in pain. Why such two simple words would cause him such a migraine is anyone's guess: possibly the day's odd events finally getting to him.>>761961>>761963>>761962
"Most of them refer to various deities or planets, I believe. As Sunday refers to the Sun, Monday refers to the…" Zamrud pauses, the word on the tip of his tongue but struggling to get it out. "…the Moon? Yes, that's right, isn't it?"
As Herb mentions the Kingdom of Day, Zamrud raises brow in curiosity. "Some lost civilization I take it?"
"Moon and Sun? I recall the Sun and Moon in Mendicant Rudolph's… manifesto, is the word?"
You can put those in wherever you like in your calendar, excluding on Saturday and Sunday.>>761965>>761962>>761963>>761966
The word 'day' calls to mind the alarming manifesto of Mendicant Rudolph, perhaps now still imprisoned in Lux Deorum custody… he was fixated on the legend of the Moon and Sun, the Queen of Night, and the King of Day…
And now, here you are, in what seems to be a little slice of that legendary time… could something here point to one way or another about the legend?
Herb shrugs. "We measure our months with four weeks, each with five Cycles – Myldedag, Gastdag, Bloddag, Regndag, and Fyrdag, the Cycle of rest.
"This is because the numbers four and five are sacred by Abbean reckoning. Seven may have been a significant number to the First Ancestors. LIke Zamrud said, they could easily be the names of their gods, too."
"A god named… Monday, huh…?" Gimmel asks. He shudders with unknown horror – and hatred.
"And why would they have seven Cycles per week?" Assembly asks. "Wouldn't their years differ in length from… Zamrud? Hey…"
Zamrud's right arm goes limp, and he nearly drops his comp, his eyes misting over…
>Zamrud can optionally roll, DC 8, to start to wake up.
Billy noticing the issue from Assembly speaking being cut glances around. Finding Zamrud he goes and walks over to him to shake him. "You doing okay over there?"
Good threw them the non T days so he would have plenty of time and not end up with too much free time.
Physical Training and History in the morning, Cooking and Music in the afternoons! >>761967
"Bizarre names for deities. Then again, much of our culture might be bizarre to ones outside of it. I know many Castle-Dwellers find my Aya people bizarre."
Zamrud continues thinking over the situation, the talk of the Manifesto of Rudolph, the history and legend of the Kingdom of Day, the nature of Cycles, and Zamrud has to feel the migraine from before intensifyin. His other arm goes limp and he raises the one that still works to cradle his head, trying to find somewhere to sit down in the dorm room.
"Ugh… just… a moment, Assembly, I feel I must be…"
[1d10] Rolling to begin to wake upRoll #1 7 = 7
Zamrud manages to pass off his near-fall as a somewhat dramatic collapse into a nearby chair in the dorm commons. After around a minute, the dizziness and mistiness of mind and body clear away, and he returns to his senses…
The others look on to see which Zamrud will wake up – the Ironcastle explorer, or the Professor.
Billy proceed to boop Zamrud on the nose to check for a reaction. "Are you feeling okay?"
"Zamrud? Friend, please awaken with your senses." Qhapaq asks, catching him rather quickly.
Billy's boop on the nose causes Zamrud to wiggle his whiskers violently, looking towards the young goat with an agitated stare as he pulls himself up to stand. "Yes, fine. Just… dizzy, all of a sudden." He groans, feeling his head still throbbing lightly as he feels conflicting thoughts at war within his mind.
"I… I can't say for certain but, it feels like something just clicked for me a moment ago." He looks at the students in the room, "I DO know you all, from before this school year I mean. I… I am failing to name how, exactly, but that's a sensation I find myself unable to shake now."
Qhapaq pulls the Puros up to his feet and brushes him off, before smiling excitedly. "Yes! We do know each other, yes- we met in the Outlands, remember?"
"…no," Zamrud shakes his head, "No, I remember us meeting but I don't remember it being in any place called the Outlands." He scratches his head, still quite puzzled but starting to come back to it.
"Are you sure it wasn't a school fair or some other sort of event?"
"No. I came across you when you were dispatched by Ironcastle for a mission. You were, ah, not the best at maneuvering throughout the wastes."
Ride shoots you all a quick text in the Concord groupchat:
>"Gong to acquaint ourseflves with the groumbds."
He attempts several times to send corrected words, marked by asterisks, only to give up.
>"Curse these miseable rectangle screen! No care given to those w/ large hamds!"
Thus frustrated so, he and his group excuse themselves from Dorm Boreal.
"Wastes? What would we be doing out in some wastes?">>762037
Zamrud confirms the message from Ride, sighing as he looks at his calendar for the rest of the day.
"Well, first period is beyond salvaging at this point. I imagine I should get back to teach my next class lest I lose it as well. But after that, I will check through my office and dorm to see if there's nothing else I can do to try and jog my memory, if there is indeed anything to jog."
"Do we need to head anywhere ourselves? We do have classes, but I am still unsure about those, and this world in general."
Good for his part decided to see if his companion Trajan had made the jump with them.
Indeed he has. He has a small backpack and a snazzy school uniform too. Boreal, just like you.
"You were exploring ruins, and were stationed at a post near my tribe's bunker. You needed, ah, 'hired muscle'."
"Exploring ruins? How adventurous." He comments, sounding intrigued with this memory he can't recall. "I hadn't taken a career up in archeology, but the idea was quite tempting. Was I some sort of archeologist?"
"I almost don't want to leave for the sake of the uniform."
Likewise, what remains of Herb's group sets out for their afternoon classes.To keep things simple we're only keeping track of "Morning" and "Afternoon" classes. These terms are, like Day and Night, strange and foreign to you. Most of the time, you Ironcastle dwellers speak of the "Waxing Light" (morning), "Waning Light" (evening), and "Dark Hours" ("night" until "dawn").
Good checks what the day is to see which class.
"Indeed," Zamrud says as he pops his sweater-jacket's collars. "They are fashionable, aren't they?">>762045
Zamrud bids the rest of the team farewell as he prepares to head back to teach his next round of Chemistry before he misses another period. However, he can't help but be drawn to the Nurse's Office first, curious if Godspeed has any more possible insight into all this now that his suspension of disbelief has been properly adjusted.
Billy feeling unsure decides to check on Arcana seeing if it meshes well with the understanding of his grimoire through inputting the lessons in writing to gain feedback on feasibility.
The date is Wednesday, the 10th of October, 2010.
>"Error… Question mark?" La Senorita says. "Searching databases…"
As a relic from the Time Long Forgotten, perhaps she may be able to verify some of the supposed history of this location…
"In a way, yes. You explored 'old world' places for the Castle. You are quite smart, but not sturdy. I am quite sturdy."
Zamrud nods, "Yes, I took note of your physique. I had assumed you were on one of the school's many fine sports teams, football or such. Or is it all from getting out in these 'Outlands'?"
Good motioned for her to join him as he had a history class today "Senorita do you know anything about this place?"
Each of you splits off, and, following his own schedule and the campus map, makes his way to the appropriate classrooms.
Grutar heads off solo, using his faculty position to learn more about the campus, alongside his peculiar little bear doll, who has taken on an animated personality of its own.
Along the way, you learn that Lecture Halls A, B and C are reserved for Dorm Boreal students, and E, F and G are likewise reserved for Dorm Austral students, in order to prevent any duels from taking place in the middle of classes.
The afternoon classes themselves are fairly uneventful. You mostly just go over the syllabi and offer introductions. Given that all of your peers are silhouette students, there's not much you can glean… their speech is mostly gibberish to you. They don't really seem to acknowledge you, either. It's something of an isolating experience…>>762050
Except… as you sit in the gymnasium, on a number of soft mats, you see something peculiar, amidst a group of silhouettes, but they are too numerous for you to make them out.>>762048
The first afternoon of Arcana class proves just as difficult to parse as your grimoire in itself, for the instructor and the students' words cannot be deciphered. You recall that Good was able to understand some of the silhouettes before… it may be worth asking him.>>762052>"Checking databases… please stand by."
As you sit down for afternoon history, you notice that the two silhouettes who were speaking to you this morning are there, all the way in the back.>>762051
As for you, you don't have chemistry this afternoon, but office hours. With your freedom as a faculty member, you're able to cancel those in favor of discussing business with Nurse Godspeed, or the Vestal, as she was identified by Herb's team.
When you arrive in the Nurse's office, you see her leaning back in her chair, reading, of all things, a comic book.
Zamrud knocks on the door as he enters the Nurse's office, trying to get Godspeed's attention as he enters. "Miss Godspeed. Sorry, do you have a few moments to talk?" He says, trying to catch a glimpse out of curiosity as to what comic book she's reading ( [1d10] perception )
"I just finished speaking with some of my students and, I was hoping if you might help clear up a few more things." He says, hoping it's enough of a hint that he's starting to catch up.Roll #1 1 = 1
Deadweight says to Lost, "Hey, it's that guy you hugged earlier," pointing a hoof at the other crystal pony, "So what's the deal with him?"
He's my brother… I think."
"I should also ask, what do you think about being flesh and blood my dear friend?">>762056>>762055
Good looked at the two warily.
"Yes. From rigorous combat training to survive the perils of the outlands." He explains, before shrugging "That, any my mutation left me with over-accelerated development when younger.>>762053
Qhapaq tries to spy out anyone
that isn't a silhouette. Is there anyone?
"Your brother?!" Deadweight exclaims at a volume appropriate for a classroom, "I didn't know you had a brother.">>762057
Deadweight squints back at the crystal pony.
Billy goes searching for Good to seek advice on understanding the material, unable to use his grimoire. Meeting Good Intentions he quickly bring up his issues that he had. "Sorry for bothering you about this."
Comic book…? She's reading a medical textbook. You are positive you did not
just see a comic book in her hooves just now. You're also positive that the air around her hooves is not
smoking, certainly not
ignited by some near light-speed movements to surreptitiously hide a comic book inside a medical textbook.
She sets the book down, and smiles softly. "Talk therapy isn't so uncommon among Outlands explorers. Have a seat anywhere. Mint tea, or green?">>762057>"Soft – plushie. Stuffed animals – popular even among adult consumers. I want – lots of friends.">>762058
Between the heads of the silhouettes, you spy a diminutive griffon with peculiar eyes, and an abundance of brown fur, clothed in a poncho over his gym uniform. Before you can go to question him, the silhouettes get up at the behest of the instructor, and start to form circles in the gymnasium to begin stretching routines. >>762055>>762056>>762057>>762060
The history class drones on in the background. To Good, it is nothing but white noise, but to Deadweight and Lost, they understand it. It is nothing they haven't heard before, so it barely registers. Billy slips into the class and takes a seat besides Good.
Good turns to Billy "Whats up Billy?">>762059
He gets a bit nervous at that.
"I can't understand what is being said at all, not even my Grimoire can. Though I also worry that understanding them might be an issue with how this world is." Billy brings up his concerns.
"I only understood the shades who had a tie to me… it was when I focuse super hard."
"I know it was a surprise to me too."
Deadweight rolls her eyes when she hears the same material again.>>762062
After feeling like she's asserted her dominance to a satisfactory degree, she breaks eye contact.>>762065
"Surprise? What do you mean?"
Zamrud's eyes spin when he sees how quickly the comic-book is switched out - if there were ever a comic book at all - and he continues to question his sanity as he sits down in a nearby chair. "Mint, if you'd be so kind."
He smiles back as she mentions the Outlands and exploring again, letting out a sigh. "Good to know I had such healthcare, then." He pauses, thinking about the sheer absurdity of the situation one more time.
"I listened to the others for a long while. I can't say I entirely believe it yet, as far as I'm concerned this school, this job, it's all quite real. But, they also have quite interesting theories, theories I would not anticipate being within the normal curriculum for students their age, and honestly more than one thing they spoke about… well, I'll just say I've had a few more migraines this morning than I'd care for so far."
"You remember it all the same then, this other life we've led?"
Grutar searches the campus in order to find the best tree that the students had mentioned searching for. He always liked doing something nice for the kids!
>Search for best tree
Meanwhile he also goes through the Garden area to make sure nobody is growing anything illegal (Except for his own secret growing spot) and searches for anything wildly out of place. He doesn't know specifically what he's looking for but he does remember someone asking him to look around there.
>Search the Garden for the party
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
"I mean I only learned through a dream."
"A dream?" Deadweight asks, looking at Lost like she just grew hands.
Godspeed puts the kettle on, and brings over a porcelain tea set with a pair of cups, and a box of tea leaves.
"I only remember my own life, not your own," Godspeed says. "But, I do remember my first encounter with you, some weeks prior to this. We met when our missions made our paths cross and intwine in such a strange journey."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGcY2Vr5CKU
"However," she says. "I might caution you against pushing too far back against the version of reality that you know now. Memories are an unreliable and fickle affair. Rarely do they ever match entirely with objective, recordable fact. A camera can record sound and video. Augmented and Virtual Reality systems can also record and simulate taste, scent, and kinetic senses… but none of these can capture how a subject experiences these things in their own mind, their own bodies. The way we recall things is entirely our own experience. Forcing oneself to recall too hard can even engender entirely false, imagined memories, indistinguishable from the so-called 'real thing.'">>762068https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLlNQtkDWLo
There are plenty of good trees under which students could feasibly sit and have nice picnics. Around the library and theatre in particular are some choice spots. Both of these are built atop hills, where a good view of their sides of the campus are best visible.
Then, when your search turns to the Garden, things take a change. The Garden is situated on a high hill, wrought not of earth, but of root. The roots of the colossal Tree of Evil, whose top you cannot see, for it is obscured by clouds, form a small mountain at the center of the college. However, when you step upon it, it does not feel like you are climbing, or even walking at any incline. It is as easy on your feet and legs as walking on a flat plane is. Furthermore, the mountain of roots has "uprooted" several buildings, which now stand at an incline on the roots. However, they do not lean, or fall away. Gravity seems to have no especial effect upon them.
You reach the walls of the Bodhi Garden. Almost like the paper wrapping on a cupcake do they stand, unevenly wrapping around the root-mountain of the Tree of Evil. A great and towering fog lingers behind them, obscuring the trunk for miles around. Every so often, you find a doorway to get through the walls, but they are all locked solid. You try your many keys hanging from your impressive janitorial keyring, but none of them, not even your master key, can make any of the doors budge.
Zamrud waits patiently for his tea to come to a boil before he partakes, listening intently to Godspeed's advice.
"I see… so, there is perhaps a need to my staying ignorant, if such is the case. Assuming I'm not in fact the only one who's still sane among us, I would prefer not to stress my mind too far trying to recall this life. But my position - our position as faculty members - would be of great benefit to the others were I to be assured this was merely an illusion. Though, frankly, for one reason or another the thought of helping students to cheat in any situation causes me distress."
"I won't push too hard, but tell me about this meeting of ours. Were we friends in this 'Ironcastle' they spoke of?"
Unsure what to do with the vague wording, Billy tries his own version of working hard to listen to the materials by the shade by straining his ears and eyes.
Yeah a dream, it was like a cul de sac."
"Uh huh…" Deadweight says, taking another, less chilling, more curious look at Good.
She falls silent, mulling for a long time over what should be a simple enough "Yes" or "No" answer…
am from Zinccastle," she says, placing exceptional emphasis on the "I."
"Quite some distance from Ironcastle, though not so far that travel between them is entirely impractical on foot. It is my understanding that Grutar – currently employed here as a janitor – is also from Zinccastle, though he migrated to Ironcastle some years ago. I didn't know him prior to my meeting with your party.
"Our paths crossed when you and your allies – who you now know as your students – were on a delivery mission to group of Outlander tribals known as the Aya. Your route took you through the territory of a troublesome Necromancer, known as 'Granpaw' to his thralls. I sought him out to recover the souls of my allies, which had fallen into his possession, after he destroyed the soul-devouring Dreaded which had claimed their lives. At first I was preparing for a fight to the death with Granpaw, but you lot instead brokered an exchange. I aided your delivery mission, and you aided me. We parted ways some time afterward after this unexpected good ending."
>Optional roll to remember more is available>>762112>>762114>>762115
The lecture chatters on in the background…
>Optional roll to listen in and gain information available
"Grutar… yes, he seems to be the only one besides me who doesn't seem to remember any of this. Assuming this is all true, I thought perhaps teachers and staff were more susceptible to this school's influence than students, though you would seem to disprove that."
As she explains the background of their meeting, Zamrud listens with rapt attention, finding it pleasing to hear they met, and parted, on such good terms. "Sounds like quite the adventure we had…" he says, pausing to reach up and rub his head. "I… seem to recall…."
[1d10] Remembering any details he can from this excursionRoll #1 9 = 9
>>762061>Also signed up for a computer class- why not?
"Hrm…" Qhapaq moves to say something to the smaller griffon, but he's caught up in the moving sihlouettes. He'll try to slip closer to the other griffon while they form up for stretches.
Good for his part looks around trying to remember where he and Senorita were.
Actually, upon closer inspection, this is most certainly a larger-than-average
griffon. He could not, even by the most uncharitable of onlookers, be described as a griffonlet.
Well, most griffons are diminutive in comparison to you.
As you sidle up to him, his left eye twitches, and he double-takes in your direction. Without a word, he stands, his talons clenching into fists. He lunges straight for you–!
Wait, is this–!?>>762353
You're all in afternoon history class with Billy. The professor drones on, though you are not able to comprehend his words, for having pulled yourself away from the subtle reality of the school. Perhaps, by immersing yourself once more into that other world, you could hear the lecturer… and again, the silhouettes which identified themselves as your sister and her good friend.>>762229
A peculiar sense of rising, of floating, overcomes you, and briefly you drift, until you at last regain a little clarity. Like floating on your side in the sea, one half above, the other below, you feel your mind and memories caught at the border of two worlds –
Noble Zamrud, the esteemed Outlands explorer from House Bahasa, emissary of the Iron King.
Professor Zamrud, the caring chemistry professor of Agape Academy, renowned for his charitability towards students other professors would simply give up for flunkies.
"Seeing anything?" Godspeed asks as she stirs her tea.
Attempting to take the minimum necessary precautions. Billy decides to makes sure that he is under watch by a friend and under their scrutiny when immersing himself.
Good grunted and did her best to do that. Maybe it would reveal some information he could use to escape this place.
[1d10] if neededRoll #1 9 = 9
Qhapaq lets out a mildly confused warble and goes to grab the griffon as he lunges- something about this seems familiar, but he can't place it.
Zamrud winces as flashes of his memories start to etch back at the edge of his mind, eyes closing in concentration as he struggles to sort them out.
"I… I'm not sure. I seem to recall… a castle… the bunker… the Spire…" he says, thinking back to their adventure with the Daemon before arriving at the tree.
He looks expectantly towards her, a small smile curling up at the side of his face. "I remember being disappointed when we had to split paths coming back. I think…" he says, undermining his own confident statement as the years of tutelage and schooling for this academy place themselves at war with his new memories. "It's difficult to parse them out, I see things I don't recall but feel are as real to me as any other experience, but I still remember everything else. Coming to this academy, getting my degree, etcetera."
You grab the griffon by the head, narrowly avoiding taking a flurry of strikes to the face. Gym class continues in the background without you.
The griffon pauses, his onslaught thwarted, and gives you a grave look. "Unhand me, Qhapaq! Or do you not recognize me and my people's methods, for this strange scenery?"
That peculiar accent and manner of speaking… why, it's Peyote!>>762358
"Consider this," Godspeed says. "Staying suspended between realities, personalities, dreams, whatever this may be, cannot
be good for you. Choose one and stick to it. But don't be so convinced that we all need to be unified in how we navigate this world. I am 'awake,' in my mind, because I still see myself as Godspeed, Exarch of Zinccastle, and not Godspeed, the Vestal of Agape Academy. But, you may come across clues that you would only – or could
only notice as Professor Zamrud.
"Besides," she continues, lightly brushing the corner of your jacket's lapels. "That tweed suits you.">>762355>>762356
Bodies and minds like plummet at a dizzying angle. The classroom, and everyone and everything in it, twist in air like a multi-layered kaleidoscope. A cold rushing flows over and rises within you. It is not til some time after that you regain a little clarity.
The silhouettes of your fellow students remain as such, but now, have a little color to them, one color apiece. They now have a semblance of bodily shape to them too, not merely blurs…
The professor can be heard more clearly now, but you're hopelessly lost in his lecture. Lacking context, he might as well still be speaking gibberish.
>roll to catch up! Bonus if you swipe another student's notes!
Good looked over to his sister and motioned for her notes.
Lost blinked at seeing the request but decided to help him as she had been taking some quietly.
Qhapaq blinks in surprise, before letting out another little warble. "Ahh- apologies, Peyote. With recent going-ons, I must have forgotten." He releases the griffon, and nods a little. "Please, let us continue."
Zamrud looks over as she brushes off his lapels, his smile more genuine now as she complements him on his professional teaching attire. "Hmm. Well, on that we must agree. Whichever reality is real to me, I intend to keep this part of my wardrobe. When it works this well, you know?"
He offers a small, awkward chuckle, as he considers his options. "I think you're right. My mind's already feels strained just as it is, I don't envy the idea of persisting in trying to walk a mental tightrope every minute. I think you also bring up a fair point that, should I choose to remain a teacher, there will be things I could do for you - all of you - that are only achievable as a Vestal."
He closes his eyes. "But, speaking truthfully… I'm starting to fear if I let go of these memories I just found now, I might never see them again. It clearly took me more effort than the others just to start to recollect my life of the Outlands."
Once he remembers properly, Qhapaq will engage in the traditional greeting- a short trading of blows!
He took them and did his best to catch up.
[1d10+2] Cram Session
Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
An mean urge comes upon Billy when immersing himself in the classroom. A competitive spirit as he goes forth and aims for the others notes.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Unnoticed by the other students, Peyote proceeds to pound his fists mercilessly across your face, left jabs, right hooks, two-handed slams, uppercuts and the like. He chops your shoulders, then drops to deliver vicious gut punches and worse still to your abdomen–!
Not a one of the licks hurts. At most it's like getting a light massage. Or perhaps acupressure may be the more fitting analogy. For, at every spot that Peyote strikes, a certain weight, previously unnoticed, lifts off of you, leaving you feeling lighter physically, and psychologically.
He abruptly stops, backing away with a slight wince. He shakes his wrists out. "Dear me," Peyote says, proceeding to perform forearm stretches. "Too quick was I to jump into the healing. Let's stretch and limber up before we continue."
Healing? Was that not the traditional Xen greeting?>>762363
"Then don't cling to the reality as the professor," Godspeed says. "There's no way to simply 'cure' immersion in the 'school reality'. Once it sets in, it must be allowed to pass, like a cold. Only, unlike a cold, clinging to that reality causes it to strengthen… and the reverse is also true of clinging to the 'Outlands reality'. I am sure that you heard Herb and company bickering about what befell Kirk.
"What I doubt they told you, however, was that Kirk was experimenting with clinging to the two realities. At times, clinging to the school reality. At other times, the Outlands reality. And, rarely, trying to hold both in equal esteem.">>762365>>762360>>762361>>762366
Unfortunately, the other students are too on guard for Billy to be able to pilfer their notes. Be they team Austral or team Boreal, neither group of students seems willing to drop their guard, even around their own teammates. Such is life at Agape Academy.
Fortunately, Lost is willing to pass Good, Senorita and Billy her notes, which they use to catch up on the lecture. This Cycle's lesson was on the origin of a holy Cycle called "Hearth's Warming." Born from a climate disaster that united three warring tribes of ponies, it is the premier gift-giving (and receiving) holy Cycle. The countries of the world celebrate it in myriad ways, even those not of pony origin (although their traditions differ greatly from those of the ponies).
Class is about to end… this may be your last chance for questions.
Good paused and leaned forward "Countries sir? What are those."
"I, ah… huh." Qhapaq says, at a bit of a loss for words once the other griffon finishes up. He feels… better, in a multitude of ways that he isn't quite able to put into words. "I, ah, was that not the greeting? It was 'healing'?" He asks, stretching out a little bit himself.
"Who were these three warring tribes" Billy thought of the mutants, caste system, and the monsters feeling that they don't fit into the pony tribes being expressed here.
Zamrud nods. "Hmm… again, I agree. Whatever advantages I might have held committing to my role as a Vestal won't mean anything if I lose myself entirely to the part. In which case, I should continue my efforts in trying to regain this other self… and hope it's the right decision and not the onset of some kind of madness, eh?" He says, trying to add some levity to the situation.
As she comments that Kirk was trying to experiment with holding BOTH in equal esteem, this piques Zamrud's attention however. "No, they did not happen to mention that… all they did mention was that Kirk had somewhat of a reckless streak that held consequences when he attempted to access the Gardens too early. I've yet to meet him myself, how is his mental state in trying to hold on to both sides of the story?"
"Oh! Yes, well, while what I did could have, at first, certainly counted for my tribe's greeting, I carried on overlong for concern of what was hanging onto you…">>762371
"Not good," Godspeed says. "Prone to overreaction, confused speech and reasoning, self-isolation, and worse. He kept rigorous notes during his self-experiments, however, or so I am told. He was quite paranoid about them ever being found out, no matter how often Herb tried to bargain with him or pull rank for their donation to the cause. He seemed certain he was always just on the cusp of a great breakthrough in finding out the 'truth of the matter…' or whatever he meant by that.">>762368>>762370
The professor, either not catching or politely overlooking the absurdity of your queries, gives a brief overview of the territories of the Diskos – the historic lands of the Pegasus, Earth Pony and Unicorn Tribes, their supersession by the unified country of Equestria, Griffonstone and the Crystal Empire… and of course, the Shade, the land hidden from the Sun.
That last part is all he says about the Shade, as if you should know the rest.
Good scowled quietly and debated moving to investigate their books or computers for info on this 'Shade'
Billy just stews quietly to himself, attempting to stay immersed to keep up with the present lecture on history.
"I see… not the most ringing of endorsements to follow in his hoof-steps, as it were. I admire his persistence for the truth, and I must admit I'm intrigued by his theories. Being able to see both sides of the mirror offers an entirely different perspective that could unlock the mysteries to the illusion. But even in my current state I'm aware we're in a precarious position, I'm not sure NOW is the best time to be experimenting."
He pauses, tapping his claw against Godspeed's desk nervously. "You mentioned he kept notes? Do you know if they were kept in his dormitory or did his paranoia of Herb finding them lead to hiding them somewhere?"
"Hmm? Ah- I wasn't aware I had so much I was hanging on to… or, that it was so easily detected. I, ah… thank you- that was a relief."
"Such is the nature of the Outlands's influence," Peyote says. "Only once the infection is dire enough to wound, or even kill, can it be noticed by most. Even among the Xen, who boast a greater sensitivity to this plague, I have been noted for my especial perceptivity to it."
Gym class continues, and Peyote leads you to the bleachers to sit. The rest of the class continues heedless of you. "It's been some time since we last met. How have you fared, friend?">>762375
"In the interim between his disappearance and your arrival, Origami and Locomotive ransacked his room in search of his notes. Apparently they recovered the newest of his journals, with only a few pages written. Origami was the worst distressed over Kirk's worsening mental condition, but he might be convinced to turn the record over."
She twirls a bit in her rolling office chair. "I've been playing therapist more than nurse for that lot, through the months…">>762373>>762374
The professor moves on, while Good fishes a book from the back of the class. The cover is blurry, and the text, apparently, written in a different language. But, after a moment or two of looking at the title of the book, it… it's not that you recognize or understand the characters which compose the title. But, rather, you get a peculiar feeling that the words there are "Modern History."
Scanning through the book, you find entries on each of the lands the professor mentioned, in order… including the Shade.
The pages which comprise the entry on the Shade are differently colored, and differently sized. The font is different too, in style and size. It's as if these pages were grafted in from another text…
>roll to decipher, DC 8; further willful immersion into the "college world" can reduce this DC to 6
Billy staring down at the text makes an attempt at deciphering the pages, scratching at his scalp all the while.
[1d10] for 8Roll #1 5 = 5
"Mmm- I am thankful for your talents, Peyote." Qhapaq says, smiling a little bit and gently patting the other griffon's head. He'll follow towards the bleachers, ignoring the gym class and its silhouettes for the moment.
"I am faring well enough- this… tree, situation has proved difficult, but we will overcome it. The last few months have proved harrowing, but a good experience to strengthen the body and hone the resolve. As you can see, I have mutated further from a recent encounter on the way here." He remarks, gesturing to his larger, oddly-colored wings. "There have been strange happenings within the Castle that I have been working out of. I do not… understand all of it, but there is some conspiracy apaw. I have been managing well enough, though. What of you, Peyote? How are you managing? How has your own gift been coming?"
Peyote chirps a little as you pat his head.
He listens well, and nods. "I am grateful for your new blessing. May you and it serve one another well."
Another peculiarity of Xen culture… they speak of each mutation not as an extension of the mutant, as other Tribes do, but as their own entities.
"'Tis a most busying gift, to be sure," Peyote says. "Even as one still in my studies to be an Elder Shaman, I've no end of my Tribesouls coming to me for guidance, healing and other forms of aid… I worry some may be lost with me stuck here. But perhaps it is for the better, lest they become overmuch dependent upon me… I tried many ways of escaping this zone, much to the horror of the Castlefolk also stuck here. They're like to keep me in detention all semester! Haha… not that I can fault them. A few of the temporal resets have been a result of me trying to scheme a way out of this time-loop… and a few have been a result of me wandering about on the far edge of campus some Cycles. Fortunately they have not resorted, nor even threatened, violence upon me. Far more civilized than I had ever heard the Castlefolk be to we Mutants!"
"Hmm- so, you have tried many ways to escape, and it merely resets each time… concerning. How long have you been here, do you think? Does the flow of time hold meaning here?" Qhapaq asks, tilting his head to the side.
"And, Castlefolk are strange. Varied, and strange- I would argue struggling and troubled moreso than we Mutants. But, I've found some that are good people." He offers, before humming. "I was aware your blessing had been potent, but I was not aware it was so great that you'd become such a staple amongst your tribe. Tell me, what does it tell you here? Are there spirits within this… zone? This temporal anomaly?"
"I've little idea, I'm afraid," Peyote admits. "I suspect years may pass within the span of a single Cycle, or vice versa, for all that I know."
He nods. "It tells me much, and I reckon that knowledge may have been the key to earning me the Castlefolk's favor."
He gestures to the silhouettes. "These… are not spirits. Merely echoes… they are akin to the electical ghasts the more technologically-inclined conjure on their devices… 'recordings,' I believe they are called? Well, the metaphor is not precise, for these silhouettes can seem to act, react and respond to one who is fully immersed, one who fully believes themselves a student of this college… perhaps more like a video game's AI, which can 'react' within certain parameters."
He doesn't know recordings, but speaks so easily of video games and AI… he knows more than he lets on…
"What do you mean by that accusation?" he asks, looking up and beyond you. Certainly not in response to anything you said. Maybe he means–
"Spare us the editorializing…" Peyote says. "But that does not mean there are no spirits here. Certainly, since your arrival, I have felt a greater spiritual pressure than before… perhaps your arrival has heralded also the arrival of other spirits."
Billy not feeling well with his luck in the classes decides to go to message his team and the others to see if they understand ant of the coursework he is going through.
Zamrud nods. "For what it's worth, that's probably what they need most. Physical trials, I get the sense most of us are aptly prepared. The mental strain of what we're experiencing… probably less so." He smirks. "Heavens know I'm grateful for the psychiatric help."
He prepares to rise, looking at his clock to see if he has time before class begins to approach Origami. "I think it best I have a look at those notes first before I take my foot out of either pool. Thank you for telling me all of this, Godspeed, truly."
Deadweight furrows her brows looking at the section on the Shade. She tries to make sense of it.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Qhapaq hums in thought. "False people… if they only interact while immersed, it explains how we go unapproached." He remarks, before blinking in surprise. "Ah? Oh- talking with a spirit, I take it. I wonder if they were drawn in as a result of us appearing- I wonder if Dreaded Ones may be in here, as well."
Qhapaq tilts his head to the side after a moment of thought. "…Video-Games? Aye Eye? How do you know so much of such things, Peyote?" He asks.>>762450>Try to help if I can! [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
You check your watch and see that afternoon classes are nearly over. Time sure does fly for a college student, and the professors are not exempt from this happening. But as there are no classes in the evening, you reason that the students will most likely be in the dormitory cafeterias.
>>>762449 Qhapaq hums in thought. "False people… if they only interact while immersed, it explains how we go unapproached." He remarks, before blinking in surprise. "Ah? Oh- talking with a spirit, I take it. I wonder if they were drawn in as a result of us appearing- I wonder if Dreaded Ones may be in here, as well." Qhapaq tilts his head to the side after a moment of thought. "…Video-Games? Aye Eye? How do you know so much of such things, Peyote?" He asks. >>762450 >Try to help if I can! [1d10]
"I've seen no Dreaded whatsoever," Peyote says with some relief. "It was in flight of the Dreaded that I came upon this campus, actually… as I slipped into unconsciousness, a great force annihilated my pursuers, but spared me… perhaps it was the Tree…?"
He shrugs. Then, as you question him over video games, like Castlefolk on their intranet forums, he blushes. "…the computer consoles here have a simulacrum of communications. Among the many files on them are a series of most peculiar archives… it's best if I show you."
He hops off the bleachers and bids you to follow him.Roll #1 1 = 1
Thinking to himself that he will do better next time, Billy lets out a sigh and heads to the cafeteria to hill out his big frame.
Zamrud nods as he checks his phone, checking to see if he has a number to reach Godspeed on should the need arise. If not, he thinks to ask her for one (purely for emergencies, of course)
After which, he nods his head and begins his march towards the cafeteria, looking intently for Origami who should hopefully be finished with his classes for the day.
"Maybe the tree filters out Dreaded Ones somehow- some aspect of their biology or spirit is not allowed here. And, ah… sure, if you would be willing to show me, that would work." Qhapaq states, following after Peyote.
You already have Godspeed's number saved to your phone, so there is no need to ask for it. After finishing your tea, you bid her farewell (for now) and depart.>>762458>>762459>>762460
A great chime sounds from somewhere in the direction of the Tree – the center of the campus, heralding the end of afternoon classes, seemingly so soon after they begun. Perhaps a reflection of time's distorted passage here.
Most head for the cafeteria for dinner, while Qhapaq and Peyote head for the library.>>762460
The library is quite a tall building, with many floors. It's mostly empty now, save for a few rather studious students ready to sacrifice dinner for extra studying. Acting quickly so you can munch up soon, Peyote sits at the nearest computer terminal, taps at the keyboard and pulls up an archive…
It's rather similar to a VOD of a Prancecast stream. In fact, the websites are nearly identical, this version perhaps being older and somewhat less user-friendly. However, the websites are remarkably similar, despite this VOD being from the Time Long Forgotten… in the VOD, a fast-paced competitive FPS match rages. In the bottom right-hand corner of the screen is a CGI model of a rather cute griffoness. She is, inexplicably, dressed like una cucaracha.
"I admit, much of my 'study time' is accompanied by these VODs," Peyote confesses sheepishly. "Hardly am I to blame, if I may be so bold as to assert – the words of the silhouettes are but gibberish to me, lest I give in to the illusions of the school.">>762458>>762459>>762453
It takes Deadweight some time, but as she and Billy head off for the dorm's cafeteria, she deciphers the text of the book… mostly.
>The […] is in turmoil, the end of not only […] but the rest of the […] drawing closer with each […]. The […] continuously moves closer and closer, slowly enveloping it in uncompromising heat that burns away all the land and […], a burning hell within […]
The lacunae are words that Deadweight speaks, but you cannot understand. To her, they are understandable. Yet, she cannot convey them to you in any way that makes sense, at this moment.
>The Shade is only livable […], located within the massive shadow of the immobile […], providing a tolerable environment. Even here however, the dirt is infertile, the air too dry for weather, and civilization […] the shadow provided by […] shrinks by the year, with small pockets of life dwelling in massive protective livable bunkers called–
The next noun that follows is… shifting. Ever-changing, oscillating between two sets of characters, as if caught between them… it eventually solidifies. Deadweight translates it as: Domes. As in:
>Protective livable bunkers called Domes.
Perhaps, a precursor to the Castles…?
In any case, you get in line for Dorm A's cafeteria. It's pasta time. Omnivorous, carnivorous, vegetarian and vegan options abound.
"I am really feeling that any test would be impossible to do here if lectures will all be like that for us." Billy grimaces with his head down.
Qhapaq blinks and looks at the cgi griffoness with a soft chirp of interest. "I see… it is a, ah, griffon. Dressed up, and… well, not an actual griffon, but something else." He remarks, before chuckling a little bit and patting Peyote's head. "Considering how unintelligible the shades are, I cannot blame you. I understand little of what I see, but it looks entertaining. I remember meeting a Diamond Dog that did something similar… perhaps I still have her card."
"Huh," Deadweight says before closing the textbook. "I'm hungry," she announced, walking over to see what vegetarian food they have today. She hopes they have baked potatoes.
Zamrud looks around upon arriving in the cafeteria, his own hunger pangs secondary to his thirst for knowledge. He scans the area for Origami, planning to question him first (and THEN grab the food he's been needing)
[1d10+1] PerceptionRoll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Good grunted and tried to decipher it himself without letting himself fall back into the trap of this world.
[1d10] DecipherRoll #1 10 = 10
Lost followed after before tripping and falling with a groan.
"Dog?" Peyote repeats. "A moment…"
He scrubs forward in the VOD a bit, until he finds the moment he seeks, and clicks play. At this point in the VOD, the cockroach-griffon-gamer-girl has paused for a water break, but brought on a lesser-known streamer to join her. Their avatars sit side-by-side, with the griffon girl's avatar bugging out as a result of her being AFK. The other streamer is dressed in a baroque gown, and beside her is a prop of a cello. She is the image of regality and class… yet, her visage is unmistakable:
This is Shikiki Shishi.>>762462>>762464>>762465>>762466>>762467
You gather your most preferred meals and head for a table with the only students you recognize: Herb and his gang. Ride or Die and his group are most notably not in this cafeteria. You recall them wearing the uniforms of Team Austral; perhaps they are in that Team's dormitory cafeteria.
The mood is dour for Herb's team. They eat in silence, and none have much of an appetite. They barely acknowledge you as you approach.>>762464>>762466
Good tries his hoof at interpreting the book, but his progress is slower than Deadweight's, and he does not grasp what may hide within the lacunae that confront his comprehension…
>Almost all […] are lost, and the Domes face perils […] overrun by desperate bandits, to internal strife, to mutant creatures assaulting the barren landscape. Each Dome […] crops being artificially (magically) forced to grow within and water growing scarce from […]. Computers do a lot of the work to maintain atmosphere and livability in the Domes, but there is no longer […]. Magic has slowly been getting usurped by technology as a practical tool since there are so few magic teachers […].
By all accounts, if this be true history, your Castles fare far better than the Domes of the First Ancestors… yet, by the popular history of your time, the reverse was the case: the First Ancestors, despite their troubles, underwent a golden age to end all golden ages, inventing magic and technology the likes of which the people of this our present age could not hope to comprehend one percent of one percent…
Billy makes sure to clean his plate of any food, practically inhaling it all as he waves hello to Herb and his team.
"Oh!" Deadweight turns back to find Lost on the ground. She chuckles and says as she picks her up, "Got distracted?"
After getting some creamy tomato pasta and a baked potato, Deadweight takes a seat at the table and digs in.
"I tripped on my uniform. It's so long in the legs."
Lost just got some soup and oddly a few bits of meat for some reason even she didn't know. Yet she felt some part of her wanted it.
Zamrud sits down as he looks over Herb's team, deciding to sit down with them. "You gentlecolts aren't too cool to be seen eating with one of your professors, are you?"
As he sits down among them, he crosses his arms as he looks over all their dour expressions. "I realize our earlier conversation was rather grave, but even so you all look more downcast than I'd expected."
Good took a pair of plates, mostly potato and cheese dishes as he needed a big load of carbs and flavor to power his brain.
He made notes on the parallels between these domes and the castles. This world seemed to have some kind of time distortion upon it so perhaps it was another time, or before the castles. He couldn't know for sure.
"I, ah… yes, that is her. Shikiki. We had a, hrm… an encounter, and I believe I angered her- both by mutating, and by accidentally breaking a device of hers when she challenged me. It was a genuine mistake- hence why I gave her my mask in trade, until I fix her music box." He remarks, wiggling his ears. "I do not like being maskless- it makes me uncomfortable- but, it is only fair."
"You aren't a professor," Herb grunts. "We've been over this."
Origami in particular looks incensed by Zamrud's opening. "Maybe we're a little on edge because five months of progress just gone undone by you guys bumbling in, *and* we still can't find Herb!"
"Stand down," Lone Star snaps.
"Stand down?" Origami gawks. "Dude, I'm already sitting! The fuck does 'stand down' even mean?"
"Can we get seconds?" Locomotive asks. "My plate is clean."
"Of course you can get seconds," Herb sighs. "None of this is real… except for the food. Wait, where does this food come from, anyway?"
"Iunno," Origami says. "Been too busy looking for our friend and comrade to obsess over small details like that, Herb."
"It's an important detail!" Lone Star interjects. "Who knows if it's laced with something?"
"Well, for the record, all scans show it's perfectly edible and non-toxic," Herb says.
You get the feeling they could shout at each other for an entire six months… you'll have to interrupt to keep them on point.>>762476
Peyote nods. "I was wondering when an apt time to ask about that would arise. I was worried some social disgrace had befallen you… rare is the Aya who will willingly go about without a mask, especially a Warrior!"
He looks back to the monitor. "You say you have encountered this Shikiki before… but near as I can tell, this VOD predates… well, certainly our births! The Castlefolk are certain this place belongs to the Time Long Forgotten… how could a mutant you met be also here on the VOD?"
Your stomach growls…
"It definitely could be shorter," Deadweight says as she looks at the uniform ambiguously flirtatiously
"What're you all going on about?" Deadweight asks the quarrelsome group in between bites of pasta and potato.
Good simply slammed the book he had taken on the table "Enough, arguing will get us nowhere."
"Will we need to do well on any test or need anything from the classes, I am not thinking it is reasonable with the way this world is, and being hard to look at anything." Billy speaks up as a question for the group.
"I know. Or at least, I'm beginning to think so." Zamrud says to Herb after he points out he isn't a professor.
"I had a small chat with our school nurse. Finally beginning to gain a bit of perspective, though I can't bring myself to believe one side or the other yet. Part of me is starting to remember this other life you all claim to lead, and another just knows my time shaping young minds here at Agape Academy. I'm not sure which one is real, and that is the way I would prefer to keep it for now."
He looks towards Origami, concerned about bringing up a sore subject. "I understand Kirk held a similar outlook?"
Grutar doesn't even seem to notice the roots replacing the earth, walking along it like he has done so a dozen times already. Going through the Bodhi Garden he tests each door, but eventually after the twelth door he stops and lightly kicks it in frustration. He knows at least one key has to work, why else was he given these?
Remembering his time as a youngster, he pulls out his credits card and muses to himself about how much of a rebellious youngster he was to nobody in particular… though it is strange how anytime he remembers, the environment doesn't match anything that he remembers, though he chalks it up to his old age and moving around so much.
>Try to pick a lock using card
[1d10]>Search for a key by asking faculty or searching around campus if lock picking fails
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
"Ah- right, I forgot. Most of my allies are not aware of the significance of a maskless Aya. But, yes- it is temporary, provided I can find a way to return her music device to working order… anyways. That is a good question. Perhaps aspects of our world have merged with this one? It could draw things we know of into itself, in a way." He muses, before glancing downwards.
"Hrm… perhaps we ought to eat, while we still have time."
"A sound theory," Peyote says. "If only we can uncover evidence of its veracity…"
His stomach growls too, so he nods and closes the stream. You two depart for the cafeteria.>>762478>>762479>>762480>>762481>>762483
Good's words snap the quarrelsome group out of their bickering long enough for Zamrud to regain control of the conversation. Conveniently, this is also when Peyote and Qhapaq show up.
"Yep," Origami says to Zamrud. The subject drains even him of energy to respond in sarcasm. "Same shit that made him flip out a few times."
"I warned you about that," Lone Star says. "You can't force your way out of it once you fall into it. You have to ride it out. Kirk wouldn't listen to me either, and now… just try not to make it any worse, alright?">>762480>>762481>>762478>>762478>>762483
"That, Billy," Herb says. "Is where our trusty make-believe professor comes in. See, the problem is that so long as we cling to our real selves, we can't really understand what's going on in class. Used to be that, even though we warned Kirk not to play in to the illusion, he would basically be our ticket to good grades. But now, we have Professor Zamrud here for that help."
"Which frees us up to look for Kirk more," Origami says, regaining a little energy.
"And post up more guard shifts," Lone Star says. "To make sure nobody else stumbles into this zone."
"…Or to learn how the youth of the Time Long Forgotten lived," Herb says.
"Dude, just play a fucking dating sim," Origami says. "We're trying to complete our fucking mission and save our comrade over here."
"Uncovering the mysteries of the Time Long Forgotten is, ultimately, the mission of EVERY soldier who steps out from Ironcastle. Hell, from every Castle!" Herb retorts. "Kirk is *fine,* it'll take more than a disappearance to kill him."
"Believe me, I've tried," Lone Star and Locomotive say, simultaneously. They then glance at each other funny.>>762482
You fiddle with the locks using every trick you've known and accumulated over the years, but all fail to make the doors budge. Failing that, you go about to the various faculty of the campus. Silhouettes, every one. None seem to know much about how one might get into the Bodhi Garden illicitly.
You do learn some things, however:
Ordinarily, only a small number of staff are allowed in, so that they can design the arena for the end-of-semester battle royale. These staff are sworn to secrecy, lest the secrets of the battle royale be leaked to the students ahead of time.
Rumor has it that, during prom, a few students always try to sneak into the Bodhi Garden… and some have even succeeded. It's something of an illicit tradition, much like a senior prank.
And, it's unrelated to the Bodhi Garden, but one professor complained of a missing student from his history class. No clue where they could have ended up.
"That is good to hear, though I do worry things would go wrong, as we are living in a unique force I fear things might go awry. Do we have any backup plans such as copying the shades notes?" Billy offers up seeking feedback.
Deadweight's still confused by what they're talking about. Maybe they're roleplaying or something. Roleplayers are weird.
Grutar perks up when he learns of kids sneaking in to the garden as a prank, though when he starts learning bit by bit about the set up he begins doing what he does best around here. Pester the other teachers until he eventually learns more about it. Complaining about how he can't do his job proper if he can't get in ahead of time to clean up from last year and get everything neat before anyone can set anything up, he'll even pester the principle if he has to.
>Pester co-workers into spilling the beans
Eventually he'll work his way to the history class where he can talk to the professor about his missing student, even if he can't find his way into the garden Grutar feels responsible for keeping track of the kids when teachers aren't watching.
>Speak to teacher to begin details for a search for the student (rolling in case needed)
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
At the notion of helping them secure good grades, a chill runs up Zamrud's spine. "I still cannot promise that. I admit, I'm starting to think you might all be right, but there's still the side of me that doubts. Can I really compromise my ethics as an educator on this? I can promise to do what I can but cheating on your behalf just feels wrong."
As the topic of Kirk comes up, he raises a finger, "On the subject of Kirk trying to work mentally within both sides, I think he may have been on to something in it being the key to understanding how this may all function. Did he have any notes he left behind regarding his findings?" He says, asking Origami in particular.
"Ahh- it seems as if we've stepped into a rather tense discussion, if body language is to be believed." Qhapaq comments. "Apologies for being late to the gathering, what have I missed?" He asks.
Alongside the maskless griffon is a smaller, brown-colored griffon. His body is nicked and scratched, likely scars from various encounters in the Outlands. The most standout feature of the griffon- aside from the poncho he's decided to wear over his uniform- is his eyes, which are clouded. He almost appears blind, though he moves with too much confidence in his surroundings to not be capable of seeing them.
"Zamrud. Are, ah… you yourself?"
Zamrud looks over at Qhapaq, offering an uneasy grin. "Of a sort. I spoke with Godspeed and she helped me to remember some things. I'm just not certain which life story is the real one, as of yet." He reaches up to rub his head. "I've two different memories of how we met now, and it's like they're at war inside my head. It's not the most pleasant sensation."
"I am glad you remember me at least, even if the story is one of two in your head. It was… concerning, to say the least."
Lost blushed furiously.
When the history professor starts to elaborate about the missing student, something most peculiar happens. >"[…] […] […] of […]. […] and […] […] […] [………………………………………]."Prior to this, Grutar, partly immersed in the illusion of the school as he was, understood not the literal words the professor spoke, but the gist of what he was saying. But now… not a bit of it made any sense. It was pure white noise, akin to the sweeping of a broom, the scrubbing of a dish, the rubbing of an eraser… white noise that cleared away any semblance of meaning beneath. And yet, as with any method of cleaning, there was but a trace below.>>762485>>762486>>762488>>762489
Herb's team tenses as Zamrud turns down the notion of helping them cheat. An awkward silence falls down, until Origami speaks up.
"…He did," Origami says. "It's weird, though. Here."
He shows you a notebook, plain and unadorned. What stands out the most about it is that there are but three pages inside. At first one might imagine the other pages ripped out. However, then Origami opens it, it appears that the notebook only had three pages to begin with.
The binding is undamaged, and there is no sign of pages being removed, however carefully. Obviously, however, none would buy a notebook that only had three sheets inside.
"Actually there weren't any pages in it at all, at first," Origami says. "These ones just kinda… appeared
not long ago."
He makes a good point. The books of this place hold information that may be useful if you look past the layer of lies this place makes.
He glanced at Qhapaq and his companion for a moment before looking back "That being said I recommend we pull all relevant info while trying to shatter the illusion of this place.
"Perhaps the illusion is rewarding us? Or perhaps someone outside is."
"There was a bit about how since one of us is a teacher, we should be able to understand the material better with help." Billy offers.>>762494
"Kind of strikes me like a grimoire, maybe there are more pages there we can't see, or that they come from somewhere?" Billy gives a thought up.
Grutar found it odd but began to once again excuse it with his old age taking over. But whether he remembered or not, he attempted to follow whatever clue he was given and still remains immersed in his surroundings enough to let it guide him rather than guiding himself.
>Use full immersion to guide Grutar to where he would next be needed. After all, he has to help with this year's prank! (rolling if needed)
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Hmm… I see. Bizarre, but it makes sense.">>762495
"Speaking of information they hold, my friend Peyote and I have been discussing a few things- it seems that Dreaded Ones never seem to emerge here. Though, other aspects of the Outlands- spirits, information- seem to cross over, to an extent."
Zamrud looks at Kirk's notebook with confusion as Origami presents it. "Only three pages…?"
He pauses as he takes a moment to look at it, noting how there doesn't appear to be any signs of any pages being ripped out. "This doesn't make sense. No notebook has so few pages." As Origami explains further, he looks at him with confusion. "They simply appeared? It could be magical in nature, or perhaps tied to the simulation itself."
He decides to chance a look at the first page to see what clues it might hold.
Deadweight takes a look at the two griffons who joined them. More roleplayers. She thinks the notebook with three pages is cool, though.
Zamrud nods. "I apologize for causing you distress, Qhapaq. At the very least, those memories are returned. It's just a matter of parsing them out…"
"Interesting. From what I've seen they have Domes instead of Castles, but they have gone extremely poorly."
A peculiar rush overwhelms you – like sinking into water, and rising simultaneously… waking up, while drifting off to sleep… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a8T3RHWj6U
>You sit in Professor Nonpareil's office. Afternoon light glitters in through the window. Normally clean-cut and immaculate in garb to a T, the Professor (a towering mastiff diamond dog) has kicked back, and shared with you a dash of bourbon and a cigarette, if you wish to partake.
>"It's odd," he says. "I've never heard of students missing the first day. Almost every junior opts to become a senior instead of just graduating. This girl was no exception. Yet, didn't show to history this morning. I rang up Professor Constancy, too. Didn't show up for her class either. Hope she's alright.">>762500
You flip through the notebook's three pages. The penmanship is quite fine and orderly. However, they only contain a few notes on calculus. Much of each page is blank. >>762501
To you, the notebook's three pages are anything but blank. Glancing over Zamrud's shoulder, you see that the pages are practically full. In addition to the notes on calculus, they also contain… notes on physics. Dense stuff, that. >>762497>>762496>>762495>>762499
"Yeah, maybe," Origami says. "I had the notebook since last Cycle, but it was empty then. It was only after the afternoon classes that it filled up like that. I don't remember exactly when, but it was still empty this morning… think it had anything to do with class?"
"What class did you have?" Peyote asks Origami.
Origami leers a little at Peyote, probably still bitter about Peyote causing a previous reset, but Peyote seems not to notice. "Calculus, I think. Not that I woulda got it even had I understood the professor. Dream or no dream, shit flies right over my head."
"Perhaps the book will fill when the holder takes classes that the owner of the book took… possibly. I cannot say I know what to expect.">>762503
"Really? Strange… did we know any similarities, or differences?">>762502
"I appreciate it, Zamrud." He offers, smiling warmly.>>762501
"Ah, hmm. Who is this? Another member of one of the teams trapped here?"
As Zamrud notes the near blank nature of the pages themselves, his confusion only increases.
"This is it? I don't understand, there's nothing here in regards to the tree or the school, or the nature of either. It's just, calculus notes. Did he write in some sort of code?" Zamrud asks, still trying to puzzle out the book's paradoxical nature
[1d10+1] Perception (to see if any patterns emerge)>>762506
He decides to show the notebook to Qhapaq as well. "Do you see anything here that might be useful? There's so few pages to begin with, and all it seems is written here is simple class notes."Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
Qhapaq hums in thought, before poking the text cautiously and saying "Perhaps… a map, of sorts. Would the class the notes are from lead us to more details? Or is it simply nothing whatsoever?">>762505
"I am not much of a math expert, either."
Good hummed a bit as he considered his options>>762506
It seems akin to our own castles but magic is a dying art and life is much harder."
"I haven't had much luck understanding either, I also don't think they would be willing to answer any questions they would deem basic from how the school presents itself as highly learned." Billy complains about his recent issue.
The only thing that stands out to you is that Kirk, if the notes are any indication, is quite proficient at calculus. He doesn't seem to have made any errors; nothing is crossed out or erased, nor does the math seem to contain any faulty calculations. This isn't beginner material either; one would expect to find a few troublesome problems even for someone who is very well-studied.>>762506>>762544>>762899>>762900
The bell rings, and the silhouette-students start lining up to put away their trays, breaking off into small groups to idle away their free time before the nightly curfew.
Herb's team looks up with confusion.
"Thought we just sat down for dinner," Lone Star says.
"Was that… faster than before?" Herb asks.
"What the– wait, I didn't even get dessert!" Locomotive complains.
It definitely didn't feel like a whole dinner hour.
What a nerd, she thinks to herself as she looks at the notebook. >>762506>>762901
"Huh? Nah, I'm not part of your game," Deadweight says before putting the last forkful of pasta in her mouth.
Zamrud sighs as he looks over the three pages again. "A map… that would be a clever way to hide it. If it is though, I'm not certain I can decipher. I'm not bad at calculus but Kirk is more skilled than I am, my specialty lies in chemistry. I suppose having them looked over by one more familiar with the subject may be worth a shot, I can see if I can meet with the Calculus teacher and see if he has any insight."
He turns to Herb, "Might I borrow this for a bit?">>762901
As the lunch hour already seems to be completed, Zamrud wiggles his whiskers. "Hmm. We already know our perception of time may be being distorted just by being here. I suppose it is possible we'd feel it in more than one way."
Perhaps out presence has altered things? Or perhaps my gravity magic has some kind of effect on it."
"More entering the place would be stressful, I imagine.">>762903
"Meeting with the teacher could be a good idea, I agree."
Herb is about to speak, but–
"Just be careful with it," Origami interjects. "It's basically the only thing we have of his right now.">>762904>>762903>>762902>>762905
"Hmm…" Herb mutters. "You could be onto something, Qhapaq. I guess that'd track with the PCH… with more live subjects to draw from, the greater the flow of Chronos into the Tree of Evil, maybe."
"Least the semester won't drag out as long as it did before," Lone Star says.
"If nobody else gets inside," Origami says.
"Oh, that reminds me," Herb says. "Since you are
responsible for the latest reset, I think it's fitting that you assist with guard duty during the upcoming Dark Hours."
"Is there any way I can help? I do feel I have been lacking in my efforts here in our goal, or is there anything else I can do?" Billy tilts his head leaning against his hand.
"Ah. Well, I apologize for our resetting. We only came to investigate. What are these Dark Hours?"
Zamrud nods in understanding to Origami and Herb. "Of course. I will treat it with the utmost care, I promise."
"I agree with your assessment. PCH may be wholly theoretical but that would make sense given what we know of it. In which case, we have little time to lose as it were."
Zamrud looks up his contacts on his scheduler to see where he might find whoever teaches 'Calculus' after the lunch periord
"A bit rude to force that on us.">>762905
From what I understand living inside isn't too much better."
"Hmm?" Herb asks. "Oh, you're from the Outlands. The Dark Hours are what we call the time when we turn off the ceiling lights in Ironcastle. It follows 'evening', which is when we dim the lights, and it's followed by 'morning' when we gradually turn the lights back on, after everyone's gotten a good sleep. It's been that way since… well, forever, I guess.">>762907
"Don't be too hard on yourself," Lone Star says. "You all only just got here. There's bound to be an adjustment period. Hell, we've been here a while and we're still trying to figure it out. You can pull some guard duty like Herb suggested, but you might be better off getting some sleep instead.">>762909
You could probably catch the calculus professor during lunch next Cycle without much trouble. You note that their office (for you cannot read their name) is only a few doors down from yours.>>762910>>762909>>762908>>762907
Herb shrugs at Good's protest. "Think of it as a chance to get better acquainted with the campus without having to worry about class."
Lone Star, Origami and Locomotive look a bit conflicted about putting guard duty on you.
"I could help take a shift," Peyote says. "One of Gokay's streams is going to debut later. I think you all might find her performance to be a wondrous release from boredom."
"Very well. If nothing else I could potentially look into finding this places central grading system."
"Thank you, I will take your advice. Maybe I have been too hard on myself and some reflection should help understand my place more." Billy nods to himself scratching at his chin in thought.
After noting down the location of the calculus professor tomorrow, Zamrud takes mental note of when and where to find them as he looks to Good and Billy.
"I think it's a fair request. This is our first day here after all, we can take the guard duty for the night… I mean, Dark hours…" Zamrud fixes himself, still conflicted on which side of his persona is he supposed to be listening too. Both words feel just as odd on his tongue for different reasons.
"I believe teachers are welcome to take shifts watching the halls after dark as well."
"Ahh… I was not aware such things were done. I had sort of noticed it, but I had assumed it was technical problems." He remarks, before looking around here "Is there any danger here during the Dark Hours?">>762911
"Ohh… Gokay, one of the things you showed me earlier?"
"She's the streamer who I showed you," Peyote says. "The one in the, err– gokiburi
costume. Hence the name, Gokay. Or, err… Gokay-chama, as her fans know her.">>762915
"Not that any of us have noticed," Herb says. "Most of our guard duty is to make sure nobody else wanders in here. The Dreaded tend to stay away from the Tree… and in fact, I haven't noticed any Dreaded capable of long-range attacks doing anything beyond the Tree's boundary."
The Aya know that there are a number of Dreaded capable of deploying attacks over a very long range – the longest attack range is 2.3 kilometers, recorded by measurement technology furnished by the Haegyl clan. However, beasts capable of such feats are vanishingly rare. >>762912>>762914>>762913>>762915
Herb's team get up, now that most of the other students have cleared out.
"Well, take care," Herb says. "Call in if you need any backup or find anything noteworthy during the Dark Hours."
"And make sure nothing happens to that notebook," Origami urges Zamrud.
With that, they make their way to the tray collection bin, and head out.
Billy takes care to wave as he heads out. "I don't mind taking any shifts at night, or if anyone else intends to do so instead. Though I am thinking if anything, that would be a likely point the weird time shiftiness would occur."
"I'll return it as soon as I am able. It won't have a scratch." Zamrud assures them as they clear the cafeteria, and he looks to the others as they all dispose of their trays.
"I think I'm working with enough of the teacher side of my mind right now to be familiar with the night patrols. I'll add you all to the schedule and inform the prefects and faculty we'll be managing it this evening. With any luck, we might find some more clues as to explain Kirk's disappearance or find more about the Tree."
"Your presence would be nice to have yes."
He sighed "So where do we go to for this guard?"
"Right! Right. I apologize, some things are difficult to remember at first. It does sound nice to watch, possibly.">>762916
"Well, you have not noticed because Dreaded Ones capable of doing so are rare. Pray that you never meet one, Herb- some can strike from nearly out of sight."
"Oh, I've heard the horror stories," Herb sighs. "Makes you wonder why we even leave the Castles, when you can get dropped or warped or who knows what else, without even seeing your assailant."
His eyes shoot open wide as he realizes the faux pas he just made before an Aya tribesmember. "Agh– I don't mean any offense."
One of the more liberal members of Ironcastle, it seems, more sensitive to the restrictions against tribes members being restricted from Ironcastle.>>762917>>762918>>762919>>762920
"Patrol the outer perimeters of the campus," Herb answers Good. "The boundary of the Tree seems to line up… well, almost identically with the physical wall that surrounds the campus. Don't get within more than fifteen paces of the wall; that seems to be where the boundary is. We put up marker stones after last time to make it easier to see."
Peyote smiles apologetically.
"We'll trust you to divide up the shifts by your own best judgment," Herb says. "Don't take any unnecessary risks; this is still the Outlands we're stuck in."
If there are no more questions, Herb's crew looks like they're fixing to leave.
Ride or Die might be amenable to helping you with the watch duties… they should probably be vacating their own Team cafeteria at this time.
"Thank you for the warning. We'll be certain to give those walls a wide berth then and keep an eye out for your marker stones. Have a good night… and make sure to study." He says with a mixture of cheek and the part of him that's still a teacher here at the Academy genuinely encouraging it.
He looks to the others, "I'll speak with Ride's team and see if there's any volunteers, but won't force it if they're not up for it. I figure our group should be enough for patrols."
>Going to check if Ride's team wants to contribute
Curious about what the others are doing, but not willing to intertupt, Billy decides to go over his own book to see if there is anything different, such as if it had been affected.
"No offense taken. I know the stigma we tribals have, and I do not let it bother me. Not all can survive in the wastes, and those that do are and act different from those that do not live within it." He explains, shrugging his massive shoulders a little.>>762921
Qhapaq gently pats his smaller griffon friend, before saying "Mm. Perhaps you and I could take a shift together, Peyote? It would be good to catch up further."
Good nodded and went out to the wall seeing it as an excuse to snoop.
Grateful for the lenience, Herb gladly drops the subject.>>762924
"Sure," Peyote says. "Oh, let's stay near the buildings during our shift. You see, after this most recent reset, the VODs I had downloaded disappeared from my little rectangle thing. The stream I mentioned is scheduled to air two hours from now, so I can re-download it."
It sounds like some things, but not all things, reset along with the campus.>>762923
Your grimoire has drastically changed; Where before it appeared ancient and arcane, now its cover, back and spine all appear sleek and modern, so much that you almost mistake it for a university textbook.
When you crack it open, you see that the pages that have so far been translated by Key Keeper's translation program are all just the same as they were before.
However, there are new pages that follow. They almost look like the textbooks you saw during your history class.>>762922>"Do you even need to ask?" Ride's reply reads.>>762922>>762923>>762924>>762925
Within a few minutes, Ride's team approach the Boreal cafeteria and wave their greetings, looking quite glad to see you again as well.
>timeskip available when all are ready>You can make two turns' worth of actions during this period for anything you'd like to accomplish during the Dark Hour watch
Billy with something new to focus on takes his time to try and understand the new content, a bit worried about the book's condition, and possibly his own perception being affected alltogether.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
On his phone, Zamrud types out a swift (if verbose) reply,>"If you did, wouldn't be much of an answer. Night patrols are standard chore of students, since we're new arrivals Herb's team would like to impose the responsibility on us. I saw no reason not to accept, may prove useful for intel. No need to feel obligated, though.">>762926>As the night hour watch proceeds, when Zamrud takes his turn, he looks towards the walls of the garden (but does not dare approach) to see if he's able to perceive the Tree or not, trying to get a sense for how well it obscures itself.
>He also tries to take the time to reflect upon himself: Kirk and Godspeed both seemed to hint that the key to understanding this place would be sitting on the fence between his original persona and the one he's adopted (and he's still not sure which is which), so he tries to think if there's any other elements that line up between the two that might give him a hint as to how the Tree works
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
"Huh… I, see. Very well, Peyote.">>762926
Qhapaq gives Ride or Die a friendly pat on the shoulder, smiling.>Ready: Not sure what actions to take! Training, watching streams!
Good decided to go hunting for the central grading computer.
[1d10] If neededRoll #1 4 = 4
You poke around through the faculty offices. Almost all of them are locked, save for the general faculty breakroom and a few personal offices with faulty locks. It seems the faculty use laptops and tablets; you fail to find any desktop terminals you can access.
The text of the new pages is blurry, and moreover written in a character system you cannot read – but you do
recognize it. It is, in fact, the same character system used in the other texts at this university. By submerging yourself into that reality, you may be able to read it.>>762928>>762929
You divide the campus between yourselves and Ride or Die's team, both geographically and temporally, and establish patrols. It's fairly uneventful, as Herb predicted. Much of the downtime is filled by Gokay-chama's streams. She plays a charming creature collection game, though it was obviously rushed out the door by the publisher, for it is rife with glitches. Gokay-chama and her fans make no end of "bug" jokes during these snafus. >>762928
Something stands out to you near the beginning of your watch shift.
The color of the unbound sky. For a time, it is a deep, dark ochre… but only after half an hour of your shift does it become black.
An abrupt protest echoes through the left half of your brain, of the Noble Iron Soul, Zamrud Bahasa. There is no apparent cause to this changing of color. Nothing in heaven or earth could possibly explain it. Is there a great ceiling above you?
The right half, that of Professor Zamrud, is at ease. It barely registers the dimming of the light. The [*******] is going down a bit sooner than before, isn't it? The seasons must be changing. Soon, the [*******] of [*******] will bring about fall, and before you know it, [*******] [*******] [*******].
Cautious, but curious even more so. Billy felt he could take the risk around his team than in any other circumstance as the book is originally his.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
He does indeed try again
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 6 = 6
[Last 50 Posts]
Qhapaq is decently entertained by Gokay and her gaming stream, even if video games are something he has little to no personal experience with. He finds the bug jokes endearing!