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 No.766029[Last 50 Posts]

>Good Intentions
The rodent takes one cookie, and scampers off to enjoy it. Trajan, who had been stretching his legs elsewhere, has a nibble of one of the other cookies.


Godspeed ponders it. "I do wonder… But I am inclined to picture school as a uniquely effective role for Psy-Chrono harvesting. In Zinccastle, where basic education is required for all by law, people report suffering school-based dream-terrors quite regularly. Most often, they can't find their way to class, or they're forced to retake difficult classes, because their credits were retroactively declared invalid after they graduated. But other situations aren't as universal as school. Some people are fortunate enough to earn jobs that they enjoy, as soon as they enter the workforce. A few – the Nobles – are wealthy enough that they never have to work at all. So, a workplace scenario might not be as effective for feeding the Tree."

>Billy, Zamrud, Qhapaq

"I shudder to think what students who were wealthy and well-connected enough to gain admission to Agape would be armed with," Godspeed says. "Get along nicely with your classmates– and never agree to meet them in a dark alleyway."

She checks the time, and stands up as well. "Right. I'll be off, myself then. I'd offer you luck, but I've fought alongside you before. Your skill and determination will see you through these midterms."


Zamrud nods in agreement with Godspeed. "Quite so… in fact, while I would normally never recommend this in a place of learning, knowing how seriously some of your fellow students might take advancement in this academy it might be good to have a plan in case you have to defend yourself. Something small you can conceal, would be ideal… and provided you know when not to use it."

As Godspeed stands up, Zamrud nods. "I feel I may retire to my office as well. My escapades this evening have put me a tad behind on my papers I need to grade…"


"Mmm. I think I would be fine- unlike most students, I do not need my equipment with me to be dangerous." He remarks, shrugging a little. He dips his head lightly in thanks, ruffling his wings and saying. "Thank you, Godspeed. I appreciate the confidence."


Good took up the pencil and worked on the free response questions, taking advantage of the lightened workload. He took another cookie for himself as he worked.


"That does make me think that this place is more hyperbolic and could have been another's dream or perspective on this school. Though I don't know if this train of thought could help us." Billy falls sullen.


"Someone else's dream…?" Godspeed repeats. "Hmm… you know, I wouldn't discount that train of thought just yet. We don't have the time to tell or test it right now, but keep that idea on the shelf nearby for when midterms are done and dusted.

With that, Godspeed departs, and the cafeteria closes up, leaving you with precious little time before the curfew. Then, on the next Cycle, midterms await…

>timeskip to midterms available


>Ready for Skip!


Zamrud chuckles as Qhapaq points out his martial prowess. "Yes, an upside to being proficient in the martial arts, it seems. You're never far from your weapon. Me, on the other hand, I prefer to have a rifle or grenade on standby."

He waves goodnight to his students, and makes his way to his office to finish up his paper-work. When he gets back to his dorm, he checks his closet to see what equipment may lie in wait, seeing what he could discretely carry around school….

>Ready for Timeskip


"I will try my best to do so. Thank you for your time." Billy bows his head down as Godspeed takes his leave.

>Ready for Skip


Good continues his rodent strats to speedrun school.

>Ready to skip


All of your equipment from your time previously spent in the Outlands is there, in your closet. It's tucked away, largely out of sight, and divided into many different drawers, shelves and boxes, the contents meticulously organized, like with like, as if your housekeeper had a tendency toward the obsessive-compulsive. Yet, not any of it is missing.

You retire for the evening, to get as much rest as you possibly can, before you must meet the dreadful trials that await you…

Though your sleep could have been better, you arise, finding notifications upon your phones. They contain your midterm schedules. As Zamrud can attest, it was a trial in and of itself to coordinate with the other faculty as to when each midterm can be held, so as to avoid overlap. In fact, some of the faculty report having been bribed or threatened by their students, so as to deliberately cause such overlaps in the interest of sabotaging said students' rivals. The teachers do not seem to have acted on those bribes, for no overlaps exist… but whether they deceitfully accepted the bribes is a question they won't answer.

That tangent aside, once you've got your schedules, you begin to formulate a personal schedule for yourselves, maps to and from different lecture halls, space for breaks where you can decompress, and all the other necessities of life…


This is it. Failure here means expulsion from the school life. Back into the Outlands, perhaps…? Well, who can say what judgement the Tree of Evil shall render. Herb's group informs you that they did not fail any tests so far, out of fear of death, or far worse. The Tree is an Outlands phenomenon, after all…

Now, it would be quite a dreadful thing to actually render to you, dear reader, the exact details of these tests. So perhaps it is best conveyed through a metaphor… of violent, bloody combat.


>Declare all your classes, and divide yourselves into two battle groups.
>Each battle group will face off against all the midterms corresponding to the classes that the members of that battle group are taking.
>If multiple members of the same battle group are taking the same class, they will get a +(x-1) bonus to attacks targeting that class's midterm. IE, 3 members in the same class means a bonus of +2 to attacks.
>Each battle group can only damage its own midterms. However, each battle group can use support skills on the other battle group.
>Each battle group can take one (1) NPC ally with them.


Allies available:

>Herb: Bard

>Lone Star: Knight
>Locomotive: Tracker
>Origami: Paladin

>Ride or Die: Cleric

>Assembly: Smith
>Bet: Necromancer
>Gimmel: Rogue
>Dorya: Alchemist


>Classes: Alchemist, History
>Battle Group 2


>Classes: Math, History
>Battle Group 2


>Classes Math, History
>Battle group 2


>Battle Group 2 NPC: Ride or Die


>Classes: PE, Computers, History
>Battle Group 1


Zamrud notices his arsenal is completely intact, and decides to pocket a few grenades that he could conceal discretely in his coat. Just in case one of his students has a grudge with a low grade on his latest report…

Zamrud prepares himself mentally for the upcoming trials of midterms, hoping he's put his students (and especially his companions) through as much training as necessary to handle the rigorous tests they're about to face.

>Classes: Chemistry, Math

>Battle group 1


Classes PE, Computer, History
Battlegroup: 1

Taking Herb


*switching to Battle Group 2 if Billy agrees


Moving to group 1


After exchanging one last round of well-wishes, you turn off your phones, sip the last of your coffee, tea, energy drink, whatever your poison– and descend straight into the harrowing of this academic Hell.


Battle Group 1: Billy, Qhapaq, Good Intentions
Computers (x2), Physical Education (x2), History (x3), Alchemy (x1)
NPC: Herb

Battle Group 2: Deadweight, Lost Hope, Zamrud
Math (x3), History (x2), Chemistry (x1),
NPC: Ride or Die

Respond to this post either with a ready confirmation, or any last-second revisions desired.


I am fine to go


Confirmed ready to take the tests




>Good Ready to go


Lesbo 2 Checking in


Somewhere, somehow, two curtains rise upon two stages.

The stages face one another, across a gulf of seats. From the perspective of those standing upon each stage, the seats – each one empty – face their own stage, and not the other.

Herb gasps, eyes darting back and forth. "D-did I walk into the wrong hall?"

He didn't, of course, yet he's here, standing beside Billy, Qhapaq and Good Intentions. Upon the other stage are Deadweight, Lost Hope and Professor Zamrud, as well as Ride or Die, who looks equally confused.


To the lot of you, this scenery hardly strikes you as being something worth commenting on. There's a certain mundane regularity to it, akin to how a dreamer finds the setting of their dream rather ordinary, at least until they wake up and think back.

Neither Herb nor Ride have much time to wonder or protest before more figures descend upon the stage. Peculiar monsters, wrought of metal fused with flesh, animated by wires that stretch up into the catwalks. The wielders of the wires hide behind the blinding stage-lights.

Wherever this is, whatever this is– now, you've got to fight.


>BG 1

Computers charges a spell!

>Homing Magic: Lightning


Physical Education lunges at Good Intentions!



History puts a curse on Qhapaq!



Alchemy follows-up against Qhapaq!

>Alchemist's Fire


Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9 / Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8 / Roll #3 1 + 2 = 3 / Roll #4 3 + 2 = 5


>BG 2

Math paper-cuts Deadweight!



History tries to take out Zamrud!



Chemistry throws a mysterious can at Lost Hope!

>Animal Swarm


>I forgot to roll for Herb and Ride

Herb (6/6) rallies the troops!



Ride (5/7) takes a swing at Chemistry!

>Basic Attack


Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10 / Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7 / Roll #3 2 + 2 = 4 / Roll #4 2 + 2 = 4 / Roll #5 8 + 1 = 9


"Oh sh—" Deadweightleaps into the air to avoid Math's deadly attack and pulls from her side a claymore (where did that come from?) to swipe at the foe.

>Dodge, +1 bonus pegasus flight

>Basic attack, crit 9+, crit fail 2-



Roll #1 3 = 3 / Roll #2 5 = 5


>Starting H/W: 11/8


Qhapaq nods a little bit to Herb- with how things to be shaping up, he definitely wishes he had his mask back- he doesn't like fighting much without it.

Qhapaq decides to go for the two targeting him- hoping that his allies can handle Physical Education and Computers, instead lunging for History and slamming him into the ground with an angered screech!
>Suppress: [1d10+3]

Roll #1 8 + 3 = 11


Zamrud looks aghast as he finds himself upon the stage, despite being a teacher he's utterly unfamiliar with the surprising manner in which Agape Academy seems ready to deliver their tests. Feeling himself imagine this battlefield might be something of a metaphor, the battle of wits betwixt the teachers' tests and the students they challenge with them, but he has little time to grasp the meta-nature of their battle as History tries to do him in.

He begins with analyzing his enemy, and preparing some quick salves on the fly in case either he or the others should need healing…

>Appraise: instant; Determine the number of remaining hits and wounds on an enemy or possibly a weakness. More powerful enemies may be harder to Appraise. Out of combat, quickly determine value of objects, study mechanisms and documents, size up other beings, etc,.


>Distill Life: recharge 2, spell; Create three Health Potions that restore 3 hits each, and on Crit also restore one wound. You may distribute these freely to nearby party members on cast, at any time after. Consuming a potion is an Instant Automatic action. Non-Alchemists can only hold one Health Potion at a time.


Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6 / Roll #2 2 = 2


>If it's not too late, I use the Tactician skill and declare the number 4


Billy attempts attempts to grapple with the alchemy assessment. Attempting to use it against the other problems. Take this cross referencing!

>Sentry: passive, recharge 4; You can declare one action you make to be Automatic instead of rolling.

>animal husbandry (Fight With Your Enemies):instant automatic, recharge 5 after effect ends; The coolest thing most of your enemies will ever see. Whenever you render a foe smaller than you helpless, you can use this to equip them as a weapon with no properties to replace your current weapon. All successful attacks you make will also deal damage to who you are wielding. If you become helpless, Critfail, or the “weapon” makes a successful roll to recover from helplessness, this effect immediately ends.

>animal husbandry (Bear Hug): passive; Bear hugs are the strongest grip known to ponykind. Your arms are like a vice-grip, anything you grab, unless it’s bigger than you, has no chance of escaping. You also lift, carry and move heavier objects than most other races.


Carrying his problems with him, Billy strikes out against history, more confident in his strength than the stories presented by the dream.


-Cavalier (Lone Knight):You fight by yourself. You have a Bonus Action every turn for basic attacks only. You have +2 Max Hits and +1 Max Wounds. All Doctrines from Cavalier apply to you.

Roll #1 2 = 2


You suffer a nasty papercut! Not deep, but the sheer harsh sting is enough to be life-threatening!

>Lose 5 Hits, suffer Bleed for the next 2 turns

Your mind is awash with the dull throbbing of excess studying. As you fall helpless, you learn something of your foe…

>History [BG2], 6/6

>Can use 1-point and 2-point Necromancer and Smith skills
>Suffers 1.5x damage when specifically targeting the bulbs in its face. This can be invoked up to 4 times (note: a failed roll doesn't count against this limit).

You rush down your attacker (who will henceforth be labeled with [BG1] for distinction) and turn its lunge into a throw!

>History [BG1] 0/5

You take hold of Alchemy, and try to weaponize it, but its odd distribution of weight, owing to its oversized head and long neck, make it an unruly weapon. While it can't break free, it manages to take some bites out of you in protest.

>Alchemy 0/4

>Billy 3/6

>will complete next time


>Turn 2
"Ah, damn!" Deadweight exclaims, shaking the hoof that got cut. She then charges at the paper mass, hoping to do some damage to it.

>Slam, crits on 9+, +2 bonus for talent

>Basic attack

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9 / Roll #2 6 = 6


As Zamrud falls, he rolls out of the way to a safer spot where he won't impede the others progress, a slight tactical retreat as he fully analyzes History's weak points.

He turns to shout to Dead Weight and Lost Hope, warning them both as he points to one of the two Histories, "The bulbs on its face! Aim for those, they're a vulnerable spot!"

[1d10] Rise from helpless

Roll #1 10 = 10


Lost took the chance to summon a set of burnt orange claws as she lunged at the beast, attempting to shred chemistry to bits now

[1d10+2] Rupture

Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4


Good aims one of his Singularity shots at the Phys Ed monster that was attacking him, trying to pin the beast in place.

[1d10] Singularity shot
[1d10] Dodge attack

Roll #1 8 = 8 / Roll #2 8 = 8


As he gets up, Zamrud also thinks to look at Chemistry, seeing what his particular subject's strong and weak points were
[1d10+1] Appraise (Instant)

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8


Qhapaq lifts History up and hurls it at Physical Education!
>Mighty Throw: [1d10+2]

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7


Bearing a stubborn attitude, Billy continues holding a grip onto Alchemy. Making few more swings again.


Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 7 = 7


>Battle Group 1

You juke PE's attempted strike, and retaliate with a gravitational bolt. It floats and revolves around the axis of the bolt, unable to get at you further!

Qhapaq flings History [BG1] into the gravitational field, pinning it against PE!
>History 0/4
>PE 0/7

The two try to get disentangled before taking too much damage…

[2d10+1] helpless recovery

You bonk Alchemy on the ground, dealing serious damage!

>Alchemy 0/2

Alchemy tries to get free…

[1d10+1] helpless recovery

>Battle Group 2

You knock down Math, and the papers scatter as it tries to get away from you!

[1d10+1] recovery from helpless

You manage to knock away the strange… soda can? that Chemistry threw your way, and Ride uses the opening to land a punch on one of the two shrimp that comprise Chemistry's form. Chemistry grabs another can, shakes it, and splashes it at you!

>Raze: recharge 5, spell; Unleash pure, unfiltered magic that burns away at a target. This skill always counts as a success, except on Crit Fail, and deals # hits. This can never Crit. On Crit Fail, instead of falling helpless immediately you roll again, this time dealing # hits to yourself but leaving you with a DC3 for recovering if you fall helpless.


>Chemistry, 3/7
>Can use 1-point and 2-point Shaman and Summoner skills
>Automatically loses 2 Wounds if: Their attacker takes a soda can from the machine, drinks it, rolls 1d2, and rolls a 2. If the attacker rolls a 1, the attacker loses 1 Wound instead.

>Herb and Ride

Herb's mane and tail ignite, as he gives a threatening glare to History [BG1]!



Ride punches out History [BG2]!

>Basic Attack



Roll #1 2, 8 + 1 = 11 / Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4 / Roll #3 4 + 1 = 5 / Roll #4 2 + 2 = 4 / Roll #5 7 + 2 = 9 / Roll #6 4 + 1 = 5


Computers launches 4 bolts of lightning at Qhapaq!

[4d10+2] Homing Magic

History [BG2] uses another dark spell on Zamrud!

[1d10+2] Lifestream

Roll #1 9, 4, 8, 9 + 2 = 32 / Roll #2 1 + 2 = 3


Good opted to fire a magic bolt at the PE beast as it seamed to be quite potent.

[2d10] Magic Bolt Gravity (Rolling 2 taking best)

Roll #1 1, 1 = 2


>Turn 3
"Got it!" Deadweight says to Zamrud. She bucks Math one more time for good measure before zipping over to History to hit its bulbs.

>Basic attack

>Basic attack 2: something some-aloo

Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 6 = 6


In a fervor Billy takes to swinging Alchemy once again, but in a charge against PE.


Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 8 = 8


Back up and at it again, Zamrud gets to running and decides to focus fire on the Histories along with Deadweight, also focusing on its bulbs as he prepares a inflammatory concoction to hurl at him next (targeting BG2)

-Alchemist Fire: recharge 1, ranged; Concoct a flame that produces virulent smoke and can latch onto anything, even water. Deals damage and gives +1 to all skills against that target next turn. On Crit this has the Fire Elementalist effect.

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9


For lack of something else to do, Qhapaq brings his arms up and braces himself- one of the four is better than blocking none of the four.
>Sentry: Automatic Action Block (Bolt 1)


Lost moved to evade the attack as best she could, lunging in with two strikes to try and bring it down.

[1d10] Dodge
[1d10] Dual Strike
[1d10] Dual Strike

Roll #1 1 = 1 / Roll #2 7 = 7 / Roll #3 6 = 6


As Good tries to press the advantage against PE, the Computer beast catches him in the volleys it flings at Qhapaq, dealing serious damage!

>Good 0/4

>Qhapaq 0/4

Merciless, Computers prepares another volley against Qhapaq!

[2d10+2] Magic Bolt

PE manages to break free of the gravitational orb, but Herb's deadly glare paralyzes it in its tracks, allowing you to send it flying with Alchemy!

>Alchemy 0/1

>PE 0/5

>PE recovery


Deadweight manages to put more hits onto Math, before joining Zamrud in a dual attack on Histories! Two of the machine's glass bulbs explode as it hits the ground, burning and smoking!

>Math 0/3

>History 0/4

The two try to recover…


You land strikes on both of the shrimp, but they manage to spray you head-on with the can! You feel woozy and stumble to the ground. Whatever that is, it isn't soda…

>Lost 0/5

>Chemistry 0/6

Chemistry tries to recover.



Herb tries to take down Computers!
[1d10+2] Cheap Shot

Ride turns to face the far stage, and heals Good!
[1d10+2] Heal

Roll #1 1, 10 + 2 = 13 / Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8 / Roll #3 2, 10 + 1 = 13 / Roll #4 9 + 1 = 10 / Roll #5 8 + 2 = 10 / Roll #6 2 + 2 = 4


Lost moved to get up herself with a pained hiss.


Roll #1 4 = 4


Good cried out in agony as he tried to push himself to get back up.


Roll #1 10 = 10


>Turn 4
Deadweight lands one more hit on History before she sees Lost fall. "Lost!" She gallops to her to help her up.

>Recover Lost

>Bonus attack on History, +4 bonus from Tactician


>Recover Lost
>Bonus attack on History, +4 bonus from Tactician

Roll #1 1 = 1 / Roll #2 9 + 4 = 13


While the History he struck is reeling from having two of its bulbs broken, and helpless as a result, Zamrud takes out his rifle (safely procured from his closet beforehand) and aims a shot directly at the third point, intending to snipe it through and take out one of the subjects

[1d10+2] (+1 for special talent against appraised targets, +1 for alchemist's fire effect)
>Fault Point: recharge 3, weapon; You can notice the imperfections in anything from your years of crafting. Strike at a foes gear, either their weapon or armor, abusing these faults to weaken them and applying a stack of Faulty. Each stack lowers the quality of a weapon by 1 or lowers the damage reduction a foe has by 1 on armor. Once the gear reaches 3 stacks it will be destroyed. On Crit, or when the gear is broken, this will deal damage (Damage on break will be based on the roll that applied the 3rd stack). Can be used out of combat to break most average materials.

Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8


Billy pursues his target with his enemy in hand, confident that brute strength able to handle any and all diplomatic issues.


Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 5 = 5


>Recovery Roll! Hopefully! [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1




As Billy slays Alchemy, you feel a dread rumbling building within the twin-stage theater… the other Tests before you grow stronger!

As you try to rise, the magic bolt blows apart the very boards of the stage before you, launching you end over end until you collide against one of the metal supports of the catwalk above!

>Qhapaq 0/1

Computers attempts to charge another spell…

>Marksman Shot vs. Billy


You land another hit on PE before it shoves you back. Alchemy, at this point, is truly dead. Up until a mere moment ago, it was doubtlessly a real and living monster. Yet now, it's nothing more than a theater prop made of metal and plastic, and seems as if it had never been anything but that.

>PE 8/4

PE takes a swing at you!

[1d10+3] Slam

History [BG1] remembers that it's in this fight and goes to punch you!

[1d10+2] Basic Attack

You pile the hits onto History, and steam and electricity erupt from its body as its damage compounds, but the surge of dread power in the theater keeps it going – for now!

>History [BG2] 6/1

It takes a wild swing at Deadweight and Zamrud!

[1d10+3] Hot Irons, Cleaving 2

Chemistry adds on, throwing a can of soda right at Zamrud's head!

[1d10+2] Basic attack

As Deadweight runs toward where Lost lies, a soda can rolls their way, bulging like it's about to expl–

Deadweight goes flying, launched by the soda grenade.

>Deadweight 1/8

>Lost 0/4, DC to recover 5


Herb uses Inspire

Ride uses Healing Bonds on Lost, Qhapaq and Good

Roll #1 4 + 3 = 7 / Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8 / Roll #3 10 + 2 = 12 / Roll #4 10 + 3 = 13 / Roll #5 5 + 2 = 7 / Roll #6 1 + 2 = 3 /


Good forced himself to evade the lunge by History as he tried to throw another magic bolt at him.

[1d10] Dodge
[2d10] Taking Best ) Magic bolt gravity

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 5, 6 = 11


"Get up you stupid mare." she barked at herself trying to get up.

[1d10] Get up

Roll #1 3 = 3


Deadweight gets up with a groan. She shakes herself off and runs to Lost's aid.

>Recover Lost


Roll #1 4 = 4


Billy meet PE right in the middle, he charges right back at it, in the hope to overpower the monster before him.

Slam: recharge 1; Crush an enemy with your body, dealing damage. Crits on 9+.

-Martial Defender: passive; You gain 3 Max Hits, and Slam Crits on 8+.

[1d10] Slam
[1d10] Basic attack

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 3 = 3


Zamrud turns and looks to see History, now on its last legs but still very much a threat, taking a wide swing that will hit both himself and Deadweight. Fearing Deadweight will take more of a hit in her compromised position, he quickly moves to help her up and get them out of the way of the swing

[1d10] Attempt to help Deadweight recover

Roll #1 9 = 9


>MLPG cut off Ride's roll (which was supposed to be #7 but I miscounted. So in order, the rolls are Marksman Shot, Slam, Basic Attack, Hot Irons, Basic Attack, and Inspire).

>re-rolling Ride's Healing Bonds [1d10+2]

Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12


>using the 9 from this roll instead on Zamrud using 'Alchemist's Fire' on History, intending to wipe it out with a well placed flame grenade on its last bulb


With a well-tossed bomb, Zamrud annihilates the History Test before its catastrophic attack can land. History lands a short distance away, appearing now to be a somewhat ramshackle theater prop, made of little more than cardboard, papier mache, PVC and love. Gone is the strange mechanical monster that plagued you until now.

>Lost fully healed

But as you ponder this, Chemistry beans Zamrud in the head with a soda can, and he's knocked down.

>Zamrud 0/3

Math and Chemistry turn their sights on Deadweight and Lost!

>Basic Attacks, in order


PE shoves you backwards, right into the path of Computers' attack! You're knocked down with a searing burn on your side.

>Billy 0/5

>Qhapaq 8/3

History [BG1] pummels Good, but Good manages to pull History away with another gravitational shot.

>History [BG1] 3/4

As Good stumbles backwards, Qhapaq catches him, setting him upright.

>Good 7/5

But a moment later, Qhapaq also has to catch Herb, smoking and burnt, having suffered Computers's vicious counterattack.

The Tests stare you down, sizing you up before their next offensive…

>Herb helpless this turn

Ride aids Qhapaq again!

>Bolster, automatic

Roll #1 5, 5 + 2 = 12


Lost moved to dodge and weave the attacks, and end the annoying soda can pelter with a proper slash.

[1d10+2] Rupture
[1d10] dodge

Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6 / Roll #2 5 = 5


Good grunted and used his spell Resonenence to fire another singularity in between to hold the tests in place again.

>Spell Resonance:instant automatic, recharge 3, spell; The next spell you cast is automatic, provided you have used it earlier in this combat.

>Singularity shot


Just need to pull yourself up now!

>Recovery roll? [1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10


"Appreciate you, Docent Zamrud," Deadweight says. She attempts to dodge Math's attack and return the favor with a counterattack.

>Dodge, +1 bonus pegasus flight

>Basic attack on Math

Roll #1 2 = 2 / Roll #2 7 = 7


Zamrud grips his paw in victorious satisfaction as he sees his explosive pop the History Test, looking on surprise as he sees its apparent true form made up of cardboard and PVC. "Ah… the production values on this test truly are something else…"

His admiration costs him as the soda-can beans him squarely in the head, causing him to fall over and rub his temples in agony, "AGH! Clumsy, Zamrud…"

[1d10] To get up

Roll #1 7 = 7


Billy bounces to hooves and rushes headfirst back at the PE monster.

Combat Talent: [Headbutt]; recharge 2, instant; Slam your horns into an enemy and send them reeling. Knocks an enemy helpless on success, dealing 5-(X-5) damage to yourself as well.


Roll #1 10 = 10


>Using Appraise with his instant action to determine the stats of the last foe they face, Math


Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11


>Apparently at 8/3
Qhapaq gently sets Herb down- smoked herbs aren't really his preference- before trying to clobber History over the head again
>Slam: [1d10+2]

Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5


You're hit, but you manage to crash-land onto Math to keep it occupied for a turn.

>Deadweight 0/7

>Math 5/3
>If Math is completely ignored – not attacked, dodged, blocked, debuffed, or otherwise acknowledged – for three consecutive turns, it will automatically die

You beat up the shrimp that's been throwing around soda cans. As it goes to grab another one, the machine seems to break, so the shrimp stops to pop it open and have a look at what the problem might be.

>Chemistry 0/5

Billy and Good put their heads together – Good throws down another gravitational pin, while Billy charges at PE! PE tries to brace itself for impact, but Billy's not screwing around this time, and the attack is enough to knock it into Computers! The two are caught in the gravitational well again, uunable to act!

>PE 0/3

>Computers 0/6

History shrugs off Qhapaq's strike, and readies a counter-attack!

[1d10+3] Hot Irons, Cleaving 3

Roll #1 7 + 3 = 10


>forgot Ride's action

Ride scoops up two of the "sodas" that the shrimp's been throwing around, and double-fists them!


Roll #1 2, 2 = 4


>Chemistry, 0/5

>Automatically loses 2 Wounds if: Their attacker takes a soda can from the machine, drinks it, rolls 1d2, and rolls a 2. If the attacker rolls a 1, the attacker loses 1 Wound instead.

>Chemistry goes to 0/1


Good moved to fire another magic bolt, this time at Computers, using more gravity magic to keep it thrown off.

[2d10] Magic Bolt

Roll #1 6, 3 = 9


Lost intends to put that Shrimp on the barbie as she moves to skewer chemistry

[1d10] dual attack 1
[1d10] dual attack 2

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 1 = 1


"Oof!" Deadweight grunts as she collides with the number riddled papers. She tries to get herself back up.



Roll #1 2 = 2


As he rises back up, Zamrud, now having analyzed Math as a subject, warns the others.

"Focus everything we have on Chemistry! If it is utterly ignored, it will self destruct, do not even acknowledge it!" He says as he prepares another alchemical grenade of flame to throw on Chemistry

[1d10+1] (+1 to appraised targets)
Alchemist's Fire

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


Leaning over, Billy grabs onto the leg of the computer, lifting it up and slamming the monster against the downed PE.

animal husbandry (Fight With Your Enemies):instant automatic, recharge 5 after effect ends; The coolest thing most of your enemies will ever see. Whenever you render a foe smaller than you helpless, you can use this to equip them as a weapon with no properties to replace your current weapon. All successful attacks you make will also deal damage to who you are wielding. If you become helpless, Critfail, or the “weapon” makes a successful roll to recover from helplessness, this effect immediately ends.

Grappler: passive; Trained in melee and close quarters combat, you overpower foes easily in such situations. You have +1 to all rolls when making non-combat actions to grapple, subdue, restrain, or in any way preventing a target from moving with your own body. You can apply this bonus in combat to remove an enemy from combat without killing them, but only when they’re the only enemy in their zone and helpless, or on very low health.


Roll #1 6 = 6


>Sentry: Automatic Block
Not looking to be knocked flat again, Qhapaq braces himself!


The Shrimps decide, under the hail of your attacks, that this is all a bit too much trouble to deal with. They unplug the soda machine, load it onto a dolly, and wheel it away stage left, leaving the battlefield. They run over Deadweight's tail on the way out, pulling out some hairs.

"Just ignore… it?" Ride asks, not even mentioning the name Math lest that violate Zamrud's warning. He glances at the other stage across from you. "Hmm… then they could use help, but I am wary of the chasm between this stage and that one. Should we hazard the journey?"

The big stack of Math homework tries to paper-cut Deadweight while she's down!

[1d10+2] Backstab

>Math on 1/3 ignored turns

Billy crushes PE beneath the weight of the Computer robot while Good pelts it with his gravitational magic! With the focus on Computers, PE attempts to sneak away…

[1d10+1] helplessness recovery

>PE 0/2

>Comps 0/4

History crosses both arms, preparing to swipe the lot of you off the stage, but Qhapaq lunges in, arms crossed himself, and meets History in the middle, so to speak. History's swipe stops dead before it can even swing out! The two break away, leaping back.

With its grand attack thwarted, History tries to free its allies by breaking up Billy's rampage instead!



Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #3 3 + 3 = 6


"Alright, professor!"

"Ow! What gives?" Deadweight yells indignantly at the crustaceans. She tries to get back up.



Roll #1 10 = 10


>Basic attack, Lone Knight

Roll #1 2 = 2


Zamrud notices how Chemistry is taken out entirely, and Math is now their only remaining adversary. "Hrmmm… would have been more useful if I had analyzed that one earlier…"

He turns to look at Ride or Die, "I think it's worth the effort to assist the others… but seeing as how we only have one test left, it seems it would be easier to find a way over that chasm without it hounding us." He says, turning his attention to Math and disregarding his own advice

>Last attack was instead fired towards Math


"No! Leave him be!" Qhapaq shouts, raking his claws across History's chest!
>Dual Wielding: [1d10+1] [1d10+1]
>Lightclaw: Instant [1d10+1]

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7 / Roll #3 4 + 1 = 5


Lost was a bit confused but seeing dead hurt, she had to resist the urge to lunge at the papers, and seeing everyone else is, does so too.

[1d10] dual strike 1
[1d10] dual strike 2

Roll #1 8 = 8 / Roll #2 10 = 10


Good opted to try and rush in, inuring himself as he moved to assist with history.

[1d10] Inure

Roll #1 6 = 6


Billy follows along with more strikes at the monster with computer in hand.



Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 5 = 5


>Deadweight 11/6

Math takes a dreadful bite out of Deadweight, but she scampers away behind Lost before too much damage can be done. You then gang up on the endless stack of knife-sharp papers, scattering them all around the stage!

>Math 0/2

Math tries to regain itself, while Ride nods, ignites his fists, and goes in for the slam!

>Wrath vs. Math


>Math recovery roll


PE manages to get back up, but the robot's on its last legs.

>PE 6/1

Before Billy can finish the job, History blasts him across the arena with a powerful spell, which sets Computers free in the process.

>Billy 0/4

>Computers 0/3

>rolling for recovery


Then, History and Qhapaq exchange strikes, before the former warms up for another wild swing!

>Qhapaq 7/3

>History 1/4

>Hot Irons, cleaving 3


Herb rallies the troops!

[1d10+2] Inspire

Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7 / Roll #3 2 + 1 = 3 / Roll #4 2 + 3 = 5 / Roll #5 6 + 2 = 8


Billy curses the monstrous history out loud for such a cheap shot. He flails around and pushes himself to get back up at the creatures.


Roll #1 10 = 10


Good snapped to and fired another Singularity at PE to finally put the pain in the ass down.

[1d10] Singularity shot.

His gun similarly took a shot at PE, wanting to end it's existence and free them up a bit.

[1d10] Light gun shot

Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 3 = 3


Lost continues her murderous hatred of numerals as she tried to make it bleed.

[1d10+2] Rupture

Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8


Zamrud readies another fiery grenade to lob at the prone mathematics test, intent on burning its pages to a cinder, "Everyone, keep on the pressure! Pass this test and we'll see if we can assist the others!"

[1d10+1] Alchemist's Fire

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2


While History winds up to swing, Qhapaq tackles him to the ground and pins him to the floor with an angry screech!
>Suppress: [1d10+1]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11


>Crit: Smashing into Computers!


Billy comes up swinging, his attacks finding the computers right next to him with the one two!



Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 5 = 5


Deadweight looks back and smirks at Lost. "Thanks." She tries to land one more hit on the mess of papers.

>Slam, crits on 9+, +2 bonus for talent

>Basic attack

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7 / Roll #2 10 = 10



The stage erupts into a great melee of metal and man, while Herb calls out actions and attack names from the sidelines! But soon the brawl rolls his way, sucking him in!

>Enemies effectively smoked, feel free to describe your finishing move now

Things go a little less smoothly on this side. Zamrud succeeds on igniting a great quantity of the stack of math papers, but the math-beast uses this to its advantage, spreading far and wide while burning, catching Ride and Zamrud in a great inferno. As those two run about and try to extinguish themselves, Deadweight and Lost cut up enough of the papers into little ribbons, which burn themselves out before they can do too much damage.

>Zamrud 0/4

With that, however… the last of your tests have been finished.


Lost sighed and flumped onto her side panting "I hate this school! The foods not nearly good enough for the emotional trauma." she whined.


Grabbing History and gripping him tightly, the griffon spreads his strangely-colored wings and shoots into the air with a jet of mutation-enhanced wind. Once he's gotten enough air he spins around and dive-bombs, slamming History into his allies head-first!


Using the singularity to correct his shot, the scion of House Titanite slayed his physically fit and educated foe with his mastery of tech and gravity, a combo he had grown to rely on. He kissed his wrist comp and his gun affectionately.


"Woo!" Deadweight exclaims before falling on her rump. "Looks like this problem's… been solved," she says, crossing her forelegs in front of her and turning to the unseen camera with a smirk.

"Ahhh… piece of cake," Deadweight says. The shape she's in would suggest that it was a little more than a piece of cake, though.


Lost shuffled across the floor without getting up of her side to get close to Weighty.


Deadweight lets a smile escape and uncrosses her forelegs to bring Lost closer to her.


Zamrud groans as the fiery inferno of paper shrapnel knocks him prone, patting out small sparks on his coat before they can spread any further, but looks relieved at the tests having been completely defeated.

He looks to Lost Hope and Deadweight, nodding towards them, "Yes, as a professor of Chemistry myself, I think I can safely say you two passed with flying colors. I'm certain your Math and History teachers will concur. Well done." He says, standing up and looking to Ride or Die

"Are we able to see how the others are faring?"


Billy in his joy crushes the creature, swinging it to and fro, rending it from limb and body.


"Thanks, Docent Zamrud. Couldn't have done it without your help," Deadweight says with a nod back and still holding Lost.


She snuggled into her getting comfy.

She gave Zamrud a lazy nod and a yawn


Ride looks out at the far stage, and gives Herb a thumbs-up. Herb, lacking thumbs himself, picks up PE's severed arm and improvises a thumbs-up out of that.

Yet, not too long after your victory, the lights on the stages flicker off, one by one. You hear the rustling of thick velvet, as the unseen staff lower the curtains. As the velvet touches the floor of the stage, your consciousness swims… then fades…

And, not long afterward, each of you comes to, stumbling in a stupor from the lecture-hall, the laboratory, the conventional classroom, and even from the gymnasium. Your eyes and brains are as sore as the muscles in your necks and backs from having bent over papers for so long. Only a faint spark of realization animates you – the knowledge that whatever test it was you just took, it was the last one for awhile.


Despite the stupors you have been left in, you manage to claw yourselves over to the Team Boreal dorm, where it seems that your allies have all managed to meet… despite Ride's team being of Dorm Austral. It looks like the enmity between the two Teams has been put on armistice for now, out of respect for those who survived the midterms.

Your allies are too exhausted to talk, splayed out wherever they can find free space. La Senorita's passing out cups of horchata, despite the deep circles under her eyes.


Good, feeling chipper despite it all, moved to help Senorita, taking a cup for himself before doing his best to assist her work.


Qhapaq shakes his head a little to try and clear it, and grabs his mug to look inside it. It might be something he's had before, but even if he hasn't he'll drain it anyways. "Mmm… I, ah. Think we did well, then?"


"Quite a different test than I imagined. I don't remember any kind of test being like that." Billy leans back staring up in the air at nothing.


Deadweight just blinks repeatedly, staring at nothing in particular. When she's presented with a cup of horchata, she wakes from her stupor and takes it with a "Thanks." She sips on it and hums, "Mm!" before gulping it down.


Lost grabbed herself a cup and found a nice soft class mate to use as a pillow. She was beyond asking right now.


Was her pillow


Zamrud similarly moves slowly, lethargically to the nearest empty chair, intending to plant himself and exhale. "If this is how difficult it is to simply grade these tests, I can hardly imagine how it feels for those who have to take them…" He groans, stretching in his chair and popping out a few parts of his back as he happily takes the horchata provided by Senorita. "Thank you."

He laps it up at a leisurely pace, looking to everyone as he raises his glass, "If I may… a toast. To a successful midterms! Let us never need go through such difficulties for another three months, at least…"


Deadweight looks down, seeing that Lost has claimed her as a pillow. She then decides to claim her as a table and puts her cup of horchata on her head.


Trajan crawls out of his designated pocket, and settles down on a high and secluded place in the room, where La Senorita puts his horchata in a dish with a low rim.

The shadow rodent, however – tentatively named Dexter, last we recall – bounces off your shoulder into the room. No matter how chipper you're feeling, it pales to Dexter's enthusiasm. He runs this way and that over the room with seemingly inexhaustible energy. Once the others get over the shock of seeing a shadow rodent in their midst, they mostly tolerate his boundless vigor.

The others raise their glasses, half-muttering their lifeless cheers in response to Zamrud's toast.

Then, as Billy speaks, Herb's listless eyes light up at his remark. His gaze darts back and forth, as if he's not entirely sure if he heard right, or if he's just crazy… before he nods. "Yeah… I almost feel like I was in a real fight, y'know?"

Ride's eyebrow arches, and he slowly nods.


Good smiled at his two animal companions running around and enjoying themselves, only to hum at the others words.

"They did seem to be moving with a more… lethal purpose then I would have expected."


"I can't wait to get some shut-eye. I don't want another thought." Billy takes his spot down where he stands.


Zamrud suppresses a yawn, eager for a cat nap of his own as he nurses his drink. "An exhausted mind can feel as heavy as an exhausted body. Adrenaline pumps through you all the same whether you're in a fight or taking an exam, that the after-effects should feel similar aren't all too unusual. Still, all the more reason for us to take our time and relax. Classes will continue but for now, we should appreciate our accomplishment."

He rubs his chin, deep in thought. "We're all that much closer to 'graduation' now as a result… still so many mysteries about this Academy."


Lost was rather pensive at first before looking up at Deadweight "Glad you made it out safe Weighty."


"Hmm… when exactly did we pick this one up? I do not recognize her." He remarks, looking her over curiously.

Qhapaq offers a soft, sheepish smile, and pats at Zamrud's shoulder. "Mmm. One step closer."

"It did feel as such, yes. More than what I expected. Have any of you encountered such things before?"


Deadweight stifles a chuckle before Lost expresses her concern for her. She quickly picks the cup back up and replies, "Glad you did too, Lost. Those exams were killer," while stretching her neck.


Good cleared his throat a bit "She is my sister, or at least an illusion of her. I met her in a dream in the outlands, and I knew she was out here, but I do not know if this is truly her."


The others perk up more and more as Good and Qhapaq attest to the fight.

"Hold up…" Origami says. "You guys saw all that too!? I wasn't just going insane?"

As painful as it may be to work your tired brains more at this moment… you can certainly recall… quite a bit.

Endless test questions, page after page, sharpening pencils, rubbing down erasers, double-checking work…

And, simultaneously–

Being dropped upon a stage. Facing monsters fit for the Outlands. Swinging, dodging, shooting, falling, getting back up…

The two scenarios hang overlapping in your memories, as if the two scenarios unfolded simultaneously, as impossible as that is.


Qhapaq blinks, and looks the pony over…. if it's an illusion, he could probably see that, right?

"Do you think this is… some manner of test, for the Outlands?"


Zamrud is taken out of his stupor as the others seem to attest to his same strange experience - of actually fighting, literally, their exams as though their lives depended on it with every weapon at their disposal. But then, he also remembered conventionally grading exams as one normally would, so which then is the true memory he asks himself.

"It… knowing how this Academy functions, it may well have been both. We know it can already mess with our perceptions, what we know to be real as well as our memory. Perhaps it quite literally did involve such a trial and we simply… are having our our recollection altered."


"Huh?" Deadweight looks at them as if they grew a fifth leg. "I think you guys hit the books a little too hard…" she says before taking another sip of her horchata.


"That I do remember. Honestly though, I might have a preference for the physical arts over writing." Billy stretches himself out by leaning forward, letting out all the cricks. "Though it certainly isn't anything easy."


"So…." Origami begins, frowning as he ponders the implications of remembering both the tests and the battle. "If tests are the same as combat, then what's our homework? Or our pop quizzes? Is everything around here trying to kill us?"

Lone Star scoffs. "You'd better be careful taking notes in class. A formula might jump you or something."

Speaking of taking notes…


"Perhaps it is only the larger tests that feel like that? I do not feel like my studies felt like combat. They felt like… studies." He remarks, shrugging.


"I don't think everything is here to kill us." Billy begins scratching at his chin. "There in the theater it was a maze keeping people trapped. We are told there are other students who will kill us if we seek an advantage for test. There was a lecture on luck and time relativity, though I don't think that relates to direct danger."


Lost seemed to be thrown by the others odd reactions the others to their tests as well


I doubt that's entirely the case… maybe." he said glancing to Dexter now.


Deadweight's finished her cup of horchata and looks for La Senorita to get another cup. That stuff's good.


As Origami poses the question, Zamrud can't help but wonder… WERE they fighting all this time?

"I don't think the same applies to our tests or homework… for the most part, we are not nearly so exhausted after anything like that. No, if this is indeed something we experienced, I think it must be particular to the midterms. It would certainly fit given with how important they are, don't you agree?"

Taking a moment to recollect himself, Zamrud decides to take out Kirk's notebook, now curious if - with the Midterms complete - if anything had changed with it

Zamrud looks to Deadweight with a curious eye. "You do not have any such memory, Deadweight? Of fighting or of combat…?"


"Of course I remember that," Deadweight says as she tries to take another sip of her horchata, before coming to the sad realization that she ran out.


A paper airplane nails you in the ear. You look over and see the silhouette student, sitting nearby. Evidently a cheeky retort to your remark just now.

Dexter looks back at you from atop a shelf. You can trace the path he's taken through the room. Rather than leaving behind a trail of destruction, as most energetic pets would be wont to do, he's left behind a trail of organization. Stacked papers, sorted books, tidied tchotchkes.

The others nod, sharing a few minor anecdotes of their own from before the test– examples of perfectly ordinary college life, free of all dangers except social ones.

"That's a relief," Ride says. "Hopefully only our major tests will pose such a threat while we're here. Students have enough to worry about without also needing to fight for their lives."

Herb snorts. "You'd take issue with most anime, then."

"Actually…" Ride begins. For some reason he's now wearing swirly glasses.

But before this tangent can get away from us, Zamrud examines Kirk's notebook… and finds that a new set of pages have been filled in.


Herb's crew gathers in close as Zamrud flips through the new pages. While the first section of the notebook was kept orderly, this section's writing is much more dense. No lines are skipped, and in fact, there are several boxes drawn on the far side of the page, where it seems that Kirk – or whoever wrote these new pages – made another section of notes on the same page.

Another difference: The first section of the notebook was kept to calculus, but this section comprises many subjects, from chemistry, to business, to electrical engineering, history, architecture, poetry, dance– but most of all are the languages. Manedarin, Horspanol, Prench, Eqrussian, Mareabic, even less commonly spoken ones originating among giraffes, buffalo, griffons, and other peoples. If this notebook is to be taken as a record of Kirk's studies, he's taken on impossible number of classes.

Finally, in the latter half of this second section, the notes give way to pictures. Quite literally, in fact. The latter half's notes border on illegible, for each line's words and letters get scratchier, and then flatter, as they, upon the very page, give way to a landscape drawing. It depicts a loamy field of earth– out of which a great set of roots ascend. The roots ascend toward the far side of the page… but the next page is blank.

No more notes follow after that.


"What is this anime you speak of? Is there something similar to this in the deadlands?" Billy tilts his head looking to Herb.


Zamrud's eyes open wide as he sees the newest section of Kirk's notebook has manifest, turning through them along with Herb and the others as he looks through the new notes. "Remarkable! Just I'd hoped, the midterms have yield new clues for us…"

However, as he looks through them, his excitement soon turns to exhaustion. "Not that these are much more help than the previous section. If there is anything to discern from this newest section of Kirk's notebook, it's that he seemed to take many classes… Herb, do any of these subjects sound familiar, can you affirm if Kirk took all these classes? Particularly all these languages, he's quite lingual…"


Qhapaq warks a little as he's beaned with a paper airplane, looking around for the source… before blinking.

"Ah! I suppose mine have been more literal this entire time, yes. Unless it is something else you wish to add?" He asks, looking to the silhouette student.

"Ah… hrm. Then, we have more to discover now, yes? Are the roots in this image related to the tree, perhaps? Is it something else?"


Good perked up a bit at the anime mention. HE liked those. He began to slink over to Ride, though joins the others in reading, and then finding some genuine discomfort in how this all fit together.


Lost was unsure what to make of what was being presented, the concepts and all the info it didn't really make sense to her.


Deadweight keeps looking for La Senorita to get some more horchata. She needs her fix.


La Senorita pours you some mor' 'chata.

"Uhh…" Herb mutters, as he's entranced by the strange notebook.

Peyote, less distracted, nods. "I'll host a watch party for us after this."

Herb shakes his head to Zamrud. "If he took even half of the classes that he's got notes for here, he wouldn't even have time to sleep. I'm pretty sure a lot of these classes are concurrent, too. It'd be impossible to attend all these lectures."

"Could he have gotten notes from other students?" Assembly asks.

"…Maybe," Herb says. "But what would even be the point? I mean… architecture, film studies… animal husbandry? A lot of these are advanced classes for subjects that I've never seen him take an interest in."

"I think it's gotta be the Tree of Evil," Bet says, speaking up for once to agree with Qhapaq. "The way the writing turns into the drawing… it's almost like he kinda went crazy from all those subjects he's studying."

Lone Star rubs her chin. "But we haven't seen him at all around campus. If he was taking a bunch of classes, then at least one of us would have run into him by now."

The silhouette student, prompted by Qhapaq, tries to peer closer at the notes and the drawings…

>roll perception


"A… 'watch-party'? I think I have heard of those before, though I was too… shy to go to it myself."


Qhapaq peers closer as well, and hums a little. "Maybe he is… on a different 'level'?"

Roll #1 10 = 10


"Do you think the tree calls itself something other than evil, if anything at all. I would imagine it would have more elegant or something academic to call itself, now that I think about it." Billy glances to the shade from the corner of his eye.


Roll #1 10 = 10


"I'm in agreement," Zamrud says with Qhapaq and Bet as they look the final drawing depicting the many roots coming out of the ground. "Hmm… it is rather interesting, the way the scratches from the writing just naturally form into the drawing. I'd call it an inspired artistic piece if I weren't slightly perturbed by the implications… Is there an art teacher on campus anyone is aware of?"

He combs over the notes and the drawings one more time as well, seeing if anything jumps out
[1d10+1] Perception

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6


Lost sips her Horchata and tries to be a very perceptive little stalker.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 6 = 6


"Thanks," Deadweight says, smiling unconsciously. She takes another sip and hums in satisfaction.


>never fixed the wounds
Good looked to the others and nodded about the watch party before beginning to peer around for things himself.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 5 = 5


You look over the notes once more. Although at first glance, you see dense and meticulous writing, a closer inspection reveals that most of the notes… are actually closer to nonsense.

Even without having much in-depth knowledge about the subjects in question, you can tell that each line of each note is jumbled-up. Concepts from architecture are mashed together with fashion and photography theories. Ponderings about the biochemical compositions of languages. Snippets of classical literature plugged into complex mathematical matrices.

There's something to be said about the cross-disciplinary application of knowledge, it seems that Kirk's been trying, through this impossible stack of classes, to find some kind of "unified theory of everything." You even see ample ramblings on the Psy-Chrono Hypothesis, much to Herb's satisfaction… but the ramblings quickly spiral into incoherence, and in fact, jump from language to language, at a level of proficiency in those languages that would suggest Herb didn't even need to take the classes in the first place.


You turn over the final page once more. And now, something clicks. When one pushes a pen with enough force into the page, there is a protrusion on the reverse side. And depending on the ink, there may even be bleed-through onto that reverse side.

That is exactly the result of Kirk's frenzied drawing. But while this phenomenon is usually accidental, and done without much thought… Kirk's drawing was unmistakably deliberate.

On the front side of the page, you see the roots of the Tree of Evil, growing out of the loamy soil. But on the reverse, you see a canopy of branches, cloudy with leaves. And, hanging from those branches, like so much fruit, are a number of crystalline shapes. These have been made by the aforementioned bleeding-through of ink. Herb seems to have have pushed into the fore-side of the page with enough force, at these deliberately calculated spots, to cause this bleed-through.

Upon closer inspection, these crystalline shapes… look just like Crystal Hearts… the very same kind produced by the Heart of Ironcastle… the same with Zinccastle, Coppercastle… all nine of the remaining Castles that house unmutated mortalkind from the Outlands. According to this drawing of Kirk's – the Tree of Evil also produces these Crystal Hearts.


Deadweight continues enjoying her horchata and being Lost's pillow. She finds all the people poring over the notebook strange and silently judges them.


>Herb seems to have have pushed into the fore-side of the page…



"Well, ain't that a cute and clever hidden message. I feel like I should have paid more attention and showed more interest in our delivery of those hearts." Billy frowns at the thought.


It takes Zamrud several attempts looking through Kirk's notes before he notices the blotches of ink bleeding through the back sides of the pages, realizing what at first seemed to be random nonsense was instead appearing to be very deliberate and planned out. As he pushes through the pages, watching the ink-blots build into forming more and more distinct shapes until the final drawing of the Tree of Evil on the final section of the notes, turning the final page to see nine, very distinct crystalline hearts drawn out, it takes Zamrud a few moments more before he realizes the hidden message behind Kirk's notes.

He drops the book then and there, shocked by the revelation. "The Tree of Evil… it makes Crystal Hearts?" Zamrud blinks, remembering Rudolph's manifesto and the warning of a waning power-supply for IronCastle. "Impossible… can that truly be what Kirk means by this message?"


"Wait… the tree produces these hearts?" He looks confused, before glancing to the others. "Didn't the castle wish for us to destroy the tree? Why would they destroy a source of Hearts?"

"Maybe there is… something else about them. But, I do not know."


Good was…. he did not know what to say. This revelation was… disconcerting in ways he did not know. His entire world view was challenged by that


The others are left in silence for a time… before Herb ventures to speak. "Well… assuming that's what this means… that would be a good thing… wouldn't it? We'd have a solution for the energy crisis, wouldn't we?"

You recall your delivery mission to the Aya Mutants: The year's supply of the miniature Crystal Hearts which you gave to them on behalf of the USB Delivery Company– despite that unauthorized delivery of the Light Undefiled contained inside the Hearts being one of the most severe crimes possible in Ironcastle.

You recall also Apuchin's words, about the Dragon of Ironcastle, who had given them Crystal Hearts in the past… it might not be a good idea to bring that up in front of the others. That business involved many high-level secrets. But, it raises a question… why bother delivering Crystal Hearts to the Mutants if a supply can be procured from the Tree of Evil? And why conspire to destroy the Tree of Evil at all?

Zamrud also recalls Truth Dares… and the 'Alter' that she made of this notebook. She never explained just what an 'Alter' is, and she forbade him from bringing up the term in front of others…



"So… do the hearts change how me might be able to escape or tell us how we might be able to find our missing friend?" Billy pulls at the hairs on his chin in his frustration. "I admit that I am lost."


Zamrud looks to Herb, "Assuming there even IS an energy crisis… I'm not writing off the possibilities but the notion of the hearts being finite at all is not an idea many are ready to accept. The idea they can be made though… certainly seems to support that."

He turned to Quapaq next, "It may be they simply do not know that it can, we only just discovered ot and the Tree is undoubtedly dangerous… but knowing this, it may change their minds."


"But is this a world we want to keep the way it is? Shouldn't we want to fix it?" good queried


The others think it over…

"Hmm," Lone Star says. "As happy as I am to finally get more word from Kirk, however strange it might be… it really doesn't tell us that much."

Ride shakes his head. "He had to have gotten this knowledge from somewhere. And if we haven't seen him anywhere at all, that suggests he's somewhere that we can't get to just yet. Not a lot of places around the campus meet that criteria."

"Right," Assembly says. "Assuming it's somewhere we haven't heard about yet, we have the Bodhi Garden… and wherever you and Good ended up when exploring the theater."

"Ah… right," Herb says. "The crisis was debunked, after all."

Obviously, Herb didn't put much stock in the Iron Family's official debunking of the energy crisis.

Origami shrugs. "We can hug trees after we find our missing pal and get our asses outta here."

"Can it," Herb barks. "You're right, Good. It's still the overarching mission of everyone who ventures outside Ironcastle to use the Outlands for Ironcastle's advancement."

"Man, that's what I just said!" Origami protests.

"So if nothing else," Herb continues. "We still have to survive long enough to take this information back. Oh– Zamrud, didn't you mention Truth had communication with Ironcastle? Why don't we have her run a report back home?"


Billy frowns thinking it over. "I am not looking forward to any more ventures into that Maze, we only found our way back through the bell. We certainly won't find a way forward to the end as we are now, if there is even an end and not just a trap." Billy tilts his head looking up. "Unless that creature we had brought out knows better than us, we could try to communicate with it."


"I'm hesitant to let that info go over the air, it's better to go in person, even if the Lux probably already know." Good grumbled feeling off now and moving to lean on a wall a bit.

He didn't like it but on some level they were right, they had to survive this first before they did anything."


Zamrud says to Herb, "'Debunked' officially, yes, but I never wrote it off entirely as possible… and on the chance Rudolph's findings are accurate, something like this would prove of the utmost import. If at all possible, before we take any actions with the Tree, we should look into if Kirk's hints hold true."

As Herb mentions Truth's communications with the outside, Zamrud nods, "Yes, she does have a drone transit system set up to deliver news to the outside world. Given how long it takes to get response, we were waiting for something bigger to send a message out but this would certainly qualify in my opinion."

As Good suggests withholding the information, lest it be intercepted or manipulated by the Lux, Zamrud gives this some thought. "…a fair point, I would be concerned about that as well. But I am worried what may happen between now and then - what if something happens to us or the Tree when we escape, if we even successfully manage to escape at all? Knowledge that Crystal Hearts can be made and replaced, that the energy crisis could be resolved, might be lost entirely if we fail at the Academy and are stuck here forever."


"But what if it's a trap? Or they're too good to be true and tainted?" he asked then cursed under his breath "NO… no you're right, it's best to let them know, if only so they can make that call themselves."


"Hrm… it feels strange, though. We cannot contact them from here though, yes?"

"Are the communications… real? It could be Truth thinks they do."


Eyebrows raise among Herb's crew as you contemplate interference from the Lux Deorum. You sense that they have not had run-ins with the secretive intelligence organization themselves…

"It's a drone?" Lone Star asks. "Okay… I retract my vote. That thing could get intercepted by just about anybody… and if another Castle gets their hooves on it, they may come knocking to get their hooves on the crystal hearts themselves, and then we go riiiight back to the start of the semester. AGAIN."

Herb shudders at the thought. "Ugh… well, we should still run it by her and her crew all the same. They're stuck in here too. Oh, and Vestal Godspeed, too."


"On that, I agree as well." Zamrud says to Herb, "I realize the concerns and the risks - not only with our own Castle potentially misusing this information, but being intercepted by other Castles as well looking for an advantage. Regardless, I concur that this decision should not just be made by those in this room. There are more of us trapped in the Academy and this information could affect every Castle in the Outlands."

"We should alert Truth and her team as well as Godspeed, and call a meeting. Tonight. All those in favor?"


"I am willing to move on, I certainly don't feel comfortable making a decision with only what I know." Billy says.


"Mmm. I think it would be the best option for now- that, and waiting to send any messages. The Castles seem… hrm. I am not natural-born to one, but they seem very unsettling."


"I am in favor." Good said just wanting to rest. He called Dexter and Trajan back to him.


Peyote and the former Tiger-Masked student nod in solidarity.

The idea of doing anything else this Cycle elicits universal groans from all your exhausted allies… but their sense of Iron honor – and the old Abbean work ethic – compels them to assent.

>timeskip to meeting available


>Willing to timeskip


"The depths of Iron Castle's… or rather, the Lux's… machinations are more evident to me now, but even before I would say 'unsettling' is a word to describe the inter-politics of it all."

Zamrud nods, "Thank you. I know we're all exhausted from our exams, but there is no time like the present. We need not come to any conclusions tonight, but we should meet with Truth's team and see where they stand. Then, we can all take a well earned rest."

>Good to skip to meeting


"Mmm- my own people have their bickerings and squabbles, but I do not like the clan…clandestine? Nature of the Castles."



You get into contact with Godspeed and Truth. Godspeed offers to secure one of the faculty conference rooms as a meeting place. Truth, finding this agreeable, confirms that she'll be there with Clamence. Rieux and Meursault are due to immerse themselves in the illusory dream-world of the school, and will be unable to attend.

All in all, the evening isn't such a bad time for the meeting. It gets you out of Dorm Boreal, at the very least. A party's happening nearby, and the bass is boosted enough to rattle all the nearby dorm rooms like a perpetual earthquake. Perhaps you're missing out– but chances are, it'll still be raging long after you return.

At the appointed time, you gather in one of the conference rooms of the faculty office. Truth and Godspeed are already there. Joining them is a tall and lean mare. You almost mistake her for an earth pony, before recognizing her as one of the Yagi– a minority ethnic group considered closely related to, yet culturally distinct from the earth ponies. She has a long and curly grayscale mane, and an off-white coat. Most peculiarly, perhaps, she too is augmented by military-grade cybernetics. The entirety of her right-side foreleg, shoulder, half of her neck, and about half of her face are comprised by these cybernetics.

In other words– her cybernetics are a perfect mirror of Meursault's.

"안녕하세요!" Truth says. "Err… hello," she translates herself for want of subtitles.

"Bonjour," Godspeed answers. "You survived. Let's hope you passed as well."

Clamence, as you presume, remains silent, but offers a pleasant congratulatory smile all the same.


Good looked mildly perturbed by the newcomer, and seemed to be mostly watching instead of engaging.


Zamrud looks to the newcomer, nodding his head. "You must be Clamence. A pleasure, I'm not sure if we've had the pleasure yet. Remind me, what position do you have at the academy?"

To Truth and Godspeed, Zamrud offers, "And thank you both for attending on such short notice. I am sure there is nothing more we would wish to be doing now than taking a break after today's Midterms but I felt it important to meet. We've had some new information arrive after the midterms - Kirk's journal has finally shown more information that we wish to share."


Billy waves from behind his group, a furry talon in the air. "Did you get a new wardrobe last we met?"


"Wait… I thought, ah. Was surviving not passing?" He asks, cocking his head to the side and frowning a little bit. He looks to the other assembled creatures, especially the weird, cybernetically-augmented… earth pony? He peers at the Yagi, never having seen one before. For the moment, his curiosity overpowers his shyness.


Clamence, catching your stare, looks into your eyes as if they were a mirror, and fixes her hair. "Ah, thanks for that," she jokes.

Clamence's jaw moves like she's about to respond to Billy's question, but catches herself. After all, this is the first time you've met her.

Truth nods. "You wouldn't believe what you can find at the campus thrift store," she says and gestures at what she's wearing: a striped sweater, one with a collar– turtleneck.


Clamence has a hoarse laugh. "Oh, what role don't I have. Plumber, janitor, amateur electrician. Had I been on security duty that Cycle I may have even managed to stop your crew from coming in."

As Zamrud informs the group that Kirk's notebook has expanded, Truth sits there for a moment, weighing her response before she says it. Truth and Godspeed exchange a look. It is a look sometimes shared between those who must undertake a task neither wants to do– and yet must.

Truth then produces from her bag an identical notebook to the one Zamrud carries. As Zamrud has seen before, and as the rest of you are seeing now for the first time, this notebook, ringed and college ruled, is the spitting image of Kirk's notebook, down to the little defects and smudges brought by time. "What a coincidence," Truth response to Zamrud. "Mine has as well. Shall we compare notes?"

Herb's crew start at the sight of this doppelganger notebook, and they fall into a stunned pause.


"I have always been more comfortable in my robes, and occasionally I would dress in a cape. I find them appropriate for all occasions.?" Billy pulls at the neck of his school clothes.

"Are we speaking of past cycles? I am afraid I don't have anything to contribute like a past life unfortunately." Billy would often come to the conclusion that he was a frog in his past life. He found it to be the only creature to match his habits.


As Truth reveals the secondary, cloned notebook of Kirk's, Zamrud looks at it in contemplation, noting the stunned reactions on the others' faces - he'd kept the secret of Truth's copy for now but now that it was out in the open, that was that.

"AH, so yours has as well. I wasn't sure if it would as well or if only the original would. But then in which case, that saves much time. From what we've seen, most of the new additions are as obscured and hard to read as the first parts, with just random notes from various subjects that don't seem to ring any pattern we recognize. However, we noticed that when you look at the very far back page, where all the ink pushes through to the end…"

He shows them the final page with the Tree of Evil's branches… and the Hearts they bear like fruit along them. "*THIS* is what we were interested in discussing, to see if you'd reached the same conclusion we had."


Qhapaq blinks once or twice, cocking his head to the side. He shakes off the surprise and hums softly.

"Two notebooks? Is it a… copy, made by the dream?"


Good looked at the duplicate book with narrowed eyes, not liking this at all, finding it odd and unusual this was hidden.

Zamruds answer revealed he was aware of the existence of this other book, oh and Good did not care for that.

"You knew there was another notebook?"


Zamrud lets out a sigh and nods. "I was. I wasn't sure what to make of it at first and it was of a sensitive nature to Truth, so in the spirit of our cooperation I opted to hold on sharing it with you… that and, if I'm being honest, I was caught rather unbecomingly trying to steal into her office after I caught a peek of it, so I felt I owed her some privacy."

"It isn't a new notebook however - rather, it is an exact duplicate of Kirk's, down to the very smallest details like his handwriting and stains. I was unsure just how exact a copy it was until now."


"Past lives, huh?" Truth echoes Billy. "Well, in a manner of speaking, that subject is relevant here in its own way."

"The other way around," Truth says. "After all– Kirk did not come here with a notebook like this. Even without meeting him myself, I can say that confidently. This style of notebook isn't issued in Ironcastle for expeditionary deputations. 8 and-a-half by 11, ringed spine… it'd just be too cumbersome to fit in your bag. Nor did any of you expect to live here as if you were period-correct students. All that is to say that Kirk's notebook was given to Kirk by the Tree of Evil itself… a prop from the dreamland to help him act like a student. One of these two notebooks you see is an imitation that I made out of real terra firma, after Zamrud let me borrow the dreamland prop. Although, to be honest, at some point after making it… I got the two notebooks mixed up. At this point, I can't tell which one's the 'original.'"


"As Zamrud said, you can credit me for the secrecy," Truth says. "I decided it would have been easier to explain after one of the two notebooks produced more of Kirk's ghost-writing, just as it did before. But unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – I see now that something else altogether has happened."

Truth flips open the notebook she has. As you can see, the contents of the first section are much the same as in the notebook Zamrud has– the orderly, ordinary notes that Kirk took on calculus, programming, RNG, and such. So far, the notebooks are identical inside and out. But then, Truth turns to the next section– and instead of the multidisciplinary ramblings that appeared in your version of the notebook, there appear several pages of neat and focused notes. From this first glance, it looks like the subject remains the same: mathematics, programming, randomness. The penmanship is consistent throughout, all belonging to Kirk, so Herb confirms as he looks it over. There are also small marginalia drawings decorating this second section, but they aren't like the scrawlings in your copy of the notebook.

Soon enough the notes come to an end, an equal amount of pages in as your copy does.

Truth hangs her head with embarrassment. "So now I still can't tell which one's the original, and which one's the Alter."

>Deadweight and Lost Hope, roll knowledge



Roll #1 1 = 1


[1d10] Brains?

Roll #1 9 = 9


"Huh, you are quite good at making copies I see. Is this what they call, suffering from success?" Billy leans forward trying to get a good look at the books himself.


Zamrud looks at the two notebooks as their differences become apparent, looking on with concern. "So I see… well, that does complicate things. On one hand, there being even more information in this version that differs from hours might give us further clues to work with… but now it also introduces the possibility of one copy being more truthful than the other."

"Have you been able to gleam any clues from these new notes of Kirk's? We have our own working theory as to what the sketch that results from our copy…" he says as he points to the Hearts coming from the tree. "Kirk's drawing here seems to suggest that the Tree is capable of… MAKING the very Hearts that power our Castles."


Good was quiet as he listened before sighing "That… is understandable." he said as he could find no fault in their argument.

He looked at these new notes with interest, looking perhaps for some kind of hidden message or cypher.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 8 = 8


"Does yours update as you explore? It seems to continue to add more to its pages as we explore… surely there is a way to figure out which is which, right?"


You think back to your time with Huitlapan. You imagine him running on a wheel. He can keep at it for quite the long time, having built up a respectable cardio routine.

Truth chuckles. "Yeah that's the trouble with being as skilled as I am."

"Check this out," Truth says. She flips to the front cover, where you see Kirk's class schedule penned out. The two schedules, in your copy and hers, could not be more different; yours is packed to the gills, and full of overlapping timeslots committed to multiple classes at the same time. The one in Truth's is rigorous, but sensible for a serious student of higher math and computer engineering. They do, however, have one commonality – an hour dedicated to Theater class, on all seven Cycles of the week, all at 9 pm.

"If anything," Truth answers Qhapaq. "It seems like it updates as Kirk explores. But, for some reason, he's now leaving behind two very different records of his time here. I wonder if, should I make another Alter, yet another different string of notes would be left behind."

You see that Kirk's study of programming is quite in-depth, stepping beyond ordinary, simple applications of randomness and into serious cryptography and theories of security practices. Were he to study this in Ironcastle, he could almost certainly hope to receive job offer letters from firms dealing in private security, detective work… maybe even the Lux Deorum.

But something else catches your eye. Some of the marginalia drawings don't appear to have been done by Kirk's hoof or horn. These others differ in color choice, the depth of stroke and thickness of line… was someone else drawing in his notebook? Truth seems an unlikely suspect– in this matter at least…

The subjects of these other drawings are of placid, ordinary life at the school. Lunches, school gardens and greenhouses, trails for biking and walking, horizons… horizons which bear peculiar aerial phenomena you don't recognize…

At the invocation of the word, 'Alter'… Images and scenes visit you in memory, juxtaposed and conjoined as they are in any dream, connected by a thin logic. You recently went home to Ponyville, and saw your parents and brother there. Now he's enrolled at your school– little surprise with grades as good as his. Some time later, you fought alongside a duplicitous, yet desperate lagomos named Mogao… who with a staff fashioned after a mythical icon called Moon, conjured apparitions from Agatecastle's tattered past. Apparitions that looked like your allies, all subtly different.. and a little time later, you saw many other such apparitions at the festival you attended with Mogao and Antlers… against whom you had been fighting not too long ago…?

These disparate, haphazard, slapdash storylines are all close at hand, conjured by that word, Alter.


You never heard the word 'Alter' used to describe this phenomena at all.


Here it all is.

And– this Truth lady's starting to look oddly familiar.


Deadweight looks into the distance, nodding approvingly thinking about imaginary Huitlapan's respectable stamina.


Zamrud considers the possibilities of making yet another Alter, to see if it could grant another angle into Kirk's life and see if it could provide yet more clues, but he shakes his head,

"I think we should simply stick with the two unless it becomes beneficial for a third book to exist so someone else may study it. We do not yet know the nature of this split in Kirk's updates, I worry that rather than increasing our information we could also be damaging it, splintering or diluting it with each copy and spreading his presence too thin. I would recommend we stick with two and see what can be gleamed from them."

"This common meeting at 9PM though… in the Theater class…" Zamrud checks his watch, hoping it's not too late.


"Find anything good out of the books?" Billy calls out loud to any who would hear him. "Or is there anything that I can help with?"


"Alter? What do you mean by Alter?" Lost suddenly asked, making her presence more known in a break for the normally reserved mare. There was a touch of desperation to her tone wanting to know more.


Good jumped at the sudden interjection of his sister, but turned back to the book for a moment, noting the art change, and began to look around the room for a moment one who might fit this profile of an artist in the room, outside of those with whom he arrived.


"Hrm… could there be a second version of him somehow? Or, is he somehow in two different… 'semesters', at once?" He asks, cocking his head to the side.

"What, ah… is an 'Alter'? I do not think I understand what exactly you mean."


"Now that's a fate worse than death," Origami quips. "Having to take school twice over? I sure hope not for his sake."

It's a quarter past seven now. You've got time– no rush.

Ride turns to you. "You went into the theater but recently, didn't you? Kirk seems to visit there late into the dark hours, if his schedule is accurate. What did you see there, again?"

You can't definitively rule out Herb's crew for artistic talent, or lack thereof, but considering that these drawings appeared in a notebook they had no notion of existing, it's unlikely that they would have had a chance to be able to make those drawings.

But… there's something to Lost's sudden words. Perhaps an answer lies there…


Hearing the desperate tone in Lost's voice, Truth almost seems… pained for a moment. Not out of irritation, or exasperation… but perhaps sympathy? Her wince is soon gone.

Clamence snickers. "You may want to take notes. This could take awhile."

"Indeed," Truth says. "To begin to answer that question, we should define some preliminary materials. We've already touched on the subject of quantum mechanics, but I want to know if you're acquainted with one of the interpretations that spawned from it – that which is commonly called the 'Multiverse Theory.' Because if you are…"

Truth shuts the notebook that she holds – and the notebook that Zamrud holds closes as well, as if by a sympathetic connection.

"It would be better to throw that so-called 'theory' out the window, and begin anew."


"It was like a maze that changed in on itself, and our escape was locked out right as we passed through the door. We were attacked by something, which takes the form of a rat now." Billy scratches at his head, digging for the details of the encounter. "We did make it out, only because I had heard the bell and my friend's ability to contain the creature and keep it from attacking us."


Zamrud affirms he has plenty of time before the theater class, and decides to take his time talking things out with the group here.

He takes note of Lost's reaction to the reveal that Truth's notebook is called and 'Alter', and is taken by surprise as it shuts simultaneously along with hers. He decides to test the theory by opening his back up, to see if hers opens in turn, but also asks,

"The name, 'Alter'… I got the inclination when we spoke earlier it was of a sensitive nature but I didn't grasp the details. Lost, are you familiar with them?"


Hearing Lost, Deadweight has a concerned expression on her face, empathizing with Lost, but not knowing why. She puts a hoof on Lost's to comfort her.


GOod was perturbed by where that little speech went, quickly moving to take notes.


Lost turned to Deadweight, giving a small smile, appreciating that support, placing her own hoof gently atop it. waiting to hear the rest.


"I am, ah… not. Familiar with such things. I sort of remember the discussions from before, though."


The rat in question, Dexter, comes out of Good's pocket when he senses Bluey reporting about him so. A few of your allies attempt to pet him, but Dexter evades them. It's not until Lone Star first offers half a cracker that Dexter obliges.

"A true labyrinth waits beyond those doors, then…" Ride observes. "We'd best not go looking for Kirk in there without sufficient preparation."

Truth's Alter of the notebook does not open. Perhaps the connection is only one way… or Truth, being the creator, holds special sway over them.



"To put it simply," Truth begins. "The Multiverse Theory, or Multiverse Interpretation of quantum mechanics, attempts to resolve the randomness observed in our world. For every possible instance of this randomness, this theory posits that every possible outcome of the randomness comes true – with each possible result resolving in its own, parallel universe, near-identical to our own, diverging only at that one point. Someone tosses a ten-sided die – and ten parallel universes split apart from that one action, like twigs and branches splitting off from the trunk of a tree. If this process unfolds for every act of randomness, there then must be an infinite number of parallel universes, each one now bearing its own particular idiosyncracies. A universe in which I've struck it rich. A universe in which I am a carnival acrobat. Infinite alternate universes, infinite alternate selves, infinite chances to win it big in life. So on and so forth. It's an incredibly popular… 'theory–'"

Truth spits the word theory and her scowl suggests it leaves an awful aftertaste.

"–Both in popular and academic circles. Fiction has run wild with the concept. And scientists, magi, and their Noble financiers are likewise enamored, maybe even more so than the average pop culture consumer. For some in the upper crust, it even takes on the trappings of a religious faith. Ironic, given what these types typically have to say about the more orthodox religions of Ironcastle – to say nothing of their xenophobic contempt for the faiths of Outlander tribes. Countless hours and schillings are poured into truly sincere research projects aimed at making contact with these parallel universes, and the parallel selves who reside within."

"To be absolutely, perfectly clear…" Truth says. "This Multiverse Theory… is nothing but complete and utter pseudoscientific nonsesnse. Fit for the realm of fiction and nowhere else."

Clamence can't stop chuckling, as if a joke refuses to leave her mind.

"That begs the question, then…" Godspeed says. "What's all this hay about Alters– and school life from the Time Long Forgotten."


Looking at Lost, Deadweight tilts her head slightly and softly smiles back.


"What would be sufficient preparation? I doubt a ball of yarn would be a good enough safety measure. Maybe we would be able to time our explorations around the ringing of the bells?" Billy puts a suggestion forward.

"I imagine that there is much more than dexter out there, so we might need to come at these creatures one at a time."


"So, there is… little support for it beyond theory?" He asks, tilting his head to the side and humming in thought. "But, uh, do you think that this 'school life' might be some sort of alternate world?"


Zamrud nods in understanding as Truth explains multiverse theory. "It's certainly a popular enough concept in the realm of fiction. Even I'm aware of the general concept."

"But, if it is all as you say 'nonsense', how exactly do Alters work then? When you first showed it to me, that was the impression I was left to take from it, that the notebook was a deviation on the original, from a split timeline wherein it could have existed. Is that not accurate?"


Lost gently 'held' onto 'Weights hoof as she kept listening.


Good looked to Dexter with a small jump, having forgotten his presence himself for a moment, but he nodded once he got the snack.

"He's rather food motivated." he noted before looking back with concern at the discussion.


"Lights and connections would be a start…" Ride muses. "Maybe even ratchet straps in a pinch…"


"Blegh!" Truth shudders, scrunching up her face in an expression that can only be described as: >m<. "No more calling it a theory! A theory has been or can be tested! This is like, hypothesis-tier at best!"

After that outburst, she regains her earlier severity.

"The term 'Alter' is something of a misnomer. It arose when the phenomenon itself was first observed… pun intended. Those who observed this phenomenon were likewise aware of the multiverse interpretation, and that's where their minds first went, so they quickly called it 'Alter', short for 'Alternate Universe Instance'. 'Alter' rolls off the tongue nice and easy, so the term has stuck, even though our understanding of the phenomenon has changed. A caveat, if I may– even now our understanding of the phenomenon is incomplete, a work in progress.

"In short, to call something – or someone – an 'Alter' is to suggest that both subjects follow the same Archetypes of existence. Tch– sorry to keep throwing new terminology at you. As for what an Archetype is – it's something of a… path. Let's use an analogy. Picture a stream. Focus on two water droplets flowing down that stream. These droplets are so much like all the others surrounding them. Perhaps one is further upstream, closer to the east, or a bit larger. Both follow the path of the stream. And in following that stream, they affect all their fellow travelers. No two droplets will take the exact same course down that stream… for in taking the path, the droplets also shape it. Each droplet of water erodes the earth which guides the stream."

The others silently turn these concepts over in their minds…

"Now picture a fallen leaf in the stream. Is it really so different from the water droplets I mentioned? …Well yeah, in a lot of ways it is. But it too participates in the stream, just as they do. It is caught in the Archetype, just as the droplets.

"And now – you might think I'm stretching the analogy thin here, but per our observations, it still holds true – consider someone who wades through the stream, up it, down it, across it, or remaining still within. An actor with a powerful will… they too are caught within Archetypes… yet they are the more like to revise these Archetypes, to transcend them, even to bring them together or push them apart."


Deadweight squints her eyes at the zebra, both intrigued by and skeptical of what she has to say.


"An actor that transcends actors? Are you talking about the tree, or someone like us who had come into the tree?" Billy tilts his head rolling the analogy around.

"I am thinking that your analogy would require someone to have come long before many others to this tree."


Zamrud pictures the analogy in his mind as he tries to think of the simplest way to express what 'Alter' are to him.

"It is a difficult analogy to wrap my head around, but I think I understand the concept. Perhaps I'm projecting my own subject on it but it almost feels like a bit of chemistry is involved, wherein you could recreate the two 'droplets' or leaves using the same components as can be found amidst all the other parts of the stream, even if those droplets or leaves are unique onto themselves."

"I take it this is how one creates Alters, is having the sort of power to manipulate the stream and force their own will upon it?"


"So, an Alter would be… different versions of the same person, yes?" He asks, tilting his head to the side. "Like, two versions of myself that are warriors, but not the same person?"


Good was silent as he absorbed this knowledge. It took him a few moments before he found his words "Those working against the flow can reshape it…"



Roll #1 2 = 2


Lost… seemed to have an idea of what she was talking about, she thought she recalled something from her past.

[1d10] Memory time!

Roll #1 7 = 7


You contemplate other exercises by which a hamster may acquire strength and endurance. And something about marshmallows… is that why he has to work out so much?


Your head swims in deja vu… scenes and lines pass by, as if glimpsed through the window of the trolley you take to school.
>Lost now remembers about half of what happened in TCS – your call on what details.

"All of us are the actors," Truth says. "We have a powerful will and intellect, and can choose one thing over another, either following or rejecting the forces that guide us. Just like any 'actor', we have our roles to play. But when we improvise, screw up or even eschew the scripts given to us, we can put a twist on our performances that neither the audience nor the future performers of our role will forget."

Clamence rolls her eyes. "Muddling your analogies there, aren't you boss?"

As for your second remark, Truth stops and contemplates it. "…You know, I think you could be onto something there. Once I've wrapped up my lecture, let's pursue it."

"Yes and yes," Truth says. "But of course, the latter is a trade secret I'm not at liberty to reveal. But clearly it's pretty effective if even I got the two notebooks mixed up."


Truth shakes her head… and once more the humor she tries again and again to revive… fades and dies. "No and no. Please be assured of this, above all else: Every existence is unique, and precious. Even if there were to be two beings who were perfectly alike in all regards – Alters down to the finest detail – each one is its own self. If one changes, or if one dies… there is no replacing it. There are no alternate universes. This world is the only one we have, this existence is the only one we have. Thus we must pursue our holy missions, be they on behalf of Ironcastle, or a tribe, as if they will be the last marks we ever make on this existence."

Godspeed's gaze grows distant as Truth says her last line.

Godspeed nods in silent affirmation. No, something deeper than that. It is solidarity.


Deadweight's mind starts to drift off, and she nods to herself again.


"Maybe I am not following this analogy right?" Billy takes a seat down to sit on his thought. His chin meeting his resting knuckles as he stares blankly forward in thought.


Zamrud comments, "Muddling them, perhaps, but… her opting for a 'theatrical' approach in how the actors can affect the outcome of a play through their own meddling, leads me to believe there might have been an additional reason for Kirk to take interest in the Theater class. An unorthodox means of understanding how the Tree might influence its will upon all of us, the 'actors' upon its stage deviating from their roles…" he chuckles. "The more I think of it, the more theatrics seem like a rather important subject after all."

"At any rate, if Alters are this secretive in nature, I don't believe I quite understand… Lost Hope, Deadweight, how is it you came to know of them?"


Qhapaq tilts his head in confusion. He… doesn't really get it."I, ah… this topic is not for me, I think. What exactly seems important here, then? What, or who is the Alter?"


Deadweight's awaken from her daydream. "Huh? Know of what? You buying this 'alter' stuff?"


There was… as a castle we had to save… and I remember… ponies being other ponies, but also…it felt like a different version of me?"

Lost nodded finding much of what Truth said to be true in her eyes.


Good was quiet, understanding the implications of what she was saying, and taking to heart that they only had one go of this.

"This is not what I expected, but I have found some resolve from it."


[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 1 = 1


"Huh?" Deadweight says again, this time more curious than condescending.


Roll #1 9 = 9


"Is there a reason not to be? The notebook is more than a copy, it's a near exact duplicate - one couldn't forge the exact style of writing or the smudges on the pages so exactly."

Zamrud's eyes widen. "There were Alters of other ponies? Including yourself? I thought it was limited to objects."


"As far as I know, you guys are way too into larping."


"It was strange, there was a great death orb…but it was stopped. But I remember.. the moo rabbit. …I forgot everything about his name other than I think it was Moo, but anyway, he went crazy…and all these ghost like things showed up and some… felt like us?"

"Do you not remember?" she asked concerned.


"Ah– no, I think you were on the money," Truth says. "Besides, these are only analogies, which my fellow researchers have devised for grasping at a phenomenon we don't fully understand ourselves. Only once we have studied the phenomena further will we have a closer understanding."

"Chew on this," Clamence says. "All of us fit into one Archetype or another… most of us fit into quite many. Archetypes come with the territory of existing. So if an Alter is one who travels the same Archetypes as someone else…"

The silhouette of Tiger Mask looks your way.

When Zamrud suggests that Deadweight and Lost already knew about the concept of the Alter, a shade of suspicion passes over her eyes.

"Please… do go on. When and where was this?"

These are the sounds her mouth makes.

But Deadweight alone sees that Truth's mouth is not synchronized at all to the words. She says something else entirely… but you know not what.


…nothing seems to happen as a result of this discrepancy. Truth looks at the both of Lost and Deadweight once more… but her earlier suspicion fades away.

Truth glances off to the side… just briefly. At what, Deadweight cannot tell.


"N… no…" Deadweight says, equally concerned, but perhaps for a different reason.


Deadweight looks at the changeling and squints her eyes at her again, suspicious of her.



Roll #1 5 = 5


"Like us? Did this just happen here, at the Academy? Was there a ghostly version of anyone here in particular?"

Noting that his commentary seemed to implicate Lost and Deadweight of something - remembering the sensitive nature of 'Alters', Zamrud turns to ask her, "Being that the concept of these Alters seems to be out in the open now, might I ask - how long has this research been going on?"


"Hmm… is, uhm… is the Masked one my Alter, then?" He asks, tilting his head to the side and looking back to Tiger Mask. "I wonder… perhaps I need to learn more of you." He remarks, idly checking on the Mask in his pack.


"Oh, thank you." Bully returns with a big happy grin to Truth.

Billy blinks his eyes, looking confused. Moving to clean his ears with his claws.


Lost seemed to grow quite distressed at Deadweights lack of memory "What? You don't?"


"N-no, this was at a castle… Agatecastle I think?"



Roll #1 4 = 4


Listening to his sister as well, good continued to take notes on it all, as well as trying to piece it together in his head.



[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 10 = 10


Deadweight stares at Lost as if she'd grown a third ear and slowly shakes her head no.


Truth appears oddly familiar, but you cannot place her.

Then… as Lost says the word, 'Agatecastle…'

The former Tiger Mask nods, but wiggles their hand from side to side. Perhaps the two of you are imprecise Alters, nearer misses, rather than mirror images, if such a thing is possible.

The mask remains as it was, made of the same textureless vantablack that comprises Tiger Mask's body.

"Longer than any of us have been around," Truth says in a cryptic tone.

"Is this meant to be protected info?" Herb asks. "Are we going to need some level of clearance?"

"That's the handy thing," Truth says. "The concept alone is of such a nature that merely knowing about it isn't enough to do anything with it. So no– you don't have to worry about the Lux Deorum knocking on your door. Now, if you were to go the way of the Mendicant Rudolph and try to throw the social order into panic… that's a different story. An 'alternate' story, huhuhuh."

For less than a split second – a second split again and again, split by someone foolish enough to try to cut down Time itself, split by someone desperate enough to overcome the insurmountable… you behold the truth upon Truth's face:

Horror, and in equal measure, realization. The expression of the rightly accused.

Sitting at her right hoof– you can't tell which of the three it is. Clamence was the only one who could attend this meeting. But who is that? Meursault? Rieux…? The faces layer, folding to one another at angles, like a lenticular image.

In the very next instant, Truth's lackadaisical, know-it-all smile returns… so does Clamence's crude and weathered face.

>For Everyone

"Interesting…" Truth says. "I wonder if you have experienced this, yourselves. A symptom of having brushed against one's Alter is a peculiar vertigo. Like having deja vu for a situation in which you've never been. Remembering things that have not yet happened. Letting your mind wander– right into someone else's memories. Agatecastle, was it…? Perhaps it was a Castle lost to the Time Long Forgotten, for it is not one of the nine remaining Castles that we know of. It is not impossible for an Alter of Lost's to hail from there."


"I don't recall ever having this feeling, though time passes by strangely in this school that moments like these feel like weeks and the prep time between the exams felt like it too no more than a few hours." Billy hums in thought to himself in thought. "Unless that in itself can count?"


Deadweight then squints at the changeling once more, and something hits her (not literally). Her eyes start drifting all over the room, and she has the most pensive expression on her face. If you could peer into her mind, you'd hear her think, "What're these… memories? They must be from a dream. But they feel… so real? There's no way…"

Deadweight mutters to Lost, "C-Campfire? Firmgold? Steadfast?" If Lost recognizes these names, then it can't be a dream, somehow.


"I remember those names yes! Those are their names!" she said happy for moment.

Lost's eyes widened as everything did indeed click into place for her, silent and looking down and alarmed.

'Why does this always happen to me?'


"Perhaps, but she is my sister, and when I saw her in the dream she was with the family I had known, I am sure she is of Ironcastle."


"You don't say… I suppose it's a credit to those trying to keep it under wraps then that this is the first most of us have even heard of it."

"At any rate, I have a hard enough time wrapping myself around the metaphysics I'm content to simply enjoy the practical benefits of having an Alter for Kirk's Journal. And, of course, I don't think any of us are in any rush to publish our experiences with it." He even throws in a chuckle at her 'alternate' joke.

"Are Alters so old in concept they predate the castles, then? We've been learning a good deal about our history lately, I'm curious if perhaps they originated long before even the Outlands"


Deadweight holds her head with her hoof, bewildered. She can't believe it. And as if that wasn't weighing heavily enough on her mind, she begins to remember the nature of this "other life" of hers, if that's even the correct way of putting it. She can't help but gasp, and her eyes start to water. "It was… terrible…" she mutters, and her usually tough exterior crumbles as she starts to tremble.


"We lost friends… so many friends."


"Is it possible to be a… partial Alter? Tiger does not seem to think we are perfect mirrors of each other- instead perhaps… similar, yet not exact?"

"I cannot say for certain if I have experienced this conce p t or not, beyond what I suggested. It is possible, though."


Clamence nods. "That's why I don't like that 'streams' analogy Truth's always raving about! 'Cause if you're just standing in a stream, you can't be standing anywhere else! And since when do any of us fit into a single 'Archetype?' I'd like to think I'm a bit more complex than just one of those, thank you very much. If you ask me, it's all more like… threads. You can tie many threads together. You don't need to tie together every single thread to every other thread to have a sturdy knot. And they're much easier to work with than a stream! Can't exactly put that in my toolbag."

"Heh," Truth scoffs. "Well, not to contradict myself, but without exceeding my own clearance… I can't really say if the concept is 'that' old. Wise as the First Ancestors were… ah, I'll leave it there."

Something's off…


"Look–" Origami says, wincing as many eyes turn toward him. "I hate to do this, I really do, but… I really wanna get back on the subject of finding Kirk. Is the takeaway that one of these 'Alters' got him or something?"

"Ah, right," Truth says. "No, it's understandable. I'll just have to save the lecture for another time. As for Kirk – I believe that either approach, the subtle or direct, will lead us to him."

"Subtle or direct… Those would be…" Herb puzzles, as he looks back at the two notebooks. "Either completing the semester, or exploring the Theater?"

"Precisely," Truth says. "Kirk is clearly well-studied. There's no doubt that he will make it to the duel at the end of the school year. If nothing else, you will meet him there. But, then there's the case of this abnormality at the end of his schedule. A 9 PM class, seven Cycles a week? For as ruthless as the institutions of the Time Long Forgotten could be, this simply can't be right. None of my other students have a schedule like this. If he's in there that frequently, you might encounter him before the end of the semester."

Godspeed shakes her head. "Depending on how much you're willing to risk another of the Tree's reflexive traps."

"And whether we want to rush through the rest of our schooling…" Assembly notes with distaste.


"Hmm… ah! Back to the important matters, yes. I would be fine taking the direct approach. I think I would be better suited searching more… obviously. I am not subtle. We could split our efforts, perhaps?"


"I think it is best to explore the theater. While the exams are something I wouldn't consider the worst, the idea of waiting around to test a theory leaves a bad taste in mouth." Billy spits to the side to wash out the thought. "Besides, by exploring we would be taking the exams anyway. They are mandatory in this place to stick around."


Deadweight sharply gasps again and covers her mouth. She's trying her hardest to keep her composure and not outright bawl in front of her classmates (?) and the school's faculty (?), but suddenly remembering the terrors of war is a lot on a schoolmare (?). Needing answers and not at all paying attention to where the conversation is going, she suddenly asks the changeling, "What's Agateca—" then stops herself when she remembers the answer, and asks a different question, "What happened to Agatecastle?"


Zamrud takes not of Truth's comment, his ears flicking at the notion that something not being quite right with Truth's statement, but unable to point out exactly what and knowing they'd been on a tangent with the Alters for some time, he decides to address Origami's concerns.

"Personally, seeing as how it's just over an hour to 9 PM, I suggest we all attend this evening's theater class to see what we can discover. I do not know if 'Alters', now that we know of their existence, had a role in Kirk's disappearance but at any rate the updates to the Journal has provided his unusually busy theater schedule as our newest clue. I suggest we act on it while we can. Who would like to join for theater class?"


"Tonight at 9PM, yes. It seems the wise decision."


Lost watched Deadweight ask the question before looking to Truth herself.

"How long ago did it fall? I can't quite remember?" she asked softly


The more academically minded among your group – La Senorita, Peyote, Herb, Assembly, Lone Star, Bet and Gimmel – don't look too keen on the idea of exploring the theater, as you suggest it. This earns them withering stares from Origami, but others such as Dorya, Ride or Die, Tiger Mask and Locomotive are more reserved in their disagreement. Those latter five nod when you bring up the possibility of a Dark Hour theater trip.

Godspeed looks over at Deadweight and Lost. "Ladies, would you like to come to the nurse's office? We can discuss the subject matter there in a calmer environment."

"That may be for the best…" Truth agrees. "I'm sorry if my earlier question put you two on the spot. It wasn't my intention."

While Truth dodges the questions, you hear a beep, and Clamence looks down at her waist, at a pager clipped to her belt. "Oh, you're kidding. How do you keep breaking that faucet!? Just push it! Shit on a shingle…"

She gets up and heads on out, grumbling about the sisyphean matter of work orders. Truth fiddles with a pen, spinning it about her hoof.


"That is a new phrase…" Billy contemplates whether Clamence's curse can be found in the religious scripture. "Did something bad happen?"


Still trembling and not sure what to think right now, Deadweight hesitantly nods at Godspeed. She gets up to follow her.


Lost narrowed her eyes at the bug a touch and sighed "Maybe that would be best." she said before walking over to her brother, ostensibly to question him about the dream once more.

Or perhaps she was telling him not to believe this Truth


Good had a brief chat with his sister, his expression remaining fairly neutral aside from a small eye widening at one point, before motioning for Lost to follow Deadweight.


Zamrud looks over towards Lost Hope and Deadweight, noting the young mares' seeming distress from this line of questioning, but notes as Godspeed seems ready to step up to help them out. He looks at Godspeed with a nod of appreciation, getting the sense that perhaps a school nurse's touch would be best to help the girls.

"Then, Billy, Good, myself and Qhapaq at least are interested in investigating the theater, along with you all?" He says looking towards Dorya/Ride/Tiger Mask/Locomotive/Origami. "Perhaps we should leave sooner rather than later… perhaps getting an early look will provide yet more clues."


"Hrm. Well, we do not all need to go to this Theater hour. If you do not wish to come, I would not blame you for doing so."


"Look for clues, and watch for anything potentially dangerous. If we are not meant to go there, we may find ourselves in some sort of danger. I do not know schooling, but this does not seem… normal. Or safe."


Ride nods. "It could get rather crowded in there, to be sure. Although I am loathe to divide forces, perhaps we split into two teams, with one group heading into the theater, and the other remaining just outside to facilitate an emergency exit."

Herb nods. "The rest of us will continue our regular school life to cast as wide a net as we can. At this rate, at least one of us has to run into Kirk."

"And there's no reason you have to comb the entire theater here and now," Truth says. "It's no good if you collapse of exhaustion while in there, so pace yourself. After all, you've still got second midterms and finals to think of!"

"A maintenance mare's work is never done," Clamence says, as she hustles out.

In utter silence, Godspeed leads you across the way to the nurse's office, not too far from the faculty office, mercifully. As she enters, she dismisses the assistant on duty. She secures an examination room, and pulls up some chairs for you– as well as the candy jar. Just as you realize that there's actually some disarmingly good candy in there– Godspeed speaks.

"You two… were you… I…" she begins. Struggling to find words, she leans back and sighs. "Pray forgive how strange this may sound… but let's start from the very top, and throw out everything else. What does 'Agatecastle' mean to you?"


Deadweight's desperately trying to find some sort of explanation and solution to all this. Maybe she's just overstressed. Maybe she just needs meds or therapy. She just wants to go back to her life of being a simple schoolmare. But she can't deny that the previously presumed larpers and Lost herself corroborate with these "new" "memories." The memories still being foggy, she mutters, "It's… uh… we were… investigating its fall…"

Now alone with only her friend and the nurse, Deadweight unabashedly grabs Lost, overwhelmed by the sudden and intense angst brought about by these memories, and she starts sobbing.



"Mmm. Yes, splitting would be best. We need not worry, Ride. We are all capable enough. Whether we stick together or split apart, we will be fine. Besides- I do not think it wise to go in such a large group, either. It may make our… intrusion? Noticeable."


"I wish you luck, and do keep safe! I would hate to hear of anyone being hurt here." Billy gives a wave out to Clamence.

"Now, do I need to be anywhere? I really need to start writing things down to remind me." Billy looks forlorn while scratching at his chin.


"Emergency exit?" Zamrud asks Ride. "You feel the situation could escalate within the theater? Even if we're looking for something important I didn't suspect we would find anything worse than a dead end."

"At any rate, you make a fair point on there being too large a crowd. Anyone who wishes to keep watch outside is welcome to do so, but I intend to look thoroughly over the theater."


Lost froze for a moment, then embraced Deadweight as hard as she could, just trying to comfort her a bit.

"Thats right." she said confirming some of Deadweights testimony


"As me and Billy had the most experience of the recent group, as far as I know, I could try and sharing what I know of the backstage area if anyone has questions."


"Billy and Good encountered trouble on their first trip," Ride says. "Worse fates could wait within."

"And what did you find out?" Godspeed asks, her reply coming so quick and curt that she nearly cuts Deadweight off.

>Everyone except Deadweight/Lost

After you resolve to enter the Theater in search of Kirk, Billy raises a good question.

"As for this Cycle…" Ride ponders. "Shall we begin our search?"
"I don't think so," Herb says. "Even Kirk wouldn't get back to the grind so soon after midterms."
The former Tiger Mask imitates a big yawn to emphasize the importance of rest. You notice La Señorita taking more than a couple glances at Tiger Mask…

"Whether you go this Cycle or another, I have one request," Truth says. "I have a feeling that, if Kirk made it into the Tree's inner sanctum with the help of the Theater… our normal school life here will come to a close should we also enter into that secret. In other words, if you feel yourselves about to reach the end of this labyrinth, be sure to warn everyone so we can prepare for a hasty exit. The Tree of Evil, ultimately, is doomed, whether by our own works, or those of Ironcastle. I'd like to be out of the blast radius when that doom comes."

"Blast radius…?" Assembly repeats.

"As I said," Truth says. "The Tree is doomed one way, or the other."


Lost looked at Godspeed with narrowed eyes, indicating she didn't exactly want to blurt the answer out "We found out many things, We found a great horror from another place, and we destroyed it…" she said watching her warily.



[1d10] Special eyes

Roll #1 7 = 7


"I will be ready when everyone else is, can't say I keep what I need separate from me. I frankly feel quite uncomfortable leaving my bag behind." Billy gestures to his treasures from the past ventures.

"As long as I still walk, I will make sure that I will take the path to warn the others." Billy rests his fist over his heart to aknowledge Truth's request.



Roll #1 8 = 8


Deadweight tries to compose herself, gasping in between sobs to try to catch her breath.


As Ride points out that Billy and Good had a rough time of it the first time they were there, the Puros turns to the students. "I was not aware, my apologies. What exactly should we expect?"


"Mmm… what do you think would be important to know? Ride asked for an… emergency exit- did you see something like that? Is it spacious, or is it cluttered?"

"Hmm… rest could be important, yes- should we prioritize that over searching the theater? It might be a little dangerous, especially if we were to find our way in to this secret without meaning to."


Qhapaq looks between La Señorita and Tiger Mask, tilting his head to the side. "Mm- do you, ah, recognize him?"


Viewed objectively, the information you're giving to Godspeed is passing strange, likely to give even the most emotionally intelligent and empathetic of therapists reason for skeptical pause. Yet, Godspeed takes you with absolute sincerity… but no surprise. As if the notion of Agatecastle filled with horrors to the point of collapse was routine news, something to regard with blasé indifference – or perhaps it is not Agatecastle specifically… but that Castles in general are subject to such a fate, that Godspeed finds so unsurprising.

"The number you have dialed–" La Senorita splices. "Error – number – not found. Requesting – update – information."

The Former Tiger Mask, upon hearing La Senorita ask for their number, throws up a single claw; they're number one. La Senorita blinks with immeasurable disappointment.


"Well, if there are no other questions, I'll be on my way," Truth says. "I'll be sure to catch up Meursault and Rieux about what we've discussed."


"In our experience, it was these seemingly infinite loops where you could either choose to push on way or the other, and it could go on forever in theory. I tried to apply a bit of maze logic, though I found the most success trying to overwhelm it by focusing my mind and magic on doing so, which caused Dexter to coalesce and I captured him, then fled out of it with Billy."


Lost gently held Dead, and rubber her back a bit before gently leaning in to whisper.

"Do we tell her the truth?"


"Do stay safe." Billy bows his head at Truth's announcement to leave.

"Great job out there by the way. I will say though that I don't think mind magic is a common element among us, so I hope we do find alternatives to bypassing the creatures of the theatre."


As Lost holds her, Deadweight gradually regains control of her breathing, at last taking a deep sigh. She listens to Lost's whisper, then she whispers back into her ear.

"I… don't know… I still don't know what's true. I… Let's not show all our cards.

Deadweight then says to Godspeed, "W—war is so… terrible…" still shaken.


"Infinite loops unless you follow a certain 'plot', as it were?" Zamrud asks for clarification. "Would certainly be on the mark for this place… Thank you for the warning, we'll have to be careful then."

He turns towards Truth, nodding, "AH! Actually, apologies, there was just one more thing, Truth. The means you use to communicate with the outside, the drones - we were speaking earlier and we thought it might be wise to deliver news of Kirk's journal to the Castles. In the worst case scenario that we should never escape, knowledge that Crystal Hearts may be a product of the Tree of Evil seems like important information to pass on. Perhaps even creating another Alter of Kirk's Journal, unless you see a significant risk in doing so that they may analyze."


"IT was not mind magic, more intense willpower and thinking."


"Hmm? Ah, he is… there, but not there. He is a spirit, sort of- it is difficult to say. I need to study more with his mask to better understand what he is, and why he appears as he does."

"Ah- so it is… not what it appears, then? I lack magic to cause such change, so will will have to do if it comes to it."


All this talk of masks reminds you – and Tiger Mask – that this shade doesn't actually have a mask to speak of. Perhaps in the wood or leather shops, one may be procured.

La Senorita looks back at Tiger Mask. It takes them a while, but under this new scrutiny, they start to fluff and comb their feathers to be more presentable.

Godspeed tenses with impatience, even as she listens in silence. Your light words don't help in that regard, but you sense her holding back, in a way. "Indeed…" she says. "It is. There are many different kinds of warfare in this our present age. Warfare between Outlander Tribes, mostly… Rarely, wars within Castles, Abbean schisms, Noble House disputes, corporate espionage and legislative campaigns of attrition… Wars of Castles against those few of the Dreaded Ones who possess such an abhorrent sapience that enables them to command their lesser kindred; what few wars of this kind there have been have all been ended by the weapons of the blessed fission… Recorded history holds very scant rumors of wars between Castles, for they are so far apart, and most types of mobile craft like to be intercepted by the Dreaded Ones…"

She rolls around a little gelatin candy in her hooves. "So I suppose I'm wondering… which of these kinds of war you're talking about… why you bring up war in the first place."


As Zamrud suggests preparing a light report for Ironcastle, Truth nods. "Good idea. If the rest of you would like to include anything in the report, have it upon my desk by 1700 next Cycle. The door will lock after that point, so be sure to bring your lockpicks if you're running late."

With a cynical chuckle, she relays directions to her office for anyone who doesn't have them already, and then sees herself out.

When Good brings up Dexter again, the little rodent of shadow scampers about on the desk, tidying up things such as loose papers and pens and paperclips left about from previous faculty meetings. "Industrious fellow," Ride comments. "I like him."



Good waited patiently for her to leave and the sound of any errant steps to dissipate, before looking to the others "My sister told me not to trust her."


Lost let out a small sigh "We saw many wars in that castle, between living and dead… between castles… between things that were real and things… things that weren't so real."


"I don't think I have anything to report? Nothing that anybody else has mentioned or hasn't been said already." Billy curls his hair around a finger while closing his eyes in thought.


Deadweight pauses, ruminating on Godspeed's words. It's a lot to take in. She then finally says, "Th—the war on the… Dreaded Ones? While we were investigating… the castle was overrun by so many of them…" She gasps, then continues, "I remember… so much suffering… and death…"


Deadweight nods in corroboration.


Zamrud nods, "If anything else comes to mind, I shall do so - for now I will content in writing up a short summation of the events to have transpired here, as well as a warning not to send ANYONE else after us. In the worst case scenario, hopefully whoever comes next will be more prepared…"

With that, he turns to accompany Billy/Good/Qhapaq to the theater room, on the hunt for more clues


"Hrm- I need to make you a new mask, Tiger. I do not like depriving you of yours, I understand the discomfort. We will work on one tomorrow, I think."

"I, ah, do not have lockpicks. I will just try to not be late." He suggests, shrugging a little. "I am not one to write reports, however."

"Hrm… why would that be, Good? Is she… not as she seems?"


"She said she's a deceiver, that she brought down a castle."


As you start to open up, Godspeed puts on a kettle of hot water, and opens a cabinet. You see a plethora of different teas for the choosing. She gestures to the teas, inviting you in silence to take or request tea as you wish.

"Overrun… and yet… I take it, then that the blessed fission was not invoked."


Right… that was to be the conclusion of your mission: Arming the Sword of the Five Gods at the heart of Agatecastle, so as to avenge the dead, obliterate the Dreaded, and purify the land all about in the holy light of the blessed fission. And yet… you never did that. You recall orders to wait for a new command structure to arrive. You have been waiting. You are still waiting even now for them to arrive… even as you attend classes and complete homework here… so many hundreds of miles away. Waiting… waiting for…

A rush. Vertigo. The bends. Surfacing, you tread water, one ear to the water's depths, one ear to the sky, lit by…

Godspeed looks at you. Her empathy remains there… but now there's something else. A kind of scientific curiosity. Does she sense now your teetering upon the boundaries of two realities, this world and its Alter?

As Tiger Mask finally deciphers La Senorita's intentions, they turn to you and Peyote. You can see no eyes in their face, but you know this gryphon needs a wing-brother. Thankfully you have plenty of wings to spare.


With Truth gone, the focus turns to Good's troubling new assertion. "I'm sorry…" Ride says. "What?"

The others look like they share his baffled and troubled feeling.


"Oh." Was that a euphemism for something, or a statement of a literal action? Either way, it looks to be quite negative.


Deadweight sees the nurse gesture to some teas, and she mutters, "Um, black, thanks." The words that then come out of Godspeed's mouth barely make any sense, but they ring a bell. Many bells. They're deafening, and Deadweight feels her brain rattle in her skull—and leap out of it. After a moment, she nods slowly.


Zamrud turns towards Good with less surprise on his face than some of the others. "Honestly, I think that is wise." After Truth left, he looked down towards where she had went. "We had our suspicions on her from the start. There were many things that did not add up upon our arrival, and now with this talk of Alters and… just…" he hesitates, rubbing his temples, "I'm not one to trust my 'gut' often, I prefer having a sound argument for distrusting someone, but all this time something has never quite felt right with her. I am all but convinced she is Lux, though I think it important to work with her given she has no more reason to stay here than we do."

"But," he adds, "Bringing down a Castle… that is news to me. Did your sister share any details?"


Lost wobbled a bit in place, falling on her security blanket a bit.

Dhampir, are you there? Please… please tell me your here.

She shook her head "Green please." she mumbled softly.


Deadweight now takes her turn to comfort her friend and pats her gently.



[1d10] ???

Roll #1 10 = 10


Qhapaq tilts his head to the side and hums softly, before reaching over and setting a heavy set of talons on the shadow-griffon's shoulder briefly, as a measure of support. "We can talk of it later, I think- Good has shared something important."

"Hrm… should we continue to act as if we have not been informed of this? I do not know if it would be better to pounce, or to wait for her to act first, so to speak."


Good paused before sighing "She said… she helped kill a king."


>Everyone besides Lost/Deadweight
"Lux Deorum…" Herb repeats in thought. "I thought they were just secret police, like, intelligencers within Ironcastle."

Ride shakes his head. "There are rumors that some high-level agents even go beyond the walls of the Castle… but those rumors say they're going to spy on other Castles. This is an Outlands phenomenon, the domain of the Warriors and other deputations, such as ourselves. It's odd, but not necessarily impossible that a high level spy would be out here… especially if the Tree of Evil produces Crystal Hearts, which as far as we knew, only the Hearts of the Castles could do that."

"But…" Assembly says. "Isn't that Kirk's discovery? For Truth to be sent out on that premise, they would already have to know that the Tree produces Crystal Hearts."

Assembly then gasps, drops everything, and starts to check under chairs and the conference table. Picking up on his meaning, the others join him in scouring the room. However, you turn up no hidden cameras, listening devices or other commonly-imagined surveillance equipment.

"Hold it," Lone Star says. "Does your sister have any… you know, proof of all that? I thought Lost was a student here."

"Only as far as the Tree's concerned," Ride says. "I suppose then that there must be… another Lost Hope out there who saw the things that made her distrust Truth."

"Wait, so this isn't… the real Lost Hope?" Herb repeats, confused. "But then she still remembers that other stuff?"

"Er…" Ride grumbles. "Whatever the case, my point is that I trust Good, and Good trusts Lost. It's the…" he consults a textbook. "Associative property!"

Godspeed sets out tea for the two of you.

"Can you tell me anything else?" she asks. "Anything – or nothing at all, depending on your comfort."

With a prayer, you reach out, mind and soul to the one who has given everything for you, twice over…

…and lurch back as you behold him. He's gyrating on the post-midterm dance floor of some dorm room, made anonymous by rave lights and a smoke machine. He grooves, boogies and dances, Quaking Amid his fellow Evil-doers and Heretics until Dusk comes with its Blood-red Doom… for some reason you keep thinking about all the violent video games he plays. He is your twin– or perhaps you are more like the second draft; he was first, as he loves to remind you. That's him alright… alive and well.


Zamrud furrows his brow in contemplation as Good reveals she killed a king. "I see… did your sister mention which Castle she overthrew?"

He turns to look at Qhapaq, nodding, "It would be wise to continue to act as though we are still in the dark. A blade is best kept hidden out of sight… and at any rate, we're still trapped in here with her. We need her expertise if we're going to have a hope of escape - she and her team have the most experience and I would rather have her working with us than against us. At least until we've freed ourselves of this simulation."

He turns to look at Ride, "I was under the same assumption, yes… the Lux are meant to only keep the peace in IronCastle, but knowing what lengths they will go to I would not be surprised to learn they might go beyond the Castle walls to protect IronCastle by sabotaging another Castle. But to murder a king and conduct a coup… if Truth truly did something like this, we should inform His Majesty. Surely our king wouldn't have condoned such an act."



"Agate I assume, as I believe she mentioned going there before. She didn't name it specifically, but context would lead me to believe she was involved in the fall of Agatecastle."

He furrowed his brow "We could probably pump them for more info later."


Lost shook and let out a sigh of relief knowing he was here… she wished he was still in her head, but she would see him soon, and introduce him to Good.

She opened her eyes with a sigh "IT was… alot, and we nearly died… but we didn't."


Deadweight picks up her black tea and takes a sip. Feeling safe with the nurse, she opens up a little more. "Y—yeah, the second part of our mission was to arm the… Sword of the Five Gods, but we never did, and now we're waiting for replacement leadership." Her tone is more collected now, becoming more accustomed to this… new state of being, and perhaps borrowing some of her alternate self's fortitude.

Deadweight nods in confirmation, and as if she was no longer a schoolgirl but a seasoned Warrior, she recounts, "We defeated the Necromancer, our principal adversary in Agatecastle. It was a fierce battle with many casualties. And after it, we all had a… dream…" Deadweight furrows her brows in concentration, trying to recall not only a dream but a dream of her alternate self. "It was of another world, different from this one or the Castles, a more pleasant world. It… might've not even been a dream. We might've been living as our Alters of that world, but we treated it like a dream." She furrows her brows more, focusing on a faint memory. "And there… were three figures… a dragon… a quadruped with cybernetics… and… a changeling who looked a lot like Professor Truth…"





Roll #1 2 = 2


[1d10] perception

Roll #1 6 = 6


"What is there to worry about spies? Or what should we expect from any, foreign or local? Does it change the situation now or after we leave the tree, as I wouldn't feel good to fight anyone we have spent time working with. Maybe even be honest at the forefront of the conversation" Billy offers up his own thoughts.


"Hrm- well, maybe she is a copy, memories included? But how would a copy be made… is it based off of memories of her?"

"Hrmh. Should we plan on capturing them later?"


Ride looks especially troubled as he considers the idea of a Lux Deorum agent destroying another Castle. "A rogue agent, perhaps…? I can scarcely imagine any Castle-dweller, no matter how unscrupulous, being willing to destroy another Castle – let alone our good Iron King. There are so precious few Castles left standing against the eternal darkness… No. Surely this was not on the Iron King's orders. It… couldn't have been."

He shakes his head as if to ward off the very idea. "Supposing then that Lost's reading of the situation is correct, you are right, Zamrud. Truth is far too dangerous to confront in any way. Meursault, Rieux and Clamence are likewise not to be roused to any suspicion. As for change, Billy… nothing should change now. Loathe as I am to consider making common cause with someone who would take up arms against another Castle… Truth, as far as we know, still works for Ironcastle, as do we. Why would she destroy another Castle if not to somehow advance the position of Ironcastle? She would not turn her wickedness against us without reason."

Assembly's eyes widen. "What about Vestal– I mean, Exarch Godspeed? She's from Zinccastle… Lost didn't say anything about her being involved in that Agatecastle business, did she?"

Lone Star shrugs. "That might not be a bad theory. Psy-chrono Hypothesis and all that. But then… that would imply that Lost was a student here at the Time Long Forgotten, wouldn't it? One of the students remembered her, so the Tree of Evil's conjuring her from those memories? That sound plausible?"

"Uh… maybe," Herb says. "But then why would there be another Lost Hope in this, our present age? She's Good's sister, here and now– that's IT!" Everyone blinks at Herb's eureka outburst. "The Tree of Evil is pulling Lost Hope from Good's memories!"

Good Intentions, of course, knows the precise problem with that hypothesis. And if Lost Hope were here, she'd know yet another problem– the existence of Dhampir. Not as a pestering, Dreaded voice inside her head… but as her flesh-and-blood brother.

Godspeed nods. "Right… you say you're waiting there, even now, then…? Can you tell me just how long you have been waiting?"

"Oh," Godspeed then adds before you can respond. "Sorry, before you answer. I need to see your student ID cards, please. We log student visits for budget reasons, but that's all– I won't record anything you don't give me your express permission for."

Something's bothering Lost about this conversation… but she can't quite pinpoint it. (roll again)


"Hmm, if this is something that can't wait until we get to the castle, I wouldn't mind being with you to ask about the why when we are out of this tree." Billy tries to offer his support to Ride.


"Ah, r… right…" Deadweight says as she's broken from her trance and grabs her student ID card.


"That is what I meant, yes- it could perhaps pluck beings from our own minds, and our memories. After all, my companion was taken from my dreams and visions, and given form. It seems reasonable that one could create a 'student' from their memories of them." He replies, before coughing a little- he looks like he maybe talked a little more than he's used to- especially without a proper mask.


Once she shows the nurse her ID card, she answers, "Two weeks, and we might be waiting for at least another."


Zamrud nods. "It is difficult to choose how to act without absolute proof, but I agree we should act on the side if caution. The 'why' can wait to be answered, for now it is best we assume Truth had some involvement in it, and to treat her with the due amount of suspicion."

As they suggest Lost Hope may have been created from Good's memory, he looks at Good with concern. "It… is rather coincidental we should find your long lost sister under these circumstances, but at the same time she seems aware of events that none of us do, like Agatecastle"


Not quite on that front as there is another here, one known as Dhampir, a being connected to Lost, who is also here as flesh and blood. Which means this is the version of him from here as far as I can tell."

HE sighed a bit "I agree about not making a move until we have a reason to, but keep any info need to know from them."


Lost was a bit slower in reaching for her badge, squinting a bit at Godspeed.

[1d10] Special Eyes

Roll #1 5 = 5


Ride offers you a fist-bump, glad for your solidarity.

Godspeed jots down your student ID numbers.

"Two weeks…" she repeats. "…is that so."

Is… that… so…? Something about that phrasing isn't sitting right with you.

>roll ???. This roll will succeed on a 4, a 5, or a 9, or if it is plus-or-minus one of any of these, the holy numbers.

La Senorita starts looking a bit worried. Perhaps the suggestion that the former Tiger Mask's existence is contingent on the Tree of Evil is giving her some fear of missing out. Tiger Mask ducks behind you to fix up their head-feathers.

"B-but," Lone Star stutters, racking her brain. "Zamrud's right. Whose mind did Lost Hope come from? If it's from a student in the Time Long Forgotten, how could she be a citizen of Ironcastle? If she's from Good's memories, why is she talking about things she experienced in another Castle just recently?"

Herb scratches his chin. "Lost seemed like she could remember both modern events and those of the school… maybe it's both… like she's some kind of composite of the two? What if that's where this talk about Alters is supposed to come in?"

Locomotive yawns. Next to him, Origami has his head down, studying Kirk's disorienting notebook. Truth took the orderly notebook with her. Origami looks exhausted, and his head bobs from time to time as he blinks away sleep, yet he continues to pore over it, looking for some, or any clue of his friend's whereabouts.


Deadweight furrows her brows at the nurse. She's afraid she trusted her too easily.



Roll #1 6 = 6


Billy returns Ride's the fist-bump with a nod.

"What can IO help with the here and now? There is the theatre, though nothing else is coming to mind." Billy tilts his head, not thinking about studying for any further exams.


Qhapaq gives a concerned, apologetic look, reaching over to pat Señiorita's shoulder.

"Mm… maybe she is a mix of multiple people's memories? An, ah, Alter' yes- or her thoughts mingled with someone else's."


"The Tree probably does have some role in manifesting Lost, but given her knowledge I do not know if we could simply write her off as a construct of it either. The Tree, evidently, has many abilities we are only just learning about. It is wise I think to expect anything from it by this point."

"At the least, I see no reason not to trust Lost Hope until she gives is one…" like Truth, he thinks to himself


Lost shook her head, trying to bring her self out of whatever this was.



Roll #1 9 = 9


"Do any of you have snacks? If so I may be able to bribe Dexter into trying to help us decipher what it means." he offered before moving to La Senorita.

He approached the large mare and leaned into her, trying to give her his best reassurance .

"I can't say why she's here but she is, perhaps my mothers meddling, she is one to do things nobody expects." he offered half heartedly


Indeed you have remembered true. You have been waiting two weeks. This is so. And yet you recall also a companion to this fact. The wait has been twelve months in length. This is so as well. These unequal durations of time are in fact equal; one and the same, and also utterly different. They increase, but at different rates– the first increases by sporadic bursts, then freezes, and jumps again; the second trudges along at its unchanging rate, unbound to anything but the eternal course of that other Time which has only a tangential blood relation to your own… yet upon which your own is so cyclically bound, an inner wheel spiraling within the gearworks of a greater centrifuge.

And then, for Lost, it clicks into place, as simple as the movement of the hands of the clock.

Deadweight accused a quadruped wearing cybernetic limbs of being among the killers of Agatecastle. Meursault, Rieux and Clamence all fit that criteria, at least in part– for all three have at least some of their biological limbs still upon them.

Whatever the case, only one such limbed individual stood beside Truth and the Dragon at the demise of Agatecastle.

Yet– Godspeed did not question the identity of this individual.

As if such things needed no explanation to her.

Your allies amass some pitiful snacks before Dexter, whatever survived the last minute study sessions before your test. Dexter peeks over it, claiming the finest vittles, and organizing the remainder for the garbage bins. Before he can eat, he yawns too.

"Hmmmph…" Ride grunts. "Perhaps this is all something best slept upon before we act. Then – assuming we all passed midterms – we can formulate a plan."

"Oh man…" Origami says. "Kirk was a theater kid this whole time!? That explains a lot…"

Locomotive nods sagely. "He was always chewing the scenery, even near the end."

"Not the end!" Origami protests. "The dude is still alive! But he's probably somewhere in the Theater… we'll find his ass sooner or later. When I'm not so damn tired…"


Deadweight now furrows her brows to herself, trying to rectify this egregiously conflicting information. It's a little dizzying.


Rest would be good, We can meet tomorrow and discuss this." he said admitting he was a bit tired himself, the adrenaline wearing off.


"Honestly, I assumed that we would immediately be poofed away if we had failed exams. So I haven't felt worried about it at all. honestly. Is that bad?" Billy suddenly gains a worried look on his face after considering that he just might not pass after it all.


"Sleeping on it would be nice, I think- take a little time to get ready, and head off." He comments, before cocking his head to the side and… frowning. "Ah. Chewing the Scenery? Would eating props not be a problem for, ah, theatres?"


Zamrud stifles a yawn as well, seeing the cascade of fatigue pass around his students and comrades. "I was keen on investigating the Theater this evening, but… given the day's rather intensive events, perhaps resting until tomorrow wouldn't be a bad call. We will see what other answers the theater may hold after we've had a good night's rest."

"It would be good to think on all we have learned and process it, as well. The Tree of Evil and its Crystal Hearts, Truth, Agate Castle, Lost Hope's connection to both… it is a lot of information to take in at once."


Lost blinked and looked at her with incredulity "You know who it is don't you?" she asked out of the blue and a touch bluntly.


"You'll have to be more specific," Godspeed retorts, her tone not defensive, but prompting. Show your math, as if to say.


"I said there was someone with mechanical limbs, something vague with a few people, and you haven't pumped me on details… like you know which one of them was with her."


"Supposing I knew… how would that knowledge help either of us here and now?" Godspeed asks, leaning back in her chair. "An investigator uncovers financial corruption among Sages and Nobles. Receipts are traced. Informers and brokers identified. Exposes run in the papers. Yet, the money is still gone. The judge and jury realize what's good for them. The case stalls. The news cycle wanders elsewhere. The attention of the public returns to their immediate concerns. Work to do, bills to pay."

Godspeed's sigh is heavy and deep, as if she has had this conversation before, performing both the role of accuser and defendant, sometimes simultaneously.


As a respite, Deadweight sips her tea and observes their conversation as if she was reading a mystery novel.


"It's a rich school, so it's like complimentary snacks," Locomotive shrugs. "I think the ones painted like bushes are the tastiest."

"We need to take you to a doctor…" Lone Star mutters. "And a shrink."

>Lost, Deadweight



With that, everyone starts to pack up so they can head back and catch some shut-eye after such an arduous Cycle.


It's a little difficult for a time– the post-midterm partying has continued well into the Dark Hours. They seem fond of one particular dance track and dance move, and the bass has been cranked up so high that one could use it to perform CPR. Mercifully, Clamence and Grutar eventually break in, pulling double duty as campus security, and chase off the partygoers. Far from ruining the mood of the celebrants, this ends the party on a high note, for the thrill of pissing off someone with authority is all part of the fun of such shenanigans. Lost and Deadweight catch Dhampir scurrying away in the company of some zawatil students, but he barely says hello before jumping over a fence (which he could have easily gone around) and darting away into the darkness.

At last, then, you fall asleep. You are so exhausted that you hardly even dream… but this is hardly an issue, for such exhaustion makes the sleep all the more refreshing in the moments after you awake. You gather in the cafeteria, as per usual. Classes are scheduled to continue this Cycle, but you can expect them to be quite light, for the professors each now have to grade a heavy stack of tests… and would much rather put off teaching so they can focus on that. Zamrud shall have his own trial soon enough.

Dexter and Trajan split their breakfast, discussing among themselves things only critters can know.


Zamrud wanders into the cafeteria with an evident headache and a loud yawn. He had tried to get a head start on the papers he was set to grade by waking up early this morning, despite the festivities of the night prior, and in addition to barely making more than a dent in the stack of tests he was expected to get through by the end of the week, he was even more exhausted than anticipated. A grave miscalculation as he moves up to the counter.

"Triple shot expresso, please. No milk." An unheard of order for Zamrud, who almost exclusively took his coffee with a healthy dose of milk or cream.


Billy follows along with his group, his ears tied down and covered with one of his uniforms. Billy slouches at the table, leaning against his arms that rest upon it. "Mmm, so how is it going?"


"You're not bothered by the fact they killed a castle? That they are wiping out some of the only remaining normal people? Does that not bother you!" Lost said genuinely distressed by her seeming disinterest.

>Last post for now


Good remained in his seats, evaluating his personal notes and thoughts as the as his two companion had a meal together. He had opted for a toaster pastry and a drink and little else as he didn't want a big meal weighing him down today.


It's rare to see Lost so impassioned, and Deadweight savors it as she sips her tea.


"If I told you how many times I've had to ask myself that… I wonder what your reaction would be. Even now I struggle to act– whether to play through the part I have auditioned for… or to throw out the script and force a live improvisation. The trouble with the latter approach is that the other actors may close ranks, and cast you off from the stage, if you choose the inopportune time to flip the script. Sometimes you must share a stage with someone you'd rather strangle… in order to reach the ending you want. Not the ideal ending for yourself, but the ending you wish to give to the audience."

She closes her notebook. "Maybe I should have been the theater teacher. The nurse uniform is cute, though, so I won't complain. Ladies, I think a bit of shut-eye will do us all some good."


"Mmm. I am not keen on vegetation, but I will… take your word for it." Qhapaq muses, flicking his tail.

Qhapaq stays away from most of the partying, as he's hardly big on social gatherings to begin with, moreso when he feels exposed as he does. He is all too happy to retire to sleep and wait for the morning to come- which it does pretty quickly! He's rarely one to lay awake.

Qhapaq would return to the cafeteria with the others, after having rounded up Tiger and Peyote.

Qhapaq tilts his head to the side and frowns, reaching over to grasp his friend on the shoulder firmly. "You do not look well, friend. Can I help?"


Deadweight nods and puts her now empty cup on a nearby surface. She's had her fill of… whatever this was.


"Why not just make them disappear then? If they don't know you know, it should be easy." she ruminated in a bit of surprising darkness "Not like they'd be missed." she added bitterly


Everyone piles in to the group table. They're pretty much following Good and Zamrud's lead, having a rather spartan breakfast. The only ones with some energy are Peyote, La Senorita and Tiger Mask, but they're sitting on one end so as not to disturb you with their energy. Peyote seems to have gotten the other two in on some game on the old misery-rectangle. A snail-based battler, it seems. Herb, despite clearly looking like he wants to join the snail battles, looks over the table.

"Alright… any big plans for this week?"

"Hitting the theater…" Ride grumbles over his half-eaten cereal, which has failed to lessen his headache. "…eventually."


"Saving the world but thats on the docket every week." he said dryly as he sipped from his milk carton, chocolate today.

"I shall allow Dexter an attempt at the book to try and make sense of it, after that, perhaps the theater."


"I'm not in the business of taking on battles I have no chance of winning," Godspeed answers. "Trust me… I've considered a number of angles in the time I have been at this. Sometimes the only move one can make, for a time… is to wait, no matter how unpleasant that notion is."


A shadow descended over Lost as she was very unhappy to hear that "You don't know what we saw in there. We can't just sit and wait… Those people are… they're worse than dreaded ones."


NAme, whoops


"I rather we don't make enemies in here, if it can be helped. In here we might never see the castle again. There should be some kind of truce, I think."

"I plan on heading to the theater with everyone else as well. See if there is anything I can do to help." Billy gives off a weak smile.


"An honest question, dear…" Godspeed says, a frown crossing her face. "Do you think you could defeat me? Because if you could not, then you stand no chance of defeating the lot of them. But, if you can… well, I suppose I could sign your permission slip for the big battle."


Deadweight wishes she had some popcorn, or at least some more tea to sip.


After what transpired yesterday, Deadweight's world's been turned upside down—or perhaps "stretched beyond universes" is a more accurate way to describe it. Regardless, a girl's gotta eat.


Zamrud seems to snap to attention as Quapaq puts his claw on his shoulder, turning with a tired glance towards him. "Ah, fine, Quapaw, I'm just…" he lets out a lod yawn, "fine. Simply a miscalculation in how much work I had this morning. All I need is a steady supply of caffeine."

As Zamrud sits with the others, a tall cup of straight espresso keeping him upright, he turns to nod with Ride's assertion. "Absolutely the theater. Tonight, if possible… provided I can make a dent in this mountain of tests I need to grade…"


"Maybe, we beat Mogao and he had an army of ghosts and a giant white rock bigger than anything I've ever seen… but we had help with that." she said with a small sigh as she drank her tea once more.


Godspeed arches her eyebrow. "I see… well, I'll await your challenge, Miss Slayer-of-White-Rocks. But just do me a favor. Don't go and challenge any of them before you can prove you can beat me. I emphasize that I can't beat them. But if you can beat me… you'd have a slightly better chance than me to beat them. One percent is higher than zero percent. That's my obligation to you as school nurse."

She snacks on some candy.


Qhapaq considers sitting with Peyote and the others, but decides against it- they do have something important to do, after all. He doesn't eat a spartan breakfast at all; unsurprisingly, a griffon qhapaq's size eats a ton of food. "I intend to make use of the mask again. If I use it, I will be able to understand better, I believe. I think this opportunity should not be ignored."

"Mmm… I see. Is it, ah, 'teacher' work?"


"All solid plans," Herb agrees. "I do wonder, though… for exploring the theater, whether it's better to go in the light hours or the dark hours."
"We've still got classes scheduled," Lone Star says. "Even if all the professors are swamped, I haven't heard anything about cancellations."
Ride nods. "Going in early would give us more time to explore, but we'd miss class… and if the Time Long Forgotten is anything like our present age, then our professors would be unlikely to have sympathy on anyone playing hooky."
"Whereas if you guys go exploring in the dark hours," Assembly says. "That's less time to rest and recover before you have to get up to go to class again in the light hours."
"I'll make it work," Origami says. "Energy drinks never killed anybody."
"Fact-or-fiction – rating," La Senorita splices. "Not true."

A little chill passes through the air at the word "true." Your allies scan the cafeteria, but neither Truth nor any of her subordinates seem to be around.


She nodded silently, but doing everything in her power to remember this. "Can you tell me who the other was at the very least?"


"Ohohohoho, finally," Godspeed says. "I may not technically be a teacher but I've always wanted to do this! I can't give you the answer, my student. You must find it on your own. I can, however, give you a hint. The fact of the matter is that you've already met them. You simply need to put together the pieces which lay upon the table afore you."


"Perhaps a coordinated effort of going to the nurse in the first class, and using that as a cover for a daylight attempt? We'd have to use it sparingly if at all." he suggested

Good moved to bus his trash before moving to sit a touch closer to Senorita. He had been neglecting interacting with her much with his escapades lately so he figured he might catch up a bit as they discussed.

"Good morning Senorita, I hope this morning has found you well."


Billy raises a claw "We should definitely head out during light hours, for if all other navigation methods fail, we can use the bells to navigate out of the theater."


"Mmm, I think it might be safer for us to not skip classes, so to speak. Or, at least, not skip classes where we might be missed." He remarks, shrugging a little. "Perhaps skipping a single class to go look could be good? Or, ah… during lunch? We could eat something quick, or get something mobile."


"Quite so. MANY tests remain to be graded from yesterday and I tried to get a head start this morning." He yawns. "Barely a fraction I got through."
"I should like to go at night, 9 o'clock. Same as Kirk's schedule, at least according to his journal. I imagine if we were to find anything, it must be around then, no?"


"That's not a bad move," Herb says. "Vestal Godspeed would write us all the doctor's notes we want! Then they'd have to give us the notes for that Cycle's class."
Lone Star shakes her head. "Did nobody seriously ever just take a student at their word when they were sick?"

Senorita nods and smiles– she doesn't seem to mind the gaps in time spent together; she knows how often you're both busy. She does take the time to show off her favorite digital snails. Seems she's becoming fast friends with Peyote and Tiger Mask.

"Let's consider rotating approaches," Ride says. "Some can enter in the light hours, others in the dark hours. With a tight-knit study circle, we can bridge the gaps in learning missed."
"Possibly…" Assembly says. "But, that means smaller parties for entering the theater. If you get attacked, that's a tougher battle…"
Origami shrugs and sighs. "No approach is gonna be completely without risk."
Lone Star raises her hand. "Uh, guys, let's not forget that we're going in to find someone specific: Kirk. Zamrud's right. Kirk should be in the theater late in the dark hours, practicing with all the other theater kids, or something. Wouldn't we be more likely to run into him then?"
"Maybe…" Herb says. "Then again, at least one of his notebooks seemed to suggest that he was taking every single class in the course catalogue."
"But the other notebook also had the late time slot for theater," Lone Star says. "The one consistency."
"That's a fair point," Ride concedes. "But we shouldn't forget that the theater labyrinth may lead to a weak point for the Tree of Evil. Even if there are certain lingering questions about the Tree, we should at least prepare to complete both halves of our mission."


Deadweight rolls her eyes's at the nurse's cheesy riddle.


"I hope this labyrinth doesn't lead to a dead end. The tree would truly be something evil if it is the sort to create death traps throughout itself." Billy makes a face of distaste.

"Though, I don't know of any other areas we could be looking into at this time."


"Mmm- yes. Split up into two groups… I would not mind going during either segment, but I could go during the day if others wish for cover of night. I am, ah, not sneaky."


"I'm glad you're making fast friends. Which one of the snails is your favorite favorite?" he asked as he looked them over.

"I feel rotating would be best too, keep things from possibly getting us all caught in a trap."


"Rotating groups is a very sensible approach actually, I agree: there may yet be something we miss if we do not investigate during the day hours as well, and there are enough of us we can keep safety in numbers either way."

"I cannot attend the day party… far too many classes to teach and I don't have a ready substitute, but I will be ready by 9 to check out the theater."


She combs through her snails and picks one with a funny hat. Gameplay wise, it's not the best in slot for anything… but Senorita neither knows nor cares. He's got character. And a funny hat.

With a consensus reached, the bell rings for the first class of the Cycle. Exhausted students all about you pack up to make ready to make the most of things… or at least, just to survive off caffeine and career ambition.

>divide teams as desired. When ready to enter the theater labyrinth, you may do so at your discretion.


"That snail had character. I can see why you picked him." he said with a grin

"I may need to pick this up at some point. It's quite cute."


"I am willing to head out anytime, anywhere, and with anyone!." Billy proclaims proudly, ready to go forth in his efforts to leave the tree as soon as possible.


>Day! He could also alternate between Day and Night
>Ready to enter when others are!


Zamrud makes plans for the night stage - given Herb's interest in finding Kirk in particular, he offers for him to come along for the night party as well. Otherwise, he leaves it to the others as to what time of day they best feel suited for attending the theater…. PREFERABLY with as missing as few classes as possible, as not to jeopardize their grades. Just because we just finished Mid-terms doesn't mean the school is about to get lax


For some reason you get the strangest feeling that Lost – or perhaps someone she knows – might really be into this game as well…

Peyote offers his claw for a shake. "Oh, I can help you get started. I'm Peyote, by the by."

You've already gotten this fella's introduction… but he's a forgetful one, it seems. You might get it a few more times too.


Ride or Die, being a minotaur of action, offers his team to explore the theater labyrinth in the light hours, bravely sacrificing their class time for more ordinary duties of an Ironcastle explorer. But, you'll have to pick up a few of their classes, so that they will not fall behind on their studies.

>each of you, pick a member of Ride's team to cover studies for: Ride, Assembly, Bet, Gimmel, and Dorya. Then, roll for covering their studies and balancing your own. Any bonuses to perception or knowledge apply here.

>also, add a permanent +1 to knowledge checks as a reward for your surviving the first wave of midterms


Good made a note to have her show Lost it later as he hummed and opted to cover Dorya's classes out of curiosity

"It's nice to meet you Peyote, I'm Good Intentions." he said happily taking the assistance without minding.


Zamrud offers to volunteer to cover Ride's studies, his position as a teacher giving him ample ability to help compensate for his skipping out on class. If any of the others are also in Chemistry, he will see if he can arrange an excused absence for them as well.


Qhapaq would likely cover for Ride or Die if given the chance. Hopefully he can do well!
>Sentry: Automatic Success. Being watchful for his own studies, and for Ride's!


Studying Roll

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11


"Hmm, I though I would be out more. Perhaps I should have made myself more eager?" Billy settles down in a class to cover for the team.

>Sentry: passive, recharge 4; You can declare one action you make to be Automatic instead of rolling.

>Sentry for Assembly and Billy


[1d10] Studying

Roll #1 8 = 8


You put your heads together and figure out a schedule for the lot of you to follow this Cycle so that you can cover your classes, plus those of Ride and his crew. There's little room for error, and you find yourselves having to run cross campus more than a couple times to make it all, but by the late afternoon, you've gotten both your own, and Ride or Die's classes covered.

While you've gotten a fair stack of notes on subjects ranging from geometry to music theory to geology and electrical engineering (for Ride's companions have a diverse set of interests), you've also ended up hearing a fair amount of rumors and local news from the student body – snippets from the Time Long Forgotten.


Apparently, in that lost and distant age, there were wars, and rumors of wars, spread far and distorted by the ancient technology known by the people of that time as "Internet" (surely, some manner of precursor to the Intranet you use in this, our present age). Throughout the lands of the Time Long Forgotten, there were many quarrelsome kings and princes, and the wise men and courtiers goaded them to do battle with their neighboring kingdoms, over valuable land, and desirable ports of trade, and for the glory of their gods.

The royals of that time would send envoys back and forth over the earth, and their messages were full of ill tidings and ominous prophecies. The magi of that lost and distant age had apparently forged mighty weapons of brimstone and smoke, such that could lay waste to a city with but a command. The kings and princes were possessed of these weapons, and whether they were brash royals or subtle ones, all would make threats to wield them against their foes.

These threats, broadcast over the communication systems of that ancient time period, were a source of worry for the people. Even the students of Agape Academy were not truly safe from such dreadful weapons. And so, most of the rumors you have heard this Cycle have been about this strife between the nations – and the threat of these weapons.



You meet back up again in the cafeteria for dinner. You espy Vestal Godspeed in line for her food, as well as Peyote and Tiger Mask not too far behind her. La Senorita has already gotten you a big table. Ride and his team are not back quite yet… but they said they'd be back around this time. You have but to wait.

As ever, you don't see Truth, Meursault, Rieux or Clamence anywhere.


"How did things go?" Billy props his head on his arm, a moment of rest in a weak attempt of keeping himself up after the classes. "Can't say I will be disappointed with no news after the time we have been here."


"Hrm… while it seems as if things were much better back at this point, it was far from peaceful. I suppose there upsides and downsides to any point in time one could live in." He remarks on the rumors he'd heard, between bites of food. Today, it's an enormous sandwich.


Zamrud, upon finishing a particularly arduous day of lessons (especially in doing his part to help cover for Ride's team), he is eager to speak with Ride to see what they may have learned during their day trip to the Theater hall. Though, noticing that they don't appear to have arrived for dinner as of yet, he decides to distract himself as he spots Godspeed waiting in line.

He walks up to join her in line (not cutting though) as he offers her a friendly wave. "Evening, Godspeed. Things slow in the nurse's office today, I should hope."


I learned about weapons most terrible, which given recent revelations about castle relations, is quite perturbing."


Good seemed to have opted for a hearty dinner of potatoes and roasted veggies.


That's one tasty sandwich.

La Senorita, having her origins in the Time Long Forgotten, nods, her expression sullen. Perhaps her nascent years were contemporaneous with this dreadful period of strife. "Entry updated: ICBM."

"Unfortunately, no," Godspeed says. "Lots of students are finally coming down the caffeine and sugar overloads they took on for midterms… not to mention coming down from all the partying that came afterwards. Nothing serious, fortunately. The worst they suffered was a lecture from me about taking better care of their health. I just hope Ride's team won't come back with anything more severe."


Soon enough, Herb's crew comes to your table, as does Peyote, Tiger, and Godspeed. Seems everyone had an alright enough Cycle, judging by the small talk, but it's a bit on the curt side, for everyone's thoughts are on Ride's crew–

–Who come stumbling in through the cafeteria doors. They don't appear injured, as far as you can tell, but they're slouching, with stiff gaits, suffering obvious exhaustion. They nearly resemble first-time explorers of the Outlands, who so often underestimate the strain that its lonesome roads will put upon the body. Godspeed, Peyote and Lone Star are quick to jump up and help the crew find a place to sit nearby. Ride casts a glance of concern over the rest of his crew, and, finding that his fellows haven't keeled over dead, turns back to you. "And here I did not think dust could be stacked that high!" he half-laughs, half-coughs.

Godspeed clicks her tongue at his humor. "Someone, please go get us some Crocodrink. They're badly dehydrated."

"Red flavor, please," Dorya requests.


"Did something happen? Any interesting tales you bring from where no else goes?" Billy asks with a tilt of his head, eager to hear anything any kind of news.


"AH! Yes, I suppose that makes sense… they certainly did go late last evening, I suppose everyone's jubilation must have had consequences sooner or later. Still, glad to hear it's nothing serious. Upset stomachs or headaches are probably a small price to pay for letting off steam."

As Ride's team finally come into the lunch room, Zamrud looks surprised at how ragged they appear - particularly given their experience in the Outlands.

He stands up, volunteering to get them beverages, but stops to ask, "That bad?"


"So, how did you get out if I may ask?" he asked as he joined Zamrud on fetching the drinks, as well as some more for the rest.


File: 1719803351546.png (379.86 KB, 625x625, Backstage_I_Roots.png)

Ride nods. "Our automapper tools produced a map of the first floor of the strange labyrinth inside the theater. I shall transfer it to you now."

"A combination of thread and breadcrumbs!" Ride says. "Both methods failed at their *intended* purpose. The thread broke and something ate the breadcrumbs. But since our adversaries were so busy with those, they were too distracted to stop us."


Ride sends out a message to your groupchat, containing a map file. Your map tools download and process the file, and then display it for your review. You behold a most passing strange floor plan, such that exceeds the dimensions of the building housing the school's theater.

"We entered here, at the stairs near the room labeled 14," Ride says. "Just as Billy and Good reported, the space of the theater's Backstage area is highly warped. It even made the automapper function glitch out from time to time. That's why the numbers are so random and haphazard."

Herb tilts his head. "Any hostiles in there? Dreaded Ones?"

"A few monsters," Assembly says. "But I don't think they were Dreaded. Our suits didn't register any biological or spiritual contamination in the atmosphere. That's what usually ID's a Dreaded versus a natural creature in the Outlands. The ones that attacked us looked like big termites and other bugs. And, we encountered a few little critters, like Dexter over there. But, they didn't attack us – just scattered soon after they saw us."

"You only got the one floor?" Origami gripes, earning a withering stare from Lone Star.

"S-sorry," Bet stammers. "But by the time we got all the rooms, we were exhausted. It was like we had been hiking from the light hours to the dark hours. We took a lot of breaks and drank almost all our water, but we couldn't go very far without feeling drained."

Peyote scratches his beak. "Perhaps simply being in that peculiar zone has an outsized effect on your stamina…"


"That is great news! The place certainly felt like it was changing on me when I traveled through it." Billy nodded.

Billy makes sure to have the map on his own device as he receives it, his attention rapt to listening about the labrynth. "Happy to hear the beasties didn't give you any trouble, perhaps they are scared of larger groups?"


Zamrud looks over the map as he downloads it from the group chat. He looks over the labyrinthine realm of the theater's backstage, then puts his phone back to nod in appreciation towards Ride.

"This looks quite extensive. Given how far it extends, you should be commended for being able to map the floor in its entirety. Thank you," he says, pointing towards room 21 on the map, "Is this the only other stairway you found? Does it go upstairs or down?"


"Interesting, I went up a few stairs but they seemed to go on infinitely."


"Icy BMs?" Qhapaq asks, cocking his head to the side and frowning slightly. "What exactly did they do?"

"Hmm… Bugs? I can handle bugs, for sure. I have covered your classes, and will give you the notes." Qhapaq types. Or, at least, tries to type- he's not super great at it. He gets the message across, mostly, and frowns a bit. "I think Peyote is right- perhaps it is more of a struggle than it appears, and it warps more than the space."


"Hmm… I don't quite know why the space would rearrange itself while you were there, but remain relatively consistent during our time in there," Ride notes. "Would our greater numbers have something to do with it? Perhaps whatever force manipulates the space is intimidated by large groups, just the same as the monsters were. Tch, I hope the map will still be accurate the next time someone goes in there."

"Indeed," Ride says. "If you intend to go in there during the dark hours, I suggest you beeline it for those stairs and disregard the rest, to save enough of your stamina for the second floor."

"We'll be on standby for an evac," Herb says. "Don't hesitate to call if you're too low on energy to escape."

"Intercontinental ballistic missile," La Senorita says.

"Oh," Peyote says. "I thumbed through a dictionary for that. I've not heard the word 'intercontinental' before. Ballistics, missiles, I already knew– I am quite skilled with bow and sling alike. But 'intercontinental', I did not. That word suggests that there are other landmasses out in the world, separated from this one that we are standing on by vast pools of water, called 'oceans.'… your Castle-dweller friends call this landmass 'the Diskos,' but as far as they knew, all the world was just this one land. Even I was unfamiliar with that idea. Mayhaps the world was much bigger in the old times… big enough that one prince would want to throw a missile all the way across the world at his foe… and all his subjects too."

He sighs. "An horrid business, what those who hide in Castles get up to… but I think I'd like to see this 'ocean' the book spoke of."


Ride's crew, despite their encroaching need for sleep, gladly take the notes from Qhapaq.

"Many thanks, good sir…" Ride says, glancing over at his allies, who look ready to snooze right there in the cafeteria. "But I worry we will still by out of commission next Cycle with how exhausting this trip was."

Herb nods. "My crew will alternate with yours on the first shift… we might even want to save the exploration for the weekends, and focus on our classes during the rest of the week."

"Fuck," Origami groans. "It's always something…"


Zamrud nods his head to Ride, "Understood. That sounds wise, we'll make a straight shot for the stairs and at the bare minimum, we'll map out the second floor. Progress may be slow at this rate but there's still quite a bit of time until the end of the semester. We have the luxury of being cautious."


"I'd be lying if I didn't say that wasn't an ideal setup, Perhaps even a massive group for one day and rest the next."


"Sounds like this unfortunately requires some experimentation, if we even have the time for such a thing." Billy looks quite upset going bleh.


Qhapaq listens intently to the explanation of an ICBM, frowning a little bit and cocking his head to the side. It certainly doesn't sound particularly good… the ocean catches his attention, though. "I too, would like to see the ocean someday. If such a thing exists."


"Ah," Peyote says. "That brings me to another curious point… I happened to espy a book of maps in the library as well. An 'atlas' they called it. One such map held the location of this Academy. According to it, the nearest of these 'oceans' is quite some distance afield from the Academy… but I do question if this be true. You see, I did not find any of the nearby landmarks I passed on my way to the Academy… not merely the towns and roads of the ancients, but valleys, mountains, watersheds and the like. The Old World must have seen some drastic changes between now and the present, I suppose. Could the 'ocean' have moved as well, do you think?"

"Four months left until the end of the semester…" Herb says. "Funny… we've been through it a few times already, but there's still never enough time in a Cycle to do everything you need…"

Assembly nods. "And only two months until the next midterms. If we put too much time into the theater labyrinth, we'll risk being wiped out by mere test questions…"

The bell signaling the end of dinner rings. All too glad for it, Ride's crew start packing up to leave for bed. Herb's crew start to do the same.


"Hmm… that the weapons they used could cause upheaval of even the ground upon which we walk… I do not think it is out of the question that the waters could be moved or altered, or maybe reduced?" He remarks, frowning.

"Mm. So balance school and exploration, yes."


"Feels like we have been longer, yet shorter, if that makes any sense." Billy looks bothered by his own thought.

"After our first foray, I don't think I fear the test questions as much as I should.. In a strange way it felt familiar, that is if it will be similar to how it last went." Billy shrugs, helpless with the situation at claw.


Zamrud chuckles to himself. "That is the tragedy of your school days, isn't it? You have more ambition and drive than the hours in the day allow. You are only young once and yet only given a short amount of time to enjoy it."

He laughs a bit more loudly. "It is funny. In any other situation Agape Academy would be a relaxing experience of sorts. I'd be in denial if I said I wasn't enjoying the experience of being in school again, even if it is a teacher…"

He passes and collects himself. "Forgive me, I was getting a tad emotional. At any rate, however little time we have, exploring the Backstage is worth the investment. We will let you know what else we find thus evening."


"Perhaps we can hope someone resets the year and gives us time to beat it if the grind is too hard." Good said in a mix of a poor attempt at humor and a bit of copium. He rubbed his brows a bit.

"Any advice from you two?" he asked his companions "Or you Senorita?"


"Perhaps… ah… mayhap the craters left behind by the ICBMs gave rise to new lakes, new valleys and mountain ridges upon land… and if nothing else, reshaped the very 'shore-line' where ocean was said to meet land. It seems wrath animated the so-called 'First Ancestors' of the Castle-dwellers just as much as wisdom did. 'Tis hard to believe that our own ancestors would be born of a common corpse as theirs."

Trajan's busy sharpening his sword, while Dexter is busy braiding La Senorita's mane.

"Seven – or more – hours of sleep," La Senorita advises. "Water – a healthy diet – exercise – work-life balance. Life can be a challenge – same as it ever was."

A shell-shocked shudder passes through the group as Good jokes about the possibility of another newcomer resetting the school semester again.

"If they do…" Herb says. "They're gonna be the ones to cover our classes for us. I don't care who walks in, even the Iron King himself… But hey, we've done it before, we can do it again."

"Wait a sec," Dorya says. "This ain't your guys's first rodeo. The first time you went through the semester, did you fight those monsters during the midterms? Or notice anything weird about the theater?"

Lone Star shakes her head. "It was all pretty conventional school stuff the first time through. Well, as conventional as a cut-throat competitive college like this could be. But, no monsters during the tests, at least, and no labyrinths. Like Zamrud said, it was easy to just wake up in light hours and believe I was just back in school in Ironcastle until something reminded me of reality."

"Hmm…" Assembly says. "It's as if with each new run-through, the illusion of the past further gives way to the abominable present of the Outlands."

Locomotive nods. "Like a reel of film fraying, as it's replayed again and again."

The others blink hearing such a poetic metaphor coming from the local dingus.

>timeskip to Kirk's scheduled theater practice available


"Does any of the content or what is being taught change from a reset school semester? Or are we made to forget?" Billy asks of the veteran group.


Zamrud contemplates the idea that the 'memories' of Agape Academy becoming more and more distorted with each reset, becoming more like the Outlands from which they came.

"That *IS* something of a concern… though, it would also seem to suggest that if the school year is reset enough times, it would simply break down much like the film reel in your example. Either freeing us from this repeating cycle or… taking us with it."

He shakes his head, "We'll simply have to adjust however as necessary, but for now, we focus on the present."

>Ready for timeskip to Kirk's schedule Theater practice


"Hmm… that is curious. Maybe the more people and experiences it has to manage, the worse it manages to do so." He explains, shrugging a little bit.

"Mmm… I think you are right. Such things could happen, and perhaps the water is… frozen, or no longer there in the same way." He suggests, shrugging.


"A, very good advice my wise council." he said making sure to give Trajan a little bread roll target to test it on.

>Ready to skip


Trajan slices up the bread as if it was already buttered. Gentleman that he is, he makes sure everyone gets a little share of the roll to enjoy.

Origami starts to fume. "No, we remember it all. At least as much as we can remember between everything we've been dealing with. So you'd think that we'd want to just take the same classes again to make it easier to focus on getting out of here alright. But SOMEpony invoked his authority as team lead to make us choose different classes each time!"

Herb narrows his eyes but remains calm, even as Origami berates his decisions as a leader. "We mustn't forget how valuable this opportunity is to research the Time Long Forgotten as the people of the Time experienced it. Exploration teams get sent out for the very purpose of uncovering the secrets of the past. It's our job."

"That's…" Ride begins. "All very well, but dreamland calls us. Fare thee well, ladies and gentlemen."

With that, Ride's crew bails out to get some sleep. Origami leaves with them, obviously unsatisfied with Herb's response.

At approximately 2055 hours, you're all gathered in front of the school's theater, as discussed. La Senorita is there as well, as is Trajan and Dexter. Kirk's bizarrely late practice should be taking place soon…


Good exhaled and prepared himself for whatever may lay behind the doors. He looked to the group, "I like the braids." he said paying a compliment to Dexters work on La Senorita.


"hello hello." Billy bows his head as he joins the group. "Did everyone rest well?"


Zamrud checks the time on his smartphone as everyone seems to assemble. He nods to Billy as he asks them if they rested well. "Well enough, I suppose. Feels odd, sleeping the cycle away, but given how late we may be staying up tonight it will be worth it."

He turns towards Senorita, Tarjan, and Dexter, nodding to them along with the rest of Team Boreal. "Alright, we all seem to be here. "Class" begins in five minutes, but let's head on in and see if there's anything that stands out."

He says as he opens the doors to the theater


[1d10+1] Perception Check

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2


Qhapaq doesn't have much to do to prepare, but he's ready all the same.
>Perception [1d10]

"Oh- I had not expected these. They are nice, I think." He suggests, offering a smile.

Roll #1 1 = 1



Roll #1 7 = 7


La Senorita glows and beeps a little at the compliment– not too loud, however, lest she alarm whatever's on the other side.

You do that thing where you both happen to make eye contact for no particular reason, holding it for an awkward amount of time as you wait for the other guy to look away first.

Beyond the doors of the theater lie a rather empty foyer. The doors on the other side are open, and you can hear sounds. Sensing no immediate danger, you proceed through the foyer to investigate further.


In the theater proper, you see many rows of seats. Most of the seats in the back half are empty, while most of those in the front are taken by students. Zamrud doesn't see any faculty here; this practice must be run by rather determined student thespians.

Speaking of the students, you see that a majority of them are changelings. Students of many other races are present as well, but changelings make up the majority – at least in this space. A lot of them appear to be rather eccentric of personality, judging by their quirky conversations, demeanor, and the modifications they've made to their uniforms. Many of them seem – if you will excuse my bluntness, dear reader – like the type who were bullied out of other spaces, and have found their solace here. The students are reading from scripts, discussing some manner of play for which they are preparing.

Upon the stage, another group of students is gathered in costume, also looking at scripts, sometimes pausing to practice this or that exchange with another actor.

There are two strange shadows there, on the stage. Shadows cast by no visible figure. Referents lacking the source which grants them sense and purpose. It's a bit hard to tell, but the shadows may be male and female– for one is larger than the other. The shadows are some distance apart from one another, but occasionally, one will turn the direction of the other, only to turn back, as if shyly looking away – and vice versa.


"DO we know what Kirk looks like?" Good asked suddenly recalling he didn't off the top of his head.

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