It’s a new semester, so a new class list. I’ve picked Philosophy and Logic back up, and added Alchemy and Astronomy. Science at least makes sense when nothing else does. Even if Alchemy is two parts science, one part magic. We’ll see if I can make that work right, at least.
In Fundaments, Malden is teaching the others to overcharge without passing out. Or at least he’s guiding them into it and back down again. They don’t seem to be able to do it themselves. I spend about half the class trying to steal control of the mana for myself, just because I’m bored. That gets boring after a bit, and I start cheering on my classmates. It gets super fun after that. In Philosophy, Gerhardt starts yelling at me, so I curl up in my chair and just try to hide. Why is he so mean today? We finally get to play Sanctum again, but everyone is all over the place and we lose. Badly. That night we all just go to our rooms to study.
The week goes on, and everyone seems to be acting crazy. I know we’re all stressed out, but people just need to calm down. By Thursday, I’ve taken to staying in my room, studying away from everyone else. No reason to share my notes or my time with any of them. Except Maribeth. She’s My best friend!
Remy tries to get everyone all together to talk about what’s wrong, but I just open my door to listen. The boys start arguing pretty quickly, and Maribeth runs right into my room. Philomena comes charging after her, but Maribeth is My friend, so I slam the door in her face. Philomena starts attacking my door! I shout at her to go away and leave me and my things alone, but it takes a while for her to stop. There’s still a bit of shouting and it sounds like Klyce is kicking in someone else’s door.
I feel a tickle of magic and suddenly I feel so much better. I open the door and Gerhardt and Klyce come to help Maribeth. But when we turn around, she’s not there. Instead, it’s a gray hazy distortion in the air. I toss a coin and it disappears, so Klyce goes running in, and I follow. It’s Maribeth’s secret towers and books place. She tells us we have to write about ourselves and what information we are looking for. I write about my quest to figure out where my magic comes from, and I feel a pull towards one of the towers. I don’t think it understood, though, because I only find books on farming.
When we all feel like time is running out, we gather back to our dorm. Remy and Dalish say that they found out all about fae creatures, and they’re real and can mess with people’s emotions. We talk about it only affecting us, so we make a plan to leave campus on Friday and see if it’s also location based. We’ll meet at the Rollery at 5pm the next day. It’s Thursday, so after that’s decided, I head to Astronomy before sleeping.
Friday is rough, even though we know what’s wrong, but once we get off campus, everyone’s heads clear. Maribeth says she shouldn’t have let us in the tower place, and won’t again. We know we have to find the source, but we don’t know how. Remy speaks up and tells us that he learned Garian lost a dryad once, and that the only way to kill one is to find and destroy its tree, which the professor didn’t do. We’ll have to go into the forest and try to find her and see if we can get her to stop this crazy-making.
Someone mentions that Nat’s also been missing all week. Great! She probably went after her brother again. One thing at a time. We head back to campus, and the strong emotions don’t overtake us. Good, it must happen while we’re sleeping. Maribeth leads us into the forest. There are no animals about, the forest feels dead. As we head in, the forest gets denser and even heavier with death. Until we crest a small rise and look down upon a pond, with green grass and flowers, and a single large tree.
Being the only one who can speak to these creatures, I go forward, to see if the dryad is home. When she appears, I ask for her help, and offer to help her if she’ll tell us what’s going on with our emotional swings. She says that she cannot answer such questions, but offers that there is one who can, the Old One in a hut not far from here. She won’t tell me where unless I give her some of James’ blood. Oh, poor James.
I call him over, and ask him if he is willing to help. I tell him that she wants something from him, but I’ll tell her no if he isn’t willing. He says he is, that he wants to help. So, I tell her she can have some of his blood. She sinks her teeth into his neck, and while she drinks, the grass grows further from the pond. When she releases him, she points off in a direction away from the pond, and we go.
We find the hut fairly quickly after that, and when I approach, a voice calls out that I must come in alone. When I go inside, I find an old crone of a woman, and she offers to answer three questions for me, for free because of what I am, and calls me Lady. I ask her if she knows how we can stop the rampant emotional swings that have been happening this week. She says Yes. I ask what is the solution to this problem. She says there are many solutions. We could kill all the teachers; we could burn down the school; or we could leave and never come back. Then I ask what is causing the problem. She says it’s the experiments the professor is performing.
That’s my three questions, but I have so many more. She asks what I offer her. The color of my eyes? My first love? Well, Oliver has been completely ignoring me this whole year, so why not him. I tell her that I offer my first love, so long as it doesn’t mean his life. She accepts and shakes my hand. There’s some sort of glamour on her, because the hand I shake is wicked and clawed to the touch, but not the eye. I ask if it will stop if we stop the professor. She says possibly. Well, that was a waste of my question, at least it wasn’t a no.
For the next question, she says she will set the price, but I must agree before she tells me what it is. I agree and she tells me that “From now on, you cannot refuse the hospitality of other and cannot eat dogs.” This seems a Very strange thing indeed, but I ask my next question. What creature is causing the disturbance? Man, she tells me. Duh, Tristia, ask better questions. I offer her the color of my hair to ask, Can we offer you anything to put an end to it? But there is nothing we could offer her.
I feel like I’ve failed at getting any useful information, and I haven’t gotten to ask her the most important question. But she offers me one more, because of what I am and how polite I have been. I should have asked her what I am, or why she calls me Lady, but instead I ask her What is the source of my magical abilities? The answer should not have surprised me, but it did. She said the source is Murder, that I have my abilities because of Murder. I very nearly flee the house after this, and in sort of a daze, try to tell the others everything she has said.
They all decide we need to go interview each and every professor we can find, to ask them about experiments they might be performing, or know of. We decide to stop by Aleria’s office first, to see what she knows about Nat being missing, and if she knows about the emotional disturbances. She says she doesn’t know, that certain professors are shrouded from her vision, and that Nat is, as well. We go see Malden, and he says that Rictus is more likely to be shrouded from Aleria than he is. So, we head down to see Rictus, giving Dalish strict instructions about what he is and isn’t allowed to say. He does a good job and we don’t get murdered by an angry necromancer, but it isn’t him either. Next, we head up to see Lyon in the astronomy tower, but he only says he certainly isn’t powerful enough to hide from Aleria, and that Professor Garian hasn’t been sleeping well.
Dreading it, but figuring we have no other choice, we head to Garian’s office. He just suggests we let the emotional disturbances run their course, surely it’ll be over soon. We leave Remy behind to talk to him privately, and when he comes back to us, he says that it’s definitely him, and that he’s planning one last big push tomorrow night.
We head off to Klyce’s to sleep for the night, away from campus, so we’ll be clear headed tomorrow. The plan is to stop Garian from performing his final experiment. I hope we don’t all die.