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Chapter 7: University
The Librarian stepped out of the portal into the University court yard. The floor was covered in light grey worn-down cobbles. The tall, wide building in front of her was also of light grey stone. Gulls screeched to each other. The smell of the sea brought back memories.
- Find her mentor, Lester 46%
- Find her friend, Clarine 38%
- Find the Chancellor 16%
The door to the University was always open. There were other ways to keep the unwanted out.
She strode towards the building with a smile, a feeling of coming home. She had many friends here, still, but didn’t visit as often as she’d have liked. Spare time was a luxury.
There were plenty of people coming and going through the main hall, some to lessons, others to and from meetings.
This place was the World’s true heart of arcane research, embodying liberal philosophy, open to any with the aptitude and who would come.
A real home from home.
- Psychically call Lester 0%
- Go to Lester’s laboratory 29%
- Go to Lester’s study 57%
- Go to Lester’s apartments 14%
The Librarian walked through the hall, along some corridors and eventually wound her way up a stone spiral staircase toward the studies of academic staff. She stopped at a large oak door strapped in black metal and rapped on the it a few times.
No answer. She tried again.
Again, no answer. She looked around and saw the majority of doors along the corridor were closed. It must have been time for classes.
She tried the door handle and the study door was unlocked. She walked into the familiar room with its large desk, bookshelves and comfy chair.
- Take a seat 10%
- Look around the room 40%
- Go to Lester’s laboratory 40%
- Knock on another door 10%
The Librarian walked around the room, running her finger along spines of old books. As her finger touched a particular tome a stab of tension hit her temple. It was a small book titled ‘The Portal’. She slid it off the shelf and paused a moment before putting it in her satchel.
She had a feeling Lester would be teaching in his laboratory & made her way back down the staircase towards the classroom area.
She looked through a pane of glass in the lab door & saw he was indeed part way through the class. Another pang of extreme urgency passed through her.
- Wait at the door 56%
- Interrupt the class 44%
She leaned back against the wall, head back & arms folded. She closed her eyes, ignoring the alien sense of urgency driving her forward. It took concentration. She meditated.
She jerked back into awareness at the sound of class ending, chairs scraping back and the door opening.
She strode into the room.
His face split into a wide smile as he saw who had entered. He walked quickly towards her, arms open. They hugged.
“My dear! It’s so good to see you! What brings you here?”
- Blurt out her story 30%
- Ask to go somewhere quiet 30%
- Only tell him part of it 40%
“I need to talk to you. I may have tangled myself in something… complex”
She explained the events involving the disc & her persistent compulsion to protect this unknown girl. She skirted around telling him how she got the disc, though. She didn’t want him involved with ‘them’.
He tapped his chin.
“There are a number of things we could try. Do you have time?”
“I have a few days before the need to find the girl will be too hard to resist, I think.”
“Good. That may be adequate.”
They went back to his study.
- Create a dampening gem 0%
- Ritual – identify the girl 100%
- Ritual – identify the disc 0%
“I believe we can determine the identity of the girl” Lester said thoughtfully, pulling a large thick tome from the shelf. He scanned some pages and nodded. “This will take some time to prepare. Go wander for a while. See some friends. We can meet again for dinner”. They hugged.
“Thank you” she said, her relief evident in her voice.
The Librarian left the study. She decided to visit
- the University Librarian 44%
- her friend Clarine 38%
- her friend Robert 18%
At the end of the hall stood the bound-oak doors to the University Library. She pushed open the well-oiled doors and walked into a grand open hall with four stories of balcony wrapping the high walls, oak shelves from floor to ceiling filled with books. A man stood behind a desk.
She stopped in front of him, palms together, opening her hands like a book and then raising her right hand in salute, a gesture showing that she too was one of The Librarians. He mirrored the gesture.
The University Librarian smiled, walked to her & kissed her cheek.
- Ask for news of the world 43%
- University gossip 14%
- Borrow a book – protection 29%
- Borrow a book – combat 14%
They both sat in comfortable chairs, sharing news of the past few months.
The University Librarian paused . “Anna. You look nervous. Is everything ok?”
The Librarian sighed. “I have to go away. Something has happened which will take me to the Other Side.”
His eyes widened. “So far! And not an easy journey for the best of us!”
“I know,” she said resignedly. “I plan on using The Libraries as I travel for refuge and support. Do you have any news from across the way? Any stirrings? Anything from our brothers & sisters?”
- There’s talk of war 37.5%
- All is quiet. Too quiet. 25%
- News of famine. 0%
- Arcane ripples sensed 37.5%
“I’ve had contact with the Libraries of Lurisant and Arndel.” Both of those cities were on the Other Side. “Our brothers and sisters talk of Arcane stirrings. Large powers being employed.” His eyebrows dropped into a frown. “Lurisant go so far as to suggest war”.
“Arndel has also reported that the Portal stirs. Something fell from the sky some weeks ago and landed beyond the Impenetrable Mountains.”
She nodded thoughtfully.
“It has been some time since the Portal dropped something to the ground. Is this good or ill?”
- “This I don’t know” 11%
- “Signs suggest it’s bad” 33%
- “Signs suggest good” 0%
- “Signs are… mixed” 56%
“Librarians have cast Divinations to get an understanding… some say it is a good omen, others that it will bring disaster.”
“Curious”. She wondered if her current predicament was linked to this Portal event.
They talked for another hour, catching up with news and gossip.
They said their goodbyes & The Librarian left the Library and decided to wander towards the food hall.
She turned a corner and almost collided with a beautiful woman in long flowing robes. Their eyes met.
“Oh, Clarine!” Said the Librarian. The atmosphere was a little awkward.
- “Anna!” Her face blushed 25%
- “Anna!” She frowned 13%
- “Anna!” She smiled joyfully 62%
Clarine overcame her shock quickly with a big grin, evidently pleased to see Anna.
“Clarine” Anna said warmly in response, hugging her. “It’s lovely to see you.” The awkwardness that The Librarian felt at first evaporated with that familiar hug.
“How long have you been here?”
“I’ve been here a few hours” she replied. “I needed to urgently speak to Lester & also needed to check into the Library”.
“You were coming to see me, though, before you left weren’t you?”
“Of course” she said, although not sure how true that statement was.
- “Shall we get food?” 29%
- “Can we talk in your room?” 57%
- “I can’t stay and talk now” 14%
“Sure, let’s go to my apartment”, Clarine agreed. “We have a lot of catch up on!” They hadn’t seen each other in over a year.
They made small-talk until they reached Clarine’s rooms.
They sat opposite each other and there was a brief awkward silence.
Clarine reached across the small table between them and held our her hand. Anna gently placed her hand in hers.
“I’ve missed you” said Clarine softly.
Clarine looked deeply into Anna’s eyes, a small sad smile on her lips.
- “I’ve missed you too” 54%
- Anna pulled her hand away 8%
- “Things are complicated” 38%
“Come with me” said Anna on impulse.
She recounted her tale to Clarine, the tempo of her voice increasing as she explained how she’d been trapped in this psychic compulsion to find and protect this young girl.
Clarine, a teacher and expert in the defensive arts, was silent.
“I have classes to teach, but perhaps there’s a way. I could recall someone from Sabbatical to take over…”
She looked at Anna, a little hurt in her eyes. “Do you think it would be good for us? We haven’t spent much time together since you left.”
“I still love you” said Anna.
- “I’ll come” said Clarine 67%
- “I need to think about it” 22%
- “I just can’t” she sighed 11%
Clarine nodded, a look of decisiveness on her face. “I’ll come.” She smiled. “It will be fun. Like we are young girls again. Plus it’s been an age since I’ve been away from the University for any length of time.”
The Librarian laughed in relief. She wasn’t going to be alone.
They talked, laughed & relaxed for hours. Night fell, they kissed and retired for the night.
The next morning Clarine went to see the Chancellor of the University while Anna returned to Lester’s study. It was time for the Identity Ritual.
Lester drew a circle & she sat inside.
- The ritual was a success 40%
- It was a partial success 50%
- It was a failure 10%
With the broken disc fragments used as a focus, Lester activated the geometric pattern around the circle. New images flashed into his & Anna’s mind.
A ring of 12 robed people in a strange looking place, standing around a small girl holding her knees.
A painful blinding light.
A strong smell of pine needles and smoke. And then a crackle as the remnants of the disc sparked and evaporated. Both Anna & Lester cried out and held their temple in response to a sharp pain.
Anna, still rubbing her head, said “I feel her even stronger. I must leave tonight.”