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Script - Arcana

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For the system, see Arcana.

One Step Higher

I have a mind to start a new business venture, and I want to hear your opinions on it. I insist you come see me when you have some free time... if that sounds good to you. -Eirawen

(You answer Eirawen's summons and head to her office in Rath Royal Castle.)

Aha. There you are, (Character Name) . You came rather sooner than I had expected, but all the better.
As I wrote in my letter, I've called upon you to ask your opinion on an interesting matter. But before you have an opinion to give, I'll have to explain a few things first, of course. This conversation may go on a while; I pray you forgive any longwindedness.
If you're settled in, shall I begin explaining all that led to the current situation?

> Prompt: Sure, go ahead or No, just get to the point

Put simply, the goal of this project is Ability Development. I wish to help all the subjects of this kingdom harness whatever abilities they have and improve them. As each of us grows stronger, so too does the kingdom.
The objectives of this initiative are threefold. First, I wish to improve the entire kingdom's ability to respond to a crisis. This should help to significantly mitigate casualties.
If we can train up even a small group of people who truly excel at what they do, we ought to be able to quell many of the problems that arise without having to turn to you for help every time.
Second, I wish to expand the crown's authority. At a critical juncture, when time is of the essence, I don't have the time to waste splitting hairs with other forces and factions.
If this project proves successful, it will naturally expand the influence of the kingdom's regent-- namely, myself. This should have a secondary effect of lessening disputes within the palace, allowing the monarch to address issues directly.
The third objective is, admittedly, a personal desire: to lessen the burden that too often falls upon you.
To be treated as the kingdom's sole savior and defender when danger hangs over our heads is surely a great burden, even though in your charity you have never given voice to such feelings. But a burden it is, acknowledged or not, and so I wished to do all I could to lessen its weight upon you.

(Eirawen is blushing now, her ears growing redder by the minute.)

That concludes my basic summary of what I hope to achieve. What do you think?

> Prompt: Sounds good to me or ...Are you going to ask me to run it or Could you run that by me again?

As I mentioned before, this project is something I came up with of my own accord, so I don't want it to be beholden to outside influence. At the very least, it should make things less difficult, not more.
My aim is to select a promising new talent; someone free of ties to any existing organization or authority. I also intend to open the selection process to all citizens, as our objective holds significance not just to the highborn, but to the greater populace as well.
Since the recruitment will be made public to encourage the broadest possible pool of applicants, you'll soon see posters put up across the kingdom advertising the initiative. Any who come to the castle having seen the posters will be granted entry for the formal application process.
Sooo... Do you think you could take this pile of posters with you when you go? I hate to ask you to run errands after all that talk about lessening your burden, but...
I'd prefer it not to be known that I summoned you for a largely... personal conversation like this. This is meant to be our cover-- you can pretend I called you to request that you put up these posters. Quite the airtight alibi, if I say so myself.
I don't plan on tasking you with a trek across the kingdom to post these up in every hamlet from here to Port Cobh, so... how about just putting up three? Dunbarton should be a sensible place, since you pass through there so often anyway.
I've marked what I believe to be the locations best-suited for grabbing the attention of passers-by, so just go post those up and come back when you've finished.
In any case, I thank you for bearing with my rather lengthy explanation. Best of luck, and see you soon.

(Received Leadership Recruitment Poster)

(You head to Dunbarton.)

(You pass by this wall whenever you make your way from the Moon Gate to Dunbarton. A poster placed here should catch the notice of many such travelers.)

> Prompt: Put up a poster


(The poster has been attached securely to the wall. It would take a gale-force wind to peel it away.)

(You stand back and gaze at the poster you put up. It may not be fighting the forces of evil, but it's honest work. Go place the next one on the side of Dunbarton's Weapon Shop.)

(You move towards the weapon shop.)

(This is the outer wall of the town's Weapon Shop. You haven't gotten the consent of the property owner, so you're not sure whether it's okay, but... well, it DOES have the royal seal, and there IS certainly plenty of space for a poster.)

> Prompt: Put up a poster


(The poster has been attached securely to the wall. It would take a driving rain to loosen the extra-strength paste you used.)

(You sense someone lingering behind you.)

Hey now. What's this you're pasting on the side of my shop?

(Nerys's eyes narrow as she glares at you. Her gaze shifts to the poster as she reads it, and you see her expression soften.)

Huh. A royal decree, is it? Nothing for it, then-- it stays up until the posting period is over or the paste gives out.

You're far from the only busy one, though. A week or two ago, I had a young man come in and try to place an absurd order.
He was asing for something that exists, but has no physical form. Can you believe it? I can't string a price tag on an intangible, you know.
I told him there's no such thing, of course, and he just gave me this big sigh, looking all forlorn. But then, he decided to buy one of every kind of weapon I stock in the shop. Wild, innit?
The fellow didn't look to have much coin on him, either-- leastwise, not enough to splash on that kind of purchase. Wonder what he's got in mind for all those weapons.
Though, seeing that poster just now, I wonder if it had something to do with Her Majesty's new venture. Is the Queen looking to create a new kind of weapon? Heh... just as long as it's better than two axes connected with a bit of chain, eh?
Anyway, that's enough from me. I'll tell any customers to give the poster a look on their way out.
And don't worry, I won't take it down. Anyway, I'll see you around, (Character Name).

(You stand back and gaze at the poster you've put up. Hey, at least you got Nerys's permission, in the end, so it's all above-board now. Go place the next one near the School entrance.)

(You head to the Dunbarton school's entrance next.)

(You arrive at the signboard in front of the school that lists available part-time jobs. This is where you were directed to put up the poster, but... is this kind of advertisement allowed here?)

> Prompt: Put up a poster


(The poster has been attached securely to the wall. It would take a lightning strike to remove it... mainly by way of destroying the entire signboard.)

(You sense someone lingering behind you.)

(Character Name)... While a part of me wishes to pretend I didn't witness your sketchy antics, I can't ignore you simply covering up legitimate part-time job postings. Isn't that a bit much?

(You feel Aranwen staring daggers into your back.)

Hmm? Oh, your poster bears the royal seal. What's this all about, now?
> Prompt: The crown is looking to undertake a new venture... or ...The hope to help the people of the kingdom develop and hone their abilities...

Mm... I see. Perhaps this is a fortuitous bit of timing. To be frank, I've been feeling like I've run out of things to teach some of my longtime students, and wasn't sure what I'd do.
I've had a great many students in my time as an instructor, and taught them many skills. If this venture aims to develop new abilities, that would naturally lead to the discovery of new techniques.
Learning how best to use a new skill is undeniably challenging, but there are few things more useful than a skill that has been properly trained and refined.
If it pans out as they seem to hope, this venture could empower regular citizens. That's an admirable goal. I'm all for the crown acknowledging the importance of people having the power to protect themselves.
If more people had that knowledge, perhaps... that could be a key factor in preventing future tragedies.

(An expression somewhere between rage and remorse flickers across Aranwen's face.)

I'm afraid such topics take me down to a trail of unpleasant memories. That aside, this does appear to be a worthwhile endeavor, so I suppose I can overlook the poster.
However, I'd like to move the poster somewhere it would have greater visibility. There's also the issue that even if there aren't a lot of people seeking part-time jobs, we can't simply cover so many of those postings up.
Tell you what. Let's put the poster inside the school. I think it'd be a good thing for the students to be aware of.

> Prompt: Take down the poster

(You'd placed the poster on what seemed to be the choicest location on the board, but agree to take it down, handing it to Aranwen.)

Thank you. I look forward to seeing the results of this venture. I'll see you later.

(You've put up all the posters! Return to Eirawen and give your report.)

(You head back.)

Excellent work, (Character Name). You were away longer than I expected. Did you end up chatting with friends along the way?
The posters are now up in towns across the kingdom. What I gave you were basically the last of them, so I'm sure most people have seen the announcement by now.
In truth, the servant I tasked with helping me made an error in their timing, sending out the couriers to put up posters before I'd had the chance to speak of the matter with you, so the news has been circulating for several days now...
Unfortunately, we haven't had any decent applicants. A few did come in response to the posters, but the interviews revealed them all to lack anything approaching the necessary qualifications.
*sigh* It would be tragic for the project to be flop before it even began due to a lack of qualified applicants. Do you think I'm just being too impatient about it?

Your Majesty! Someone has come seeking an audience!

(Startled, Eirawen calls out to the attendant outside the chamber.)

Who is it?

A man! He says he's come in response to the poster he saw.

Grant him entry!

(Your gaze goes to the room's entrance.)

(You see a young man with a tidy, well-maintained appearance. He doesn't seem familiar to you.)

Unfamiliar Young Man

(...? In scanning the room, his eyes met yours for a moment.)

(The young man walks in to stand before Queen Eirawen.)

Unfamiliar Young Man
Greetings, your Majesty. It's an honor to have been granted an audience with you.

He wears a clean-pressed shirt and vest, and his pale blue-gray eyes seem steeled in their intention. His light hair softens the serious look of his face, and his scarf, casually worn, swishes lightly when he walks. A calm and easygoing smile of the sort learned through experience rests on his face as he quietly scans his surroundings.

Well met. I am Eirawen, Queen of the Aliech Kingdom. Who might you be?

My name is Laoire. I saw the posters that had been put up and decided to pay a visit.
Time is valuable, so allow me to get right to the point. I'm here to take up the leadership role in overseeing your Majesty's new project.


(Eirawen stares at the young man who introduced himself as Laoire, then glances over to you.)

(Character Name), you are free to leave. This conversation may be long and perhaps a bit dull for you. There's no need for you to stay for the interview.

> Prompt: Well then, farewell! or I was going to leave anyway or Actually, I would like to know more.

(It seems as though a long and serious conversation will take place between them-- well, perhaps more a negotiation than a conversation.)

(Just as you were about to respond to Eirawen...)

Wait! Just a moment, please.
Would you be willing to stay a bit longer, Milletian? I have a favor to ask.
You ARE the famous milletian, are you not? Then it's more than all right if you stay-- in fact, I insist on it.

(Eirawen glances over to see if that will be okay.)

I'm not certain what relevance this has to (Character Name), but very well. Tell us then, why have you come?

Ah. I was about to get to that. You see, I want everyone in Erinn to make use of the Arcana I've discovered.

Arcana...? I must confess, I'm unfamiliar with the term. Would you care to explain it?

Of course-- I'd be glad to elaborate. First, let's start with the basics, shall we? Now as you're no doubt aware, most residents of Erinn tend to have at least one weapon or art they're skill in the use of.
One may excel in swordsmanshop; another in spellcraft. Some have little taste for combat but are prodigies with the tools of their chosen trade in hand.
It's the normal course of things for people to follow a single path from birth-- Milletians excepted, of course.

(Laoire tilts his head towards you, as if to confirm that you're following him so far.)

> Prompt: You ponder

(...He seems to be speaking of Talents. And, now that you consider it, most residents of Erinn seem to use just one Talent.)

Current research in the field suggests that this may be due to the physical characteristics of the Tuatha de Danann. But beyond the physical, there's also the psychological dimension to consider. After all, a limit perceived is as good as a limit in truth, and most never think beyond using any more than two Talents-- and that's if they're the ambitious sort.
As the Tuatha de Danann have normal, mortal lifespans, unlike the Milletians, they tend not to have enough time or resources to achieve mastery of more than one discipline.

Yes, I am all too aware of those limitations. They are part of the reason why it has been difficult to think of a way to help my people grow stronger.
With all that depands their time in their daily lives, it's difficult to ask them to learn something new, or to master some craft or concept that would make them more powerful. How can I ask more from those who are already giving each day all they have?
But of course, you would not bring this up without having a solution to present, yes? I would not be amused were I to discover you were simply doing so in jest.

Perish the thought, your Majesty. I'm here to offer you the solution to this problem: that being the Arcana I mentioned earlier.
With the problem established, it is now time for me to explain what exactly an 'Arcana' is. At their most basic level, Arcana-- technically 'Arcanum' in the singular, if you're given to nitpicking the details-- are symbols that weave together skills and powers of different types.

Arcana - Laoire 01.png
(Laoire reaches into his pocket and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper with something drawn on it.)

Now, please direct your attention to this paper I conveniently had in my pocket, which I will henceforth refer to as 'Figure 1.' Through the use of the symbol shown in Figure 1, powers unalike in nature can be combined. And this symbol is but one of many capable of uniting the strengths of the martial and magical arts.
The mixing of two different powers is not, in an of itself, some profoundly difficult endeavor. No, the difficulty lies in the fact that the lack of natural balance between the two may cause their respective energies to run wild when combines. That is where these symbols --the Arcana-- come in.
Utilizing the two powers in tandem while focusing on a symbol like that depicted in Figure 1 allows for the safe and stable use of combined disciplines without the risk of anything going out of control. Indeed, one could say that Arcana's role in all this is as a 'fusion stabilizer' of sorts.
Even I'll admit, it's a bit of a heady topic to wrap one's head around. Still, it may give the Milletian something to reflect on, given their storied prowess with all manner of weapons, skills, and disciplines.
Actually, since I have you here, a question. When you were training different powers and skills, wasn't there something unique that came from that harmony?

(Laoire looks toward you expectantly, his expectations obviously high.)

> Prompt: You ponder

(...Perhaps this is somehow related to Hidden Talents. You think back to how, when you developed multiple talents, mastery of certain combinations granted the pairing a new name.)

I can see it in your eyes, Milletian-- you remembered something. And I'm betting whatever it is you recalled, that's what Arcana seeks to develop and codify.

Wait, wait. Hold up just a moment. I'm afraid I'm not understanding any of this. Are you suggesting that your 'Arcana' system here involves combining powers that are normally completely separate from each other?

(Eirawen brings Laoire's presentation grinding to a halt, flushed and obviously a bit confused.)

What evidence can you present that this is even possible? I can't very well allocate the kingdom's resources to something that could just as well be a load of made-up flim-flam.

Aha. Of course. This is where I'll need to ask the Milletian for a favor. For you, it should be a simple matter. You have but to medidate upon the symbol here in Figure 1 and you will find yourself immediately able to utilize the power of Arcana. Would you be so kind?

> Prompt: Here goes nothing... or How about YOU do it? or ...Is this some kind of scam?

Actually, it may be best to hold this demonstration outside. Somewhere with enough space...
Your Majesty, I ask that you place your trust in my and in the power of Arcana. Let us head to a suitable location. That includes you as well, Milletian.

Yeesh... Did you understand any of that, (Character Name)? I have no idea what he's been going on about!
I'm not entirely certain what to expect from this, but it can't hurt to observe this demonstration. Shall we be off?

(You all head to the Castle garden.)

If you're ready, let's begin.

Shadow Mission: Awakening Arcana

(You stand near a training dummy, a sword in your hand as Eirawen watches over you and Laoire.)

Thank you for coming all the way here. (Character Name) was kind enough to supply the wooden dummy we'll be using for the demonstration. Anyway, if no one has any objections, I was thinking of getting things underway...
Erm... This is actually the first time I've tried to guide someone on how to use Arcana, and I'm not quite certain of the best way to explain this.
Arcana itself are formless, but have a shape that exists as an idea. They possess something of a soul, but also engrave themselves upon the souls of their bearers as they are used.
First, can you recall the Arcana I showed you and focus? That itself may elicit some sort of response.

You don't need to overdo it, (Character Name). Just concentrate.

(As you recall the underlying principle of Arcana, you feel it being etched into your soul. It would be best to focus first, recalling the shape of the crest you were shown earlier.)

> Prompt: Focus

(...You focused, but felt no response.)

Erm... Do you really not feel anything, (Character Name)? You're fully prepared, so there should be some sort of change.

You seem rather tense. Relax; there's no need for that. Just take it slow.

(Character Name), recall the Arcana once more and focus. Remember how you use the Close Combat and Magic skills, then think of those energies coursing together and intermingling.

(Each Arcana channels two different types of power. As you focus, recall your body's memory of performing the Windmill technique, and your mind's memory of casting Icebolt.)

> Prompt: Focus again

(...Perhaps your recollection wasn't vivid enough. You felt no response.)

Er...Laoire? Is there something lacking? If even (Character Name) is having trouble getting this to work, how can one expect the average citizen to make use of these Arcana?

It's too early to get impatient. Erm...
(Character Name), can you use the skill directly? I mean, without incoking the Arcana.
Since it's your first time trying to use Arcana, you may be having a hard time knowing how to approach the concept.
If you can awaken your mind to the concept while using skills from the Talents the Arcana draws upon, you may see a better response. Let's start with the basics, shall we? I'd like you to attack the wooden dummy before, you, alternating between the Windmill skill and the Icebolt spell.

(You follow Laoire's instructions, until you seem to make a breakthrough and a light emerges from your hands.)

(Finally, you feel a response! While it's difficult to pinpoint where, or to describe the sensation, you feel a powerful energy coursing through you.)

Laoire That light I saw just now... I'll take that as a sign you've finally gained command of the Arcana!

Wow! I knew you could do it, (Character Name)!

Now, let's take this step by step. Your ability to channel the energy of ice magic should be much better now, thanks to your earlier use of Icebolt.
In fact, why not try it right now? Let that ice elemental energy flow into your meelee strikes as you attack.

(The feeling is subtle, but present-- as though something unknown has newly awoken within you. You have the feeling that you can wield the skills of two Talents at the same time, even weaving them together in ways never before seen.)

(Use Instill Frost on the sword you're holding to imbue the blade with Ice Magic.)

> On-screen text: Activate Instill Frost (F6 Key), then attack the Training Dummy!

(You manage to instill the ice element into your weapon, and attack the dummy.)

> On-screen text: Keep attacking.

> On-screen text: You're getting the hang of how Arcana skills works. Keep going!

> On-screen text: You feel something. It might well be the Arcana surging within you!

(You begin to feel as though you can use skills directly through the Arcana as though you'd always been able to use them.)

Very good!

Oh-ho. Quite the interesting demonstration.


You seem to have really gotten the hang of commanding Arcana. At this level, you ought to be able to use even more advanced skills. I don't know if the Arcana I showed you will be able to channel enough power to actually facilitate that, but surely there's little harm in attempting it.
Let's see... Do you tink you can perform the Windmill skill while mixing in Ice Magic?

(A skill that combines Windmill and Ice Magic? Somehow, a rough idea on how it would work readily floats to the surface of your mind. Now, there's just the issue of actually performing it...)

Wait a minute, (Character Name)!
If you use Shattering Windmill while your weapon is instilled with Ice Magic, you should be able to further increase its destructive power!

Isn't that pushing things a bit too far? Is it even possible?

It's not only fine, it's eminently possible. You have the capability to do it, (Character Name). Your stability even as a first-time Arcana user is beyond what I could have hoped for.
The Arcana may or may not be able to withstand the power you'd need to channel to do it, (Character Name), but even should it fail, it shouldn't cause you any harm. Just relax and try.

(You're concerned about whether that's being asked of you is even possible but Laoire's reassurance convinces you to give it a shot.)

> On-screen text: You feel like youve learned something new.

(You use shattering windmill.)


(You can feel the Ice Magic flowing strongly through your weapon, empowering the skill.)

(...But in that moment, you feel a strange emptiness, as though you forgot something.)

(You try to recall the Arcana and use the skill again, but it doesn't come readily to mind.)

Wait, (character Name). Could it be that you no longer...
Judging by your expression, you sense something amiss. The Arcana I showed to you in my diagram was a rudimentary design, meant as more of a proof-of-concept.
It seems you channeled enough power through it that it reached the limits of what it could endure. After all, even as intangible concepts, Arcana are still limited by the complexity of their deisgn.
From that, I think we can safely say that the combination of skills you just performed represents the limit of that particular iteration of the design. You may have to wait a while before you're able to use that particular Arcana again to blend Close Combat and Magic.

> Prompt: I see... or That's a shame...

Worry not- I plan to enhance this Arcana's crest even more, if possible. Once we pass a critical juncture in the Arcana's development, failures like what you just experienced should no longer occur. I firmly believe I can grow the Arcana to a point where they can be a permanent part of your arsenal, (Character Name).
Hmm. If we overwrite the foundation of the engraved Arcana with a more advanced one... It may be possible for you to possess multiple Arcana crests cocurrently!

...Listening to you postulate, it seem there's still research to be done.
At this point, I beliveve it's pertinent to return to the subject of the project's funding. Since it appears there's nothing more to be showcased at present, shall we return to the castle?

Oh, of course! I'll spend a few minutes cleaning up a bit here before I return. Please, go on ahead without me.

Very well. But tell me... how did you first conceive of these 'Arcana' ?

Well... At the place I used to work-- or rather, the place I used to live-- I happened to witness an odd sight: someone grasping a sheathed sword like a wand, twirling it with a flourish and casting Icebolt.
Well, this... person... managed to actually cast the spell, much to my surprise, but it made a bit of a mess. It really got me thinking, though: what if it wasn't some random flight of fancy, but a discipline unto itself? After I lost my job, I threw all my time and resources into researching exactly how feasible such a thing might be.

Hmm... I see. Well, you don't need to be too meticulous with your cleanup. Just do what you need to and come so we can continue our discussion.
Come, (Character Name), let's return. You know... I likely did a terrible job concealing my surprise, seeing you do all that. I want to talk with you more about it, if you would.

(You follow Eirawen back to her office in the Royal Castle.)


Oh my. It's hard to believe, even after seeing it with my own eyes. I think I'm still taking it all in.
I've long known how great you are, (Character Name), but I didn't realize you could even do things like that. Just think... if normal people can harness power like that as well, this project will meet its objectives with flying colors.
I think the issue to consider now is the potential risks. (Character Name), do you feel strained or at all unwell? Did you sense anything dangerous about the process?

> Prompt: I feel fine! or Well, my head is...

A-anyway, it's clear there's still much to be discussed. The safety of this Arcana system wants for enhancement, of course, but even if it were improved to a satisfactory extent, making it available to all who wish to avail themselves of it is another matter entirely.
I should question Laoire about this. If he has already considered issues like these and build them into his model, it's... less likely he's a complete scam artist. If so, I would feel more comfortable extending at least some level of trust. Hmm. Aside from that...

> Prompt: Something on your mind?

Actually... When I first saw him, I wasn't sure, but the longer he talked, the more I had a feeling I've seen him somewhere before.
It's like he's more familiar to my eye than the endless cavalcade of visitors we receive in the castle. But he's neither a public official nor does he hail from a noble lineage, and those account for the vast majority of those whose faces are known to me.
That leaves the uncomfortable possibility that he's someone who has attempted to ambush me before. It's the only other situation I can think of where I might remember the face of someone I don't commonly encounter.
Still, I'm not willing to forgo a significant opportunity on the basis of unfounded suspicious. The quickest way to have an answer is to simply ask Laoire myself.
Ah. Right on time.

I have returned, your Majesty.

Very good. I have a few questions for you, if you would indulge me.

Of course.

You mentioned that the crest in question can no longer be used. Is it possible to find a way to increase the amount of power it's capable of channeling?

It's theoretically possible, yes, but it may take some time. At a base level, Arcana crests are like a series of canals and locks that control, cycle, and regulate power couplings that might otherwise prove volatile.
By adding additonal complexity to the crest and reinforcing nodes in surge-prone areas, we should be able to increase the amount of power that can be channeled through a crest at a given time.
In other words, we need to make the crest more intricate, and that's what takes time.

Hmm. I see. Then how do you propose to get from that developmental state to a point where these Arcana are both stable and convenient to use? It's one thing to create a system that (Character Name) can use, but I want the general populace to be able to use these safely and easily.

The answer to that is, again, time. The Milletian-- that is, (Character Name) here-- already possesses proficiency in enough arts and techniques to fill several lifetimes. For someone like that, they've already achieved a level of mastery over the powers they're trying to blend.
But those who haven't reached that level, or those only proficient in one of the two skillsets being combined will have to use an Arcana that has already been optimized to account for such use cases.
The weaker or more chaotic the flow of energies is, the more robust the channel needs to be to safely guide the flow-- sending the two energies coursing together, then apart in the right places without causing complications. Further research will no doubt result in more 'complete' Arcana that are better and better at doing this.
The more perfectly formed the Arcana's crest is, the more stable it will naturally be. So, as I indicated before, one of the core components of our research would be on the reinforcement of the Arcana that have been discovered.

Impressive. It seems you've come well prepared, Laoire.
I understand the points you're making. You're not there yet, but with dedicated research, given proper time and funding, the chances are favorable, yes?

That's correct.

Very well. Then, I have just one more question for you.
Have we ever met before?

> Prompt: Look at Laoire

I beg your pardon?

I cannot explain why, but you look familiar to me. Have our paths ever crossed before now?


(Laoire is clearly flustered, remaining silent in his shock.)

I...I'm sorry. I don't see where we would have...

...Laoire. Unless you look at me and give a clear and satisfactory answer to my question, I'll have little choice but to assume your intentions to be hostile. To frame it with perfect clarity, I am implicating you of being present during an attempt on my life.

N-no! Nothing could be further from-- Th-this is a complete misunderstanding...
*sigh* Here is the truth, your Majesty. I was born into a family that served one of this city's many noble houses. If you have seen me before, it was perhaps at some banquet, carrying my master's coat or arranging a carriage...

> Prompt: Continue staring at Laoire or Look away from Laoire

(You can see Laoire's face flushed, practically glowing red as he hangs his head in embarrassment.)

Ah...! My apologies, I jumped to the wrong conclusion.
Worry not; you have satisfactorily allayed my remaining concern. ANd with that matter behind us, it is with great pride that I, Queen Eirawen of the Aliech Kingdom, confer upon you, Laoire, the provisional headship of our new Ability Development program.

Th-thank you, your Majesty!

I intend to give you my full support-- and the resources that come with it-- once I've seen some of the promise of your new system realized. For the present, though, I hope you will understand why the role is a provisional one.
You said you need to conduct more research in order to produce results, but to fund this venture directly from the royal treasury will be a process more complicated than you likely realize.
Instead, your initial funding shall be paid from my personal holdings, as that can be accessed straightaway. As for accomodations... There is a room on the second floor of the castle currently being used for storage. I shall order it to be emptied and cleaned, so please make use of it as your base of operations.
It may not be the royal treasuries, but I assure you, you shan't find my personal financing lacking. I want you to be focused not on shaving a pence or two from the budget sheet, but on producing results with these Arcana.
Hmm. We've shoved all manner of miscellany into that room, and frankly, it's a mess. I wonder who we can get to clean it out... It'll take several days to have it prepared for your use, so if you'd like to take your leave, you may check back in three or four days.

I-if you would, I'd be honored to take on the cleaning duties myself. Please, just show me where this room is and leave the rest to me.

Is that so? The room is quite spacious, just to let you know. It's the room furthest down the Great Hall on the second floor of the castle, You'll require a key to get in, so see the custodian about that first.

My thanks. I'll go to survey it for myself shortly. Again, allow me to offer my deepest gratitude for your generosity, your Majesty.

Yes, yes. I'm expecting great things from you.
Thank you for all your help as well, (Character Name)! I'm glad someone with such promising ideas finally applied for the position.
I originally called you here just to conference with you, but one thing led to another, and you ended up serving as something of a personal aide in this matter.
I believe he will have need of your assistance again, and sooner rather than later. After all, his research will eventually need to be put to the proof, and when that day comes, he would benefit greatly from the help of a seasoned veteran.
Though... depending on the pace of the progress, perhaps that'll be further in the future. The room I mentioned to him is stacked nearly to the ceiling with boxes and furniture, all covered with a thick layer of dust. It would take a week for one person to clear and clean it.

(Eirawen takes a moment to calm her nerves, taking several deep, long breaths.)

Whew... It feels like a cyclone has passed through. I expect there will be some time before Laoire has need to call upon you, so until then, take this opportunity and rest.
Thank you again for all your help. I hope to see you again soon.

(Eirawen smiles, waving to you as you prepare to depart.)

[Guide] Lighting the Arcana's Flame

We've finished cleaning the room on the 2nd floor of the castle that Her Majesty granted us the use of. Come have a look and tell me what you think. -Laoire

(Laoire stands up straight, greeting you beside his impeccable organized desk.)

(Character Name), you're here! Look at this room. Isn't it nice?

> Prompt: It's wonderful! or Are you already done cleaning?

The furniture you see here was also provided by the Queen. Some were already in the room when I got here, but the best pieces were added later to round out the assortment.
The weapons in the corner over there, I actually bought myself when I was doing my own research on Arcana. I never had a good place to store them before, but it's nice to finally have a proper home for them here.
There's one more thing that Her Majesty the Queen did for me: she got us set up as a temporary association while the official paperwork circulated through the necessary channels. That will allow us to begin our work as the Arcana Association immediately.
Organizations under the royal banner that lean toward scholarly research are classified as 'societies', while those with a more active, practical bent are classified as 'associations.' By way of example, you may be familiar with the Royal Society of Astronomy and the Musician Alliance.
On one hand, we're certainly research-oriented, as we must be in order to further develop the Arcana. However, our ultimate objective is empowering the people of the kingdom, in accordance with Queen Eirawen's wishes. So, since the practical objective takes priority, she decided it would be most appropriate to designate our organization an association.
The catch is, we need to provide more sibstantial results in order to be recognized as an official association. Still, I'm very grateful. This will be enormously helpful in allowing our organization to grow. In fact, that's why I called you here, (Character Name).
My apologies for calling you over so soon after you aided me last time, but there was something I wanted to suggest to you. Well, less of a suggestion and more of an offer, really...
Although we may not be entirely certified yet, I'd like for you to join us as a member of the Arcana Association, (Character Name). With you as our charter member, I can't imagine it'll be difficult to become an official association.
But it's not simply for my benefit that I'm asking you to join. When I saw you demonstrating the use of Arcana, I was sure that what we're researching here will help you develop your own abilities.
From what I've heard, you often take part in adventures or studies that aid in your own growth, yes? I believe Arcana will be especially responsive to you, helping to channel the powers you already possess and blending them to be greater than their components.
(Character Name), as you continue to train and grow, it's my believe that the concept of Arcana itself will grow along with you. So... what do you say? Will you join us in our endeavor, wheresoever it may lead?

> Prompt: Nod in agreement

(When you give Laoire an affirmative nod, you see the tension disappear from his face.)

Thank you, (Character Name). Let's give this our best effort.
Now, before I go over our general game plan ,we should make sure you're up to speed on all the basics concerning Arcana. I didn't have much time for explanations before, as I had my hands full fielding questions from Her Majesty the Queen, but I think I've finally sated even her considerable curiosity.

> Prompt: Begin the lesson!

Good, good. There are some details I need to clarify first, and might be a bit surprising even to someone like you.
Before, I showed you a simple Arcana that I drew, but Arcana are not drawings. I often refer to their conceptual shapes as sigils or crests, but in truth, there's nothing physical I can provide you related to Arcana.
That is because Arcana aren't concrete things. You can possess Arcana and utilize them in ways that produce very real effects, but the Arcana themselves are intangible.
Let's see... Maybe it's best to think of Arcana as objects possessed by your soul, rather than by your body. They exist and perform their function at that higher, metaphysical level.
It all sounds rather vague and difficult to get a clear sense of, doesn't it? But once you start using Arcana, the question of 'how' you possess it becomes more of an academic aside.
Far more important is the confidence you'll have that the Arcana has become something that is your own, and that you can make use of as you like.

> Prompt : Nod twice, for emphasis

If you got all that, I'll move right along to the next topic. Now, I just mentioned that Arcana take the form of sigils or crests, but they're nothing unreasonably complex, like some glyph or summoning circle. You're familiar with the traditional knotwork patterns that frequently appear in weaving and metalwork in Erinn, yes? I'd say the designs are more akin to that.
Since the focus in Arcana is on how two different sources of power are intertwined, the more complex the pattern, the greater the intermingling of said powers. Arcana crests can be thought of as a decorative knot that begins simply and grows in complexity.
The power you possess flows along the path dictated by the crest's design. To give a practical analogue, you might think of the lines as a complicated system of pipes and canals, and your power as water that flows through them.
Even if there's a surge in a river, a pipe or canal fed from it will regulate the flow of water based on its size. In much the same way, Arcana are used to regulate the flow and mixing of disparate powers.
For that reason, one of the core goals of our research here is to find ways to enhance and reinforce the crests of the Arcana we discover. That is the best and most straightforward way to increase and Arcana's stability.
Arcana aren't something one can physically possess, like a weapon or spellbook. They exert and influence that can be felt and even measured, but have no tangible form. That's what makes this part rather difficult.
The method I'd like to attempt is finding an unstable substance. Something whose very material state is in flux may be able to be converted into a state similar to that of the Arcana. The long and short of it is, if we have some sort of energy over which we can exert control, and render that compatible with Arcana, we should theoretically be able to directly alter and enhance the Arcana.
Of course, I use the word 'substance' lightly here. The energy is of greater importance than the matter, but as long as it's something we can safely handle and use, I'm willing to try. It would be best to have a self-contained energy, if possible. Is there anything you've seen in your travels that comes to mind, (Character Name) ?

> Prompt: How about fire? or Make something with Alchemy? or Something like Stardust?

I think something with the properties of a flame would suit our needs. However, the flame needs to be both unstable enough that its energy might be shifted, yet still strong enough to apply the force of that energy to the Arcana. You know how to use Alchemy to change the structure of a thing at the fundamental level to create something entirely new, and have researched the unusual Stardust phenomenon in your dealings with the Royal Society of Astronomy.
When I think about the discovery of Stardust, I can't help but wonder if strange phenomena of that sort have manifested somewhere rich in fire-elemental energy. Perhaps there's something out there that, with proper handling, can be utilized as easily as you now harness the power of Stardust, (Character Name).

(Laoire frowns for a moment, then returns to his usual smile.)

Erm... I have a rough idea of how we should firect our inquiries, at the least. Our next objective will be to find some object or energy strongly aligned with the element of fire that we might conceivably use to enhance the Arcana crests.
Let's split up, (Character Name). I'll sift through any relevant books to find any information that might suggest the best way to go about altering a crest. Paying a visit to Aeira at the Dunbarton Bookstore should prove fruitful. She often has good suggestions for me no matter the topic.
As for you, (Character Name), I'd like you to travel to some region you know of that's rich in fire-elemental energy and find if any unexplainable phenomena have been observed or anything new discovered. For a start, I think Iria's Volcanic Region would be a very sensible place to search. Even if something had been found there, word of such things from abroad trickles back to Uladh at a regrettably slow pace.
I believe the Royal Geological Society has set up a long-term camp in that area, and that seems as good a place as any to begin your inquiries. The Queen may also have heard something, as she receives regular reports from the Royal Societies.
With that, let us be off.

(You and Laoire have teamped up to find a way to enhance Arcana. Before leaving the castle, you pay a visit to Eirawen and ask about any reports from the Geological Society that might point you toward some new phenomenon or discovery.)

(Character Name), what is it now? I thought you'd gone to the Arcana Association Room.
> Prompt: Has there been any word from the Geological Society? or Any news of a new discovery?

Hmm? I'm not sure about that. I've not heard anything to that effect lately. I do, however, receive numerous reports on such things from the Royal Society of Astronomy.
The Geological Society sent a report like that, you say? Let me see...
Did I overlook it in the deluge of reports coming in from the Royal Society of Astronomy? They have a young member who's... very enthusiastic about her work. It seems we get a new report in from them practically every other day.
Ah...Here it is! A surveyors exploration report sent by the Geological Society around that time. It doesn't contain any confidential info, so you're free to read it.

> Prompt: Take the report

(It's a pretty light report, as far as these things go-- perhaps three or four pages. You clance down at the first page, printed in neat, clear script.)

The 213rd Geological Society Calida Camp Report, by Belita.
(Report Categories: Soil composition... Geological activity... Nothing seems to stand out.)
"An unusually flammable substance has been discovered recently in flint samples recently taken from the eastern side of the Raspa Volcano. The flames it gives off are more volatile that conventional fire, making it difficult to observe. However, given its pronounced differences in color and temperature, we suspect it to be a material heretofore unknown to us."
"The discovery was made not long ago, but subsequent flint samples collected have contained the same substance. A survey of other minerals in the area did not reveal any other sources for this material. A more detailed analysus of its composition is underway, though given the small sample size, progress has been slow."

(...This report tells of the discovery of some new substance that possesses fire-elemental properties.)

Did you find anything? There are so many reports that I haven't enough hours in the day to read over them all myself, even if I wished to.

> Prompt: Yes, this was helpful.

Ah, that is good to hear. By the by, I presume you've heard the news that the Arcana Association has now been officially established, yes?
It has only provisional status at the moment, but that will only be until the paperwork has been fully processed. I expect that formality will be taken care of within the week.
I may have been the one to push for this new venture, but I fear I may have underestimated how tiring it would be to fulfill all the bureaucratic requirements for such a venture. Thank you for all your help getting the Arcana Association up and running.
Well then, if that's all for now, I have some matters of state I fear I can't put off any longer. Take care you don't over-exert yourself with all your running around.

(You visit Belita at the Calida Exploration Camp to hear the latest report.)

> Prompt: I am seeking a new kind of flame.

...Huh. How did you learn about that? Have you been spending your spare time attending Royal Society conferences and academic symposiums?
Unlike before, there's a remarkable consistency to the Flint's inner temperature, but there haven't been any factors we've observed that would've catalyzed such a change. Do you think the recent crises in Erinn might have had some sort of unseen influence on the stones' mineralogical makeup?
I've been analyzing it, but the connection to the Conduction Ceremony is low. The observation is still ongoing, but based on what I've seen so far, it doesn't seem to be volatile or dangerous.
I have no lcue what need you might have of it, but we can conduct and impromptu examination right now if you go out there and bring back a couple samples. Why not go and gather 5 Flint?

(You bring back the flints to Belita.)

Hmm, well done. Let's have a look, shall we?

> On-screen message: You hand the 5 pieces of Flint to Belita.

(Belita sprinkles what appears to be a reagent on one of the Flint samples you just mined.)

(...With a crackling sound, wisps of verdant flame sprout up across the surface of the stone.)

See that? This green flame is proof that something new is going on in the flint around here. We've never seen anything like it, at least in our time researching.
In our lab analyses, we've found that these green flames are more unstable than the typical red and yellow varieties. When we tried to separate the green flames from the surface of the flint, the flame itself just seemed to unravel, as though it was woven from luminescent threads that came undone. You see them fall away and the flame just... disappears.
You know the fire element you sometimes carry around? It's a lot like that. I tried to find a way to stabilize its properties and allow it to manifest independently of the flint, but no success so far. Maybe it's just a matter of finding something that possesses similar properties... whatever that might be.
You'd expect that a phenomenon like this appeared because the Volcanic Region is, unsurprisingly, rich in fire activity, but it's possible that flames like this might've popped up elsewhere-- though more weakly.
Here, I'll give this to you. Use it for... whatever iy is you have need of it for.

(You received a piece of Green-Tinted Flint from Belita. You take it to Laoire in the Dunbarton Bookstore.)

Hello, (Character Name). What brings you here?
Do you know this person?

(You see Laoire clutching a bundle of documents and a thick book. The ink has barely dried on the many official-looking forms.)

(Character Name)! I see you're back from Iria.
As you can see, there have been some slight delays.

> Prompt: Look closely

(You lean in to see what Laoire's up to. It looks like he's been transcribing a book.)

Ah, your friend here is here looking for a book: 'A General Theory of Crests and Sigils.' The problem is, I'm afraid I only have a single copy.
I told him I could probably sell it, since it's not in great condition, or that I could lend it to him, but, um... Well, he just took out his pen and started transcribing.
He's... very fast. He's already copied several chapters, in fact.

Ah, in the past ,I spend quite a lot of time transcribing books. It was the only way I had to continue my studies...
I was focused on comprehension more than speed, but I suppose if you do something a lot, you naturally get faster at it, hm? Oh, look at that. I'm more than half done already.

Oh... I see. I was a bit taken aback, as it's been quite some time since I've seen a customer transcribe a book...

(It's a straightforward solution, but clever, at the same time. Is this why they say 'necessity is the mother of invention'?)

Anyway, I was going to finish up soon, but... Are you any good at writing, (Character Name)?

> Prompt: The best in Erinn! or As good with a pen as a sword! or I can... write legibly. or Unga... bunga?

All I have left on this paper is the appendices, but my hand's cramping up. Would you mind finishing it for me?
Once this is finished, we'll head back. Here's a piece of Blank Paper for you.

(Transcribe the contents of the book on the Blank Paper that Laoire gave you.)

(It appears to be supplemental material made to serve as a reference when creating a crest, based on the theory explained before. The bolded footnotes catch your eye.)

(The supplement is entitled 'Proper Fortification of Crests,' while the official title of the published work is The Best of Crests: From Scorching to Arcana.)

(Transcribe the supplement's title.)

> Proper Fortification of Crests

(You managed to do a decent job. Next is...)

(Listed are several precautions to take when forging a Scorching Crest, stressing the idea that Scorching Crests themselves contain energy.)

(Transcribe the key point.)

> Scorching Crests contain energy

(You did a decent job. Next is...)

(You see several tips provided on how to build up and reinforce an Arcana crest through augmentation with Scorching Crests. The main throught being conveyed is that Scorching Crests reinforce Arcana.)

(Transcribe the tips and suggestions.)

> Scorching Crests reinforce Arcana

(You've transcribed the text cleanly and error-free. Next is...)

(Finally, there are a few notes on things one should remember when trying to draw a crest. One point that stands out to you is that the more a crest reflects what it is used for, the more effective it will be.)

(Transcribe the explanation)

> The best crests fit their intended use

(Outstanding! Your penmanship exceeds even the original.)

(You can sense Laoire looking at you from behind.)

You're surprisingly good at this, (Character Name). I think that should be enough, through. The content beyond this overlaps with material I've already transcribed.
Now that we're done, we should return to the royal castle. Please excuse us, Aeira, and thank you once again for your help.

Oh, anytime! I was feeling bored, and this was interesting to watch. Whenever you need more books, you know where the shop is!

> Prompt: Wave to Aeira

Laoire I'll go on ahead with the book. This volume is quite thick and heavy, so I need to take care in transporting it. You needn't follow in haste, (Character Name); I may take a while.

(Head to the Arcana Association Room in Rath Royal Castle.)

(You meet back up with Laoire in Rath Royal Castle.)

(Character Name)? You seem to be breathing harder than usual.
It would seem that, for you, the accessibility of this room leaves much to be desired. It's quite a distance from the nearest Moon Gate, and a bit of a hike for you to have to go back and forth. Hmm...
I should be able to formulate a solution for that problem, but all in good time. Shall we take a look at what you brought first?

> Prompt: I am ready. or Not quite yet...

> Prompt: I am Ready.

(Laoire nods with a slight smile.)

Shadow Mission: Cautious Ignition

Firstly, I wanted to tell you that I compiled and bound the book I was transcribing earlier. But judging from your expression, I'm guessing you found something interesting in Iria.
I believe I spoke before of finding a way to directly enhance Arcana crests. My thought was to utilize and object with strong fire-elemental properties to do so.
Now, will you show me what you've brought, (Character Name)?

> On-screen text: You hand the Green-tinted Flint to Laoire.

An unstable fire, newly discovered... It seems the Volcanic Region is no exception to the anomalies that have been cropping up both here and overseas.
Do you think it's possible to isolate the power within this stone and metamorphose it to be more akin to the Arcana's own power?
If we could catalyze such a conversion, creating a source of energy that was on the same wavelength as the Arcana... Might the resultant energy be able to exert a more directi influence on the Arcana?
...But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before we can answer any of these questions, we must first ponder how we might effect such a metamorphosis. Fortunately for us, I believe this book will furnish the solution we seek.

> Prompt: That book says all that?

Well, not exactly. This book just covers the idea of Scorching Crests and Smoldering Threads. There's no information here on the Arcana, at least in the way I've conceptualized them.
Still, I believe this book has the greatest amount of information pertinent to the formation and augmentation of Arcana crests. We can use it as a guide as we prod and probe exactly how Arcana are formed and how they work.
The problem staring us in the face, however, is how do we take the information in this book and apply it to what we'r doing now?
On top of that, how can we convert the energy of that flint you brought, (Character Name)?
Shall we look for the solution together?

(Laoire walks to the lectern in the center of the room.)

(You approach from the other side and insepct the Lectern.)

You've probably bene rather curious about this ostentatious-looking pedestal. I paid a frankly exorbitant sum to have this custom made for the Association.
Discussing Alchemy with you was quite helpful, (Characer Name), as it served to job my memory. We all know of the centrality of ovens in the processing of alchemical materials.
Alchemists use their ovens to alter the very essence of the matter, whether it be liquid, solid, or gaseous.
Don't be taken aback-- just stand by and watch a moment.
To the average observer, I would appear to be setting this book aflame.

Arcana - Laoire 02.png
(Laoire places the book on the lectern and starts a fire!)


(Rather than going up in flames, it seems as if the book is instead coexisting with them, floating gently in the air as the fire surrounds it.)

I had the paper made with a special enameled pulp. The pages are essentially fire-retardant.
Had I not needed that, I could simply have bought a copy myself. Would've saved me a considerable amount, too.
But you have to admit, the trick of setting a book on fire and not only seeing it unharmed, but being captivated by the undulating flame does leave an impression, no?
This flame is relatively weak, so it's more easily influenced by outside forces. might it be too unscientific to say that the knowledge written in the book has been taken into the flame? Haha.
Anyway, the important thing to know is that the flame know what the book shows. If not already, it should soon have assimilated all the principles written there. Given the weakness of the flame, however, I doubt you could do so much as light an oven with it.
Now, it's time to try something new, generously provided to us by (Character Name).
This time, we'll be looking at it from the angle of exploring the possibilities, rather than expecting some elaborate transformation.


(The flame sways, trembling slightly as the Flint is placed within it. You see small sparks begin to flash like the sun catching the shallows of a lakeshore.)

The flame... It moved!

(Laoire quickly reaches into the flame, grabbing the flint that appeared to have ignited.)

Aha. It's not as hot as it looked, which is excellent news for my hand. I believe that's because it's not releasing the energy as heat. How about it? Care to try for yourself, (Character Name)?

(You receive a Small Arcana Flame)


(You use the Small Arcana Flame.)


(You can still feel the heat from the flame, but strangely, it doesn't burn you.)

So... the flame really doesn't hurt. Fascinating. Since it's already affected you, I expect you'll find that your compatibility with Arcana has increased.
That should mean the Arcana crest you have will become much more stable from this point on. And no matter which other crests you may obtain in the future, you'll retain them all.
Enhancing an Arcana crest you possess and unlocking Links should both prove not only possible, but very straightforward now, seeing as the flame is able to affect the Arcana directly.
And from now on, you should be able to find the materials needed for enhancement anywhere, not just near the volcano. Since you possess the energy of the Arcana flame, any incomplete sparks of the flame should have an easier time manifesting, as they'll be drawn to the energy within you.
These 'incomplete sparks' will likely appear to you as long, glowing tangles of string. They are what I've identified in my research as Smoldering Threads.
When you have enough Smoldering Threads, you can fuse them together to create a Scorching Crest, which are used to enhance Arcana crests.
So now, all that's left is creating an Arcana crest to use. Practically speaking, I can create a crest, but I think we'd see far better results if we develop them together with people skilled in the use of the disciplines that make up the Arcana.
We need to ensure that anyone with an interest-- from you all the way down to the common folk-- can actually learn to use Arcana. I think we can improve their usability by leaps and bounds if we work with those who have natural talent while we're refining the designs.
I've heard some rumors here and there-- things I can follow up on, or look into more deeply. There are a number of individuals across Erinn who may well be worth reaching out to.
Since this venture is moving forward in large part thanks to your cooperation, under no circumstances will I rush you before you're ready. It will never be too late to come see me about learning an Arcana talent once you'd like to get started.
Doing so may delay our eventual approval and elevation to a proper Royal Society, but I believe it's a risk worth taking.
I guess we have no choice...

> Prompt: I thought you just had to follow the process... or What was it Eirawen said?

(In that moment, you remember Eirawen saying that an organization being officially elevated to the status of a Royal Society is just a matter of time and filling out the proper paperwork. Laoire looks at you, hanging his head to hide his surprise and dismay.)

What? Is that true? So when Her Majesty mentioned she needed more time, that's what she meant?
Good grief...
It seems I'd been laboring under a rather large misapprehension. But at least now, I know we'll be able to pursue our association's goals at the pace we want without the pressure of delivering consistent results.
I hope you can find a pace that's comfortable for you as well, (Character Name). I already owe you much and more for your assistance.
A... ahaha... It feels like all the stored-up tension is draining away now. Phew...
For the first time, I'm learning of the simple joy of having a place where one belongs. ...Oh, by the by, there was something else I nearly forgot to mention.
Because you've basked in the Arcana flame, you'll likely feel a stronger pull to this room, since we have such a large Arcana flame here.
If you're so inclined, you can use that pull to your advantage. You should be able to quickly move to this room whenever you have need.
Thank you for all the work you've put in for us to come this far. I'm excited to have you learn multiple Arcana, but you can always devote your focus to one at a time. I'll be ready whenever you are, so just come see me.

> Prompt: Sure thing! or Teach me the Arcana for cleaning!