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File 163125557174.png - (155.61KB , 1000x1000 , 000.png )
1010078 No. 1010078 ID: 629f2e

A mystery/horror quest about children uncovering the horrifying mysteries surrounding their small town.

---

Unbeknownst to many at the time, yesterday had been one of the most eventful days in quite some time for the city of Cattenom. All around town, incidents were taking place that would change the lives of everyone involved. Miniature tragedies, disconnected yet intertwined in unknowable ways.
6 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 1010085 ID: 629f2e
File 163125603754.png - (715.33KB , 1000x1000 , 007.png )
1010085

Despite your leisurely pace, you pass a few kids on the sidewalk. You’d caught up to your friend Franklin without realizing it.

Franklin: “Hey there Roger, wuzzup with you?”
Roger: “Nothing much. How about you?”
Franklin: “...I dunno.”
Roger: “How do you not know that?”
Franklin: “Not sure. Something’s weird today...”

He stops walking and stares up at the sky for a moment. You're forced to pat him on the back to jog him back to reality.

Franklin: “...Huh?”
Roger: “You said something was weird today.”
Franklin: “...Oh yeah! What was it though...?”

You sigh, and grab his hand so that he can’t lock up completely again. He’s been late to class more than once because he got lost in thought on the way. One time he ended up being fifteen minutes late despite being right outside the classroom door.

Among our class, he’s probably best known as The Alien. He isn’t some sort of extraterrestrial, no matter what Jhonen says. He’s just an odd duck. With how vocal a certain weirdness fanatic is about the “Franklin is an Alien Conspiracy” though, it’s hard not to associate him with the term. Sure, he’s a little different, he’s the only kid you know with a bald head and tail, but if he was really an alien an adult would have said something by now.

You wouldn’t call Franklin your best friend, but he’s an easy guy to get along with. The only real requirement for hanging out with him is patience.
>>
No. 1010086 ID: 629f2e
File 163125623389.png - (703.35KB , 1000x1000 , 008.png )
1010086

You make it to class without managing to pull an explanation out of him. Like many of Franklin’s random thoughts, this one had clearly vacated his mind.

After a short walk past the Middle School classrooms, you both make it to your own class and split up. Your eyes glance up at the clock as you sit down. It was only 7:42, class wasn’t starting for a bit. A lot of kids were either finishing homework they’d procrastinated on doing, talking with their friends, or playing simple games to pass the time. Mrs. Chamberlane’s class didn’t start until 8:00, so you had time to kill.

There are a few kids here that you wouldn’t mind talking to. A few are in conversation of their own, but some look open. Looking around, the ones that stand out are:
A: Your friend Franklin - He’s just sitting by himself right now, that seems weird
B: Game night pal Albert - Someone’s blocking your view, but it looks like he’s already talking to someone
C: Your other friend/game night partner Lillian - Phillip’s twin sister. Seems to be in lower spirits than usual
D: The class president Louie - looking stressed out, like any day that ends in ‘y’
E: Or class clown Lemmy - Who seems like he’s in the middle of setting up something

You could also spend a few minutes Drawing. It puts you in a good mood, and if you choose the right subject matter, you may be able to trade it with someone later. You could probably still squeeze in a conversation or two afterwards if you stuck to pencil.

(Suggest what you would like Roger to do! You can talk to up to three other students, or up to two if you choose to spend time drawing.)
>>
No. 1010087 ID: 8483cf

Draw, draw, draw!
>>
No. 1010088 ID: 805477

Franklin, Lillian and drawing.
>>
No. 1010089 ID: e51896

Draw something you dreamt last night
>>
No. 1010090 ID: 094652

Check on (C) Miss Rugrat.
>>
No. 1010095 ID: ce39da

Lillian seems down. That's concerning - maybe something happened?

Are you sure the class president is just his usual amount of tense? Maybe he could use a game night one of these days to unwind.

Spend the rest of your time drawing something you talked about.
>>
No. 1010096 ID: ea37b4

>>1010086
Draw your game night character.

Talk with Louie (to try and destress his distressed ass) and Franklin (what’s so weird, dude?).
>>
No. 1010097 ID: ea37b4

>>1010096
Actually, draw Lillian’s character. Oughta perk her up, later.
>>
No. 1010102 ID: 11b08a

Ok first draw, then talk to Lillian and then finish your homework.
>>
No. 1010123 ID: a58d3b

>>1010086
Let's further stress the class president.
>>
No. 1010129 ID: 0838d6

Draw Lilian's character from the game!
>>
No. 1010311 ID: 629f2e
File 163144407695.png - (789.38KB , 1000x1000 , 009.png )
1010311

After thinking about it, you decide to talk to Lillian first. It was rare to see her in such a bad mood on a day with no scheduled exams.

As you’re walking up to her, it strikes you that her brother Phillip isn’t here yet. That’s peculiar. They’re twins living under the same roof, so normally they show up together. Normally right about now they’d be jabbering it up until class started. Despite their very different interests and personalities, they almost always got along well.

Lillian likes all things physical, and would unquestioningly be thought of as The Athlete among your classmates. Phillip prefers to sit still and read, getting winded easily during games like Battle Tag. He’s kind of The Nerd, which is a reputation he owns proudly.

If the two of them didn’t look nearly identical, you’d never believe they were siblings.

Roger: “Hey there Lill.”
Lillian: “Huh? Oh, hey Roger.”
Roger: “Where’s Phillip? Did he get sick, or did you just sprint here and leave him behind again?”

She winces.

Lillian: “He’s... not with us anymore.”
Roger: “Wh- H-He died!?
Lillian: “What? No! I just mean he Graduated.
Roger: “Graduated…?”

Phillip graduated? But he hadn’t even finished elementary, let alone middle school. That meant this was an Early Graduation. You heard rumors about that kind of stuff before, but it hadn’t happened to any of your classmates until now. Nobody could have seen this coming.

Lillian: “Some guy came by last night to deliver the news and take him away. Phillip’s gone.”
Lillian: “We won’t see him again until we graduate. So Game Night’s off.”
Roger: “No! But we were almost at the end of the labyrinth!”
Lillian: “Yeah, but even with his notes nobody else would want to be the game master. Everyone knows being a player is where it’s at, Phillip’s the only kid insane enough to take the lame role.”

You fall to your knees in despair, knowing that she was right. Your game night had effectively been shut down until you made it into high school and caught up with Phillip.

Roger: “Why did Phillip have to graduate early anyways? If it was based on grades, Albert should have gone first, right?”
Lillian: “We asked, but the guy wouldn’t say. Only thing he told us was that Phillip was Selected for early graduation, no reasons why.”
Lillian: “Man… I’m not used to him being gone, I want to talk to him. I’d even listen to him blather on about some stupid book right now.”
Roger: “Don’t try it. Trespassing at the high school will get you in the most trouble ever.”
Roger: “Those are the two big high school rules. No visitors, and no leaving until you’re 18.”
Lillian: “Yeah yeah… But if I can get in without them knowing…”
Roger: “Seriously, don’t do it.”
Lillian: “Fiiiiiinnne.”

She lets her head fall flat against her desk, leaning over to glance at you.

Roger: “Are you gonna be okay?”
Lillian: “Yeah…”
Roger: “...Anything I can do to cheer you up?”
Lillian: “Rematch!”

Your eyes narrow. Every time you think she’s finally dropped it, she just tries to drag you back in.

Roger: “Nothing? Well that’s a shame.”

She whines a little as you walk away. No matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t think of a good reason why Phillip would have been given early graduation. That wasn’t hard to believe though, as no kid understood the system. It was basically just something that happens, and you have no choice but to accept it and move on.
>>
No. 1010312 ID: 629f2e
File 163144420119.png - (745.45KB , 1000x1000 , 010.png )
1010312

You decide to check on The Class President, who you all called Louie because his real name was too hard to pronounce. He was basically elected on a platform of being the only one who wanted the job, but he seemed to handle the responsibility well. For some reason, he seemed like he was more stressed than usual today. Sure, he always had a lot on his plate, but he was practically shaking in his seat.

Roger: “Hey there Louie. Is everything alright? You look stressed.”
Louie: “Oh, hi Roger. Everything is fine, I’m just worried. Rodney isn’t here yet.”
Roger: “Huh? Is that a problem, did you need to talk to him?”
Louie: “That’s not… Look, Clive’s already here, see?”

You turn around and see Clive, sitting at the desk beside yours. His head tilts towards you, until his eyes meet yours. You turn away instantly, hoping you didn’t upset him.

If Rodney was The Socialite, the kid who gets along with everyone and is at almost every birthday party or gathering, then Clive would be The Anti-Socialite. Nobody talks to Clive, and Clive talks to nobody. It’s a good arrangement, and you don’t plan on breaking it any time soon. That kid is bad news. You get the point that Louie was going for though.

Roger: “Right, they’re brothers. They’ve always shown up together.”
Louie: “Rodney’s probably just sick at home, which means he’s not going to show up today.”

Was that it? Your earlier conversation with Lillian makes you less certain about that. Early graduation hadn’t happened even once for as long as you’ve been a student, what are the odds that it would happen twice on the same day?

Roger: “Okay, but what’s the problem? Do you need him for something?”
Louie: “Well… He’s the volunteer student guide. Whenever we get new students, he’s supposed to show them around, and help them get acquainted.”
Roger: “Oh yeah. But we’re not due for a new kid until Amber’s brother turns six, and that’s not for like three months.”
Louie: “That’s what I thought, but Mrs. Chamberlane told me that we’re getting a new student. Today!
Roger: “Huh? But who?”
Louie: “I don’t know, she didn’t say. All I know is that she’s a girl.”

Cattenom wasn’t that big of a town. You may not know everyone, but word gets around fast here. If you were due for a new student, you should have known months ago. This was definitely weird…

Louie: “Do you know anyone who’d be willing to take the role for today if Rodney doesn’t show?”
Roger: “What about Albert? I think he’s done it a couple times before.”
Louie: “Oh! That’s right, he did take the role for a while didn’t he? Thank you, I’ll ask him about it.”
Roger: “Alright, I hope you get that sorted out.”
>>
No. 1010313 ID: 629f2e
File 163144432162.png - (621.89KB , 1000x1000 , 011.png )
1010313

As Louie leaves to make his request of Albert, you return to your desk. You still had a bit of time, but you’d had enough of talking. All you wanted to do now was draw.

You lay out your sketchbook and get your pencils ready. All that’s left is the idea. You’d had a few in mind already in fact.

After your conversation with Lillian, you’re torn on drawing either of your tabletop characters. You’ve sketched them a couple times before, Lillian’s orc barbarian Brutus is tough with all his muscles, but it’s good practice. It could be nice, but it would more likely end up serving as a reminder that you can’t really play anymore. You’ll keep it in mind for later, but it may be too soon for now.

Unfortunately, you'd already drawn all you could remember from your dreams. Whenever you have a really memorable one, you rip out your sketchbook and draw something from it before you can forget. You already did this last night, and try as you might you can't remember anything else clearly enough to draw from memory.

What else could you draw? Well, you had a few options…

You could draw something simple but relaxing, like the scenery outside. This was often a safe choice, and while pieces like these were cheap to make or trade it was hard to get interrupted. You’d definitely finish before class started.

If you’re feeling a bit riskier though… Well, Clive’s been giving off a sort of bad vibe for a while now. If you tried to sketch him now, that scary look on his face would definitely make for a more exciting image. The biggest risk is that if he notices you, you’d probably get spooked and might fail to finish your drawing.

You could always do something else too. Draw a classmate, do something from your imagination, try to draw a memory, etc. The quality or difficulty would be hard to determine without trying, but it’d be worth it to draw whatever strikes you.

Gah, you’re wasting time thinking about drawing instead of actually drawing. What will you do?

A: Draw something safe - Do some landscapes or something that you’re guaranteed to finish
B: Draw someone dangerous - Draw Clive, and risk getting spooked and potentially not finishing, for the reward of a neater final image
C: Get creative - Suggest something specific to draw, at the cost of not knowing how troublesome the idea is until you try it
>>
No. 1010328 ID: 094652

Contemplate the weirdness of your world. Remember that most worlds are weird.

Draw everything you've ever seen in your life that you remember, in layers upon layers of different colors.
Call it "Magnus Opum Draft 1".
>>
No. 1010340 ID: ce39da

Draw Clive - if he does spook you, you could use that as an impetus to ask where his brother is (since approaching him of one's own accord is so unheard of).
>>
No. 1010382 ID: 8483cf

Draw Clive. Nobody learns anything new in their comfort zone.
>>
No. 1010389 ID: e51896

A. You draw a landscape.

but in reality: B you accidentally draw Clive in the landscape somewhere in the background.
>>
No. 1010640 ID: 629f2e
File 163168375785.png - (1.31MB , 1000x1000 , 012.png )
1010640

As much fun as drawing some grand magnum opus piece would be, you only have like eight minutes until class starts. Besides, the dangerous air around Clive right now is just too tempting. It’s frightening, but you can’t look away from him. You feel inspired.

Your pencil moves across the canvas, and the details quickly start to fall into place. His features appear clearer to you than ever before, passive information turning into active observations. His hair was an unkempt field of curls, and he had a noticeable hunch from his constant bad posture. With each stroke, the image in your notebook comes closer and closer to the original.

He shifts in his seat, but you fail to notice his movement before it’s too late. His head tilts back, and his eyes meet yours. The expression he wore was dripping with serious annoyance, as if you had been flicking him in the back of the neck this entire time. You rush to throw your arms over the sketchbook page before he notices it. Maybe he knew already, but you weren’t taking the risk that he didn’t like what you were drawing

His eyes squint with suspicion, as a single utterance leaves his mouth.

Clive: “What?”
Roger: “N-Nothing.” You say back, trying not to look too nervous.
Clive: “...”

He just stares, as if waiting for you to say something. One topic did come to mind.

Roger: “So… I noticed Rodney wasn’t here-”

The moment the name leaves your mouth, his expression shifts from mere annoyance to barely restrained fury. You let out a yelp and hold your sketchbook up in front of you like a shield (the back side facing him, best not poke the bear further). Looks like that’s a sensitive topic at the moment.

After a few seconds of silence, he makes an annoyed grunt and turns back around. It seems you’ve been spared.

Thankfully, you’d been able to get enough detail down on the page that you could finish your drawing at home. That was good, because there was no way you were flipping your book back to that page while this close to Clive. Even with his attention away, you couldn’t help but shake slightly in fear.

Roger has gained 1 Fear.

Fear is something that will accrue over time as you encounter frightening sights and ideas. A single point is nothing to worry about, but be cautious about how much you take on. As a character’s Fear gets higher, negative effects will start to show.

Do not allow a character’s Fear to reach 100. If you do, VERY BAD THINGS will happen.
>>
No. 1010641 ID: 629f2e
File 163168386110.png - (728.85KB , 1000x1000 , 013.png )
1010641

You put your art things away as the clock strikes 8:00. Right on time, Mrs. Chamberlane steps through the door, giving all the students a warm smile.

Mrs. Chamberlane: “Good morning Class. I have so many exciting things to tell you all today!”

A few students reply, while you start to think. One of them was definitely going to be about the new student, and maybe Phillip’s graduation. What else though…?

Mrs. Chamberlane: “To start, I’m sure you’ve noticed a few of your friends aren’t here today. But let me assure you all that not a single student is absent or tardy right now.”
Mrs. Chamberlane: “Recently, the high school board got in contact to inform us that Three of our lovely students have been selected for early graduation!”

Three?

Mrs. Chamberlane: “Phillip Dyad, Rodney Schmidt, and Jhonen Horvitz have all been given early access to our town’s high school, where they will be molded into mature and capable adults.”

Wait… Jhonen wasn’t here?

You look back at Franklin, noticing the seat behind him was empty. It suddenly clicks with you what was wrong with the scene. Normally, he and Jhonen would be having the same back and forth they always do before class, but instead your friend was by himself.

The teacher’s last declaration had elicited conversations. You hear snippets of them all around.

“Awwwww, but Rodney was s’posed to come to my birthday.”
“Jhonen’s gone? I thought it was kind of quiet today.”
“Shouldn’t they have gone up to middle school first? Why skip to high school...?”
“Three leave, and one comes. Fate has presented us with an interesting set of possibilities...”
“We didn’t need the geek and freak, but why’d they take Rodney? Can we trade Clive to get him back, it’s not like anyone would miss him.”

A few specific remarks catch your ear, coming from students you’re more familiar with.

Albert: “Phillip, Rodney, and Jhonen… I can’t see the pattern in those choices.”
Franklin: “Graduation? Is that what That was…? Weird.”
Lillian: “Wait, we lost Rodney and the para-whatzits freak too? Jeez, yesterday sucked.”

The teacher gestures for the class to stop talking, calming the fervor. It’s hard not to notice, him being right in front of you and all, but Clive…

...If he was angry before, you’d guess it was taking all of his effort not to throw his desk at the teacher. Was he taking his brother’s graduation that badly, or was it something else?

Mrs. Chamberlane: “There’s more news to share, and what fun news it is. We’re receiving a brand new student today!”

The class she’d just silenced starts up again, most questioning how it was possible. Until somebody spoke up with an answer.

Lemmy: “You guys should have seen it! Yesterday, the Anderson place went up in flames!”
Lemmy: “I heard the guy Died, so this has gotta be his daughter, right?”

Was that true? Lemmy’s never a trustworthy source for anything, so you weren’t sure.

Mrs. Chamberlane: “Please don’t speak so crassly about death. It’s true though, there was a fire the other day, and our incoming student lost a loved one in it.”
Mrs. Chamberlane: “I’ll ask that you all show her respect, if you don’t want to sit through a month of detentions.”

Whoa…

Frederick Anderson was a local bigwig. The guy was rich, and owned a lot of property in town. You think he may well have been the only landlord in Cattenom. He was supposedly a really nice guy, very generous even with people far behind on payments, but you’ve never met him yourself. His daughter was more the talk of your classmates, as everyone knows of her but almost nobody can claim to have met her. The Homeschooler is more of a legend than an actual person. Having her come to class... It definitely wasn’t something you even considered.
>>
No. 1010642 ID: 629f2e
File 163168394292.png - (1.69MB , 1000x1000 , 014.png )
1010642

The teacher motions towards the door, and you see movement. There’s hesitation, but soon a figure emerges. She walks out to the front of the room, in the middle of the blackboard.

She was so small, appearing almost fragile from her size and demeanor. You could tell just by looking that this girl, this poor young girl, was terrified as she looked out upon a crowd of expectant eyes. You don’t know whether she knew of her status among you or not, but whatever preparation she’d done before stepping in front of you all was not enough. She fiddles with her hands, trying to form the words, but none come out.

Mrs. Chamberlane: “Dearie, could you try and introduce yourself?”

Her mouth opens, and among weak stutters comes something tangible.

Enid: “ee- um… Enid Anderson…

Usually students were supposed to say something about themselves. What they liked, what they wanted to be when they grew up, whatever they wanted to say. Enid simply retreated to the back of the room and took an empty desk.

The class began almost like normal from there, but your mind was anywhere else. Between Enid being here, and the three people who had vanished, you just couldn’t focus on normal schoolwork. It almost got you in trouble when the teacher called your name, but you were able to fake your way through an answer.

When lunch period finally rolls around, you need to talk about some of these things with your friends. But what do you even think about this?

What does Roger think about all that has come up so far?
>>
No. 1010643 ID: 8483cf

Get panicked about early graduation! It's more likely than you think.
>>
No. 1010677 ID: 50af53

Wow. Got outed having a dead parent before she even got to say her name. Even fathoming having to deal with that DIRECTLY after they died in a fire is brutal. I'm suprised she's even here. Give her a little wave with a smile if you've got the guts. She needs to try and feel normal right now.
>>
No. 1010681 ID: ce39da

Franklin's comment at the graduation announcement certainly got your attention. What did he see? You're honestly curious about what early graduation actually entails.

You're also curious about what happened at the Anderson house, but you can take a hint that Enid probably isn't ready to talk about it. If the game is gonna be put on ice, maybe you can occupy yourself after school with a bit of on-site investigation? In the meantime, maybe Enid needs a friend more than anything else.

It seems like Clive took the early graduations harder than anybody else, but was that entirely from his naturally surly demeanor, or did he have a stronger bond with Rodney than people realized? Or does he know something that Lillian doesn't? He's probably the "needs some space" kind of kid, though, so that's exactly what you'll give him for now.
>>
No. 1010689 ID: 094652

>Enid
Your new long-term objective is to gain enough friendship points to affectionately hug Missus Anderson. Repeatedly.

>Graduation
Yeah, no, they're hiding something.
* Graduation is instantaneous. There's no acclimation period, no chance for students to say goodbye (or laugh it). Think back to all your classmates; how many would agree to graduate without so much as a letter?
* Nobody gets to talk to a high-schooler about any tips on surviving the protein-overdeveloped frat boys and alpha... sexy dog-girls. High-schoolers are cut off entirely, even from their parents, and if anyone would hate high-school they legally cannot drop out and complain about it.
* Most importantly, why the heck are you imprisoned here and now? There's no other High School in the state. Are you even allowed to leave the state? What if everyone hates you and your parents found a better job somewhere else, are you allowed to leave then? Is there a giant concrete wall surrounding the area?
* Read a history textbook and you'll see that every evil dictatorship had the same general formula: lie profusely, keep people separated, and when all else fails, use physical force. Graduation is all three on steroids.

>What do
Be a delinquent by day, honor student by night. Make scathing, sarcastic acts of devotion that link the town's primary religion to an evil empire. Do science experiments using whatever scrap metal you can find. Date all the boys and girls and all configurations thereof (or whatever you prefer) at the same time. Help the homeless and abused children the moment you find them. Run harmless yet humiliating pranks on the school. Study and exercise like your life depended on it.
Your reputation must be in the gutter and your character level must be in the high 20s by the time you turn 18. That way, if anyone says you graduated, heads will turn and the others will have enough evidence to realize that something is very, very wrong.

>Your story
This all seems... familiar... why?
>>
No. 1011133 ID: 1f63c8
File 163211657368.png - (507.05KB , 1000x1000 , 015.png )
1011133

You sit down with Lillian and start eating. Your mom packed you your usual PB&J (it was your favorite, so you didn’t mind having the same thing most days), a small box of raisins, and a slice of birthday cake you still had lying around. Since she seemed envious of it though, you trade your cake for Lill’s slice of pecan pie. You were getting kind of sick of it anyway, it’s good to have some variety.

Franklin joins you next, and is followed shortly afterwards by Albert. As usual, Albert looked like the grim reaper was hovering nearby, just as sickly as ever.

Albert’s health was always terrible, but the one part of him that was always top notch was his brain. There was a reason everyone considered Albert The Genius. Even though he spent half of his classes resting in the nurse’s office, he was so far ahead of the material that it never made a dent in his grades. You mostly started talking to him through games at Phillip’s, and you’ve been having lunch together most days ever since.

It appeared that Louie had talked him into his old role of student guide, as the new girl Enid trailed right behind him, sitting down with you all. She still looked nervous, so you give her a friendly wave when she looks your way. It isn’t much, but she almost smiles when she waves back. There was definitely a mouth twitch!

Albert: “This is Roger, Franklin, and Lillian. They’re the kids I usually sit with, but if you want I could introduce you to a few of the others.”
Albert: “There are a few girls close to your age here if you’d prefer.”
Enid: “This… It's fine.”
Lillian: “Hey. Nice meetin’ ya Enid.”
Roger: “I hope your first day isn’t going too badly.”
Franklin: “...Hey, who is she?”
>>
No. 1011134 ID: 1f63c8
File 163211663072.png - (775.36KB , 1000x1000 , 016.png )
1011134

You laugh, as Albert re-introduces Enid. Guess he spaced out during her introduction. Speaking of which, there was something he’d said when class started you were meaning to ask about.

Roger: “Hey Franklin, could I ask you something? I heard you say something weird during class.”
Roger: “The teacher was talking about graduation, and you muttered something about if that was what That was.”
Roger: “What were you talking about?”
Franklin: “That…?”
Franklin: “...Oh! Yeah, That!
Franklin: “Well… Yesterday I was hanging out with Jhonen like usual. He was chasing me through town and threatening to drag me to his home and run experiments on me.”
Enid: “Huh? What?”

Seeing her confusion really made you realize how much weirdness your class had just come to accept around those two. You try to cover all of the important context quickly.

Roger: “Jhonen was obsessed with things like aliens, and always tried to convince us that Franklin was one. He’d always be pointing out things he thought proved it, or threatening to expose his true nature.”
Albert: “He had a habit of taking his obsession too far, and was branded The Freak. Nobody took him seriously.”
Lillian: “Oh yeah, didn’t he threaten to rip Franklin’s arm off or something to prove his point once, and ended up getting detention for a week? Like, who does that?”
Franklin: “...I like my arms where they are. Putting them back would be annoying.”
Albert: “It would be significantly worse than that.”
Franklin: “...”

You put an arm on his shoulder to catch him before he spaces out.

Roger: “You were hanging out with Jhonen yesterday. Then what happened?”
Franklin: “...Hmmm.”
Franklin: “Oh right! I lost him in an alleyway, but then he started talking to some adult guy. It wasn’t his dad I think, he was wearing a suit...”
Franklin: “And then they both just left together in a car… Annnnd… Yeah, that’s all.”

He goes back to eating his fish sticks as though there wasn’t an obvious question to that story. Luckily, Albert asks it for you.

Albert: “Why does your description of those events sound suspiciously similar to an Abduction?
Lillian: “Ha. Alien-freak got abducted.”
Lillian: “Wait, abduction’s like kidnapping. That’d be really bad, wouldn’t it?”
Franklin: “...I dunno. I think I thought it was one at first, but then I stopped thinking about it…”
Roger: “Lill, didn’t you say that the guy who came for Phillip came to your house?”
Lillian: “Yeah. He talked to our mom, and then took him away.”
Roger: “Then why did this one pull Jhonen off the streets. Wouldn’t his family have an issue with that?”
Albert: “No matter how strange it may seem, it’s considered a graduation according to the school. We don’t understand how Early Graduation works, so we don’t have any foundation to dispute it.”
Roger: “Maybe we could look into the system? I’m sure if we just ask, some adult would be willing to explain it.”
Albert: “Hmm… I wonder.”
Albert: “What do you think, Clive?
>>
No. 1011135 ID: 1f63c8
File 163211694126.png - (1.32MB , 1000x1000 , 017.png )
1011135

When you turn around, he’s right there. His eyes don’t even move in your direction, locked onto Albert’s glasses. You're able to resist the urge to scream in surprise, though you do startle and bang your knees into the table. Your raisins spill everywhere, but you manage to avoid gaining any more Fear.

But seriously, how long had he been standing there!?

Clive: “...If it was that easy, the rumor would have died a long time ago.”
Albert: “A fair point. It’s still worth trying, if only to gauge the response we get, but we shouldn’t expect-”
Clive: “Twin.”

He turns towards Lillian, not even bothering to let Albert finish.

Lillian: “Not my name, but yeah?”
Clive: “The other one graduated yesterday. What happened when he did?”
Lillian: “What d’ya mean?”
Clive: “...How did his graduation take place. Walk me through it.”
Albert: “Shouldn’t you already know? Rodney grad-”
Clive: “Walk. Me. Through. It.

Albert shuts up quick, turning to Lillian. She goes through the basic rundown she’d already told me, about a man visiting her home.

Clive: “...Okay.”
Franklin: “Jhonen was just abducted from the street though, so that might not always be how it happens, right?”
Albert: “You said they were talking first though, right? The man could have just driven him home, explained the situation to his parents there, and then taken him off to high school.”
Albert: “Like I said, we don’t have any grounds to call foul yet.”
Clive: “...”

You notice that Clive has tuned the others out, muttering to himself with a look that could kill.

Clive: “I knew it... What did they do? If they hurt him, I’ll…”
Albert: “Clive?”

He looks up, glaring.

Clive: “...Rodney never came home yesterday.”
Roger: "What?"
Clive: "He left the house and never came back. And no, we didn't get any visitors explaining what had happened."
Lillian: "That can't be right. Maybe they talked to your parents-"
Clive: "I know for a Fact they didn't."
Roger: "The school can't just steal kids and put them in high school though, right? Our parents wouldn't allow it."
Albert: "And yet that seems to be exactly what's happened now."
Albert: "Either the education system holds a lot more weight in this town than we thought, or somebody is Lying to us."
Roger: "Like, Rodney isn't actually at the high school?"
Albert: "It's a convenient lie. There's no way for us to verify it, so they can keep it up for as long as they need."
Lillian: "Who's They here? Mrs. Chamberlane?"
Albert: "It's hard to say… She could be involved, or she could be regurgitating false information given to her. Without knowing what's really happening, there's no way to know."
Clive: "Figure it out then."
Clive: “I don’t know why yet, but someone dragged Rodney into some Conspiracy. As soon as I know who's behind it, and what the heck they did to my little brother...”

He doesn't finish his threat. After a few seconds, he starts to walk away, giving one final statement.

Clive: “...If you find anything out, tell me.”

With that slightly more empathetic request, he walks away. You felt bad for him, but moreso for Rodney than him. You just couldn't bring yourself to be on his side after everything You've Seen.

Your friends trade looks, unsure of what to even say. Clive had dropped a major bomb in your laps, and it was hard to know where to go.

Roger: "...After school, maybe we should ask questions about all this stuff."
Albert: "Mrs. Chamberlane would be the obvious person to start with."
Franklin: "...Oh, maybe we could go to the store."
Roger: "Huh, why?"
Franklin: "The alley was right next to it. So… Y'know, maybe one of the people there saw Jhonen get in the car."
Lillian: "That's not a bad idea."
Roger: "We could split up. Two go to the teacher, and two go to the store."
Lillian: "Huh? Aren't there Five of us here?"

All eyes turn to Enid. She's been silent for most of this discussion, and still doesn't seem like she'll say much. After a few seconds though-

Enid: "...I'll come."
Albert: "Two and five then. Alright, I'll go and talk to the teacher."
Franklin: "...I should probably go to the store, since I was there, right?"

You consider both options...

Who should Roger go with?
A: Follow Albert to speak with the teacher
B: Follow Franklin and ask around the area Jhonen was last seen

...And who should come with you?
1: Lillian (You know she's not much of a thinker, but is the strongest and 2nd fastest kid in your grade. She's a decent friend, and you can rely on her to play her part however she can)
2: Enid (You don't know her well, but she seems down. Taking her along might help her open up, and may have some hidden benefits you won't know about)
>>
No. 1011137 ID: e106b9

Franklin and Enid! Albert will be fine on his own.
>>
No. 1011222 ID: a58d3b

Take Enid and get her on board Franklin's Finder Force. Since Enid's dad owned the concept of air itself with plenty of money to spare, maybe bringing Enid along will help get some info from someone important who very hopefully recognizes her.
>>
No. 1011275 ID: ce39da

I say we go with Franklin, if only because we're the most experienced at keeping him on task. We'll take Lillian, if only because we think she'll be useful out in the field, or at least more so than she would be in an interview. Enid and Albert together are less likely to say the wrong thing and put Mrs. Chamberlain on edge.

"Oh, before we go, Lillian, Franklin, can you both describe the man to me? I wanna try drawing him at some point."
>>
No. 1011283 ID: 094652

Whatever
Enid
>>
No. 1011460 ID: a2493c

>>1011135
Enid. Artists crave the new over the familiar, after all.
>>
No. 1011530 ID: 629f2e
File 163254880527.png - (567.93KB , 1000x1000 , 018.png )
1011530

Roger: "Franklin, why don't I go with you?"
Franklin: "Why don't you?"
Roger: "Don't see a reason not to, unless Albert wants to hang out more."

Albert casually waves you off.

Albert: "Franklin needs someone to keep his head on straight, and I trust you more than Lillian. Stick with him."
Lillian: "Hey, don't put me on Franklin's level, I'm at least smarter than him!"
Albert: "Well your grades don't reflect that at all. You realize he routinely does better than you, right?"
Lillian: "He cheats!"
Franklin: "No, studying's just easy. ...Except for math. It's just remembering stuff for long enough to write it on a test."
Albert: "See that Lillian? You just got lectured by Franklin. Franklin! Take it to heart, and try harder."
Lillian: "Nah. There aren't any big tests this month, so no reason to."
Roger: "Are you really sure you want to be encouraging her to study Albert? You know she's just gonna hassle you for tutoring."
Albert: "...Good grief, what am I saying! Forget what I said, you're fine Lillian."

You laugh at his drastic change in tone. As he and Lill banter though, you catch another conversation at your table.

Franklin: "Uh… Who are you going with again?"
Enid: "O-Oh, um… I'm not- we didn't talk about it…"
Franklin: "...Do you wanna come with Roger and me? It'll take me a while to remember your name and what you look like, so it'll help to have you near."
Enid: "Y-You really want me to come with you?"
Franklin: "Yeah."
Enid: "Then… I'll come. If that's okay…"

She turns to you with a pleading look in her eyes. You didn't have a problem with it, and it would even be a good excuse to get to know her better. You shoot her a thumbs up. For the first time since she arrived in class, her lips curl upwards in a small smile. It doesn't last too long, but her happiness was infectious.

Unfortunately, any joy you felt was sucked out of you by a few words from Lillian.

Lillian: "When we're done checking this stuff out, you owe me a rematch Roger."

Your face crumples with disgust.

Roger: "No."
Lillian: "Come ooooooonnnn, why not?"
Roger: "We've done it twelve times, you're just not gonna stop asking until you win."
Lillian: "Well maybe this'll be the one, huh? What, are you afraid to lose?"
Roger: "I'm seriously hoping I do. I could finally close the book on this thing once and for all."
Enid: "...What are you talking about?"

The smaller girl was looking at us both curiously. You don't want to say, but Lill speaks for you.

Lillian: "Roger needs to race me so that I can finally win."
Enid: "Oh. Is… he fast?"
Lillian: "Fastest in our grade! Roger's faster than middle schoolers even, you should see it. Hey Roger, you should show off to Enid by racing me!"

You groan.

Roger: "No. Running sucks and I Hate it. Not happening."
Lillian: "Hey, not my fault you got blessed with good legs. You gotta use that stuff."
Roger: "Look, I get enough of this at home, can I get a break here?"
Lillian: "Only if I can get a race."
Albert: "You should know by now that it's faster to give her what she wants than fight it."
Roger: "Oh really? Then you'll be tutoring her for midterms without complaint?"
Albert: "Roger, a race takes about two minutes. Teaching Lillian is hours of my life I will never get back for minimal reward. They can't be compared."
Franklin: "...But you just did compare them."

The topic lasted the rest of the lunch period. You didn't agree to anything, but experience told you she wouldn't drop it that easily. Still, as annoying as it was, it was a nice distraction from the more serious things you'd been discussing before.
>>
No. 1011533 ID: 629f2e
File 163254894024.png - (842.39KB , 1000x1000 , 019.png )
1011533

The next period is recess. All of the kids rush their way out to the playground for the best part of every school day.

After all that talk of graduation and conspiracy, you just wanted to relax. No better way to do so than pulling out your sketchbook and drawing. You set your things out under the shade of a nice tree, where you've often drawn in the past. You just needed a decent subject…

???: "Hey'a Roj!"
Roger: "Gah!"

You throw your sketchbook in shock, eliciting laughs from the boy who knocked you out of your focus. It was Lemmy, who shoots you a wide grin.

Lemmy: "You're easy to spook when you got that sketchbook out y'know?"
Roger: "What do you want, Lemmy?"
Lemmy: "Got any quarters I can borrow? I wanna get my future read by Temmie."

Temmie? She was one of the younger girls in class. You knew that she was kind of weird, like how she lived in a big house but usually dressed like what you imagine a witch living in a hut might wear. She wasn't odd like Jhonen she was just… Well, she liked to play pretend, and never really dropped it from what little you've seen of her.

She wasn't loud or obnoxious like the class freak, but she always insisted that she was The Fortune Teller. You never hung around her, and couldn't really speak on her actual clairvoyance. Never felt like paying the fee for something you didn't really believe.

Roger: "First off, you're out of your mind if you think I'd give you a nickel, let alone a quarter! That's like a full-sized candy bar, or a four-pack of pencils!"
Lemmy: "Hey hey, I'll pay you back for it later. That's why I asked to borrow the cash, make cents to ya?"

He laughs at his own pun. It wasn't very funny.

Roger: "Also doubtful... Why are you paying for a fortune though, it's not like she can really tell the future."
Lemmy: "How do you know that? Have you gotten a fortune from her that didn't come true?"
Roger: "Uh… No, I just assumed that-"
Lemmy: "Well what if she can? For a measly 25 cents, you might know something important that happens to you."
Lemmy: "Y'know, like when you're gonna Graduate..."

Oh. You understood why he was thinking of consulting Temmie now. The early graduation business must have spooked him.

He made a good point though. If Temmie really could see the future, then you could know right then and there when you'd graduate. Would it be today? A week from now? Or hopefully at the normal time after you complete middle school? It was a longshot but… It was just the price of a candy bar you'd be gambling.

Roger: "...Sorry Lemmy, I can't help you. I don't have much on me anyways.
Lemmy: "Rats… I'm gonna go pester the new kid then. Her dad was rich after all."
Roger: "Give her a break. I don't think she's handling things well, and if she really lost her dad just yesterday, I wouldn't blame her."
Lemmy: "That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm treating her like a normal kid instead of a fragile easily broken egg. See? I'm being a stand-up guy."
Roger: "..."
Roger: "You're just looking for some justification to swindle a quarter out of her, aren't you?"
Lemmy: "Absolutely not. If you've got proof that's what I'm up to, then come fourth with it!"

He starts laughing again, except this time you're left scratching your head.

Lemmy: "...Y'know, fourth? Like a quarter- it's not funny anymore. See ya!"

He walks off towards Enid, leaving you alone. Your hand digs around in your pocket, finding two coins. A Quarter and a penny, all that remained of your weekly newspaper route salary. The rest had been spent on art supplies and candy.
>>
No. 1011534 ID: 629f2e
File 163254912890.png - (1.11MB , 1000x1000 , 020.png )
1011534

...You walk over to where you see Temmie sitting alone watching two kids on the swingset. She looks over at you.

Temmie: "...No."
Roger: "What?"
Temmie: "You are wanting to know of when your graduation shall come, be it early or of the normal timing. I am unable to tell you."

You blink. Did she just read your mind?

Roger: "How did you know?"
Temmie: "Because Roger has never seeked out his future before. He comes only now, when a looming threat he can't comprehend has appeared."
Temmie: "Unfortunately, Roger's fate is not so clear. In seven nights, when the answers are revealed, it will be too late to offer a fortune. You will not ask, for you will know your place."

...You were having a hard time understanding what she meant, but it sounded like she couldn't tell you when you'd graduate until next week.

Roger: "I guess I'll come back then."
Temmie: "That is one decision. Let's discuss another."
Temmie: "For the quarter you hold, I will tell you of Something Else."
Roger: "What will that be?"
Temmie: "Whatever the spirits decide is of greatest importance. The unknowable spirits that guide all shall decide what I tell you."
Roger: "Uh… I don't know."
Temmie: "Decide for yourself. Do not let others influence your choice."

Everything she just said was nonsense, and yet… you were handing over a quarter. She pinches it between her fingers, before flipping it so high that you have to crane your neck upwards to see it.

Like a coin flip, the future is an uncertain concept. What has yet to happen is not set in stone, but a series of possibilities. Heads or Tails, Truth or Lies, Live or Die, they are all one in the same.

What aspect of the future should Roger be told of?
A: What is to come
B: Where he is to discover
C: How he is to learn
D: Who is to tell him
E: Why his fate will be what it is
F: Something else…

(Pick the two options you favor most, and which one you prefer.)
>>
No. 1011541 ID: 8483cf

The two that I favor most, and the one I prefer?

I choose how Roger is to learn, and who is to tell him how to do it. Also I want Temmie to be the one to tell us, because she's right here and apparently she's got this all-seeing thing going on, sooooooo
>>
No. 1011542 ID: 094652

Hey Temmie, open his mind so he can consciously hear us. Double your pay.
>>
No. 1011659 ID: ce39da

1st Preference: Where is he to discover?

2nd Favored: How is he to learn?
>>
No. 1011746 ID: c92a02

What is to come, and why?
>>
No. 1011747 ID: a58d3b

First why, then how. Bonus round if Tem's feeling a bit cheeky: tomorrow's lunch menu?
>>
No. 1011981 ID: 629f2e
File 163296497844.png - (1.22MB , 1000x1000 , 021.png )
1011981

How and Why. The spirits have made their wills clear.

As the coin falls into Temmie’s outstretched palm, something changes. The air between you both had gone cold. Her hand clenches over the quarter, before each finger unfurls one by one. When her palm is open again, the coin has vanished.

She speaks, in a voice that sounded the same as it had before, and yet for all the world different.

“Listen well, Artist.”

“Your passions were never to be, and yet they are. A life which you’ve denied that was to be, is not. You’ve forged a path of your own, and must bear the burden of those choices. A fate of your own device.”

“It isn’t too late to change fate, but to do so will take knowledge. If you wish to understand, seek out the site of tragedy. Through the blood spilt in despair, you will learn the truth of our home.”

“This is the Present, the Past, and the Future as I have seen it.”

She stops there. You give her time to see if there’s more, but when she blinks and looks up at you, you somehow know that it’s over. Sweat prickles at your brow, as if a heavy weight had just been placed on your soul.

Temmie: “...You’re scared.”
Roger: “I… That was more intense than I expected… Th-These fortunes, can you really-”
Temmie: “There is no answer I can give that will convince you at this time. The fear and doubt that plague the Artist’s mind is unavoidable.”
Temmie: “...Money is good, but if you’d just bring me a bag of gummy bears next time, that’d be better. It’s what I’m spending it on anyways.”

She digs through her pockets and pulls out two gummy candies, popping them in her mouth.

Temmie: “Actually, next time we talk I’ll be in the mood for a 100 Grand Bar. Get me one of those please.”
Roger: “I… Okay?”
Temmie: “Thanks. I’m going to play on the swing set. Rosie should just about be getting bored now.”

As she turns to walk back toward it, you watch Rosie hop off her swing and walk away, leaving it open for Temmie. You had no idea how Temmie knew about that, but one answer seemed obvious. She’d seen it.

And if she could really see the future… Was that creepy fortune really True?

Roger has gained 5 Fear. You have learned that Temmie’s fortunes can be very unsettling, and will know next time to weigh the value of her information against the stress it will inflict.

Party Fear Levels:
Roger: 6/100
>>
No. 1011983 ID: 629f2e
File 163296510580.png - (852.15KB , 1000x1000 , 022.png )
1011983

The school day ends, and you wait outside as students funnel out. Eventually, Lill, Albert, and Enid catch up to you. A few minutes later, Lill heads back in and drags Franklin out.

Roger: “We really should have anticipated that.”
Franklin: “...We agreed to meet up outside, but I realized that that could mean a lot of different places. I figured that if I stayed where I was, somebody would bring me to the right one.”
Roger: “If you actually had stepped outside though, you would have seen us immediately.”
Franklin: “Yes.”
Albert: “...This is precisely why he shouldn’t be left alone. Roger, I trust you to keep him focused.”

You give him a thumbs up. He nods, patting Lillian on the back.

Lillian: “Alright, we’ll catch up with you guys later. Race ya later, Roger!”

You don’t even waste your breath denying it, just sighing as she and Albert head back inside. It’s just you, Franklin, and Enid now…

Roger: “So… Where are we going?”
Franklin: “...Huh?”
Roger: “Where did you see Jhonen get in that car?”
Franklin: “Oh! That was… uh… The Toy Store?
Roger: “Why are you asking us? We weren’t there.”
Franklin: “...Yeah, it definitely was the toy store!”
Enid: “The toy store?”
Roger: “We should go inside while we’re there. The store owner is really nice, and is fine with kids coming in to look around and even play with a few things.”
Enid: “Um… Is that where G-Giovanni works?”
Roger: “Huh? Do you mean Mr. Snyder? How’d you know that?

You all start walking as you talk. Franklin leads the way, as you make a conscious effort to try and match Enid’s pace. If you stopped thinking, you’d outwalk both of them without meaning to.

Enid: “He was o-one of my daddy’s friends. He came by sometimes, and they would talk… A-And...”

You pat her on the shoulder and try to keep her from spiraling back into her grief.

Roger: “So… He’s a family friend? Someone your parents hang out with, so you have to hang out with them and their kids?”
Enid: “Y-Yeah… Um, no actually. I never met his kids. But I think he said he had a few…”
Roger: “I’m pretty sure he’s Rosie’s dad. And Charley too, but he’s a middle schooler, you probably won’t talk to him much.”
Roger: “I think Rosie’s close to your age though. She’s only seven.”
Enid: “Oh, but I’m actually already Nine.
Roger: “Really!?”

Man, she was shorter than she looked. Some kids had their growth spurts later than others, sure, but you were a full two years off your guess.

Enid: “...Daddy said I was a late bloomer.”
Roger: “Well, y’know… That’s normal I think.”
Roger: “I mean, not every kid is, but everybody’s a little weird. I mean, case in point:”

You motion forwards towards Franklin. Her eyes follow, and she lets out a yelp.

Enid: “H-H-He has a tail!”
Roger: “I know, it’s so weird! But it’s also kind of cool.”
Franklin: “You can touch it if you want. I won’t feel it, so it’s not weird.”
Franklin: “Just don’t touch my butt… Then it’s weird.”

Enid holds her arm out for a few seconds, before retracting.

Enid: “It’s just too weird, I can’t… I can’t look away from it.”
Franklin: “It’s not that weird. I heard Abel can wiggle his ears.”
Franklin: “...Oh! And what about Aiden? He’s missing an arm. That’s way weirder than having a tail.”
Roger: “I mean… I guess they’re kind of on the same level. Ear wiggling doesn’t even come close though.”
Franklin: “...How many kids do you know that can wiggle their ears?”

...Just one. Huh, guess he had you there.

Enid: “...I don’t know any other kids. Maybe that makes me weird.”
Franklin: “...No, I didn’t know any kids either when I started school. That’s two kids, so it’s at least kind of normal.”
Roger: “It definitely isn’t.”
>>
No. 1011984 ID: 629f2e
File 163296517488.png - (957.15KB , 1000x1000 , 023.png )
1011984

As you approach the shopping center, Franklin picks up the pace a little. After a short dash (a normal walk for you), you all stop in front of the toy store. Franklin points down the alleyway between it and the neighboring barber shop, telling you and Enid to follow him.

You notice Enid flinch at the suggestion. It wasn’t too dark, as the sun was still overhead, but she seemed hesitant to go in.

Franklin: “...Huh? Aren’t you guys coming?”

Enid was wringing her hands together nervously. You weren’t sure what to say. Whatever you chose, it was probably going to affect her in some ways.

A: Ask Enid to wait outside (Will result in no Fear gain, but may make her feel useless)
B: Hold Enid’s hand and go in (Will result in reduced Fear gain, but may encourage her to rely on your in other scary situations)
C: Go in, and encourage Enid to follow (Will result in normal Fear gain, but lets her retain her independence)
D: Wait and see (Either Enid or Franklin will resolve the situation without your influence)
>>
No. 1011985 ID: 8483cf

Go in and build her independence with C. She's been homeschooled, let's let her experience the real world on her own (with our help).
>>
No. 1012021 ID: e7c7d3

B: gotta start with baby steps
>>
No. 1012158 ID: a2493c

>>1011984
B. Independence is a step for the future.
>>
No. 1012472 ID: 629f2e
File 163347396454.png - (1.18MB , 1000x1000 , 024.png )
1012472

You pat Enid on the shoulder, and hold out a hand to her.

Roger: “Come on. There’s nothing to be afraid of in there.”

Tentatively, she sticks her own hand out, before firmly grabbing yours. She nods, and walks into the alley with you. She may have shut her eyes until she was in, but you politely choose not to mention that.

Roger: “So Franklin, where should we be looking?”
Franklin: “...What do you mean?”
Roger: “We’re here to find some clues about what happened to Jhonen, right?”
Franklin: “...Oh!”
Franklin: “Yeah… Uhh… Sorry, I’m trying to Remember something. Give me a second?”

He pats a garbage can affectionately, and then sits down beside it. These are real things Franklin does.

Enid: “Do we have to be in here?”

You look over at Franklin, sitting beside a trash can and rubbing his head.

Roger: “...We shouldn’t leave Franklin alone. He might forget what he was doing and wander off.”
Roger: “Are you going to be okay?”
Enid: “Y-Yes. I’m fine… Daddy used to tell me to avoid alleys, because crimes took place in them.”
Roger: “There aren’t violent crimes happening in Cattenom though. I think…?”
Roger: “The worst we have are some pickpockets and shoplifters, but nobody’s gonna try and mug us.”
Roger: “Especially not in the middle of the day. That usually happens at night in the comics.”
Enid: “Oh, like in Batman?
Roger: “Exactly! Wait, Enid, you read superhero comics?”

She shrugs.

Enid: “When Daddy would bring them home. They aren’t really my favorite.”
Roger: “Oh? What do you like then?”
Enid: “Um… Archie?

And just like that, you had lost interest in talking about comics with Enid. You blow a raspberry of disapproval.

Roger: “Trash.”
Enid: “What?”
Roger: “That stuff’s no good. Boring cartoon, boring comics. That stuff belongs in the trash.”
Enid: “H-Hey! That’s not true, it’s really good.”
Roger: “Yeah, if your only other option is homework. Otherwise, change the channel or grab a different comic!”

The grip on your hand gets a lot tighter all of a sudden.

Enid: “Take that back…”
Roger: “No way, it’s the truth. Worst comic, end of story.”
Enid: “Maybe you just have bad taste! Daddy couldn’t always get me the latest issues, which means they must sell out fast.”
Enid: “So -So that means it’s popular, and you’re wrong!”
Roger: “Wh- No! Everyone else is!”
Enid: “So everyone else does like Archie, and you’re just a weirdo?”
Roger: “That doesn’t matter! Archie is bad, the end!”
Enid: “You’re wrong and just don’t want to admit it!”

Franklin bangs the trash can beside him, snapping us out of our argument.

Franklin: “I remember!”

Before he can share his revelation, a trio of rats jump out from behind the can and begin to scurry. You step back instinctively, but thankfully they run down the alley in the other direction. That was a Lucky break on your part.

Enid clenches your hand more tightly.

Enid: “If you remember, c-can we please leave?”
Franklin: “...Oh, yeah.”

He stands up and starts walking out, as you and Enid follow behind.

Enid: “...They’re really good.”
Roger: “They really suck.”

She pouts and gives you a dirty look. Hey, you were disappointed too! Who knew Enid’s dad was letting her develop such awful taste in comic books?

Arguing with her probably wasn’t gonna make her change her mind… but it felt nice. Sure, Enid seemed frustrated, but she wasn’t Sad. She’s been gloomy all day, and for a brief moment you snapped her right out of it by riling her up. Even when she returns to her usual mood, it felt at least slightly less dour than before.

Enid has been through a lot lately, but after talking to her, you know that she’ll pull through.

Enid has gained 2 Fear from entering the alley.
Enid has lost 3 Fear from Roger’s support.
Additional Fear gain was prevented due to luck with the rodents.

Party Fear Levels:
Roger: 6/100
Enid: 29/100 (Enid started at 30 Fear due to yesterday’s events)
Franklin: 0/100
>>
No. 1012473 ID: 629f2e
File 163347424916.png - (554.90KB , 1000x1000 , 025.png )
1012473

Enid: “So... this is Mr. Giovanni's toy store?”
Roger: “Yeah! The Play&Pay is the best- and only- toy store in town!”
Roger: “Mr. Snyder’s really nice. Even kids without money can come in, look around, and even play with some of the harder to break things.”
Roger: “Which is good, because I’m broke right now.”

You stick a hand in your pocket, feeling your final penny. It wouldn’t get you anything more than a Tootsie Roll or a bit of taffy.

Franklin: “...I think he was there.”
Enid: “Where?”
Franklin: “Here. When Jhonen got in the car, Mr. Snyder walked past them.”
Franklin: “I think he was bringing out trash…”
Franklin: “...Oh! So I think we should try talking to him. He might know something.”
Roger: “That’s not a bad idea. Good thinking Franklin.”

Enid nods in agreement, so the three of you take a step into the Play&Pay. It takes considerable self-control to stay on target, as aisles of colorful tantalizing toys draw your eyes immediately. As cool as it would be to get a new water gun or box of crayons, those things would still be here later.

Predictably, you have to reach out an arm and grab Franklin, stopping him from wandering down an aisle.

...You grab Enid a moment later.

Roger: “Come on guys! Mr. Snyder, remember?”
Enid: “S-Sorry! I’ve just… never seen so many toys all in one place.”
Franklin: “...Huh? What about Mr. Snyder?”
Roger: “Jhonen!”
Franklin: “Oh yeah, right…”

You turn to the counter, seeing the grown-up in question polishing it with a rag. He stops when you both make eye contact.

Mr. Snyder: “Hey kids. Feel free to have a look around-”
Mr. Snyder: “Enid?”

He stops, staring at the small girl for a few seconds. She waves, and he quickly shakes his head and snaps out of it.

Mr. Snyder: “Sorry, I… I’m sorry for your loss. Fred was a great man, and a heck of a friend.”
Mr. Snyder: “He was also my landlord, but never really bugged me to pay my dues.”
Mr. Snyder: “These two your friends?”
Enid: “Yes. This is Roger-”

He waves a hand to stop her.

Mr. Snyder: “Ah, I already know them. I know all the kids in town, they all come here.”
Mr. Snyder: “Look, I owe your dad a lot, so let me do you all something small at least.”
Mr. Snyder: “You guys pick out anything you want under ten bucks, it’s yours. Don’t worry about paying. One for each of you.”
Enid: “Really?”
Mr. Snyder: “It’s the least I can do.”
Enid: “Thank you, that’s really nice.”
Roger: Thank you Mr. Snyder!”
Franklin: “...Isn’t that stealing?”
Mr. Snyder: “...Uh, no. I’m giving you permission.”
Franklin: “Oh… Thank you.”

Franklin and Enid rush into the aisles quickly. You follow them, but can’t get the questions you need to ask out of your mind.

According to Franklin, Mr. Snyder should have seen Jhonen get abducted. He should be able to tell you more about it if you ask, but you need to know for certain What to ask, and How to ask it.

Before we go on, we need to talk about “Suspicion”.

In a small town like Cattenom, it’s only natural for people to talk. When one person notices something strange, it’s only a matter of time before others are made aware as well. Unfortunately, you cannot control who talks to who, so if you behave suspiciously it’s only a matter of time before the WRONG PEOPLE find out about it. Talking to almost any adult in Cattenom comes with a risk of Suspicion gain.

Be mindful not to let your Suspicion grow too high. Unlike Fear, there are ZERO actions you can take to lower a character’s Suspicion level.

As your Suspicion grows higher, you run the risk of triggering negative events. Do not allow a character’s Suspicion level reach 100. If you do, BAD THINGS will happen.

One last note: Every character starts at a different level of Suspicion, based on the talk that already surrounds them.

Party Suspicion Levels:
Roger: 0/100
Enid: 5/100
Franklin: 20/100

Mr. Snyder is really nice, so you’re sure he’ll try to answer any questions you have. Still, you should tread carefully. If he gets uncomfortable with the topic, he may start to clam up.

What does Roger want to ask Mr. Snyder, and How will he ask it?

Also, suggest toys for Roger and his friends. Good selections may lead to good things in the future.
>>
No. 1012487 ID: 094652

Roger: Ask how long it takes for teenagers to graduate high school.
Enid: Ask if anything was going on with her father before the fire. It might be important - especially since her inheritance could be on the line, here. Then get the cutebold plushie.
Franklin: Get the water pistol. Giggle maniacally.
>>
No. 1012605 ID: 8483cf

Roger: Water gun! It's always useful for something. Probably have to get a cheap one.
Enid: Archie bobble-head doll! A small one, less than $10.
Franklin: Scratch-n-sniff book.

As for how to get details, we need to know what kind of car Jhonen got into, or if there was anyone he recognized driving it. It's a small town, we need to know the players.

For the "how" to do it: ask if Mr. Snyder made the free toy offer to Jhonen, he seemed excited about something last time you saw him.
>>
No. 1012672 ID: dfbac0

If candy bars cost 25 cents then that means ten bucks is actually quite a lot.
Roger: A sling, a good utility tool and can be used with bags full of crushed chalk to make abstract art or mark things.
Franklin: A bag of cats-eye marbles, good to idly play with and has many uses if you're creative enough.
Enid: Hacky-Sacks, good to squeeze to relieve stress and fun to throw around. We can use our markers to draw faces on them to personalize them as well.
As for questions... Mention that Franklin said Jhohen got into a car with some stranger and that you're curious and somewhat worried as to what was going on there and hoping he might know anything about it.
This can easily be dismissed as childhood curiosity as we shouldn't let anyone know we're trying to do a full investigation. On that note we can use Enid as an excuse for being here saying we're showing her places around town since she never got out much.
>>
No. 1012711 ID: 629f2e
File 163385973792.png - (930.20KB , 1000x1000 , 26.png )
1012711

You follow your friends down the aisle and start browsing. Sure, you stocked up on art supplies recently, but the temptation to get more never really leaves. Still, you quickly realize it’s a bad idea. Most of the stuff you use isn’t expensive, and you're only supposed to pick out one thing. And the higher quality stuff isn't a good pick either, as it would just spoil you. Like sure, it’d be cool to get the expensive paper, or the really big crayon box, but you don’t want to get used to that level of quality until you can afford it regularly.

After that decision, the focus of your hunt changes to more traditional toys. You end up in the same aisle as Franklin, staring down an array of toy firearms. Slingshots, water pistols, and even a few pellet guns were all available. Mom wouldn’t let you have a pellet gun though, and you suspect she’d feel similarly about slingshots. Even if you were to use it for art, the amount of chalk you’d use up would get costly quickly. Water guns were more in your price range. Water is free.

There aren’t a ton, but the selection of different brands, makes, and models is enough to make your decision take some time. While you were appreciating the designs of the more realistic ones, Franklin seemed to be examining a few that looked like space lasers.

Roger: “Franklin, I know you don’t do it on purpose, but that makes it funnier.”
Franklin: “...Huh?”
Roger: “Nothing, Alien.
Franklin: “...I’m trying to remember if dad said I could play with water guns or not. Are you allowed?”
Roger: “As long as I don’t use them in the house.”
Franklin: “Hmm… Maybe it was Actual guns?”
Roger: “Does your dad own a gun you aren’t allowed to touch?”
Franklin: “...Oh! Yeah, that was it, I can’t play with His gun.”
Roger: “That’s too bad. Lill and Phillip’s dad showed us all his revolver once, it was pretty neat. I wanna get one just like it when I’m grown up.”
Franklin: “Hmm… Do they make real space guns like these?”
Roger: “No, not yet.”
Franklin: “Rats…”

He ends up picking up a Scratch-and-Sniff Book from another shelf and going with that. It’s a weird choice, seeing as you’re about 70% sure he can’t smell based on how bad his odor gets sometimes, but weird is pretty normal when it comes to Franklin.

Personally, you go for a sick Water Pistol. It looked almost identical to the real thing, save the orange tip. Even when you weren’t getting into squirt fights with other kids, you could use it as a reference for some pretty cool drawings.

Enid was in a completely different aisle, but when you meet up at the register she has some kind of Plush Animal in her arms.

Roger: “What is that even supposed to be?”
Enid: “I’m not sure… It reminded me of my favorite plush dog Marty. I lost it in the fire...”
Enid: “I think I’m gonna call her…”

She gives you a small grin, before saying:

Enid: “Betty.
Roger: “Archie sucks, I’m gonna have to show you a bunch of better comics when we’re done with this so that you’ll finally understand.”
Enid: “Fine, but only if you’ll read all of my favorite Archie comics in return.”
Roger: “You won’t even want to show me them after you see good comics."
Roger: "You’ll be so embarrassed that you’ll beg me not to read what you used to think was good.”
Enid: “We’ll see about that.”
Franklin: “...It looks more like a Yappa to me.”
>>
No. 1012712 ID: 629f2e
File 163385988549.png - (753.57KB , 1000x1000 , 27.png )
1012712

Mr. Snyder looks over all your items, and starts writing them in a book he keeps behind the counter. As he does, you start to think about what to say next.

For some reason, you consider asking about when high schoolers graduate. Obviously you don't, everyone knows that it happens when they turn 18 and become adults.

You’re torn between asking indirect questions and just asking what you need to but masking your reasoning. In the end, you decide to start off with the indirect.

Mr. Snyder: “Annnnd done. Alright, they’re yours now. Anything else I can do for you three?”
Roger: “Actually, can I ask if you made any Special Offers to Jhonen last time he was here? He seemed excited last time I saw him.”

He seems genuinely confused by the question.

Mr. Snyder: “The Horvitz’s kid? No, I don’t think he even bought anything that was on sale last time he stopped in.”
Mr. Snyder: “You aren’t trying to get another discount, are you? If I drop the price below free, I’ll be paying you. Heh heh.”
Roger: “O-Oh, no, that’s not it…”
Franklin: “...You saw Jhonen yesterday, right?”
Mr. Snyder: “Huh?”

Crud! Not only did that not work, but Franklin just barged in with a direct question. That will make it harder to dance around the topic from here on.

You check Mr. Snyder again, and he still just seems confused by your questions. Your best guess is that he doesn’t understand what you’re getting at yet, but there’s a chance you’re wrong.

How do you proceed with the conversation?

In addition, pick either Enid or Franklin to speak up more. You can’t control what they say, but whoever you pick will try to support you in their own way and ask questions in the next conversation chunk.
>>
No. 1012724 ID: dfbac0

We shouldn't mention anything related to graduation and instead focus on the fact that Franklin saw Jhonen get into a car with a complete stranger which seems a little worrying, you're hoping to see if Mr. Snyder knew anything about that as although Franklin was there he isn't really good at picking up on things.
I think dancing around the question is more suspicious than asking it. We have a good reason to ask and we can also play it off as childlike curiosity.
Although... The special offer thing might have messed things up so maybe we should just play with what he gave us and say we were trying to see if we could squeeze some more toys out of him.
>>
No. 1012746 ID: 8483cf

Oh God I'm bad at this! Enid HELP US
>>
No. 1012956 ID: 629f2e
File 163435227967.png - (922.40KB , 1000x1000 , 28.png )
1012956

Franklin didn’t have much of a knack for subtlety. You turn to Enid, trying to communicate through your expression that you wanted her to back you up. It seems like she gets the message, as she nods back.

Since Franklin had opened the door, you didn’t really have a choice but to go forward with the topic. Still, you pick your words carefully to avoid mentioning graduation.

Roger: “Franklin was telling us that he saw Jhonen get into a car with a guy in a suit, but he didn’t know who it was.”
Roger: “It happened just outside your store. Did you see it?”

For a moment, you see his eyes widen. He calms down, and keeps his gaze on a wall off to the side when he responds.

Mr. Snyder: “O-Oh? I don’t think I noticed that. Sorry.”
Enid: “Huh? Really? But Franklin said you came out when it happened and walked right by them.”
Enid: “I know you wouldn’t Lie, Giovanni, so you must have just forgotten. Can you think a little harder?”
Mr. Snyder: “Enid, I-”

He coughs into his hand, gazing anywhere but at Enid. He was dripping with nervousness.

Mr. Snyder: “I… Yeah, I think you’re right actually. I think I Did see something like that.”

A confession! He admitted that it happened! That means you can now press him for information.

Choose which question to ask next. This choice will hold the most impact on how Suspicion is distributed at the conversation’s end.

A: “So who was that guy?”
B: “Didn’t you think it was weird?”
C: Let Franklin ask a question
D: Let Enid ask a question
>>
No. 1012961 ID: 8483cf

Defer to Enid. I'm very bad at this.
>>
No. 1012998 ID: dfbac0

I don't want Enid to be given any suspicion, we're a clean slate so we can take a little.
Asking if he thought it was weird would probably attract suspicion as it may look like we're looking for weird stuff.
I think the best option would be to ask who that person was as it's a reasonable question given that he's a stranger who took your friend.
At the risk of giving him an out we can defer further suspicion by phrasing it so: "Who was that guy? Was he a friend of Jhonen's?"
This can show we're less prying into the business of the stranger and more the well-being of our friend.
There's also the fact that Franklin can ask a question so blunt and straightforward that it somehow doesn't add suspicion but that's a gamble we better not take.
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No. 1013177 ID: 629f2e
File 163466117372.png - (884.52KB , 1000x1000 , 29.png )
1013177

Roger: “So… Who was that guy? I don’t remember Jhonen hanging out with adults much.”
Mr. Snyder: “Ah, I wasn’t really paying attention, sorry.”
Enid: “Really?”
Mr. Snyder: “I’m really sorry I can’t be more helpful. This isn’t important, is it?”

It kind of was, but you didn’t want to say that. You really wanted him to talk, but what else could you say?

You glance to your right. Franklin didn’t seem to be paying attention anymore. In fact, yeah, he was totally distracted. He was completely enamored by his book, holding it right up to his face and not sparing a glance towards any of you.

You glance to your left. Enid seemed to be deep in thought. Before you can ask about it, she speaks up.

Enid: “Are you sure you didn’t see? ‘Cuz Franklin said it wasn’t Jhonen’s dad, so it had to be someone else.”
Enid: “If you saw a kid getting into someone else’s car, wouldn’t you stop and think it was kind of weird?”

Since she’d paved the way forward, you jump in to assist.

Roger: “I’d probably think it’s weird that they were getting in a car at all.”
Roger: “The only places in town you really have to drive to reach are The Farm and the Recycling Center.
Roger: “Aiden and John come to school by car, since they live up there y’know.”
Enid: “I don’t know those kids yet...”
Enid: “Um, what I was saying is… If it was weird to see, then it seems like you probably wouldn’t forget it.”
Enid: “Are you really sure you don’t know who it was, Mr. Giovanni?”

He makes a face like you’d punched him, and stares down at the ground. Something was bothering him, and you could tell that there was something he wanted to say. After an awkward pause, he takes a deep breath before responding.

Mr. Snyder: “That’s a good point. I guess, I just didn’t find any of that weird at the time.”
Franklin: “...Why not?”
Mr. Snyder: “Because… I knew that guy worked for the High School.
Mr. Snyder: “So it was just a normal graduation, right? Is that why you’re asking about Jhonen, because he graduated?”
Enid: “Um… Y-Yes.”

He sighs, shaking his head. He gives us a warm smile.

Mr. Snyder: “I understand. You kids don’t really understand how it works, so it seems scary. I’ve seen it before.”
Mr. Snyder: “Anytime a kid graduates, the rest of the kids always start asking questions and spreading weird rumors about it.”
Mr. Snyder: “Don’t worry, it’s completely normal to wonder about that stuff at your age. It’ll make more sense when you’re older.”
Roger: “Really?”
Mr. Snyder: “Sure. Think about it, have you ever met an adult who doesn’t understand it?”

You think. It wasn’t really something you’d talked about with many grown-ups, but in all the memories you had you couldn’t recall a single adult ever expressing a lack of understanding about how it all works.

Mr. Snyder: “See? You can’t think of one, because we all get it. So when you guys are adults, you’ll understand it too.”
Enid: “Then… Can you tell us more about it?”
Mr. Snyder: “Ehh… That’s more of a conversation to have with your pa-”

He fakes a cough to try and save it, but it’s too late. Enid’s head tilts down sadly, and you can see a look of pure guilt manifest on his face.

Mr. Snyder: “S-Sorry…”
Mr. Snyder: “You’re staying with the Fosters now, right Enid?”
Enid: “Y-Yeah?”
Mr. Snyder: “Maybe you should ask them about it. They’ve had a few kids, I’m sure they’re used to explaining it.”

The conversation seemed to be reaching a natural conclusion, and you were coming out of it with more information than you started. The man Jhonen left with worked for the high school. As weird as it seemed, Jhonen really did graduate.

But… Was that good enough?

Should Roger let the conversation end, or press further? Mr. Snyder has currently brushed your questions off as normal childhood curiosities, so suspicion gain will be next to nothing if you leave. But pressing further may just get you a definitive answer.

What will it be?

A: Leave the store
B: Ask who the employee was
C: Other
>>
No. 1013179 ID: ce39da

You shouldn't press on the employee's identity unless you A) have an innocent excuse to want it or B) are 100% certain you can do something with what you gain. i.e., if the employee lives on-campus or something, you can't do anything with the information.

What we can ask about is what he and Jhonen were discussing before he got in (C); you're curious about what made him eligible for early graduation - no offense meant towards him, but you'd think he was an odd choice. (Ask in a way that implies envy instead of suspicion - maybe cross your arms and huff a bit (or perhaps Enid is more the type to pull this kind of manipulation).)
>>
No. 1013220 ID: 8483cf

Agree with the Detective! Finally, someone qualified.

C: Ask what made him eligible for early graduation, and be in awe about it.
>>
No. 1014129 ID: 629f2e
File 163591591942.png - (919.06KB , 1000x1000 , 30.png )
1014129

As much as you wanted to know, the fact that he kept just not saying it only amplified your curiosity, you had to accept that knowing the high school employee’s name wasn’t worth making a fuss about. If you wanted to talk to someone who worked for the school about how stuff works, you already know a couple you could try.

For example: Lill’s dad is supposed to be a Teacher there, and Louie’s mom is a Security Guard who keeps people out. If you were going to talk to anyone from there, those two would probably be good starting points.

There was one thing you wanted to ask Mr. Snyder about before you left, but you’re concerned that he’ll just tell you to talk to your parents about it again. Maybe if you ask it a certain way…

Roger: “Mr. Snyder, could you tell me just one thing?”
Mr. Snyder: “That depends on what...”
Roger: “Well… Do you know why some kids graduate early? I mean, it’s weird that Jhonen did.”
Roger: “He wasn’t as smart as Albert, or as popular as Rodney, or even as weird as Franklin.”
Roger: “So what did he do to get sent to high school early? I have to avoid making the same mistakes, or else I’ll get trapped in school for longer than I’m supposed to be!”

That was the scariest part of early graduation. You’re stuck in high school until you’re 18 and become an adult. That means if you get sent up early, you have to spend that much more time trapped in school.

The very thought could give a kid nightmares!

Mr. Snyder: “Oh, that’s… Hm…”

He stops, clearly thinking. Was it that complicated of a question?

Mr. Snyder: “You… Don’t worry, I don’t think any of you will graduate early.”
Roger: “...Are you calling us stupid?”
Mr. Snyder: “No! No no no, it has nothing to do with intelligence! Your pa-”

He freezes. You raise an eyebrow.

Mr. Snyder: “...You’re all good kids. It’ll Never happen to you three, I’m sure of it.”
Enid: “So… Only Bad kids graduate?”
Mr. Snyder: “N-No, that’s not… It’s hard to explain.”
Mr. Snyder: “Please, just talk to your parents about it…”
Enid: “Okay… Thank you Mr. Giovanni.”
Mr. Snyder: “No problem. Thanks for visiting, and be sure to come again.”
Mr. Snyder: “You’re not getting any more free toys though. Heh heh…”

He chuckles weakly as the three of you leave the store. It was obvious that your conversation had left him exhausted, but you really don’t know why. If it was really all just a harmless misunderstanding, then why was he being so shady about it?

The Suspicion surrounding members of your party has changed. Updates will be shown at a later time.

You walk a little further down the sidewalk, before Enid speaks up.

Enid: “Why wouldn’t he tell us?”
Roger: “I don’t know.”
Enid: “...Mr. Giovanni is really nice. He’s never been like that, not once. But he was so uncomfortable back there…”
Enid: “Maybe we should listen to him and talk to our families about it?”

You thought about it. Mom and dad went to high school, so they definitely could tell you about it.

The downside is that that would involve talking to mom and dad. Recently they've been getting very Frustrating. You couldn’t get through one conversation with them without them trying to make you Hate them.

You don’t hate them. You couldn’t, they’re your parents. In fact, you’re pretty sure you’re not allowed to. But between the ways they talk about your drawings and the repeated attempts to push you into Sports, they’ve been making it really hard to Love them.

...You really don’t want to talk to them. They make you feel bad about yourself.

Roger: “...So, you’re staying with the Fosters?”
Enid: “Huh? Oh, um… Y-Yes. They took me in yesterday.”
Roger: “Alright, why don’t we go ask them about it?”

She winces.

Enid: “...N-No. We should talk to one of your families. Talking to them still feels… wrong.”
Roger: “W-Well, what about your dad Franklin?”
Franklin: “...Huh?”
Roger: “Your dad’s really smart, right? Why don’t we ask him about graduation?”
Franklin: “...Busy. We could ask my mom.”
Roger: “Really? Great!”
Franklin: “Okay, but just so you know she can’t talk.”
Roger: “...”
Enid: “...”
Franklin: “...Oh. That won’t work.”
Enid: “M-Maybe she could write her answers?”
Franklin: “I dunno if she can. She hasn’t written me any notes yet.”
Franklin: “...Or maybe she has, but she’s too weak to pass them through the door…”

You were pretty sure you’d discovered a rule of the world.

Franklin’s Law: Franklin is incapable of saying five sentences in a row without revealing something bizarre about his life.

As funny as it is to hear Franklin ramble on about the insanity that is his life, it was clear that none of you had families you felt like talking to right now. So that avenue was closed.

Franklin: “...Hey, aren’t we supposed to talk to Albert and Lillian soon?”
Roger: “Oh! Rats, I forgot to ask when we should meet up!”
Enid: “It’s okay, Albert told me.”
Enid: “We’re supposed to meet with them at the Library at 5:00. He was planning to go there after talking to the teachers, so we’re going to catch up with them.”

You weren’t totally sure of the time, so you quickly stop a passing adult with a watch. He tells you that it’s currently 4:04.

Roger: “Hmm… We can probably still go one more place if it isn’t too far. But where?”
Enid: “Um… Do you know where Jhonen lives?”
Roger: “Yeah, he’s only three houses down from me. Why?”
Enid: “Maybe we could talk to his family?”
Roger: “I mean, yeah, we could. But why would we want to do that?”
Enid: “Well, we could at least see if they’re like Clive?”
Roger: “Ey?”

It takes a few seconds for you to realize what she’s talking about.

Clive: “...Rodney never came home yesterday.”
Clive: "He left the house and never came back. And no, we didn't get any visitors explaining what had happened."
Lillian: "That can't be right. Maybe they talked to your parents-"
Clive: "I know for a fact they didn't."

Roger: “That’s a good idea!”
Enid: “Th-Thanks. We could also try talking to Clive and his parents.”
Roger: “No! Rejected! Never!”
Enid: “O-Oh.”

You pat her on the shoulder.

Roger: “Look, it’s bad that he lost Rodney, but don’t talk to Clive. That kid is Bad News. The only good thing about him just graduated.”
Enid: “Th-That's kind of mean, isn't it?”
Roger: “You wouldn’t know, ‘cuz you weren’t here, but trust me. Nobody talks to Clive.”
>>
No. 1014130 ID: 629f2e
File 163591594678.png - (0.97MB , 1000x1000 , 31.png )
1014130

Roger: “Nobody.
>>
No. 1014131 ID: 629f2e
File 163591605529.png - (621.69KB , 1000x1000 , 32.png )
1014131

Enid: “...”
Franklin: “...What about Middle Schoolers?
Roger: “I don’t think they talk to him either.”
Franklin: “Huh...? I mean graduation.”
Franklin: “Maybe we could talk to some of them about graduation. They probably know more about it than us.”
Franklin: “And they’re not adults, so they probably aren’t weird about it yet.”

That… was actually a good idea too actually. A lot of them may have even experienced early graduation before you were even in school. They might have already asked all the question you want to.

Enid: “That’s a good idea Franklin.”
Franklin: “...How do we know yet?”

You didn’t have all day. In fact, after your library meet-up, it would probably be too close to your curfew to do much else. You only had enough time to try one of those today. So which was it gonna be?

Enid’s Idea: Talk to Jhonen’s Family
PROS:
-Direct source
-Has more information on account of being an adult
-Confirm that Rodney’s graduation was or wasn’t totally different

CONS:
-They’re adults
-Bound to arouse Suspicion
-May not tell you what you want to know

Franklin’s Idea: Talk to Middle Schoolers
PROS:
-Almost definitely more open (Or at least worse at lying)
-Less Suspicious for kids to be talking to other kids

CONS:
-Probably know less
-Their info will likely be more generalized

Which will you choose?
>>
No. 1014167 ID: ce39da

... We already aroused some suspicion today, I think, and even general info is something we're sorely lacking in.

"Enid, your idea sounds good, but maybe when we have more time to do a THOROUGH INVESTIGATION. Talking to middle-schoolers seems like something we can do a fly-by on, and even some basic info would still be something we really need at this stage, so we're going with FRANKLIN'S IDEA for now... as odd as it feels to say that."
>>
No. 1014173 ID: 8483cf

Franklin, you're a weird dude, but even weird clocks are right twice a day. Let's go harass some older kids!
>>
No. 1014448 ID: 629f2e
File 163631960110.png - (1.30MB , 1000x1000 , 33.png )
1014448

Roger: “I think... we should try some middle schoolers first.”
Roger: “If we’re asking about grown-up stuff, we’ll probably get the same answer from other adults that we got from Mr. Snyder.”
Franklin: “...But middle schoolers like telling kids grown-up stuff all the time.”
Roger: “Exactly! Freaking kids like us out with scary adult stuff is like their favorite thing in the world!”
Enid: “I don’t know any middle school kids, so where can we find some? A-And who should we be looking for?”

It was a good question. You may have a few kids in mind to not ask, mainly boring and responsible ones who might not tell you what you want to know. Thankfully, that didn’t rule out very many.

Roger: “There’s a Field near here where kids hang out and play games. I bet we can find a few of them there.”
Franklin: “...I always get lost when I go there.”
Roger: “Franklin, it’s in the middle of town. There is no wrong direction to leave, just go anywhere and you’ll find a landmark.”
Franklin: “...I usually just stay put until I can remember which way I came in.”
Roger: “Wh- That’s isn’t even an answer. Franklin, there were no wrong answers, but you wrote in your own!”

Enid chuckles, while Franklin just gives you a weak shrug. It was like he was saying “What can you do?” as though his problem wasn’t entirely solvable. Sometimes you really just wanted to crack open his head and force him to understand things.

As you lead the way, you hear Franklin and Enid talking more behind you. You listen in, curiously.

Enid: “Um, Franklin? Do you miss Jhonen? It’s weird, but it sounds like he was kind of your friend, right?”
Franklin: “...Jhonen is my arch nemesis.”
Enid: “Oh. I guess if he was chasing you around that makes sense. Sorry for misunderstanding.”
Franklin: “...That’s just what he always called us. I think he was my Best Friend.
Enid: “Huh?”
Franklin: “I mean, Roger doesn’t spend all day chasing me around town. He can’t, he’d catch me in two seconds. That's only something Jhonen does with me.”
Franklin: “Plus, when he catches me and drags me to his home, he lets me choose what we watch while he runs Experiments on my body."
Franklin: "He can be nice like that.”
Enid: “E-Experiments!?”
Franklin: “Yeah. His dad’s a doctor, so he has a lot of medical stuff.”

You glance back for a moment and see him pulling his sleeve back for her.

Franklin: “See? Here’s where he took blood, and here, and here, and this one too, this one was an injection actually, and this one-”
Enid: “W-What is That one?”
Franklin: “...”

At the sudden pause, you look back again, only to see his sleeve rolled down and Franklin staring ahead, Enid still looking at his covered arm with total bewilderment.

Franklin: “...Oh. I... fell. That was all that was.”

The worst part was that you could totally see his face light up, as if he was proud of that awful awful lie.

You could ask Enid about what she saw later, but maybe you shouldn’t. If Franklin, who is normally an open book, doesn’t want to talk about it, it has to be something serious. He is your friend, maybe you shouldn’t pry...

...

...You were totally going to pry later.
>>
No. 1014449 ID: 629f2e
File 163631980322.png - (1.21MB , 1000x1000 , 34.png )
1014449

The abrupt end to their conversation hangs in the air for the rest of your walk. Thankfully the awkwardness clears up as you get nearer to the field. The trees you'd been passing start to spread out, and the wide open grassy area starts to get more and more visible.

Who do you find in the field? (Pick two)
A: The Slacker Avoiding his Chores
B: The Teacher’s Kid in a Typically Morose Mood
C: An Older Sibling Quietly Relaxing
D: The Opportunist Making a Sale
E: The Siblings in their Own World as Usual

Who you find will determine what information you learn (certain middle schoolers may offer unique benefits in addition to or instead of info)

Final selection is randomized, Suggestor choices weigh the vote towards selected options
>>
No. 1014454 ID: 8483cf

Experiments? That's not suspicious at all. Was Jhonen any good at them, or was he messing around having no idea what any of it did?

Weeeeeird

I choose D & E. Salesmen always look to get a good deal, and they're willing to trade info if we have something they want. Siblings are going to be more comfortable when they're together, too, so they might let something slip.
>>
No. 1014457 ID: 076735

A & E.
>>
No. 1014526 ID: a58d3b

A and C. Both seem to be lounging or relaxed, so there'll be more room to probe with a sensitive subject like this before arousing suspicion or something.
>>
No. 1014883 ID: 629f2e
File 163669705257.png - (1.43MB , 1000x1000 , 35.png )
1014883

Your ears perk up at the sound of people talking. It’s quieter than usual, so there probably aren’t many kids here today.

As you finally step out into the field, you get a better look at who all was there.

You recognize the brothers Martino and Floyd from class immediately. They’re the only kids you know with skin that dark, so it’d be pretty hard to mistake them for anyone else. They’re tossing a frisbee back and forth, which mostly consists of them running to where the frisbee lands after a bad throw/a failed catch. You suspect that if Lillia and Albert weren’t investigating, Lill would totally be here with them, chucking it way too hard and getting it lost in a tree.

Able, one of the youngest kids in class, was also here. He’s just lying down at the other end of the clearing and watching the sky. Your friends would probably think that’s boring, but they’re missing out. Cloud Watching is fun, they’re just too proud to admit it.

Finally, and most importantly, there were three middle schoolers. Two of them were really close to where you’d entered. Your lips curl into a smile when you realize who they are.

Carol and Barry are two years older than you, but you used to talk to them both a lot when you were in elementary school together. You always thought they were cool, because Barry draws these really sick looking Comics, and Carol likes to Write. They don’t normally collaborate, Barry writes his own material while Carol has a novel to focus on (which she’s been working on for as long as you’ve known her), but even so they’re inseparable.

Roger: “Hey Barry!”
Barry: “Hm? Oh hey! Roger!”
Carol: “Roger- Oh! He’s here. And those two...”

She looks at your two companions, while trying to subtly hide herself behind Barry. That’s right, Enid’s basically new in town, and Franklin only showed up after they went up to middle school. These guys tend to stay to themselves, so without being in class with him they probably never had a good chance to meet him.

Roger: “This guy is Franklin.”
Barry: “Franklin? He wasn’t in class with us, was he?”
Franklin: “...Was I?”
Roger: “You know you weren’t! Or at least you should know that!”
Franklin: “...What if I forgot, and forgot that I didn’t remember?”
Roger: “Did you suffer a massive brain injury recently!?”
Franklin: “...I don’t remember.”

You hit him with your hat. Barry laughs at your unplanned comedy routine.

Barry: “If you drag Lemmy into that you could give the Three Stooges a run for their money.”
Roger: “Yeah yeah…”

You feel a tug on your sleeve, as Enid nudges you to introduce her, clearly not comfortable with these two yet. Guess she doesn’t do as well with people she doesn’t already know.

Roger: “This is Enid. She came to our class just today actually, and she’s still adjusting to things here.”
Carol: “Enid... Anderson?
Enid: “Um, y-yes...”
Barry: “Whoa, the homeschooler? That’s something I never thought I’d see. Why are-”

You quickly start gesturing for them to drop the topic. Carol picks up on it, nudging Barry.

Barry: “Er- nevermind that. Well, don’t mind us. I just suggested we work outside today, give mom less chances to say we’re cooped up in our room all day.”
Roger: “What’cha working on?”
Carol: “Trying to make a fight scene read better.”
Barry: “Trying to design a character that doesn’t look like all of my other characters.”
Roger: “Really? Can I see what you have-”
Enid: “Um, Roger?”

She points to her wrist, reminding you that you’re on a time limit.

Roger: “Oh, right.”
Barry: “What’s up?”
Franklin: “...Do you two know anything about early graduation?”
Roger: “Like, why some kids graduate before they turn thirteen?”

They look at one another for a moment. Carol shrugs, and Barry returns the gesture. They turn back.

Carol: “Sorry. I’ve never really thought about it.”
Barry: “Your guess is as good as mine.”
Enid: “D-Did nobody ever graduate early when you were in elementary school?”

Carol brings a hand to her chin thoughtfully, but it’s Barry who gives an answer.

Barry: “I think there were a few. Remember Calvin?
Carol: “...Ugh, I wish I didn’t.”
Barry: “Yeah, that was back around... Think we were seven, right?”
Carol: “I think so.”
Roger: “What was so bad about Calvin?”
Carol: “He just had the most obnoxious ticks.”
Barry: “Couldn’t control his volume well and was almost always shouting, couldn’t take social cues, he was just kind of a mess.”
Barry: “He wasn’t a bad kid I guess, but nobody wanted to deal with him.”
Barry: “We didn’t have to for long, thankfully. He went up after just a month of school.”

He was only around for a month? If he showed up at the normal time, that means he graduated when he was only Six. That’s insane! What even is high school if it’s taking in kids between thirteen and six? The whole reason middle school is separated from elementary is because their curriculum is too hard for kids like us to keep up with. So are there tiers of classes like that in high school too?

Your companions seem equally perplexed, but your middle school friends don’t seem to have any answers.
>>
No. 1014884 ID: 629f2e
File 163669727725.png - (1.26MB , 1000x1000 , 36.png )
1014884

Barry: “I think there were a few others, but I can’t really remember. Sorry.”
Carol: “Sorry. There was one or two in our current class as well, but I can’t remember who they were.”
Barry: “Maybe you could try your luck with John?

He points behind him to a middle schooler some fair distance away that you recognize.

John Sheppard is one of two kids who live on the farm on the outskirts of town. The other is his little brother Aiden, who is in your class. You usually see him pop up in random places around town trying to avoid his chores at home.

Not that you’d tell any adult if you see him. You aren’t a tattletale, and never will be.

He was probably the picture perfect example of a middle schooler who loved spreading scary stories to littler kids. If anyone was gonna fill you in on this, it would be him.

Roger: “I think I will. Thanks you guys!”

As you start to leave, Barry stops you.

Barry: “Hold on a sec, if you aren’t too busy, I’d love to take a peek in your Sketchbook before you go.”
Barry: “I’ll let you look at mine if you do. Your stuff has been looking better recently.”

Oooh, you wanted to do that. You really really wanted to look at his sketchbook.

You stop to think about it. You’ve let him leaf through your sketchbook before, so it shouldn’t bother you. And sometimes if a sketch catches his or Carol’s eye, they may offer to buy it off of you for upwards of a full dollar. So you could make some good money, and you’d get to look at his art in return! Sounds like a win-win situation, right?

The only downside was… Well, it was two things.

The first was your time limit. If you did this and talked to John, you might end up being late for your meeting. That could annoy your friends a bit. It would be a little selfish after all.

The second… well…

Look, you had a weird dream last night, and you got out of bed to draw something from it as soon as it was over. Just this girl you remember imagining that wasn’t a human but more like a fox mixed with a human- it was a weird dream okay! You didn’t really think about what you were drawing, or how it would look to someone else. Now that you’re imagining letting them see it, it strikes you that it may in fact be a Really Embarrassing Drawing.

If you’d realized it earlier, you probably would have torn it out and hidden it in a drawer. A little late for that though!

If they flipped it open to that and started to ask questions, it would make you want to die. Then you would gain some Fear.

But you really want to see his art! Also, the potential sale was really enticing. You’re flat broke right now, and you won’t be getting any pay for the next few days. This is your best bet on getting some spending cash in the meantime. What should you do?

Does Roger let Barry and Carol look at his sketchbook?
A: Yes, and then he talks to John afterwards (Makes you a little late to your meetup)
B: No, he goes straight to John so as not to be late (Makes you miss out on potential cash)
C: Yes, but he just leaves it with them while he talks to John, so as not to take more time (Makes Fear gain greater as he imagines their comments on the drawing)
D: Yes, and he sends Franklin and Enid to talk to John while he does (Makes you rely on Franklin and Enid to extract info out of him)

...And if he does, what does he do about the embarrassing artwork?
1: Let them see it (Take a mild hit of Fear)
2: Try to hide it (Roger’s an average liar. 40% chance they catch you. Slightly more Fear gained if they do)
3: Destroy it (No Fear gain, but you will probably be very sad about it later)
>>
No. 1014887 ID: 8483cf

D, 2. We gotta show off our work if we want to get paid, and gotta protect the drawing!
>>
No. 1014911 ID: ce39da

Remember, Enid's a social glass cannon that only works on people she knows, and Franklin is... Franklin. We came here for info, we're getting that info.

Roger's FEAR levels are fairly alright - I can't imagine their imagined comments being that much worse than a stare from CLIVE.

Ergo; C1
>>
No. 1014912 ID: 076735

D1. Show the team we're counting on them.
>>
No. 1015098 ID: 629f2e
File 163687557569.png - (613.68KB , 1000x1000 , 37.png )
1015098

...You couldn’t say no. For all the reasons you had, you just couldn’t say no to this.

You turn back to your friends.

Roger: “Hey... Can you guys talk to John without me?”
Enid: “Um... I guess we probably could. Are you sure you don’t want to come?”
Roger: “Sorry, this is really important to me.”
Enid: “I guess I understand. Okay.”
Franklin: “...We just need to ask him about early graduation. Easy.”
Roger: “See? If even Franklin can remember it you’ll be fine.”

You give the pair a thumbs up, as they walk off towards the other middle schooler, leaving you with a pair of excited siblings staring at you.

Barry: “Bring out the goods.”
Roger: “Okay okay, just gimme a second.”

You set your bag down and pull your sketchbook out of it. Before handing it over though, you make one last attempt to not show the sketch. Instead of trying to tear it out and hide it in your bag, as you’d been considering; you just flip to the page right before it before handing it over, trying to imply that all pages past it were blank.

It was a weak effort, but there was no harm in trying at least. Barry hands you his own sketchbook, and quickly starts flipping through yours.

...The first thing he does is flip to the next page, checking to make sure it’s blank. You hold his sketchbook up in front of your face, so you can’t see him and his sister stare at the sketch you were hoping they’d miss.

Barry: “...Huh.”
Carol: “Oh, she’s really cute.”
Barry: “Yeah. This uh... This from one of those tabletop games you play? What race is this?”
Roger: “Uh, n-no, that’s- uh... It came from a... weird dream.”
Barry: “A dream, huh?”
Barry: “...So, does that make this your Dream Girl?
Roger: “Shut up.”
Barry: “Haha! Alright, not a no, got it. Must have been a really nice dream.”
Carol: “It says Dotti here, is that her name? That’s such a cute name too!”

Somehow Carol’s genuine praise for the piece was even worse than Barry’s teasing. You could feel your face going redder as they kept talking about it.

This was exactly as bad as you were expecting. No better, no worse.

You didn’t get lucky, and they ended up seeing That sketch.
Roger has gained 3 Fear as a result.

Party Fear Levels:
Roger: 9/100
>>
No. 1015099 ID: 629f2e
File 163687561840.png - (427.47KB , 1000x1000 , 38.png )
1015099

You bury yourself in Barry’s sketchbook to distract yourself. It’s very effective.

Barry’s drawing style was totally different from yours. His drawings looked more like cartoon characters, or characters from newspaper comics. Stylized heavily, whereas yours were usually your best attempts to make things look realistic. You thought stuff like this looked cool, but you couldn’t really wrap your head around it. Realism’s easier, as you just have to understand forms and how light hits them, and then capture what they look like.

Don’t ask about how color works though. That’s a headache that you still don’t understand how to make look good. Barry can do some cool things with the colorful markers Mr. Snyder sells, but those are too expensive for you. Most of your experimentation is done with crayons.

Near the final pages, you can see various character designs. They looked pretty good, though you understood what he meant earlier when he said he was trying to make them more unique. He tended to use similar features in a lot of his drawings. The shape of a head, a nose, and eyes were often reused. You've talked to him about it before, and he's explained that it's a struggle to keep character appearances consistent but unique. That is, making them look like they belong next to each other, while still distinctly different. You have only ever experienced that issue when trying to draw Phillip and Lillian in the same image.

Oh hey! That one's clearly just a drawing of Albert, neat. The hair looks wonky though. Can't really blame him, Albert's constant bedhead is a pain to draw.

Roger: "Man, your stuff looks really cool."
Barry: "Same to you."
Roger: "Do you know if we'll still get your Daily Comics in the school newspaper when you're in highschool?"
Barry: "Not sure. I won't be able to leave, but I could have a teacher bring them out I guess. Maybe."
Barry: "Still a year away though. I don't really want to think about it."
Carol: "Ugh, don't remind me."

When you're finished admiring his work, you look up. The siblings are whispering to each other while flipping between pages. You can catch a little bit of it.

Carol: "...so cute though."
Barry: "But this... aura."
Carol: "...three."
Barry: "What have you been..."
Roger: "Uh, guys?"

They look back to you.

Barry: "Sorry, just talking business.
Carol: "We were just wondering..."
Barry: "Are you willing to sell any of these?"
Roger: "I was really hoping you would ask that."
>>
No. 1015100 ID: 629f2e
File 163687565165.png - (539.27KB , 1000x1000 , 39.png )
1015100

He smiles, flipping it back flipped open to that sketch of Clive you were working on in class.

Barry: "I really like this one, it's got a Dangerous vibe."
Roger: "Oh, that one's not finished though."
Barry: "Yeah, and it's still great. If you don't want to leave it incomplete, I could pay you to finish it later."
Barry: "Probably gonna have to wait until my next allowance payment though."
Roger: "Hmm... How much will you give me?"
Barry: "Three Quarters. And I'll toss in one more if you finish it later."

That seemed like a fair price. Up to four quarters for a single drawing seemed like a pretty good profit for you.

Carol: "Um, I liked this one."

She takes the book from his hands, and flips it open to-

Roger: "Oh. That one..."
Carol: "Is something wrong?"
Roger: "N-No."

Of course she flipped straight back to the stupidly embarrassing one. Why wouldn't she?

Carol: "I thought this one looked really Cute, and it has this Fantasy element that you rarely add. It's so good."
Carol: "I only have three quarters on me right now, however..."
Carol: "This one came out really really well, so I'd be willing to give you the first quarter of my next allowance on top of that. That would be on Wednesday."

A full Dollar again, except this time you wouldn't have to do any extra work. It was a fair price again, however...

If you were being completely honest with yourself, you didn't want to sell that picture. Looking at it brought your mind back to that bizarre but pleasant dream from last night. It had weird emotions tied into it.

Still, you should consider if it was worth doing. A dollar isn't something to scoff at after all.

Barry: "There was one more, and we both kind of had our eyes on it."
Carol: "Right, it should be- ah, this one."

She flips back a few pages to a drawing you did a week ago. It was a scene from your tabletop game, showing yours and your friends' characters fighting a labyrinth boss. It wasn’t as good as most of your other pics, on account of you having to imagine the characters in it.

Roger: “You like that one?”
Barry: “Yeah, did you think it sucked or something?”
Roger: “Kind of!”
Carol: “It looks fine to me.”
Barry: “Ditto.”
Carol: “This one probably took you a lot longer than the other two, since there are a plenty of different characters here, does Two Dollars sound fair?”
Roger: “Whoa, definitely!”
Barry: “Since we both want it, we’ll share the price.”
Carol: “Um, can you cover my share for now, Barry?”
Barry: “Uh, hmm...”
Barry: “I only have a buck left of my allowance. If we owe you any more Roger, are you alright with waiting until then?”
Roger: “Fine with me.”

So those were their offers. You should probably make a decision quickly before your friends finish up with John.

Offer #1: Incomplete Clive Sketch - $0.75 from Barry
-You can get $0.25 more if you stop by his house and complete it for him later.
-You have a feeling that there may be someone who would pay more for this, but there are no guarantees that opportunity will become available

Offer #2: Dotti (Character From a Dream) Sketch - $1.00 from Carol
-You don’t want to part with the sketch, and will feel a little bad if you do. Greater odds that you have Fear Inducing Nightmares tonight if you lose the sketch that reminds you of a Good Dream.
-You’re guaranteed to only get $0.75 from Carol right away, with the remaining quarter coming on Wednesday.
-If you don’t accept this, Barry will tease you about it.

Offer #3: Tabletop Game Sketch - $2.00 from Both
-Guaranteed to not get full payment until Wednesday, based on how much they’re both carrying and other purchases.
-You could probably sell this for a lower price to someone else if you need cash really quickly.

Barry’s Pocket Money: $1.00
Carol’s Pocket Money: $0.75
Payment owed that exceeds these values will be delayed until Wednesday (Two days from now)

Which offers do you accept, and which will you reject?
>>
No. 1015102 ID: ce39da

Reject 2.

Take 3.

Table 1 for consideration - you have until they pay you what's owed for 3 to decide.

And yeah, that third piece lacks in realism, but they have a point about the complexity of the subject and composition. Take a little pride in your work!
>>
No. 1015103 ID: 076735

Reject 2 on the grounds that it has some kind of sentimental value to you, sell 3.
>>
No. 1015112 ID: 8483cf

Mood: Barry's Cat in a Window

Reject 2, Accept offer 3. Prepare for merciless teasing, but sometimes we have to suffer for our art!
>>
No. 1015113 ID: 8483cf

Also, if the money is good enough, take the offer for 1 once they have it. Money today is worth more than an uncertain return tomorrow.
>>
No. 1015116 ID: 094652

Sell 'em all.
>>
No. 1015128 ID: a58d3b

Reject 2, accept 3 now, postpone deciding on 1 (maybe you'll find someone who'd buy it for more before Wednesday?), and relish in your newfound riches, you enterprising furry artist, you.
>>
No. 1015462 ID: 0838d6

Reject 2, accept 3, but here's the thing, they're paying a pretty decent bit for that drawing which makes me think maybe there's something more to these drawings?

Maybe it's my imagination. Either way, reconvene with your buddies and see their horrified faces on what becoming a high schooler is like!
>>
No. 1015475 ID: 629f2e
File 163720797398.png - (675.57KB , 1000x1000 , 40.png )
1015475

After giving it some thought, you decide to take them on their third offer. You carefully tear the sketch out of your book and hand it over, as they hand you back $1.75 entirely in quarters.

Carol: “Like I said, I’ll give you the last quarter on Wednesday.”
Carol: “If you let me have that cute fox girl drawing now, I’ll get you a dollar bill with it.”
Roger: “I... I’m going to keep that one.”
Carol: “Oh...”
Barry: “Oh...?

He was grinning, you decided to shut him down before he could start.

Roger: “And I’m keeping the drawing you wanted too!”
Barry: “Oh.”
Roger: “It’ll give me time to finish it up on my own. If I don’t give it to someone else before Wednesday, you can have it then.”
Barry: “Hm, fair. Is that what you’re doing for Carol’s drawing too?”
Roger: “Huh? N-No, I’m just keeping that one.”

His grin widens. You hit him with his own sketchbook.

Roger: “Shut up.”
Barry: “I didn’t say anything.”
Roger: “You were thinking it really loudly!”
Barry: “All I’m saying is that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep that drawing for yourself. But...”
Roger: “But...?”
Barry: “Just don’t hide it under your bed. That’s the first place parents check for dirty magazines-”

You start kicking him until he begs for mercy. Carol just watches the whole exchange, not lifting a finger to stop you. He was asking for it, she knows when to let things happen.

You say your goodbyes, and Carol gives you one final request.

Carol: “If you ever draw anything as Fantastic as that piece, please let me have it! I’ll be sure to have a dollar ready whenever you do.”

You’d keep that in mind. Fantasy isn’t normally a topic you touch on, but you know that Carol really likes it. Maybe if you have more weird dreams...

As you leave the pair, Enid and Franklin return from their conversation with John.

Roger: “Hey guys. How did it go?”
Franklin: “...”
Enid: “...I-It went well. He answered some of our questions.”
Franklin: “...Yeah. He did.”
Enid: “It’s just...”
Franklin: “The answers could have been better.”
Roger: “Huh? What did he say? Why do some kids graduate early?”
Enid: “Um... Can we talk about it with the others?”
Franklin: “I don’t want to hear it three times... Or twice. Once may have been pushing it. Not hearing it would probably be different bad...”
Franklin: “...There are no good answers. Three times is the worst though. Unless four is an option.”

...What exactly did you miss?

Franklin and Enid have been exposed to troubling information.
Enid has gained 3 Fear.
Franklin has gained 6 Fear.
You have no context for why Franklin came out more spooked than Enid.

Party Fear Levels:
Roger: 6/100
Enid: 32/100
Franklin: 6/100
>>
No. 1015476 ID: 629f2e
File 163720799222.png - (642.51KB , 1000x1000 , 41.png )
1015476

It’s a much quieter walk than before. You make a few attempts to strike up conversation, first with Enid, then Franklin, but not much is said. You were most surprised to see Franklin tight lipped, as he rarely seemed to dwell on a thought for too long. Your mind was racing with possibilities on what kind of disturbing information John might have hit them with.

Eventually, with only a minute to spare, you reach the Library. It doesn’t take you long to catch up with your other friends, who are standing near the entrance waiting for you. Albert had his cane with him, meaning he must have sneezed and hurt himself or something like that.

Lillian: “Hey guys! Me and Albert found some weird stuff out that you won’t believe.”
Albert: “Hello again...”

He wore a troubled expression, giving you a look that seemed to say “Things aren’t good”. Between him and your companions, you almost didn’t want to know whose was worse.

Enid: “W-What happened!?”
Albert: “Hmm?”
Enid: “You... Y-You have a cane, and you’re keeping your foot up. Did you break something?”
Albert: “Thankfully not. I fell over.”
Enid: “...Like, down stairs?”
Albert: “No, on the sidewalk. I sprained my ankle and had to get my cane from home.”
Enid: “From home? You just... have a cane in case you need it?”
Lillian: “Yeah, it’s Albert. He breaks easy, nothing to write home about.”
Roger: “Third time this month though. Do you think you need new shoes? You can’t keep tripping over yourself, else you’ll break something.”
Albert: “As long as it isn’t a femur again. I still wake up in a cold sweat remembering that pain some nights.”

Enid stares at him, before whipping over to me with a befuddled expression. You just shrug.

Roger: “He’s gets hurt easily. And sick, he’s almost always sick. And he also has bad allergies. He’s practically blind without his glasses...”
Roger: “Things like this are just kind of normal with him. Don’t worry, he’s used to it.”
Enid: “So... It doesn’t hurt.”
Albert: “HA!”
Albert: “No, it constantly hurts. There’s just no point in mentioning it, unless something that needs treatment comes up.”
Enid: “That doesn’t sound good.”
Albert: “Doesn’t feel better than it sounds.”
Lillian: “Albert’s in pain, grass is green, we get it. C’mon, let’s talk about what we found out already. Me and Albert hit something pretty juicy.”
Albert: “...Yes, I did find something within proximity to Lillian.”

She flicks him for that. If it were anyone else she’d probably slug them, but Albert might straight up die if he got punched.

Franklin: “...We also found things.”
Enid: “Um, yes. I think the things we learned are also important to share.”

It seems like both groups were successful, even if you weren’t fully in the loop about your own discoveries.

Whose findings should we go over first?
A: Albert and Enid’s
B: Yours, Franklin’s, and Enid’s
>>
No. 1015477 ID: 8483cf

B.
Then RUN!
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No. 1015478 ID: afe7de

B, then get so scared and RUN, to the bathroom, because you forgot to go earlier and whatever you hear gives you indegestion.
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No. 1015510 ID: dfbac0

B, best not let Franklin struggle to remember what he learned from their news, Enid might be able to tell it but she'd probably have a hard time, knowing Franklin if he really remembered it then he can probably tell it the most straight.
Uh... DON'T RUN, you shouldn't run in a library. Speaking of being in a library is it possible we're in the most secluded place in the library? I would hate it if someone eavesdropped.
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No. 1015881 ID: 629f2e
File 163768516105.png - (942.38KB , 1000x1000 , 42.png )
1015881

You head to the back of the library, where the kids' reading area is thankfully unoccupied.

Roger: “Why don’t we start?”
Albert: “Go ahead.”

You start by going over everything that happened at the Play&Pay, and your conversation with Mr. Snyder. None of that was new, and neither Albert or Lillian seemed surprised to learn that he wouldn’t elaborate on graduation. The most reaction that part of the story got was obvious envy from Lillian over you all getting free toys without her.

When the story reaches the field, you let Enid and Franklin take the lead.

Enid: “We told John about the weird conversation we had with Giovanni, and he told us that all adults get like that when it comes to graduation.”
Enid: “According to him...”

“You wanna know why some kids graduate early?”
“I’ve known a few kids who got sent up before the normal time. First was back in elementary school, little guy named Calvin. Can’t even remember his last name to be honest.”
“Not a bad kid, he just needed some extra understanding. He never really ‘got’ dealing with people, and he was a bit of a nuisance.”
“Gone before a full month passed. Went up to high school, and we never heard a word about him ever again.”

“Next was Jonah. He was with us for three years, started around the time I did. His parents were hard on him about his grades, so he usually focused hard on his work.”
“The last few months he was there, I remember him being a wreck. He wasn’t able to keep his grades up, and it was getting to him.”
“Eventually, he was just gone. Graduated early, same as Calvin before.”

“Last year, it was Cassidy. I won’t pretend that I know much about what she went through, as we never got along.”
“All I can say about her is that the day before she left, she came in with a black eye. Skipped class to talk to the nurse about it.”
“Wish I knew more about what happened, but everything past that is rumors. And nobody could agree on a story.”

“The last one’s actually pretty recent. Only three months ago in fact. This one’s a doozy.”
“A fight broke out during lunch between two kids, Riley and Jacob. I wasn’t there when it broke out, but I’d wager that Jacob started it. He had some anger issues he needed to work on.”
“Things got intense, and when it was over Riley ended up with a broken arm and stitches on his head.”
“Jacob got suspended, and by the time it should have ended, we were just told that he’d graduated and wouldn’t be coming back.”

“Wanna know how to never be on the chopping block for early graduation? Keep your head down and do what you’re told.”
“The second you step out of line and tick off the wrong person, that’s when your fate is sealed.”

...

As they finish recounting John’s lengthy explanation, you feel an inexplicable urge to turn around and Run. With a description like that, it was no wonder Enid and Franklin were troubled. You think just about any kid would be asking themselves the same worrying question when met with that story.

Have I done anything like that?

You knew you weren’t like Calvin or Jacob, their examples were more aggressive. But Jonah and Cassidy’s missteps weren’t as clear. Were your grades bad enough to make you graduate early? You weren’t top of the class like Albert, but you weren’t near the bottom either. Lill and Franklin probably have more to worry about that there than I do.

It was different for each of them though. There wasn’t any one clear thing they did, it just sounds like they all did something wrong, or had something go wrong for them.

Looking at Albert and Lill, you weren’t the only one affected by the idea. Lill seemed more worried, while Albert seemed to be considering something. It’s Franklin who eventually breaks the ice.

Franklin: “...Hey Albert?”
Albert: “Yes?”
Franklin: “If all that stuff is true, who do you think is the most likely in our class to graduate next?”
Albert: “Hmm. Good question…”
Enid: “It’s a little insensitive, isn’t it? No matter who it is, we shouldn’t want it to happen, right?”
Enid: “I don’t know what high school is really like, but everything around it seems weird, and kind of bad.”
Lillian: “I know, awesome right?”
Enid: “Huh?”
Albert: “Based solely on John’s account, the most likely in our class would be Lemmy, or JoJo, or possibly Roger.

...Huh?
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No. 1015882 ID: 629f2e
File 163768520418.png - (926.18KB , 1000x1000 , 43.png )
1015882

Roger: “Wait, what?”
Albert: “Lemmy and JoJo fit the Calvin example. They’re both-”
Roger: “No- Why Me!?
Albert: “Keep your voice down! We’re in a library.”

He looks around, checking for something before speaking again.

Albert: “If you consider the example of Jonah, then you should be able to understand it.”
Roger: “What? But if it was grades-”
Albert: “It's not about grades. You’re smart Roger, I’m sure you can work it out.”

He stares at you, as if waiting for you to put the pieces together. You didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, and yet he had perfect faith in you. It was annoying that he wouldn’t just say it, but…

...If he thought you could do it, then the least you could do is try.

Even in retelling, John’s story brings up Fear and doubts in the children who hear it.
Lillian gains 4 Fear, feeling uncertain if she is a candidate for early graduation.
Albert gains 2 Fear, feeling confident that he isn’t under consideration. Still, the story is troubling.
Roger’s Fear gain indeterminate until the next update.

Party Fear Levels:
Roger: 6/100
Enid: 32/100
Franklin: 6/100
Albert: 10/100 (He appears to have gained 8 Fear since you split up.)
Lillian: 6/100 (She appears to have gained 2 Fear since you split up.)

What might cause Roger to graduate before other members of his class?
A: Answer (Try to find the meaning without need for explanation. You’ll gain less fear if you work it out on your own.) (Write your thoughts along with your answer.)
B: Deflect (“But what about X?” If you can successfully point out at least one kid who breaks the rules John’s tale seems to be implying, you’ll gain a bit less fear. If your deflection gets shot down though, fear gain will stay normal.) (Simply name a student who has graduated early.)

A/N: If you correctly follow Albert’s reasoning, you will gain the least fear. If you don’t feel confident that you can, Deflecting is the safer alternative. Feel free to ask for clarification on anything previously mentioned, a mini update may be made addressing all questions asked.
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No. 1015888 ID: 0838d6

Is it because you don't get along with your parents and constantly argue? It's probably not because you'll crack under the pressure, as it hasn't happened yet and you've shown no signs of that happening.

If I had to make an assumption, it's because you're good at sports but prefer to pursue art and this upsets your parents which causes you to HATE them as you discuss things with them because they're making life difficult for you. You're slowly skirting along the edge of that.

A course correction you COULD make could be to take up a relatively non obstructive SPORT just to get them off your back. You're good at running so maybe TRACK AND FIELD? Plus that usually doesn't take up too much time and you can put in MINIMUM EFFORT and do just fine, still able to art.

But this is just to please your parents and maybe avoid graduation, would you even consider it otherwise?
>>
No. 1015893 ID: ce39da

A: Answer
... Early graduation can ultimately be decided by your parents. CALVIN was poorly understood by most people, and that could have included his own family. JONAH was struggling to live up to the high expectations his parents set for his grades. CASSIDY did something to provoke SOMEONE to injure her outside of school, and not only that, she may have tattled to another adult about it. JACOB's outburst, regarding how it reflected on his family and upbringing, could only be described as "shameful."

Then there are the examples you already knew about:
JHONEN makes sense. He was always off in his own weird world of conspiracies; you doubt that was what his parents would have wanted, and he may have stumbled on something dangerous.

"Hey, Lillian, what were your and Phillip's relationships with your folks like?"

Honestly, RODNEY is the only anomaly for this theory, but like PHILLIP, you don't know enough about his and CLIVE'S home-life to dispute this or make theories around it. Honestly, you're more shocked that CLIVE hasn't graduated early, if this theory is true... but there are a few explanations for this that are... troubling in their own way. Something had to happen in that house to make CLIVE the way he is, after all...
>>
No. 1015896 ID: ce39da

>>1015888
And yeah, this compromise should be something you're at least considering, regardless of whether you go through with it.
>>
No. 1015900 ID: 71720a

It not about grades, it's about nerves. If the situation is getting to you and you start panicking, that's when you're reaped.
>>
No. 1016003 ID: 8483cf

Tips
- “Keep your head down and do what you’re told”; don’t “step out of line” (John)
- “Has nothing to do with intelligence” (Snyder; likely reliable)
- Has something to do with parents (Snyder; likely reliable)
- High school’s intention is to “mold [them] into mature and capable adults” (Chamberlane)
- “I don’t know why yet, but someone dragged Rodney into some Conspiracy. As soon as I know who's behind it, and what the heck they did to my little brother...”

Common Factors in Early Graduation
- Received extra attention from school administration (Calvin, Jonah, Jacob, Cassidy [Nurse])
- Violence, or threats of violence (Jonah [Threatened to rip Franklin’s arm off], Jacob, Cassidy)
- Low grades (Jonah, Calvin[?])
- Emotionally unstable (Jonah, Jhonen)
- Inability to fit in (Jhonen [called The Freak]; Calvin, Jonah, Jacob)

Counterpoints
- Violence is not a guarantee of early graduation (Clive, Riley)
- Low grades/Intelligence is not a guarantee of early graduation (Snyder tip)
- High grades/Intelligence is not a guarantee of avoiding early graduation (Phillip)
- Not fitting in is not a guarantee of early graduation (Franklin and Clive “The Anti-Socialite”)
- Being well-liked is not a guarantee of avoiding early graduation (Rodney “The Socialite”)
- Graduation can happen without immediate signs at home, and can be done without direct parental involvement (Rodney just didn’t come home, as per Clive; Jhonen just got in a car; didn’t talk with parents)


Albert’s Guesses
- Lemmy: Class clown. “Spoke crassly about death.” Not a trustworthy source. Makes unfunny puns and doesn’t get along with Roger. Potential swindler of home-schoolers.
- Jojo: Unknown, but name is similar to Jonah and Jhonen, so maybe Albert’s a smartass
- Roger: Doesn’t socialize before class/prefers to sketch instead; parents do not approve of drawing habit; draws furry girls

Reasoned Conclusions
- Grades are not the deciding factor in early graduation.
- Social standing is not the deciding factor in early graduation.
- Incidences of violence can be the deciding factor in early graduation.
- Disrupting the social order is a significant contributing factor to early graduation. Even unwilling participation in activities, conspiracies or disruptions are significant risk factors.
- Parents are involved in the early graduation process, and are aware that it will happen. This is most obvious by the fact that Clive and Rodney’s parents did not exhibit extreme emotional distress at Rodney’s disappearance, despite Rodney’s good disposition and lack of contributing factors for early graduation.

Hypothesis
The above factors indicate that early graduation is predictable to adults, and potentially even able to be requested by parents. Children who disrupt the social order (or at imminent, immediate risk of disrupting the social order), defy parental or educational expectations, or do not show signs of being able to recover from personality defects are at high risk of early graduation.

Roger is at slight to moderate risk of early graduation because he refuses to conform to parental expectations, which is a risk factor. Refusing to conform with parental expectations puts him at risk of being evaluated by educational or other authorities responsible for gauging levels of conformity.

Roger exhibits a risk factor of expressing interest in conspiracy or investigation into disruption of elementary school order, by talking to Mr. Snyder about specific instances of early graduation and asking pointed questions. A mitigating factor in this case is Mr. Snyder’s belief that all children ask questions upon witnessing early graduation.

However, Roger is not currently emotionally unstable, and has not disrupted the social order, and is not currently at imminent risk of doing so.
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