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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.
Expand all images
>>
No. 1010079 ID: 629f2e
File 163125561049.png - (81.14KB , 1000x1000 , 001.png )
1010079

In the eyes of children, events on this scale feel like the end of the world. Such a claim isn’t wholly inaccurate. In their eyes the world seems so small, so innocent…
>>
No. 1010080 ID: 629f2e
File 163125563478.png - (76.94KB , 1000x1000 , 002.png )
1010080

Perhaps the worlds they’ve built in their heads can be brought to an end. Such fragile worlds they’ve imagined...

>>
No. 1010081 ID: 629f2e
File 163125566574.png - (87.36KB , 1000x1000 , 003.png )
1010081

From the ashes of these events will rise a spark. Curiosity. A burning desire to understand the expanding new universe they find themselves in. The constraints of naivete are released, bringing with it excitement and fear.
>>
No. 1010082 ID: 629f2e
File 163125570146.png - (55.69KB , 1000x1000 , 004.png )
1010082

Through that curiosity, understanding shall blossom. Truths previously unimaginable will become the norm, and they shall draw closer to knowing the world as it is, rather than how they once imagined it.

>>
No. 1010083 ID: 629f2e
File 163125573751.png - (109.87KB , 1000x1000 , 005.png )
1010083

It’s imperative that they learn, for if they don’t...

Only further tragedy awaits for these young souls.
>>
No. 1010084 ID: 629f2e
File 163125587505.png - (1.67MB , 1000x1000 , 006.png )
1010084

Enough of the grand overview. Let’s talk about you.

Your name is Roger Bannister. You turned 10 years-old just last week. Among your classmates, you have a reputation as The Artist. You’ve always liked to draw, and no matter how much it makes your parents grumble you’re determined to keep doing it! At all times, even outside of class, you carry around a messenger bag containing your drawing pad and art supplies. There’s also school stuff in there too right now, so that you don’t have to carry a backpack on top of this one.

As far as you can tell, yesterday was a pretty normal day. It was a Sunday, so no school obviously. You spent some time playing outside with a few of the other kids on your block, and then spent the rest of the day going around town and drawing.

Today was going to be a little more interesting. It was Monday after all, which meant: Game Night!

After school, you had plans to go meet up with Phillip and Lillian, Albert, and probably one or two other kids for your weekly tabletop night. The last slot is never totally clear, as different people rotate in and out. The main group of four always made it though, as you were heavily invested in the game. See, Phillip had taught you guys all about this cool fantasy thing where you imagine your own characters and make them go through dungeons while fighting monsters and stuff. It was probably the coolest game ever, once you get past learning how to play.
>>
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.

You try to remember what you dreamt about last night, but unfortunately your memories of that are too vague. It must have been a boring one though, else you would have ripped your sketchbook out and drawn it when you woke up. After a few minutes, the window to remember what actually happened in your dreams passes, so you do all of the good ideas quickly.

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?


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