Season 3 episode 13 notes

Before the Trip

  • After history class ends, Professor Schröder announces to the class that he has a letter from Count Johann Adlergriff, confirming that there seems to be early signs of a Storm approaching Alpenfest, the old castle in the Alps. Teachers from Eisenkrone will be dispatched, and by tradition second-year students are taken along to deal with Storms to learn about the job first-hand.
  • Schröder announces that he will bring this class on the field trip, and asks everyone to please get ready. They’ve only been second-years for two weeks or so, but the Storm waits for no one.
  • The class heads out for lunch. Ryu is working in the cafeteria now, to improve his cooking skills and make all of his friends grow big and strong. He serves an extra-super-triple hearty meal.
  • Jacob is worried about what Ivan will think of him going out to face a Storm. He asks Lloyd to come with him to tell Ivan the news.
  • Jacob and Lloyd meet Ivan in the dojo. Ivan is horrified to learn that his weak, pathetic nephew is going out to face a Storm. He insists on coming along as a guardian, because Jacob isn’t strong enough to handle a Storm. This is somewhat worrying as Schröder earlier turned him down for field trip work, considering him too dangerous.
  • Cecil heads down to Ritterburg for training with Hildegard. Today’s lesson is tag-team fighting, protecting each other’s backs. To this end, Hildegard has called in Gofius for help. Gofius turns out to be amazingly skilled at combat, despite his dull-seeming behavior, and Cecil must struggle to dodge his super quick blows.
  • Cecil and Hildegard fight back-to-back, learning coordinated combat in armor.
  • Lloyd meanwhile, heads out to meet Professor Gottlieb for training. Gottlieb says that in light of recent events, they must go into more advanced training. Learning what strengths and weaknesses a weapon has is complicated, just like learning the strengths and weaknesses of a soldier. Therefore, Gottlieb gives Lloyd a very large war hammer and tells him to return once he’s figured out the hammer’s personality – its strengths, its weaknesses, and what sort of weapon it is. Only when he has this knowledge will his training proceed.
  • Lloyd names his new hammer “M.C. Hammer” after the smith’s initials written on the handle, and brings it home.
  • Cecil, upon returning to the school, talks to Mr. Fried to arrange for a replacement Storm Postman while he’s away.

Journey to Alpenfest

  • A few days later, a caravan of Storm Coaches pull up outside Eisenkrone. Cecil gets in with the servants, while Lloyd visits Anita at first but switches carriages later to have time to talk to all of his friends.
  • Cecil learns that Anita’s Girls are originally from Durmstrang. They grew up in an orphanage before being handpicked for maid training by the von Blankhausen family.
  • Lloyd learns that Count Johann Adlergriff served as the jailer at Alpenfest, back when it was used to keep prisoners of war. A few years after the war ended he moved away, but two years ago he moved back there.
  • Lloyd furthermore learns that Johann Adlergriff is a Storm Eater, capable of draining peoples’ powers. A handy power for a jailer of powerful Storm Knights.
  • After stopping at several guesthouses, where Cecil is surprised to see Lloyd having weird conversations with the warhammer, they arrive late at night to Castle Alpenfest. Up here, it’s already cold and snowy, and the carriages are very chilly.

The Dark History of Castle Alpenfest

  • With the moon waxing overhead, the carriage arrives. An old groundskeeper named Harold opens the gate, letting everyone into the crumbling old castle to meet Count Johann Adlergriff. A man with a striking resemblance to his father and grandfather, and a youthful appearance despite his age, Johann Adlergriff explains that he has summoned these Storm Knights because he is worried for his sweet daughter Melody, a sensitive girl. He wants the best possible protection for the castle.
  • Johann mentions off-hand that he doesn’t have much staff. His Storm Butler has betrayed and abandoned him, taking most of the staff with him.
  • Count Johann retires. Lloyd, Cecil, and the other students are taken to their rooms in the castle. They discover that the staff is minimal, and only five people live in the castle.
  • Harold tells Cecil that he has “the Minding” and that he needs to be careful around the castle. It has strange effects on those with the Minding. Harold himself has only a little – he can sometimes know people’s names or other small details.
  • Lloyd is escorted to his room by Sophie, Melody’s maid. Sophie is vaguely creepy and tells Lloyd that Melody always gets what she wants. Lloyd thinks she sounds like a sweet young girl.
  • Lloyd finds that he’s been given the executioner’s old room, and that the executioner’s axe is still on the wall. He compares his hammer to it and gets really really bad vibes from the axe.
  • Cecil opens up his lawbook and begins to read. He hears sudden laughter from out in the corridor, and a girl’s voice beckoning him to come play. Curious, Cecil heads out into the corridor and looks out into the dark… a severed head comes rolling towards him! The entire castle begins to scream in pain and horror, while the girl keeps laughing and laughing – and then Cecil wakes up in a cold sweat. He dreamed the whole thing.
  • Cecil, having woken up early, heads down to look for the castle’s library. He runs into the priest, Father Ignatius, the fifth person living at Castle Alpenfest, who directs him to the groundskeeper.
  • Harold knows where the library is, but he wouldn’t dare to let him in without the Count’s permission. Therefore, Cecil is taken to the Count’s study. Count Johann wonders what Cecil is so curious about, but he answers elusively. Johann sees no harm in letting the boy use the library, but he warns him that he will be locked in there, to make sure he doesn’t take any books. Count Johann also sternly warns him not to break anything.
  • Cecil gets locked in the library and begins his research. He finds out that the villagers around the castle have a poor relationship to the Count at best – he’s forcibly recruited them for the War, as well as slammed down on their native religion, going so far as to even kill a few witches. Their pagan practices are condemned by many books Cecil finds.
  • More disturbingly, Cecil discovers that when the war ended, there’s no record of the prisoners of war ever leaving. They seem to have all just… disappeared.
  • Lloyd is called down to breakfast by Professor Gottlieb. Before breakfast, though, Gottlieb wants a word with him. It appears the Count wants to protect the castle and his daughter, but has set aside no resources whatsoever for the villagers. It seems he doesn’t care for the pagan commoners. This troubles Gottlieb, who has been ordered to stay at the castle.
  • Gottlieb asks Lloyd to persuade the Count to maybe send some non-essential troops, such as Schröder, Wolf, and some students, down to the villages and see if they can help there.
  • Lloyd volunteers to go with the away team. He promises to speak to the Count after breakfast.
  • Lloyd enjoys a breakfast with his classmates. He tries to contact Cecil with his psitanium badge and ask him to come down, but Cecil is busy reading. Disturbingly, there’s interference on the psychic contact link – almost as if the castle itself is too loud…
  • Lloyd goes to see the Count after having eaten breakfast. The Count explains that he must have the best security here at the castle, for the sake of his dear daughter Melody, but he supposes Schröder, Wolf, and a few students could leave.
  • Count Johann warns Lloyd that he can’t guarantee the safety of anyone going down to the pagan village. They are xenophobic, hateful pagans who might well attack any civilized people sent to their aid. Lloyd says he understands the risks.
  • Count Johann permits Lloyd to bring back villagers to the Castle – but only if they agree to submit entirely to the Count and obey his orders. And, he warns, the Castle will be completely sealed once the Storm hits.
  • Lloyd goes to speak to the teachers and the students to arrange an away team to protect the village. Akane, Anita, Gloria and Bartolomeus volunteer, along with their respective staff (three maids and one ninja). This makes Lloyd’s away team a force to be reckoned with.
  • Lloyd exchanges a few more words with Gottlieb, and meets Captain Stauff, in charge of the Count’s few soldiers stationed right outside the castle.
  • After reading for a few hours, Cecil knocks on the door to be let out. Unfortunately, nobody comes to open the door. He knocks louder, but nobody hears him. Resigned, Cecil pulls out a book on the pagan practices of the villagers, mostly to pass the time – and is distraught when it falls apart in his hands!
  • Cecil carefully reads the book as he pieces it back together, trying to figure out where the pages go. The book documents the witchcraft of the villagers. It’s penned by a monk named Gregorius, who seems to conclude the pagans aren’t that horrible after all – they don’t seem to do any dark, hideous sacrifices or evil rituals. Yet both Ignatius and the Count persecutes them so much, and Gregorius supposes there must be a reason for it.
  • Cecil finds out another detail about Count Johann Adlergriff – just before the war ended, his wife Emmalotta went to Rhein Valley to meet her family. Rhein Valley was the site where the Britannians slaughtered countless civilians in a last desperate attempt to win the war, and it seems Emmalotta died there.
  • Horrified, Cecil realizes what must have happened to the Britannian prisoners after Count Johann found out.
  • Cecil begins to meditate, trying to feel the presence inside the walls. He hears strange screams from the basement and realizes there must be a strong psychic imprint on the castle, from all the suffering of the prisoners. Over the screaming, though, he hears a gleeful mind. Following it back to its source, he begins to telepathically communicate with Melody.
  • Melody, in a sing-song little girl’s voice, speaks to Cecil in his head. She’s excited to have a new playmate – she’s broken all of her old ones. She asks Cecil to play with her, but he declines. An upset Melody cuts off the connection.
  • Count Johann arrives to let Cecil out. He’s upset to see the broken book, but he hides it well. Johann somewhat aggressively wonders what Cecil’s been reading about, and Cecil mentions the prisoners of war. Johann gets suspicious.
  • Johann asks Cecil what his Storm Powers are. Cecil evades the question by answering “jumping”. Johann lets Cecil go, but not without a menacing comment about what a shame it is when spines break… referencing the broken book.
  • Cecil and Lloyd meet up in the dining hall. Lloyd is part of Schröder’s away team, dressed up in warm clothes. Cecil says he will stay at the castle, as he wants to investigate its history.

The Pagan Village

(note: For clarity, the two storylines of Lloyd and Cecil are kept in one piece. In play, we jumped back and forth between them)

  • Led by Schröder, the away team wanders down the mountainside to the dark Grimwald forest, hoping to find the defenseless villagers and assist them. Their spirits are high at first, but soon Gloria and Bartolomeus begin to complain about the cold.
  • Professor Wolf heads into the forest to do some scouting. Just then, a mysterious blond woman appears, brandishing a spear. She’s dressed in a repaired and reinforced maid uniform, along with furs against the cold.
  • The woman introduces herself as Luzia. She says they shouldn’t talk here – there might be storm beasts – but hastily leads the team to the largest village. It’s surrounded by a palisade wall and heavily reinforced. The villagers are preparing for the Storm.
  • Luzia more or less imprisons the visiting Knights in the town hall, waiting for the town’s leader – Alex – to return. Alex has been visiting the Elders.
  • Lloyd talks to Luzia, and learns that she was educated at Eisenkrone. To earn her trust, Lloyd mentions Madame Dominique’s name, and learns that Luzia used to be her student.
  • Luzia begins to search the female students for hidden weapons. She calls on a soldier – Bren – to search the men. She says she can’t really force them to relinquish their obvious weapons, but she’d prefer not to be surprised. During the search, Luzia astonishingly spots Naimitsu, who has been observing from afar. Naimitsu, realizing she’s been found, steps out in the open and joins the others in the town hall.
  • Waiting for Alex to return, the assembled group converses some amongst themselves. Gloria and Bartolomeus demand respect from the smelly farmers, and Gloria demands to see the Mayor or someone with an equally important title.
  • Alex returns, a handsome young blond man. He turns out to be the Count’s former Storm Butler, who betrayed him. There’s not much time to talk, as Alex must prepare the villagers for the oncoming Storm. He gracefully accepts assistance from Schröder, Wolf and their students, however.
  • Lloyd informs the villagers that those who want can seek shelter at the Castle, but only if they agree to obey the Count. Not a single villager even considers the invitation.
  • Gloria demands to see someone more important than some worn out old butler. Alex asks Luzia to escort her to the Elders; Lloyd opts to come along. The team of three venture out from the safety of the palisades. Luzia explains that they must sneak, as the woods are full of Storm Beasts who are agitated now that a Storm draws near.
  • Lloyd and Luzia move stealthily through the woods, but Gloria is clumsy and unused to the environment. She draws the attention of a Wood Spider, a giant spider that’s part of a hivemind. Lloyd realizes that killing it would only draw the attention of its brothers, but the creatures fear fire – so he makes his move.
  • Just as the spider is about to jump, Luzia tackles Gloria out of the way. Using this split-second where nobody can see him, Lloyd uses his powers to summon a jet of fire, scaring the spider away.
  • Brandishing a torch, Lloyd says he just lit it and waved it. Luzia believes him, and compliments him for his quick action. But now they must hurry, because other creatures might have heard the spider as it scrambled away.
  • Luzia, Lloyd and Gloria soon arrive at a small cottage in the woods. They knock, and are let in by an old woman. Her name is Tshilaba, but everyone just calls her Granny.
  • Lloyd feels worried about a defenseless old woman out here in the woods, and asks her to come back to the village. Granny explains that witch magic is a sensitive thing – it could protect the cottage, but if any fool villager interferes, it might backfire. Furthermore, witches pay the unfortunate price for their art that they attract Storm Beasts, so she wouldn’t want to endanger the villagers.
  • Lloyd reminds Granny that one shouldn’t face the Storm alone. In response, Granny introduces her two sisters: A plump, matronly woman named Tilda, and a young attractive girl called Kati.
  • The witches call a vote about whether they should go with the young woman back to the village. Granny is strongly opposed, but Kati is taken in with the handsome young man and agrees.
  • Granny and Tilda speak amongst themselves for a bit, and then ask Lloyd why he thinks they should come to the village. Lloyd answers that he’s just a young man, but that it’s his duty to defend the helpless and innocent, even in the face of insurmountable odds.
  • Granny and Tilda come to the conclusion that Lloyd is a hero. Muttering mysteriously about the power of the Story, they conclude that they will be much safer with Lloyd than out here, and agree.
  • Lloyd speaks some with Kati, the youngest witch, on the way back. He asks if the Count really is as horrible as some people seem to think. Kati says that a few of his former prisoners live in Grimwald, having escaped the prison and hidden among the people. He should ask them.
  • Returning to the village, Lloyd almost immediately spots a man with the recognizable white hair of a Britannian. The man seems to recognize something Lloyd as well, and introduces himself with a Britannian “how do you do”.
  • The man’s name is Jasper Ford, a former prisoner of the Count. Just before the war ended, a handful of prisoners were saved by a mysterious Pathfinder, led to safety in a secluded Grimwald village that the Count doesn’t even know exists. Now, Jasper and the other villagers have come to the biggest village for safety against the Storm.
  • Jasper asks Lloyd if he could perhaps spare a weapon. Lloyd reveals that he’s a dabbling blacksmith and could make one, if Jasper would like. He asks about Jasper’s fighting style.
  • Jasper shows his wooden leg. He says that back in the day he used to be a very fast runner, so the Count took his leg to prevent him from escaping – and to further break his will. Lloyd begins to realize what a horrible man the Count is.
  • Jasper requests a sword – he already has a shield – so Lloyd gets to work. There’s plenty of horseshoes for material, as the horses of the village are all dead. He also makes a number of solid iron bolts, part of enacting a cunning plan…

Only Sinners in Alpenfest

  • Just as the away team leaves, Cecil gets summoned up to Melody’s room by Sophie, the maid.
  • Cecil comes along, up a long series of stairs to the tallest tower in the castle. He’s shown into a windowless room, lit by a multitude of candles, and meets Melody. To his surprise, she’s not a little girl but a grown woman. She talks like a child, however.
  • Cecil sits down to eat with Melody. Melody says that Cecil is special – he hears the screaming in the walls, like she does. They should become playmates.
  • Cecil wonders about Melody’s playing. She reveals that she’s been using her mindbending powers to break people’s wills and turn them into toys. One man she turned into a doggy, and then Daddy had to put him down. Now that the Storm is drawing near, Melody will become stronger, and plans to play with everyone in the whole castle.
  • Cecil inquires carefully about her past. He finds out that last time a major Storm hit Alpenfest, just after the War ended, Count Johann had Melody moved from the tower down into the maximum-security prison cell. He had recently lost his wife and was worried about his daughter.
  • The cell kept Melody safe from the Storm, but it seems the horrific psychic energy of the awful place, amplified by the Storm, irrevocably warped Melody’s mind and rendered her insane. She was locked in the cell for an entire day, with nothing but the psychic screams of countless dead for company…
  • Cecil politely excuses himself. He realizes he must inform Professor Gottlieb of Melody’s madness and the horrible consequences that could follow.
  • Cecil finds Gottlieb in the wine cellar, where he’s inspecting a wall that he suspects might be a structural weakness. Cecil tells Gottlieb about Melody’s madness – and Gottlieb despairs. Count Johann clearly is deeply in denial about his daughter’s condition, and he’s fiercely overprotective – any attempt at curing her is almost certainly doomed to fail. Still, he agrees with Cecil that they must at least try and persuade him.
  • Gottlieb calls down Clara into the basement, to help reinforce the weak wall.
  • Cecil goes to warn his fellow students about the psychic screams in the walls. With Gottlieb’s authority, he orders every Mindbender to keep their minds shut, so that the screams don’t infect them. Jacob and Ivan are missing, and Cecil learns that they are training outside.
  • On his way out, Cecil bumps into Harold the groundskeeper. Harold tells Cecil a little about Melody’s past – ten years ago the Storm hit, and she was driven mad. Then a little while later she and the Count moved away, and perhaps she was better then – but since returning to the castle two years ago, she’s steadily been getting worse. The staff quit over a year ago – that is, the ones who managed to escape with their sanity intact. Many were turned into Melody’s “toys”.
  • Cecil finds Ivan and Jacob training in the snow, in their underwear. Ivan is still trying to make Jacob stronger. He warns them about the psychic resonance, and about Melody’s madness.
  • Ivan is horrified to hear that there’s an insane Mindbender in the castle. He resolves to go deal with this immediately, and barely has time to get dressed before he hurries up the stairs. It seems his plan is to beat the Mindbending out of Melody, like he’s tried to do with Jacob.
  • A freezing Jacob puts on his clothes and is led into the castle by Cecil, to be warmed by the fire. Jacob wonders how long Melody has been suffering from this madness. With ten years since the Storm, he wonders if there is any cure – and he implies that, as someone who’s suffered Storm Madness himself, it would be a mercy to kill her if she cannot be cured.
  • Cecil goes with Gottlieb to speak with Count Johann. He carefully lays out the evidence before accusing Melody of anything, bringing up the Storm ten years ago, the psychic resonance in the walls, the many people who have died here and how it’s tainted the place – ultimately concluding that the maximum security cell would probably be infected enough to drive anyone insane.
  • Cecil explains that Melody is suffering from Storm Madness.
  • An infuriated Count Johann almost attacks Cecil, accusing him of being a liar, a scoundrel and of having designs on his daughter. He orders Cecil to never go near Melody again, or he’ll have him dragged down into the dungeons and thrown into the maximum security cell. Which he’s free to inspect, by the way, as close as he would like.
  • Gottlieb intervenes, keeping Johann from doing anything drastic but dragging Cecil from the room quickly. The Count refuses to see the truth.
  • A dour Gottlieb goes to look for the executioner’s axe, fearing he might have to use it. He’s unwilling to taint any of his own weapons with murder, but if Johann won’t have the girl treated, she’ll become a truly monstrous madwoman when the Storm arrives.
  • Cecil heads to look for Alice, the only student unaccounted for. She’s in the chapel. When he arrives, in the company of Ralph, he finds that she’s been accosted by the priest – Father Ignatius. Ralph quickly takes Alice away, while Cecil confronts Father Ignatius.
  • Father Ignatius tells Cecil that he’s a wretched sinner. To punish him from his past sins, Melody has spared him from having his mind broken, but forces him to participate in her games. Slowly, surely, he’s been turned into a monster, and by now he’s accepted it. He says that after Melody breaks Alice’s mind, he will play with her young body as he sees fit. There is no forgiveness – there are only sinners in Castle Alpenfest.
  • Horrified, Cecil returns to the common room, having gathered all the students there. Just then, Gottlieb storms in – agitated. He can’t find the executioner’s axe, it was supposed to be in Lloyd’s room – but it’s gone. All the students are safely gathered behind closed doors, but Gottlieb seems very, very on edge.
  • With a loud crash, Ivan splits the door to the common room open. He’s brandishing the axe, and a maniacal, insane grin. “Here’s Ivan!”

Season 3 episode 13 notes

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