After a close poll, we have our winner, Cyrus! Which is great for me because of all those sweet quality-of-life features.

To our first adventure!

Video: A Brief History of the Realm

Music: Tranquil Days

We begin with our scholar in the classroom.

Whenever a cutscene has voice acting, I will include a video link like the one above.

Indeed, our fair city-state is among the longest-standing on the continent of Orsterra. But there was another city-state with a history as long and proud as our own that came to a tragic ruin only eight short years ago.

There's no shame in not knowing an answer, so long as you have a desire to learn.

Jumping straight into fluff backstory is an odd way to start things off, but we also immediately get an idea of what kind of teacher Cyrus is, and a hint toward his overall view points and personality.

Let's see...

Hornburg was ruled over by a royal family said to be descended from priests of an ancient and long-forgotten religion. On the other hand, our fair Atlasdam was founded by one of the original clans that inhabited the Flatlands.

As Cyrus just mentioned, this city/nation is Atlasdam, a site of learning, and it resides in one of, of course, the eight regions that make up Orsterra, in this case the Flatlands.

As for Hornburg, this won't be the last we hear of it in these Chapter 1 updates.

Correct you are, Your Highness! It was a time of great strife here in the Flatlands, as the eight clans waged a long and bitter war. Change would come when the armies of Grandport invaded these lands some two centuries ago. At the time, the rulers of Grandport sought to exert their influence over territories inland.

...Oh, but look at the time! We'll pick up where we left off next time.

...and be prepared to answer questions on any of the material within.
Yes, Professor.

The history is not really important, though it's a bit neat if you're replaying. What's important so far is that we get an idea of the respect Cyrus has for his students, that he teaches the Princess of Atlasdam, and that Therese may have other thoughts on her mind than her studies.

But all that can wait for later.

Music: Atlasdam, Seat of Learning

Seems today's your lucky day. You've been granted permission to enter the special archives.

Splendid! Finally I can begin my research.

As usual for these games and LPs, parentheses around dialogue will portray thoughts.

We now have control! The radar is very useful in finding landmarks and quest markers on a specific map, as well as side quests and save points. The game also helpfully posts quest directions on the top-left corner after something happens.

NPCs that have speech bubbles can be interacted with, while others can't. For now, I'll be skipping all NPCs that aren't related to this quest and save them for later.

Once we try to leave, we trigger another cutscene as Therese waits near the entrance.



Music: Enveloped in Kindness

What can I do for you, Your Highness?
If you can spare the time, I had a question about something we learned today.
But of course, Your Highness. It would be my pleasure to answer anything. After all, my role as your tutor is as important to me as any of my research. Unfortunately, I cannot spare much time. Is the question a quick one?
Yes, Professor. It will not take long.

A very astute question, Your Highness. However, I fear that nearly all the texts detailing the nature of the religion were burned and lost when Hornburg fell.
I see. A shame, that.

I believe that the royal family of Hornburg were guardians of an ancient power...

No need for apologies! And it would be my pleasure, Your Highness. That such questions occur to you is a sign of a sharp and curious mind.
Your lectures on the history of the realm are most fascinating to me. For if I do not learn of our past, how can I hope to lead my people to a bright future?
A most admirable philosophy, Your Highness. The people of this land are truly fortunate to be led by one of such wisdom and kindness. ...As I am truly fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in some small way.
You are far too kind, Professor Albright. I am proud to be your student.

...Oh dear, I'm running late. Pray do not forget your assignment, Your Highness.
Of course, Professor.

Oh, hello there, Therese.

Poor Therese.

Music: Atlasdam, Seat of Learning

Cyrus is unaware of any of this, the man has learning to do!

Again, we're ignoring distractions for now. Right to the library!

The lighting effects are really nice at times in this game, like in this dimly-lit library. Though it can do a number on the sprites...

Oh, Professor Albright. You're looking quite eager today.

You're more on top of our collection than I am. Just sign here.
With pleasure!

Hm? Is something amiss?
For someone known as the most brilliant mind in the Royal Academy...

Haha! When you put it that way, yes. Much as a child is fascinated by a new toy... I am titillated by the prospect of acquiring new knowledge.
Right. The expression on your face says it all.

Anyway, everything seems to be in order. Enjoy your quest for knowledge, Professor.
Many thanks, my dear! I most certainly will.


(How odd. The tome is nowhere to be found.)

(These archives are strictly guarded and curated. Wherever could it have gone...?)

Of all the times to... Oh well. Might I ask of you a favor?
What might that be?
The tome I mentioned before seems to have gone missing. Could you locate it for me?
Missing? Huh. I'll begin looking at once, Professor.


Video: Headmaster Yvon

We immediately transition to the Headmaster's office, and right into another voiced cutscene.

The Headmaster is a bit odd, with bright red eyes.

How might I be of assistance, Headmaster?

Music: An Ill Omen

Sir? I do believe I made my hypothesis perfectly clear...

You went out of your way to cite one of the texts in our special archives. The knowledge housed in those tomes is the Royal Academy's greatest treasure.

I am fully aware of the value of those tomes, Headmaster. It is for that very reason I would share the knowledge with my peers-

But that goes against everything-

(Even my best argument is sure to fall on deaf ears.)

(Knowledge is power, and power is to be hoarded. An unfortunate attitude, indeed...)

That is all. You may go.


Thank you for your concern, Headmaster. In that case, I'll be on my way.

Cyrus makes his departure, but before we leave the Headmaster...



Alas, we won't be privy to the contents of this conversation. We've got a book to read!

We simply have to make our way back left. Atlasdam consists of this center square, the three buildings we've visited, and the actual town section to the south. Towns generally aren't that big in this game.


Did you have any luck finding the tome?
I'm afraid not...

And as you know, the keys to the vault are entrusted to only a select few! Quite honestly, it would be easier to steal the crown off the king's head.

It would seem we have quite the mystery on our hands.

...Or so the scholar in me says. Would you not agree?

Music: Tranquil Days

But I can see you won't let it go until you've "cracked the case," as it were.
Ahaha! You could say that, indeed. A habit I just can't seem to break. Once a puzzle is placed before me, I simply cannot rest until I've worked out a solution.
Well, far be it from me to stand in your way.

Ahaha, I'll not deny it! Worry not - the tome will be back on the shelf before you can bat an eyelash.
Right, thanks. Best of luck in your search.

So we've got our hook for this chapter. We need to help the scholar find a book.

...As you might have guessed, Cyrus's Chapter 1 has the lowest stakes out of any of them. But that's also what makes it so wonderful.

Music: Atlasdam, Seat of Learning

I suppose I should inquire with Mercedes as to where the keys to the library are stored. The guard at the front door would know who has been frequenting the library lately. As might my fellow scholars... Then, mayhap, I should pay the headmaster a visit as well...

Most chapters will involve some use of that character's path action. In Cyrus's case, his path action is Scrutinize.

When you go up to a NPC you can interact with, it will show all path actions available for your current party. Any you can't do are X'd out.

This is one of the NPCs we need to glean info from, but of course simply talking to them won't get us what we need.

Once you press Y on a NPC, you choose from the available path actions to use.

Scrutinize involves Cyrus analyzing and questioning a NPC to glean background information from them. He shares this path action with Alfyn, whose version is Inquire. Alfyn's version is restricted by level, but Cyrus has a percentage chance to fail on most NPCs, depending on level and difficulty of the NPC. Fail five times, and you have to bribe the barkeep at the tavern to spread good rumors about you or else you can no longer do path actions in that town. Or you can just save scum.

For the NPCs important to this quest, though, we cannot fail the Scrutinize checks, and our interrogation results in some valuable information.

Hopefully we will soon!

That actually narrows the suspects significantly.

There's also this guy.

Russell has motive, but no key...

And the Headmaster has a key, but seemingly no motive to obtain the book...

And now it's time to do a bit of deduction of our own...


There's no penalty for wrong guesses, but it's fun to try to suss things out yourself, and honestly the game doesn't do enough things like this. Only Cyrus gets these nice little deduction puzzles.

Anyway, this one's pretty simple if you're paying attention.

There are only two keys to the archives - one belonging to the headmaster, and one to the guardsman.

This is a bit trickier.

The Headmaster has no motive to steal the book, and it'd be hard to steal the key from his office. As for the guard...

It would be all too easy a task to lift the key off his person.

It makes sense, doesn't it? The guard's character is already questionable, and he's the only other person with access to the vault...

The culprit must be someone who understands the true value of the tome.

Put it all together, and our villain is...

Russell took advantage of the sleeping guard and snatched the key from him, then used the opportunity to pilfer the book so that he could sell it to pay off his debts.

Easier said than done!

Music: Atlasdam, Seat of Learning

(I think it's time I did some fieldwork of my own.)

Before we dive into our first dungeon, a tutorial on saving. You can only save at specific areas, but they're plentiful and you'll usually find at least one per screen, whether in the overworld, a town, or a dungeon.

The Danger Level has a summary of what level enemies we'll encounter there, and also that there are enemies there.

Next time, we pause the story to go into battles and their mechanics! Cyrus would be proud.