Of course we were aware how strange it sounded, how unpleasant it might be. But you cant grow up surrounded by stories of magic, seeing it in every movie, reading of it in every book, dreaming about it in every stolen moment: you cant go through that and live a peaceable life afterwards, out on our completely mundane Earth. When the invitation comes - if, by miracle of impossible miracles, it comes - you have to say yes.
There was such a desperate yearning for the magical in us, a need for it to be real, that even an offer like his seemed too good to be true. Have I done regrettable things? Yes, many. But do I regret my decision to attend?
Never. There is no world in which I could have chosen otherwise."
The Gardens of Enoch: Terrascape Academy is a quest written by Rihaku on Sufficient Velocity forums.
In the not to distant future, magic has returned to the world in the form of the mysterious wizard Atrianome Enoch. Appearing along with his own personal island in the middle of the atlantic, Enoch announced via every electronic screen in the world that he would bring about the destruction of all governments and unite the world under one ruler... by founding an academy and teaching people magic. Soon, the first class of 1000 students, picked by unknown means from humanity's best and brightest 17 to 20 year olds, arrived at his private, communication-jamming island.
For the next four years the only sign of these students came in the form of brutal attacks, students teleported to random spots around the globe to wreak havoc (sometimes nonlethally, sometimes with devastating casualties). When the first class graduated 4 years later, the remaining 30 students each became a grand celebrity in their own right, and each refused to speak of their time at terrascape.
The quest follows the story of Arthur Drake, one of the "lucky" few to acquire some form of magic before coming to Terrascape by bonding with a spirit in the aftermath of the third attack he found himself in the center of.
Terrascape Academy contains examples of
- Academy of Evil: Enoch didn't really try to make one, yet look what happened anyway.
- Awful Truth: All those Attacks that happened around Arthur regularly? Enoch professed to have instigated them so that Arthur would Conjoin with a Spirit. And TAME's headmaster is not known to lie...
- Anyone Can Die: The 3% survival rate of the first graduating class speaks for itself.
- Ordinary High-School Student: Colloquially known as Cannon Fodder at TAME, given that typically only the best and brightest are accepted at the Academy.
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The highest authority on the campus, the student council president Imperia rules with an iron fist and sends the terrible shapeshifting Nettlespine to hunt down criminals and dissidents.
- Decoy Protagonist: You thought Arthur is the main character, but in reality it's Caroline?! Mostly played off as a joke, but the girl is too outstanding when compared to all other first years.
- Deal with the Devil: Two superpowers for the price of one, and all for the small price of signing over our freedom! How could one possibly refuse such an offer? Both played straight and subverted throughout the work. Because Imperia isn't the devil, no matter what the Resistance tells you.
- Badass Family / Secret Legacy: There are hints that there is more to the Drakes than is immediately obvious. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: The Student Council President wants to become the supreme ruler to save humanity from reckless mages. That's about as 'good' as we're going to get among the most powerful characters. Is even more beautiful than other Vitalists that artifically improved their looks, if Arthur is to be believed.
- Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch: Some of the voters still dream of doing this to Imperia, even though we missed the perfect chance to do so. Talk about impossible goals!
- Literal Genie: The fights with his parents, the breakup with Joan, the friends lost, the grades lost... None of it mattered, as long as he heard from Enoch. Boy, does Arthur ever regret thinking that.
- Cannibalism Superpower: As if the students didn't have enough incentives to kill each other, learning Ordinal Spells includes the opportunity to study the Rite of Absorption. Yes, gaining power from dead mages is a thing.
- Human Resources: Probably because of having watched Highlander movies one time too many, Ashcloak decided to kill and harvest other mages for fun and profit. Was cockblocked by the funkiller that is Imperia and conceded that it is best to wait until the victims grew in power a bit more, allying with her afterwards (Teeth-Clenched Teamwork / Villain Team-Up depending on who you ask). Unsurprisingly, heads a group that shares his ideals, and regularly hits on Imperia, making him a big contender for the role of the main character's Arch-Enemy.
- Infinity +1 Sword: Foxglove, another powerful fourth year, knows a Form of the 10th Ordinal Spell, the Perishing Blade. A lot of people want it, Implausible Fencing Powers and all, but only one mage can use it at a time, and the current owner isn't likely to share.
- Functional Magic: The magical systems has rules and laws that it follows. Except for Conjoiners, the bastards.
- Ordinalism is described as the most efficient path towards the Heart of Magic.
- Magic Enhancement: Vitalism does this by replacing parts of the mage's body by hand-crafted Artifacts.
- Spirit Advisor: Conjoiners get a second voice in their heads that grants them themed superpowers that sometimes break the rules of other magics. Good thing the main character is one!
- Mark of the Supernatural: The appearance of a Spirit's host is affected by its presence, which is called a Spirit's Visage.
- Elemental Powers: Ordinalism has this, and it's what Arthur focuses on.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: For when normal martial arts aren't enough, which is almost always thanks to the existence of magic.
- Magical Eye: Imperia has allegedly replaced her eye with a magical Artifact, and so has Golem, another student.
- Red Right Hand: Subverted. Maybe? It's not like having a murder-happy Arm makes Arthur evil, nor does hosting a Spirit whose gifted powers get stronger as the Conjoiner receives more opportunities to betray others.
- Doomed Hometown: Arthur, three times over, first with his actual hometown, then with Brooklyn, and finally with Seattle. All before character creation ended.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Enoch, and most magicians to some degree. Certainly, there is very little that can stand up to them without magic.
- Plot Armor: Caroline insists that she has this. The jury is still out on whether she's right.
- The Red Baron: Many older students abandon their names for titles for unknown reasons. The ones they get in return often hint at defining character traits or powers.
- Survivor Guilt: Art has this in spades for all the people Enoch had killed to trigger his Conjoining.
- Sole Survivor: Art, three times. This leaves him widely reviled for his perceived connection with Enoch.
- Redemption Quest: Arthur is looking for a way to defeat Enoch and make up for the deaths that he had inadvertently caused.
- You Killed My Father: Subverted by the majority of voters, mainly because the one who did the deed appears really regretful and seems insignificant in comparison to the main culprit. So it's more like we can't be bothered to go after him?
- The Dead Have Names: To cope with the stress, Arthur memorizes the names of people who die in the Attacks that involve him.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: It's not a bug, it's a feature.
- The Starscream: What some questers wish the main character was, inspired by the epitome of coolness that is his Spirit. They'd even settle for a known traitor. What they get is a mix of Happiness in Slavery and Battle Butler. The headvoice is not amused either.
- Forbidden Fruit: Arthur's Spirit is a master of this.
- Privileged Rival: Redfort and Arthur still can't agree who it applies to. On the one hand, Redfort is an influential fourth year that has Imperia's confidence, but on the other hand, Art was accepted as her manservant despite his negative reputation.
- Fantastic Nuke: In a world where powerful magi laugh at nuclear weapons, naturally something had to take their place. Ignoring the fact that high-level mages are people of mass destruction unto themselves, someone just had to dig out a soul-killing bomb from the dungeons under the Academy. For now it's destroyed, but who knows what else is down there?..
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Arthur, according to Enoch. When sending an application to a crazy headmaster's school, beware of the consequences!
- Satan: Arthur's Spirit remains mute on the subject of his identity, but that doesn't stop people from speculating.