9th Oct 2021, 10:45 PM

Turn some valves

Turn some valves
You stare at the valves for a little while.

"Whaddya think?," Marlow finally asks.

You shake your head. "I think skipping other puzzles on the way here might have screwed us over. The first one I saw with any similarities to this hinged on the number of strokes used to carve the numbers. ...But it was also the last puzzle I saw like this before I hit a grenade trap and dropped a bunch of floors. Puzzles between the first one and this one might have used the same stroke-count gimmick, or they could have all had their own thing going on. They might have required tools--this one might require us to unscrew the valve handles and put them in the other slots. ...But maybe not."

"Hmm." Marlow thinks on it for a moment. "How would you design it?"

Hmm indeed. "I do like continuity, and shit that builds on itself as it iterates..." hmmmmmmmm "...but I would also be making the puzzle for me, and if I know anything about me it's that I fucking looove to over-analyze shit. This could be super simple and low effort just to fuck with me."

Marlow blinks. "Would you really manipulate yourself like that, though...?"

"Maybe," you state bluntly. "...Maybe. Two theories: theory one, it's based on stroke count and valve switching.

Valve #1 gets 1 crank after we put a valve handle there.
Valve #2 gets 3 cranks. We gave it one, so it needs two more.
Valve #3 gets 4 cranks after we give it a handle.
Valve #4 gets 3 cranks.
Valve #5 gets 5 cranks with a moved valve handle.
Valve #6 gets 5 cranks as well.

Second theory, the numbers on the door are literally the whole answer. One to two, three to four, five to six.

Valve #2 gets 1 crank. We're good, it's done.
Valve #4 gets 3 cranks.
Valve #6 gets 5 cranks."

You scribble your theories into your notepad so Marlow can better keep track of it. While he examines the written theories with his tractor beam, you idly try out the bug detector he gave you.

No signals, though. Probably for the best, as you've had about enough bugs tonight already.

"Computer banks to rule the world..." you mutter. "That mean anything to you?"

Marlow glances at you from the notebook. "I don't think so. What is it?"

"Dunno," you reply. "When I have to choose between two accomplices, it gives me like... messages. Little... quips, based on who I picked."

"Song lyrics... from another world," he jokes.

You hmm harder. "Any chance we can plug the gas pipes?"

"We could give it a shot," Marlow remarks. "I don't think any debris we can find's gonna fit in there perfectly, though--or it might fit too well. Could get launched out when the pressure builds. ...Or the whole thing'll explode. No telling, really. ...I don't know if you realized this, but both of your plans require valve number four to be cranked three times, and valve num--"

One of the ceiling nozzles abruptly switches on.


Specifically, the one in front of the entrance.


You and Marlow both are momentarily stunned into silence--shocked both that this even occurred, and--

"Plaire, that's not gas."

"No... no it's the fuck not."

"I mean," he pauses, "it might be, but it's--"

"YES I UNDERSTAND WHY IS IT HAPPENING NOW"





"Maybe the first crank was wrong," you blurt out, "maybe it has a delayed reaction for some reason--"

"It's supposed to be tougher down here, right?"

"...Yeah?"

Marlow continues: "We might be on a countdown, startin' from the first move made. I think they have something like that in competitive chess...?"

Another nozzle comes on.

Not especially close to the doorway jet, either; nozzle selection almost appears to be random.

"Shit shit shit shit okay," breathe, focus, "what were you saying a minute ago about both plans?"

"Oh, uh--" Marlow has to spin back around to consult the notebook-- "start with valve four, give it three turns."

You rush up to the valve. Your stabbed arm doesn't hurt thanks to mana, but it is a little weaker than you'd like for trying to turn these shitty valve handles. Further, the thing where the valve kind of turns itself once you get it turned at all seems fixed--you can't turn it faster, nor can you just continually turn it. You have to put in the effort to 'start' it, let it do its whole rotation, then put in the effort to turn it again. Not a huge deal except one of your arms is full of holes and the ceiling is full of flamethrowers.

One. Two.

You hear another nozzle light up behind you. Is it because you fucked up, or is it just part of the countdown?

"Plaire--"

Three.

"What next?"

"Valve six," he says. "Five cranks."

Okay FUCK as long as none of the jets kick on too close to--

"Marlow!"

He narrowly pulls himself back in time for another jet to kick on, apparently having been absorbed in double checking the written theories. You quickly turn back to the valves--the heat in the room is collecting quickly, and there's... a lot of fucking nozzles in the ceiling. You crank your own senses a bit so you don't get caught off guard like Marlow did.

You grab a firm hold of the last valve.

One. Two.

Three. Ffff--

You hear it. The faint, distant hiss.

You leap out of the way just as a green flame erupts... pretty much right where you were standing.

Right in front of valve #6.

"SON OF A BITCH!"

Marlow soars over, maneuvering between the jets to approach you and the final valve. He tries to tractor beam it from a safe distance, but after several seconds of struggling (and another random jet kicking on elsewhere in the room)--

"Is it rusted? It's too damn heavy!"

"Yeah, they've all been like that--" Another jet. Close, but not dangerously so. You can't escape and the valve's blocked off and the room is getting hotter and you're running out of places just to stand, fuck it, fuck all of it "--Try it again."

He pauses, only for a second, but then quickly nods. He hits the valve with his tractor beam, beginning to pull.

You... take a deep breath, and shove your good arm back there. Technically behind the flame, not in it, but close enough. Too close. Too fucking close. The metal valve is already getting hot--you can feel it through your glove, and thank fuck you're wearing gloves at all.

You grit your teeth. Getting stabbed and mana-ing over the immediate sting is one thing, but this is different--the flame keep burning. You armor your arm up a little, but the mana cost of stopping the surface damage entirely would be insane. Even the cost of just numbing the pain long enough to turn the stupid valve is a bit god damn steep.

Four.

You scream your way through turn five.



The jets immediately shut off. All of them, simultaneously. No more fire.

The exit slides open.



You pop another candy. The horrendous pain surging through your arm almost makes the mana burn feel insignificant. Once you're topped off again, you numb the pain until you can tolerate it.

"The good news is," Marlow finally mutters, "you were right about trying to trick yourself. The bad news is, you were right about trying to trick yourself. It was the second theory, the simpler one--but there was some overlap in the number o' turns you needed, so as long as we did it the right way--"

You nod. You wouldn't (if you were hypothetically making a puzzle) account for yourself getting blown to hell, skipping X number of floors and then immediately jumping to conclusions about the number of strokes used to carve the answer in the door. You wouldn't double check that it'd be a viable answer in itself as long as you fucked with the cranks in a certain order. You wouldn't normally be able to spot it, either, without writing it down--which you only did for Marlow's sake, and you wouldn't have been able to account for Marlow. The puzzle was conceived in a vacuum--

Chess.

Chess against yourself. Chess against yourself from a week ago.

Chess against yourself from a week ago when you did not think too highly of being Plaire Stevens.

"You alright?," Marlow asks.

"No," you reply with a dry, unintentionally bitter laugh, "I have fucked both my arms up and I am not handling it well. You ready to keep going?"

The toolbox feels heavier. You try carrying it with your stabbed arm, but it feels like you're barely keeping it together; you try it instead with your burnt arm. It's not really better.

You wipe the sweat from your face. You step through the once-locked door, heading east--





A fresh spin on an old classic.

Long hallway, huge hole. Even huger than the first time--one long jump is not enough. Luckily, little... columns of stone have been situated across the chasm, so you should be able to just hop from one platform to another. Your legs are fine, Marlow can fly, everything should be fine.

Staring over the edge, though, you notice that this isn't a seemingly bottomless hole like you're used to. This one... definitely has a bottom. Also it's full of worm-packed corpse tumors. Wall to wall bloated masses full of acid and parasites.


...There's more than that, though. Not just in the hole, but in this hallway--

you feel... nervous. Your heart rate is up and it might just be that you can't stop thinking about your half melted arm and how fucked it up it is smell your own flesh burning but you've been burnt before, it shouldn't be a big deal. To be fair you were burnt less last time and there was more going on to distract you from it, compared to basically WATCHING your arm get barbecued but NONETHELESS--

this is ...

this is something else.



You feel uneasy.

You feel dread.



You breathe out slowly.

You take the first leap.







The combination of weak arm and heavy toolbox does not do you any favors in regard to landing or balance. You almost topple over. You almost drop the toolbox. You almost use inappropriate language.

You manage to maintain your composure, though.

You take a second to calm down, adjust, gauge the distance to the next pillar--

"Plaire, it's unstable!"

He hears it before you feel it--the shifting of the earth beneath you.

The column is staked in a nest of acid-based monsters, why the fuck WOULDN'T it do this? Why WOULDN'T it start to collapse after you put some weight on it, that's like a classing gaming move? Why WOULDN'T this whole floor suck MASSIVE, TIME SENSITIVE REGENERATING ANT DICK from START TO FUCKING FINISH? THAT'S WHAT IT'S GOOD AT AFTER ALL?!?!

you leap to the next platform before the first collapses.

The second starts to fall apart sooner, thus, you are forced to jump sooner.

You do not gauge the angle well. You leap in a mild panic.




You almost make it.



You manage to nab the edge, slinging the toolbox over the side as you desperately scramble to pull yourself up. Marlow whirls around to your front, tractor beaming you toward him as hard as he can.







You get to solid footing.


You grab your toolbox and stumble forward, bursting through the door and into the next room, hoping the vague anxiousness will go away once you get out of this gross-ass hallway.


It does not, in fact, go away.







You find yourself in one of those cute corner rooms from B1. Two big piles of debris, and... pretty much nothing else. The room curves around to another door, which at a glance appears unlocked.

The sense of impending doom is now unmistakable. Palpable. You feel the kind of anxiety you only feel...

well, the kind you only feel in real life.

You can't even pin it down. Not even focusing on your blistered, grotesque incident of an arm, you don't know what you're afraid of, you just--

"You feel that?," Marlow asks. "The hell is that?"

"Oh, good," you remark, "it's not just me then."

You creep around the curve of the room.

You hear nothing unusual. See nothing unusual.

This whole corner is just a... a dead zone.

The closer you get to the next door, the worse it becomes. Your pace slows. Your heart feels like it's about to explode out of your chest. Whatever it is you're coming up on, it shouldn't be here. You shouldn't be here.

You can see it through the bars of the door.

A long hallway, lined with cells. Just like B1.



Something's in the far wall, though.


Something ... is... the far wall. Bleeding into the structure of the dungeon, hijacking it, becoming it. It doesn't feel real and it doesn't feel like the dream, it feels... backwards. Wrong.


Staring at it, even through bars and behind the safety of a sturdy door, it feels like it's trying to become you, too.





"Th... that has to be it," you practically whisper. "The miasmatic wound."

"I..." he chokes. "I can't--"


Marlow swings back, back to the start of the curved room.

You rip yourself away from the exhausting gaze of the wound to follow him. You need to get away from it. You need to stop it. You need to do... something, anything, because fuck almighty that thing is in your brain

"Architecture's getting weirder," Marlow mutters. "Room feels smaller. Everything feels... it feels tight."

You hazard a glance around. "...Marlow, I think you might be having a panic attack." You have definitely bailed on places the way he escaped that side of the room.

"R... really?"

"I mean--" room looks fine to you, shaped like it was when you walked in and consistent with similar rooms upstairs-- "...Maybe? Have you had a panic attack before? Try sitting down, find something to focus on, maybe something physical you're feeling--like how cold the floor is or whatever."

He hovers his way to the floor to rest.



Meanwhile, you pace. And sweat, and put your shit down and flex your cooked nasty fingers and pace and sweat.

Why is it here? Is it you? Did your brain make that thing? Is it like some drainage ditch for all your anxiety and negative thoughts, because holy shit

you cannot stop

it just keeps chaining, one to the next

you hated yourself enough a week ago to believe this came from you now

you still kind of hate yourself.

Lora's name should have been on this. Lora should have been here. Should have been her dungeon. She had it together. She was stable. She was happy. She was so stable and so happy that she'd have been stupid to throw it all away for you. You fucked this up. You fucked this entire thing up. You weren't good enough for her, not strong enough to convince her you were worth it. She had money. Her family had money. Safety. Resources. A nice home. You don't have shit. You're falling apart and your house is full of second hand pity furniture. You make video game lore videos for a 'living.' You fucked up with her in ways you don't even know because you didn't pay enough attention and now instead of a dungeon based on her it's a dungeon based on you and oh, also

the power of a fucking god apparently hangs in the balance, with a bunch of cosmic horrors all vying for it and there's people trapped somewhere and an alien coffin man with problems you can't solve and it's on you. These challenges could be easy. They could be few. Even the tradesman stated that your alcazar is unusually sized, it's probably massive because you have so much fucking BAGGAGE, and ONE OF THOSE FUCKING MONSTERS IS GOING TO BECOME A GOD AND PROBABLY DESTROY THE WORLD OR SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE YOU PLAIRE STEVENS WERE A SHITTY SELF ABSORBED GIRLFRIEND NARCISSISTIC ENOUGH TO THINK YOUR BIG BRAINED MUSTACHIO VIDEOS WOULD GOD DAMN--

you are snapped out of your madness

by a small sniff from Marlow.


He ... he's crying.


You can see him fighting it.

Trying to hide it.

But he's crying.



It's not you. It's just... anxiety. Raw, fucking, weaponized anxiety.

Concentrated hurt.

Miasma.

You have

you have to stop it


you can't--






you realize that you cannot hear the Choir.


It's just you.


Just the screaming in your brain, full blast.






You listen and all you get is reminded that you're trapped.

Not here. Just... in general. You wouldn't mind getting a small job, maybe part time, to help cover bills and fund your video making but you genuinely can't. You were barely able to hold the jobs you've tried. The anxiety kicks in. The irrational anger at irrational decisions. You don't handle authority well--or structure, or schedules, or uniforms. A lot of that can probably be blamed on your schooling--sitting at your little desk, in your little uniform, filling our your shitty little books in your shitty little cubicle, being told what you can't talk about or what you shouldn't think about

trapped.

You spent your youth in a cage and now you turn into a fucking animal when someone shows you the adult sized version. You couldn't hold down a normal job if you wanted to. It was never a choice. Neither was the school you attended, or the indoctrination, or who you got to date or whether you could tell anyone about it or when you got caught and what you could do about THAT

all you could do was be better for Lora and you fucked that up.

Everything else

everything else has just been a series of dominoes. Things you can't control. Decisions you couldn't make. You don't even know why you went to the library in the first place--was that you? A disconnected whim? The Choir? You have the fucking internet, what were you looking for at the library? Would you have been bold enough to attend the concert without the Choir? How much of your confidence--how much of your drive--how much of your ability to do anything in here has even been yours? You're still on the fucking rails, without power or agency--

FUCK

IT.


FUCK IT.


YOU PUNCH THE GOD DAMN WALL AND YOU BREAK YOUR FUCKING HAND.

YOU'RE TIRED OF THIS. YOU'RE TIRED OF FEELING LIKE THIS.

YOU'RE TIRED OF BEING THIS WAY.

FUCK IT.


THE BEST THINGS YOU'VE EVER ACCOMPLISHED WERE THRUST UPON YOU. LORA MADE THE FIRST MOVE, YOUR PARENTS FORCED YOU OUT, THE PREVIOUS OWNERS FUCKERED THE HOUSE. THE CHOIR GIVES YOU DIRECTION AND YOU TAKE IT FROM THERE. YOU SWIM SO WELL IT IMPRESSES EVERYBODY BUT IT KEEPS BEING OTHER PEOPLE THAT THROW YOU IN THE DEEP END,

FUCK IT, YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO THROW YOURSELF IN THE DEEP END.

YOU'RE DOGSHIT WHEN YOU'RE ON TOP OF THE WORLD WITH STUFF AND UNSUSPECTING PARENTS AND A GREAT GIRLFRIEND BUT YOU ARE A GOD DAMN MONSTER WHEN YOU'RE BACKED INTO THE CORNER SO FUCK IT

YOU WANNA PLAY CHESS, YOU?


YOU MAKE YOUR BEST MOVES WITH THE FEWEST PIECES LEFT.


YOU HOPE THIS THING FUCKING KILLS YOU


You storm up to the door.

"Plaire-- wait--"

You kick it open.

The miasma hits you like a fucking truck.

You really notice it now--your mana draining.

Your body's trying to compensate for it. Trying to fight it, like pain.

Is that why you're always draining? That perpetual leak of mana you've had since the start? The anxiety? Are your fucking brain problems actually making you worse at this? Jesus fucking Christ, you--

NO

YOU. Fucking. Run.

You run down the hall, straight at the wound.

You run as hard as you can.

You make a shield but it doesn't stop a god damn thing and fades quickly.

You run until your body refuses to keep running, until it feels like you're trying to stab yourself in the heart and the brain says no and you stumble--


you're barely halfway to it.


You can see it now. Breathing. Screaming.





Before your solid run devolves into a full blown stop, however--


you duck low


and transition into a long jump. It's-a me, asshole.


You launch yourself at it. Full bore, touching no surface, rendering you unable to stop yourself if you wanted to. It's the only way. You can't coax yourself into approaching the wound--even just examining it from afar, the lingering effects were about to talk you right out of the whole fucking dungeon. No, you can't rely on your ability to power through it, you have to throw yourself at it. You have to explode at it like a fucking rocket so when you land--

and you do land, right in front of it--


--you have no choice but to deal with it head on.



You realize, in the midst of a nervous breakdown mere inches from the pulsating reality hole, that you forgot the toolbox and you left all the god damn yellow tape in the toolbox and you're an idiot, holy shit, you are so fucking dumb and so FUCKING USELESS--


you hear a sound not unlike tape hitting the floor behind you.


You turn--

Marlow.

From behind the closed door all the way down the hall, but nonetheless. Hell of a shot through the bars. He disappears as you scramble to pick up the roll of tape, fumbling it with your fucked up hands before finally unrolling a strip and pressing it over the wound as best you can. It's a task just to hold it in place. You regret punching that wall. A lot.

. . .

And now

you don't know what to do.

You don't have a staple gun, or screws. You might have some junky nails in the toolbox but you don't know if they'd survive the reset, the rules on that are still a bit shaky. One strip isn't enough to cover the whole thing--miasma is still leaking out, seeping into the folds of your brain. You suppose you could just hold this tape here until you die, just out of sheer spite.


You hear a sound not unlike a screw hitting the floor behind you. One, then another.

Big ones. Big enough for a valve handle, perhaps.

Marlow.

He must have gone back for them. God damn yes you funky little flying saucer

You briefly twist your gaze from the tape to the screws on the floor some distance away--you can let go of the tape to get the screws, but then you're leaving the wound open again and if it hits you all at once like it's been hitting you--

Marlow, spying the conundrum, puts a great deal of work into beaming the door open and entering the hall himself. He stays distant, straining to really test the range on his tractor beam... but eventually, he manages to pick up the first screw and hand it to you.

The wall is tough. Even if he remembered to bring the screwdriver, it wouldn't be enough to get through stone.

You could summon a hammer. Knights used like... war hammers, right?

Your precision is shit, though. ...Fuck it. You place the screw against the tape. You summon a HUGE ass hammer--

you barely pull your hand out of the way in time, but you manage to force the screw into the wall. That's one side of one strip of tape.

Second screw. Huge hammer.

You catch your fingers a little on this swing. It's the burnt and broken hand. It's already fucked up. It's fine. You're fine. This is fine.

By the time you're done stifling noises and mana-ing over the pain of your crushed fingers, Marlow has tossed the third and final valve screw. "What now?," he asks.

"Check the cells," you huff back. He takes one side of the hall, you take the other, checking rooms for anything you can pin down more tape with.

Bed. Bed. Bookcase--maybe. Empty room. Bed. Desk, full of papers covered in garbled nonsense and Bible verses. Fuck it. You hammersmash the desk and you loot it for nails. You return to the hall, nodding to Marlow halfway between cells before you resume putting up the DNR tape. Eventually


eventually


the wound is completely sealed.





It takes a few minutes for the miasma to finish fading.





You wanted to go to the library because it reminded you of simpler times.

It reminded you of when you were happy.

Fantasy novels. Choose-your-own-adventure books. Manga. The Addersfield library even had some gaming magazines. Before you were old enough for your parents to let you have the internet, video games and books were your escape. The library was quiet, and always had a different atmosphere than other places in town. It was your third day in Ninelives, and you wanted to get the hate of Addersfield off your skin. You wanted to start over. You wanted to reset. You were trying to find out more about the house, too--going to the library just... made sense.

You probably would have gone to the concert, too, even without the Choir. You had that kind of temporary numb-manic detachment one only gets fresh off a heart wrenching breakup. You were ready to take on the world, and Cici agreed to check out the concert with you, so you felt fucking invincible. Again, it... just made sense. It's the sort of thing that you would do, in the situation you were in, at the time you experienced it. It was you. The Choir pitched it but it was your choice to agree.

Little things. Steered, vaguely, by depression, and anxiety, and the lingering remnants of your faith, and your urge to avoid becoming your parents, and a hundred other things plus some mysterious voices from beyond. The Choir's not you, but they're not controlling you, either. They're just... another little thing contributing to the decisions you make, all the things you can't control cascading into the few things you can. You didn't get to make a lot of decisions about your life back then--but you do now, and you need to make them count.

You glance at the sealed wound.

That motherfucker isn't you, either. You don't know who put it there, or why. You really don't know why, because it's a cursed hole perpetually spewing brain garbage and you cannot, at the moment, think of a single fucking reason someone would want that.

You wouldn't subject yourself to that. Not even you from a week ago hated you that much, and you sure as shit don't hate Marlow that much (you didn't even know Marlow a week ago).


You turn back to Marlow, who's... quiet, but gives you a ready nod.



You are going to let the Choir call the next destination, because you are mentally god damn exhausted. The original plan was to hit this and then head back upstairs to look around outside, but shit might have changed when it turned out the miasmatic wound was... well, what it is. You're not even sure if they caught all that, or if the wound scrambled the frequency somehow, or... fuck.

Just... god damn. Shit, ass. Fuck.

Mana drain's not looking great but it should be alright as long as you don't get ambushed by ants or something equally stupid.





Average Rating: 5 (5 votes)
Load my Place Save my Place



Will Schrag | Snervalton | Skullrama | John Wood | Tom Axon | David J Wu | Sekwel | Mochi | Wisp Pandemonium | arbit | Travis Whittaker | thatbloodypaladin



9th Oct 2021, 11:36 PM
Bored One
I vote we take a bit of a breather, check and compare the probobly safe cells, saving the second to last on the bottom for last, since that might have a hole leading to something dangerous.
9th Oct 2021, 11:54 PM
Xylas_Incarnum
seconded, time for a bit of destressing with light pokeing around and maybe some casual secret hunting....
Though we do need to see if self doubt and anxiety does increase manadrain eventually, now that we know that there might be a correlation, but that can wait till tomorrow night.
Just because it was the wound that influenced those thoughts doesn't mean that they're completely and utterly wrong and all that.
9th Oct 2021, 11:54 PM
+1 to this.
10th Oct 2021, 12:18 AM
Guest
+1 everyone needs a break
10th Oct 2021, 12:24 AM
Snervalton
+1 to searching the rooms in this hallway. Plaire may find some boards or something that she can use to bridge the giant pit with the collapsed platforms.
12th Oct 2021, 10:09 AM
Lunar Waffles
yeah, this one was also me 0.o
10th Oct 2021, 12:32 AM
10th Oct 2021, 1:33 AM
+1 to "the best destination by now is a light destination".

Also, huh. I honestly thought the wound would be deeper down.
10th Oct 2021, 1:47 AM
Guest
To be fair, that one is probably the way back, seeing as the ground in the worm room is gone. Keep in mind where it will lead to, we might need to visit this place
10th Oct 2021, 8:07 AM
Fishbulb
+1, but we're going to have to go that way anyway unless the crumbling pit platforms regenerate themselves.
10th Oct 2021, 11:29 PM
Spyder
We could mustachio wall jump across if we don't find another way out
10th Oct 2021, 10:15 AM
Cheshire777
+1, also we could perhaps, after poking around the cells, see if we can squish the pit monster from a safe distance with light hammers (very cautiously, it's not worth it if there's any chance it can retaliate).
10th Oct 2021, 11:49 AM
Snervalton
+1 to trying to squish the pit monster from a distance, we should try and find out our enemies' weaknesses.
10th Oct 2021, 11:41 AM
10th Oct 2021, 12:41 PM
10th Oct 2021, 12:55 PM
BJBlack
+1 to some light exploration herein.

I observe that this hallway is analogous to the starting hallway, on Floor B1. The minimap hint with the missing wall at the back of one cell, if it is accurate, clinches it. It goes somewhere, I wager.

If I were to suggest another room to take an extra moment on, it's the analogue to the Starting Room. South side, fifth door from the entrance.



Here in Broken!B1, you find the Miasmatic Wound basically on top of the Starting Room. That could be a coincidence, or there could be some deep reason that Player will rant about later.
10th Oct 2021, 1:47 PM
Antarean
10th Oct 2021, 1:48 PM
+1, just explore locally for now, cause fuck that giant pit and fuck those ants. With any luck that second to last cell will have a back door leading to somewhere safe, but honestly im not sure it gets worse than "giant pit full of worms with no clear way across anymore".

(Yes, typical video game logic would say the columns respawn, but the alcazar seems a little too rooted in real life logic for that to happen. Also this is a game that hates you so leaving you trapped in here is not at all out of the question.)
9th Oct 2021, 11:42 PM
Gigafreak
See if Marlow can store the toolbox in his Bag Of Holding. (Also, thank him for his help. There's probably a joke in here somewhere that maintenance at Mondol is a worse job than THIS fucking place...)
Next problem: how are we going to get back across the gap? Those pillars crumbled on the first trip. Is this the kind if setting where they respawn after leaving and reentering? ...If not, would it be possible to long-jump diagonally at a point on the wall halfway across, and then wall-jump the rest of the way?

Next immediate destination is the Trades man's room. Whether to talk to him or to teleport elsewhere, both paths go through there. (Plaire is probably not strong enough to pick more fights with more monsters down here, anyway.)
10th Oct 2021, 12:00 AM
+1 to the bag of holding.

Video game logic would be that they somehow rebuild themselves once we aren't looking at them.
10th Oct 2021, 12:25 AM
Snervalton
+1 to testing the Bag of Holding.
10th Oct 2021, 1:49 AM
Guest
Video game logic might also be "secret exit that turns into a shortcut when you know it exists"
10th Oct 2021, 12:33 AM
10th Oct 2021, 1:45 AM
+1, let's just unwind a bit before leaving the room.
10th Oct 2021, 10:18 AM
Cheshire777
I think it said the walls had 'tumors' too. I actually wouldn't put it past the pit monster to reset the pillars on its own as a trap, that kinda seems like a Plaire's mind-esque thing to do.
10th Oct 2021, 5:20 PM
+1 to getting Marlowe to carry the toolbox. Our hands are definitely not up to the task any more.

Also, we should have him check his "current inventory", if he can, to see if he started with anything already in there-- maybe whatever he had on him when he went to sleep was already stowed there.

Another possibility for getting across the gap would be seeing if Marlowe can carry us, once he's stowed the toolbox-- although holding on to him might be a challenge with the current state of our hands.
9th Oct 2021, 11:57 PM
Xylas_Incarnum
new item to pick up and add to the tool box: A small box of nails, or at least a small tin can of 'em like altoids mints, or whatever alternative named item would be here..... probably could put the mints in a little baggie and they might also work as tiny mana pills as well.

.... speaking of purchases, when's Plaire getting paid again? Probably should make a few more normal videos for income purposes.
10th Oct 2021, 12:03 AM
Long term, I think our next expedition should be not all the way down here. Maybe go poke around where the dad-face was.

I'm kinda getting the "master key to blighttown" skip from this area.
10th Oct 2021, 12:23 AM
Snervalton
Yeah, this area is way too tough right now, especially now that Plaire's arms are fucked up. +1 to heading upstairs.
10th Oct 2021, 1:44 AM
+1 to DEFINITIVELY not keeping exploring here by now. And yeah, not only "master key to blighttown", but "master key to blighttown and we haven't found the poison-resistant armor yet", if there's an equivalent.
11th Oct 2021, 3:25 PM
PurpleKetchup
I really hope the missing wall there leads to a candle room.
10th Oct 2021, 12:05 AM
undeadDreamer
Most importantly: We did see that and we're proud of you plaire. <3
I think we should still do the going outside plan, but feel free to chill in the tradesman room for a bit first.
10th Oct 2021, 12:19 AM
Guest
+1, very proud!
12th Oct 2021, 10:08 AM
Lunar Waffles
"+1, very proud!" was me, don't know WHY it converted to Guest after i posted it.
10th Oct 2021, 12:22 AM
Snervalton
+1 to chilling in the tradesman's room for a bit. Ask them where the miasmatic wound came from, Plaire was sure it didn't come from her. Also, describe the Old Librarian from the photograph at the Back Room and ask if she's the one who deactivated the tradesman and wrapped them in Do Not Reset tape.

Also, did Plaire use up all of her Do Not Reset tape on the wound? Does she have any left now?
10th Oct 2021, 3:32 AM
Leah9572
That reminds me, maybe we should ask whether Acadia has any connection to the person who wrapped him up. And maybe ask the same for her amnesiac companion and whether they know anything about that person.
10th Oct 2021, 11:34 PM
Spyder
Good question about the reset tape.
Also maybe ask if there's any way to make our own?
10th Oct 2021, 10:19 AM
10th Oct 2021, 11:18 AM
BloodyPaladin
+1 Extremely kick ass Plaire, we don't make heroes we just follow them around and help where we can. Rest and see if the tradesman is good. Also maybe check if that'll hold for awhile.
10th Oct 2021, 5:18 PM
+1 to all of this. Also, give the tradesman a hug. It seems like he probably needs it, and WE probably need a hug right about now. Hugging may not be "our thing" as much as it was for a certain blonde nurse, but I think the situation calls for it.
11th Oct 2021, 3:25 PM
PurpleKetchup
10th Oct 2021, 12:13 AM
Portal In Time
Thank you, Plaire.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for staying here, with us. Thank you for picking yourself back up again, and giving it another shot when things seemed impossible. There are always better days, and staying around to see them all is what makes everything worthwhile.

We're proud of you, Plaire Stevens.

Now, how about you check out what those butterflies on the surface were up to? We can fade out after that, it's been a rough run for all of us.
10th Oct 2021, 3:34 AM
Leah9572
Honestly, kind of concerned we're going to have to fight Father Warden *again* when we try to go past him. It wouldn't work like that if this is really based on (Dark) Crush Souls, but it'd definitely be a good middle finger to Plaire. And given how you could likely circumvent the fight with teleport points and how she had a way easier time fighting him once she had a tactic for it down, I'm not convinced it wouldn't happen.
10th Oct 2021, 12:34 AM
Give Plaire a mental hug and maybe give her a chance to recover
10th Oct 2021, 1:40 AM
+1 to giving some time to recover, definitively.
10th Oct 2021, 12:34 AM
Snervalton
Before heading outside, Plaire should write her reply to Acedia's note and leave it in the heart bedroom. Inform her that the Miasmatic Wound has been closed and ask if that stopped the heart countdown. If not, what does the countdown signify? Also, ask if it was Nat that left the grenade trap and taped up the tradesman. Tell her that we're here to help and that she should call off Nat from attacking us, if she can.
10th Oct 2021, 3:36 AM
Leah9572
Might be making a bit too many assumptions there, and I'm not sure we can put all that on the paper - or if Acedia can fit the reply on it. For now I'd suggest just mentioning the miasmic wound's closing and if that helped.
10th Oct 2021, 1:29 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 write miasmic wound closed
10th Oct 2021, 8:45 PM
Portal In Time
+1, though if we can't fit all of that on the page then telling them the Wound is closed and asking about the countdown is the highest priority.
10th Oct 2021, 12:34 AM
I think a look at the heart note thing would be a good idea right about now, to see if we have more lives from sealing up the wound.
10th Oct 2021, 12:36 AM
Snervalton
+1. It may not update until Acedia gets a chance to write us back but it's worth checking.
10th Oct 2021, 1:40 AM
10th Oct 2021, 1:59 AM
Macheman7
Oh, definitely +1 to this.
10th Oct 2021, 10:21 AM
Cheshire777
+1, easy and short.
10th Oct 2021, 12:42 PM
10th Oct 2021, 1:30 PM
10th Oct 2021, 1:47 PM
Antarean
10th Oct 2021, 1:17 AM
“It’s-a me, asshole” is now one of my favorite quotes from this. On a completely related note, this is one of my favorite pages in this.
Yeah, it’s time to relax. Calm down. Maybe don’t have a prolonged talk with the Tradesman, but definitely say hi and give it a soft headbutt or another form of non-arm-based sign of affection. Use the candle to get to a safe room, and use the rest of the night to talk with Marlow. With this page alone, Plaire’s earned the break. Better to use the time to talk and plan and recover rather then continue in such a wounded state.
To Plaire, definitely mention to Marlow that the Miasma was an anxiety attack on steroids. Make sure he’s ok, and make sure you’re ok. And remember, next time there’s a panic attack in the real world, that you’re going to be fine once it’s over. If you could withstand the hellstorm this is, then regular panic surely can’t do anything worse.
10th Oct 2021, 1:25 AM
Snervalton
+1 to checking if Marlow's ok. Maybe ask him what he was thinking of when he was crying?
10th Oct 2021, 1:29 AM
And it just occurred to me, maybe this was similar to what Cici and Kate felt when they were outside the barrier. It definitely sounds like a similar experience, only turned up to 11. Definitely worth asking once we meet up with them again, preferably with Marlow to compare how it felt to people other then Plaire. (Since Plaire has panic and anxiety attacks regularly anyways.)
10th Oct 2021, 1:40 AM
+1 to, if we can't go back through the worm hole, talk, plan and recover.
10th Oct 2021, 1:52 AM
Cuttlefish
+1 to no further action unless we can return to a safe room without engaging anything new. We've just defeated something bigger and more significant than the boss and Plaire's injured. I'd rather time out here than traumatize either Plaire or Marlow further with an unneeded death and leave a Nega-Plaire near the wound.
10th Oct 2021, 3:37 AM
Leah9572
10th Oct 2021, 8:46 PM
Portal In Time
+1 to making sure Marlow is okay. He didn't sign up for this level of a hellstorm, we need to see if he's alright after this.
10th Oct 2021, 1:25 AM
Moopamoop
Give Marlow a friendly hug, as best you can given your arms and him being a flying saucer. Hopefully it'll help you both to feel a bit better.
10th Oct 2021, 1:36 AM
Plaire, you are very impressive. Thumbs up.

Ok... unwind first, then check the rest of the room to see if there's any treasure here. Then figure out if possible, a way back to the Tradesman (no combat by now, plz) - there's the possibility that the wound was affecting him as well, so doing a quick check if that's true and informing him that it's closed would be nice.

Also, a good question to the Tradesman: what created the wall and can more wounds appear in the next days?

After that? Definitively let's see if we can bring first aid supplies to the dungeon tomorrow. But for today... dadwall and unknown plant wall may be too much - better to explore the rest of B1?
10th Oct 2021, 1:53 AM
Snervalton
+1 to informing the tradesman that the wound is closed and seeing if it had affected them.
10th Oct 2021, 4:46 PM
undeadDreamer
Now that we know how dadwall works and we've leveled up we can do speedrun strats and take dadwall out before the fight even starts.
10th Oct 2021, 1:45 AM
Guest
Marlow did catch that it was song lyrics, maybe because someone commented that? Maybe because it's Marlow he can sense just a bit of what we do? Should we try sending some good vibes to Marlow as well?
10th Oct 2021, 1:58 AM
Macheman7
I'm not sure we can go anywhere else.
By video game logic, and probably Plaire logic, those pillars should reset since she's left the room...
But by 'fuck you' design logic, they're probably still broken.
Unless Plaire can pull off some kind of badass triple wall long jump, or something, we might be stuck here.
If we are... Do everything you can to seal the wound tighter.

If not, get away from it. Return to the Trades Man room, tell them what you did, and return to a striped room to rest.
You did good. I'm sorry you had to go through all that, but you did good.
10th Oct 2021, 2:54 AM
+1 to spending a little more time securing wound further. If for no other reason than to spite anxiety itself.
10th Oct 2021, 8:52 AM
Gigafreak
If the columns didn't respawn, there's another option: the ol' springboard jump.
Long-jump halfway across. Throw a giant shield down at the Bigby's Tumorous Wormhand Of Grasping. Land on the shield, long-jump again, dismiss the shield.
10th Oct 2021, 1:51 PM
Hari_Seldon
If the pillars are still gone and all else fails see if Marlow can put Plaire in his Hammerspace just long enough to get through the pillar room. By bag of holding logic Plaire can survive that long in Hammerspace.
11th Oct 2021, 3:30 PM
PurpleKetchup
Some games only reset rooms when you go far enough from them, with arbitrary thresholds.
Sometimes you have to change areas, sometimes you have to reset the dungeon. I bet on the last one.
10th Oct 2021, 2:19 AM
Nic
I think we should try and see if we can properly "log out" in a striped room, marlow needs a rest i think. Leaving without fading may help the heart count
10th Oct 2021, 2:53 AM
+1 to striped room. Maybe not logging out, but definitely need a moment recuperation and rest.
10th Oct 2021, 2:21 AM
Cyanic
I'll let the other choristers make plans, I wanna sit down and talk/boop info/ideas down to Plaire.

We had lingering thoughts/fears in the back of our, and you probably did too of "which things were Plaire's achievements and which things had she managed to do only with outside help?" I always dismissed those as "eh, the Choir/Buddy connection is probably more esoteric than being just outside help or something."

Here, you put those little fears to rest.

You couldn't hear us, but we could still perceive you and through you, that sucked, but you pushed through. That was pure determination, or spite, or both, whichever you wanna call it. Plaire, that was *all* you. You looked at a big wall of fuck you and said fuck you right back, you sealed it. _You_ sealed it. _You_ pushed through, and that was all your own achievement.

You did amazingly and I just wanted to say that

[also the other choristers do wanna give you mindhugs, consider this my +1 to the mindhugs lol]
10th Oct 2021, 5:56 AM
Momerath
+1 to Cyanic's speech.
10th Oct 2021, 10:26 AM
Cheshire777
+1, and I just realized that technically the Choir influence comes in spurts (the break between pages). The entire rest of the time, we gave Plaire some ideas during the spurt, but there isn't anything backing them up but her until the next spurt!
10th Oct 2021, 11:23 PM
Spyder
12th Oct 2021, 10:25 AM
10th Oct 2021, 2:39 AM
YetAnother
Fucking NAILED it! Great job sealing this shit, Plaire.
This was a boss fight in it's own right, that took a lot of willpower on your side.
+1 to searching the rooms and getting back to Tradesman with most convenient way discovered.
10th Oct 2021, 2:52 AM
I highly recommend saving.

Twice.
10th Oct 2021, 3:25 AM
Zophah
“Plaire! Thank goodness you are all right!”
On a different note, we need to be doubly sure that wound is taped shut. I’d add another layer of tape over it just to be sure.
10th Oct 2021, 3:29 AM
Leah9572
I agree with all of the suggestions saying we should take a breather, and then maybe explore the cells a little. Might be a treasure chest in one we didn't check or notice.
I also think we should let Plaire know we did catch all that, and were rooting for her all the way. Honestly, I was *pumped* when she decided to 'fuck it'. Maybe we should also spend a few strips of DO NOT RESET tape on covering the screws and nails, to make sure they don't reset? It might be overkill, but we don't know how the tape reacts to something punched through it and we *really* don't want to have to do this again (though admittedly, that was all Plaire so 'we' might not be the best choice of word).

As for after all that... Part of me would like to go back to the trades man and ask a few more questions about what closing the wound might have done and whether it'll stay that way for long or if there's risk of it growing or someone removing the tape, but I don't think we can go back through the big hole since the pillars there were unstable. So we might just have to hope there's another way out of this room which we can find by exploring it.
10th Oct 2021, 8:32 AM
Limrix
+1 to everything here. I think Marlow gets to have good intuition for Paranormal things
There's a giant pit of worms I don't really want to cross, and after that ants. I think we should rest and explore this area, and if we can find the striped classroom without going back, awesome. Otherwise, we've done more than enough today. Maybe get Marlow to check for secret doors or things. The room second from the end looks promising. I think let's not refill our mana again.
10th Oct 2021, 11:22 PM
Spyder
We can probably mushtachio wall jump our way back across the worm pit, which has the added advantage of being faster than the unstable platforms - even if they have regenerated.
10th Oct 2021, 11:20 PM
Spyder
10th Oct 2021, 4:08 AM
Leah9572
Now that I think of it, next time we run into the trades man Plaire might want to ask about the Choir. While we can say we're just here to support her all we want, and it's probably a big relief to her to know we're not controlling her actions, I imagine there are still some concerns about having some otherworldly force observing her actions like this and trying to steer her in certain directions - even if those directions are ones she decides to take herself.
Having a second opinion on the Choir might help put some more of those concerns to rest, especially if something else anxiety-like (or just plain anxiety) pulls those concerns to the forefront and amplifies them to heck.
Or maybe it'll turn out that the Choir can have vastly more sinister functions and purposes than anything we've tried to do with it, and it just gives Plaire more concerns about us. Can't be sure that won't happen.
10th Oct 2021, 11:42 AM
Snervalton
+1 to asking the tradesman about the choir.
12th Oct 2021, 10:34 AM
10th Oct 2021, 8:29 AM
Limrix
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7MxpXl9dmw
10th Oct 2021, 8:49 AM
Pkrankow
Job well done Plair! Excellent support Marlow!

There is something for a breather and checking out the floor. Checking out the floor is very important actually. However mana drain must be evaluated and compensated for. Pop a candy.

We have a destination from our note. Lets hope there is a teleportation candle in a room around here. After exploration we need to determine if there is a "down" to continue, and decide a direction.
10th Oct 2021, 10:29 AM
Cheshire777
This is probably a really stupid idea, but if no other escape route presents itself but the way we came in, could Marlow hammerspace the pit monster like we were discussing last page?
10th Oct 2021, 11:25 AM
Stop by the Trades Man on the way to anything else -- ask if he can detect any changes in the Alcazar now that the wound is sealed.

(I'm a little unclear as to whether he just has this knowledge or if he's limited by some form of perception).

Honestly I am not sure we could have A) Decided on that strategy and B) done so unanimously enough for it to be the suggestion. So that was some luck in a roundabout way.
10th Oct 2021, 1:31 PM
10th Oct 2021, 7:16 PM
10th Oct 2021, 12:47 PM
Crestlinger
*Sends more positive vibes. *Let's her know that we are still here, and Proud.
YOU accomplished this, not us, not the others in here, not any outside force, You. Yourself (with help from Marlow You convinced to come with).
If nothing else that proves you worthy of conquering this place and making it Yours.
Go forth armed in the security of this knowledge and kick out the intruders to Your house, or whatever this ends up being.

Now then back to the tradesman Safely (mind the patrols) after a breather if this area is now safe enough to be in.
Do look around for any loot though as that Thing on wall was a rather Large distraction, and so you won't have to come back here again to hunt for something that turns out to be essential later on.
10th Oct 2021, 12:47 PM
lilWitchPepper
"Plaire, you did amazing there. Anxiety is a terribly painful thing to fight through, but you literally ran at the source, face-tanked both its effects and your own hammer to get the job done, and you helped make this place a little safer, a little better, a little healthier. When we weren't there, couldn't be there or be heard, it was you that powered through. Good job~"

...

"Oh, also, tell Marlow the Choir says thanks for supporting you!"
10th Oct 2021, 3:16 PM
Frission
Ummmmm. Well shoot. The way out crumbled behind us, didn't it? :s I'm kind of at a loss. I guess take the time to carefully examine the cells and see if there's another exit, or any sign of the lady leaving us notes?
10th Oct 2021, 3:51 PM
Snervalton
Plaire wondered on this page whether the miasmatic wound was responsible for the mana drain she's been experiencing. She should check to see whether, now that the wound is closed, she's still experiencing that drain.

Also, it's not clear from this entry whether Plaire used up all of her Do Not Reset tape binding the wound shut. She should check to see whether there's any left to take with her.
10th Oct 2021, 7:52 PM
Xatalyth
If we wrap ourselves in yellow tape do we start back here instead of back in a striped room? Autosave activate?
10th Oct 2021, 8:26 PM
I figure we'd also keep our current damage. I'm also worried that we might just lose access to the demonshell once we faded.
10th Oct 2021, 11:14 PM
Spyder
Plaire you ROCK!
You seize the day and make it happen!

Everybody beam some very well deserved positive vibes! :D :D :D Go Paire!
11th Oct 2021, 4:00 PM
My recommendation: Take a minute to just relax, then return to the tradesman to possibly ask more questions or possibly go elsewhere.
Also, good job Plaire. Sending more positive vibes.
12th Oct 2021, 2:56 AM
Lemon Wolf
That barbecue was brutal. A+ badass there.
13th Oct 2021, 1:23 AM
Hari_Seldon
Maybe the way to level up Marlow is to let him ask the Tradesman deep questions, since he is the Moon and is about secrets. We should try that when we can.

On the other hand maybe that is instead how we level up Franklin.
13th Oct 2021, 1:59 AM
Snervalton
+1, give Marlow his shot at the trades man.