20th Nov 2021, 11:27 PM

Resist the urge to violence

Resist the urge to violence
You can reach the candy from here.

Easily.

The bag spilled a few when it hit the ground. On the other side of you is the one piece you'd already taken out. You could grab one with either hand.

You could show her you don't need a babysitter.

Show her you're a big girl, with big axes. Show her with a vengeance.

With a recharge you could easily grab your halberd, too.

You might not beat her, but screaming all the reasons she's wrong about fucking everything while you go full berserker on her ass would definitely make you feel better. You sealed a miasmatic wound. You freed the Trades Man, who you're pretty sure this fucko taped up in the first place. You've stared into the abyss, you've beaten a boss, you've stood up to the Grandiose Paradoxes and almost stole a hat, and you did all of this in a week. You've figured out how a lot of this alcazar shit works just by asking questions and throwing yourself at it, with no guides or mentors or fuck all.

You did this

B L I N D

IN A FUCKING

WEEK!

FUCK

HER.

UGH



...However.



Through the sheer volume of rage you're experiencing,

through the immense exhaustion you possess in regard to spooky ne'er-do-wells delivering cryptic threats and slapping you around,

through the fading body,

and the pain,

and your attacker's sickly wheezing,


there are still faint voices that don't quite match the wavelength of your own.

Little suggestions.

Calm, reasonable thoughts.

Voices that are asking you to consider the long term repercussions of this encounter, that maybe if you can just convince her to stay out of your way then eventually, hopefully, you can wear her down or grow on her or some other strategy involving time and patience rather than violence and revealing every secret you have just to make a spicy point


It's tough.

Because fuck, god damn, the point would be so spicy

you are still imagining it and it feels so good


but


you grit your teeth.

You brace yourself, staring at the ground.

The Choir make some good points. You must concede, as tempting as it would be to engage the stranger at her game, you really don't need to make her anymore hostile than she already is.



You do not grab the candy.

You stop trying to fight the mana drain. By the time you finish saying what you need to say, you should be out of mana--so you can speak your piece and then just... fade.

You take a deep, labored breath.

"I don't need a babysitter," you state. "I don't even need you to give a shit--you stay out of my way, and I'll stay out of yours. I don't have anywhere to run, or anywhere to run to, or anything worth running for. I don't have anything to lose and I'm not giving up--if I get dragged to hell for trying, so be it. I don't fucking care anymore. If you want to talk about stopping the end of the world without fighting me, I'm sure we'll meet again because I will be coming back."



. . .



"S'a hell of a speech," the stranger finally remarks. "Damn shame I don't think it's yours."

What...?

She continues. "I blew your friend's brains out the back of his little UFO body, and I pistol whipped you in the back o' the head. You're fuckin' shaking. I can see you eyeballin' that candy. There's only two reasons you'd even BE here--either you're lookin' for trouble or you bought a whole damn house without takin' half a second for follow up questions, either way I'm guessin' you got a real impulse problem. You WANNA beat my ass. You wanna gas up the tank and throw hands--which'd be dumb as hell, but I'd salute the effort."

Where the hell is she going with this...?

"Instead," she says, "I'm gonna guess you're takin' orders from that bullshit in your brain."

"Wh..." what the fuck "What?" You tighten up on your mana a little bit, just to find out what the everloving fuck she--

She makes... some kind of noise. Somewhere between a stifled cough and the most bitter laugh you have ever heard. "Y'ain't denying it, are ya? If your arms weren't so fucked up, they'd prob'ly be tellin' you to hug me. I thought I felt some beady eyes--shoulda put two and two together sooner. Of course they're with you."


how


how does


what


what


She sniffs. You hear her stepping closer. "They don't remember me, do they?

The Choir, I mean.

Protip for ya, kid: you've always got somethin' to lose. Friends. Family. Teeth. Fingernails. Your soul. Your free will. Your legacy. Never, EVER think you got nothin' to lose. You keep on down this road..."

You hear her pull the hammer back.

"...and they won't remember you, either."

"Wait--"




Your protests are smothered in the deafening sound of gunfire.












You wake up with a ringing in your ears, aching arms and a fierce pain in the back of your head. It passes quickly.

You also wake up losing your god damn mind and it does not pass

"What... the fuck. What the FUCK."

Marlow sits up, rubbing his eyes. "...You too, huh? Shot in the head?"

"WHAT the FUCK!" You roll out of bed in a half-awake fury, your armor getting tangled up in your sheets and your knee catching half the toolbox on your way to the floor. "AAAGGGHHHHHH"

Cici flings the door open, alerted by your mighty battle cry. "Plaire? Everything okay?"

"NO," you boldly proclaim as you struggle to stand, "WE WERE FUCKING SHOT!"

"With a gun," Marlow adds.

"SHE SHOT US WITH A FUCKING GUN!"

"What?!" Cici marches in, hands on her head. "Who did?!"

"SOME CRAZY HAIRED TURBOBITCH!"

Marlow points to you. "She said it, not me."

"CALL KATE!," you yell, finally unwrapping yourself from your own bedding and stumbling to your feet, "I am getting some fucking answers TODAY, from Parsons or Franklin or the internet or fucking SOMEBODY I DON'T GIVE A SHIT I'm done getting jerked around and slapped and fucking PISTOL WHIPPED!"

"Kate's already on her way!," Cici replies. "She sent a text a couple minutes ago."

"Good!" You remove your helmet, practically throwing it onto the bed. "I'm fuckin'... I'm DONE. I'm done getting monologued at like a FUCKING IDIOT!"



While you trudge angrily around the house waiting for Kate, Marlow checks the ghost hunting gear. He suggests that he, uh, should probably hold off on sharing the results until everyone is present. You get the impression he's really saving it for when you are not fucking livid



It doesn't take long for Kate to arrive; the four of you congregate in the living room.



While you mostly pace and seethe, Marlow goes over the start of the night--that his sign is the Moon, his dream form is that of a foo fighter (and he goes over what that actually means in relation to the history of UFOs and etc etc), the tractor beam, the heightened senses--

you bring up the note from Acedia, the fact that her name (or at least her alias) IS Acedia, and that there's someone else in the heart of the alcazar with her--an amnesiac, not a magus. ...Or so she claims. Also, you speculate that Marlow has more than just heightened senses--you're pretty sure stealth is a tangible stat, and that he's subconsciously boosting that on the cheap like you were boosting your pain resistance.

You have plenty of reasons to believe stealth can be boosted. More than enough.

Marlow explains that you basically slaughtered a whole floor's worth of monsters, tearing through everything that attacked you like it was just another Tuesday. You add that you've all but confirmed there's some kind of leveling system under the hood--your capacity for mana is increasing, and with it, your ability to fight harder and stay in the dream longer. Combined with now knowing how a lot of the monsters work and how to control your mana better, the areas that originally gave you trouble are giving you substantially less trouble now. You imagine it's the same for accomplices.

Also, you found a raft?

Marlow summarizes a lot of your info from the Trades Man, adding to it some of the things you learned from the classroom chalkboard: "The world o' the mind's called the Spiritus Mundi, and it's... well, in the mind. Might be the collective unconscious, or at least part of it. What makes it look like it does, and all the rules and all the numbers, all of that's the xanthous. The castle--the whole dang thing--that's an alcazar, and from what we can tell it's there to protect what's in the heart from all those big monsters outside."

"The big monsters aren't gods," you confirm. "Cici was right. They're actually hostile memes, egregores, and a bunch of other shit I can't remember the name of, but they want to break the sky open so they can get to what's in the heart. Oh, and the dome itself is called a noosphere."

Kate clarifies, "And what's in the heart of the... uh, alcazar--is Acedia? ...And the amnesiac. Right?"


You turn to Marlow, who turns to you.


You turn back to Kate and Cici. You begin, as carefully as you can: "There... miiight be something else in there. Something that can grant the power of a god."


Silence sweeps the room for a moment.

Kate begins to light a stick of level.


Cici is the first to ask. "Now, when you say the power of a god--"

"I do not have slightest fucking idea what I mean," you admit. "I don't know if it just means immortality, or... reality bending, or what. I just know that whatever it is, it's enticing enough for all those egregores and shit to all want it. None of them are gods, but they're under the impression this could make them gods."


Another silence.


"Then we fought a big bug made of meat," Marlow remarks, getting things back on track. The two of you resume recounting the night, and explaining how monsters on lower floors seem more evolved, stronger with better tactics and new abilities. You mention that you've figured out how to spend mana to heal yourself, but it involves boosting the speed of the body's normal healing process and it's not really worth the effort beyond, like, slowing a bleed or something.

"So this Trades Man guy," Kate begins. "Is he trying to become a god?"

"No," you reply. "I'm not sure why he's there, but... I have theories. He's..." How to put this gently "Something about the way he communicates, or is capable of communicating, is... off, and he's aware of it, he just can't do anything about it. I've been getting fed more information from the Choir, and I guess tradesmen normally work in groups...? They-- they do business, they're literally traders. This one is... sick, and isolated, and can't pass on the kind of knowledge they normally sell. Not directly, anyway. He can't not lie."

Cici chimes in, "Maybe he's been like... quarantined?"

"Or institutionalized," you reply. "He's trying to help us in spite of it, I want to help him. I just... I need to figure what his deal actually IS first."


Marlow continues, mentioning the bigger monsters and weirder architecture of the Trades Man's floor, the valve puzzle...

and the miasmatic wound. The two of you have a grand old time describing your experience with the miasmatic wound.

You confirm that sealing the wound did, in fact, up the countdown by almost a week--and you offer your idea that it's a sort of internal bleeding, with each wound joining the damage from outside in hurrying the death of the noosphere. You also confirm your plans to seal any other wounds you can find, even if you're really, really not looking forward to facing that shit again.

You and Marlow talk about the heart-marked classroom, the diagram of the Spiritus Mundi, the weird sentences on the chalkboard, the shortcut you taped open, the chest containing a single antidote, the general lack of monsters (or anything) in the vicinity likely due to the wound, the uh

Marlow fights back a grin. "You're not gonna tell 'em about the guinea pig?"

SIGH. "There... was also a guinea pig. In the classroom."

Kate's smile is subtle, while the way Cici's face lights up is definitely not. "A guinea pig? Like a REAL guinea pig?!"

"I mean--" ughhh "nothing in the xanthous is real, per se, but--"

Pressed for details, you have no choice but to further elaborate on Dark Lord Legumbra. And your thoughts on why he appeared. ...And how you were a child who had never named a guinea pig before, shut up

Moving on, you and Marlow and the Trades Man had a philosophical debate about the nature of reality, then headed back to the first floor and whipped Father Warden's ass.


"...And then we went outside," you mutter.

"And then we went outside," Marlow reiterates with an added mock enthusiasm.


You describe the garden/graveyard zone, with its silver flames and its shitty terrain and its stupid fog and its frequent reminders of things you got excited about but never quite accomplished. You bring up the three statues of the Paradoxes, and the big stone plate with a heart inside a heart and weird ritual shit on it--and the locks. "I think for each Paradox I beat, I get a key to one of those locks," you state firmly. "It's... the right amount of videogamey."

"You need three keys just to unlock one heart room?," Cici asks.

"I think it's more than just a heart room," you tell her. "I... I think it might be THE heart room. I think it might be the heart."


Again, a brief silence.


Kate takes a long drag. "THE heart."

"Yeah," you confirm. "I mean, I don't know for sure--but it sure looked a fuckload like an elevator, and if it is then that elevator would have to lead to like... almost the dead center of the alcazar. Those three locks might open the way to Acedia, and the amnesiac, and--"

"--The power to become a god," Marlow mutters.

"Yeah," you confirm. "That."

"We need a damn corkboard or something," Cici remarks. "This is getting to be a lot to keep up with!"

"Oh," you say with a dry chuckle, "it's about to get a lot worse. Sooo there's someone else running around inside the noosphere. She has DNR tape, she has a gun, she has grenades, I'm 90% confident it was her who taped off the Trades Man. She's also a huge, huuuge asshole."

"I barely got a look at 'er," says Marlow. "Shot me right between the eyes over a wild distance, through the fog and everything. Pretty sure she knew I was there before I knew she was there--might've just been measuring me up, seein' how long it took me. Anyway, she's not the old librarian--but she could damn well be her sister! Tall, on the thinner side, kind of a light brown or dirty blonde hair--there's no way they're not related."

"I never saw her coming," you add. "It was like she appeared out of thin air. I... sort of know what she looks like through the Choir, though. " You turn to Marlow-- "...Did she say anything?"

"The second I looked at her," he begins, "she said 'congrats on finding vain glory.' ...And then she shot me in the face. I've been trying to sort out if she meant for me to hear it or not--if she figured I could see her from that far, then... I don't know. I don't even know what she meant."

"Maybe, like--" Kate begins to speculate, taking a short hit of level-- "it's an achievement to find her at all, but it's in vain 'cuz you're about to get fucking shot. If she's really that stealthy, maybe it's a... I dunno, a point of pride or some shit."

You take a second to think about it.

You have a different theory. "Marlow--" you say slowly, "--and this is important: did she say it like you said it, or was vain glory one word? Did you find vain glory, or did you find vainglory?"

Marlow squints at you hard, even cocks an eyebrow--it's clear he doesn't get what the difference is, but he humors you anyway, and really takes a second to mull it over. "Well... now that I'm thinking about it, yeah, I guess it could've been one word. Why...?"

"Yeah, Plaire," asks Kate with a shit eating grin and the most hokey, deliberate 'I know you're about to hit us with some kind of rant, please share with the class' tone she can muster, "what's the difference?"


You adjust your glasses, and try not to smile back.


You explain: "Everybody knows the seven deadly sins, right? Pride, wrath, envy, sloth, lust, greed, gluttony--cardinal sins, capital vices, whatever, they're not actually Biblical and it's mostly weird Catholic fanfiction type shit. ANYWAY, they weren't always THOSE seven and they weren't always set in stone--there was two other sins that didn't make it, and instead they got kind of folded into the ones we have now. The first was acedia, which is basically like... depression. It got folded into sloth, but it represents more than just laziness--it's a lack of drive, a dying spirit. It's melancholy, it's... not taking joy in anything. The other sin..." You take a breath. "Spoilers, it's vainglory. Blind narcissism, boasting without merit, the hyping up of total bullshit--split somewhere between pride and envy."

"Plaire's gotta be wrath," Kate says with a smirk. "Marlow's pride, I'm calling dibs on lust--Cici?"

Cici shakes her head, and gives a big shrug. "My biggest sin is loving pizza too much! Does that make me gluttony?"

Kate shakes her head in return. "You can't have washboard abs and call yourself gluttony. You have a physique carved out of stone and you still work out."

"I gotta outpace all those pizzas!," Cici counters. "So V and A have to be the witches, right? They coordinated their code names and everything!"

"Please don't call them that," Kate interjects, choking on her smoke as she tries not to laugh.

"Maybe," you reply. "Maybe not. Acedia asked about someone named Nat, who Vainglory said was dead. There's also whoever's trapped in the heart with Acedia, the one with amnesia--Nat and the amnesiac could be our witches. ...Or it could be other people entirely, because Vainglory ALSO mentioned like... fratboys...? For some fucking reason?"

"I think I'm with Cici on this one," Kate says. "They coordinated their code names, they're named after forgotten sins, Vainglory could pass for the old librarian's sister--my dude, they GOTS to be the witches."

"IF they're sisters," you begin, "and IF Acedia really is the old librarian... then that means Vainglory would be the shut-in she visited. ...The one that originally lived in this house."

"Makes sense, though," Kate says with a casual shrug. "Anti-social, coulda stockpiled weapons without anybody noticing--"

"I don't..." you don't want it to be true "I don't want to commit to the idea until we get more information. Whoever owned this house exploded, and my money right now is that that's whoever Nat is. The woman who shot me and Marlow was decidedly unexploded. There's... there's a lot. Going on."

"There is a lot going on," Cici agrees.

Marlow turns. "Did she say anything to you?"

You huff, and take a second to collect your thoughts so you don't just start yelling. "Yeah? She basically told me I was shit and that we should all start running. Move out, fuck off, the end of the world is coming and we can't do shit about it. She called the xanthous the X because she's a fucking edgelord, she whipped me in the head with her fucking gun, and she told me there's fates worse than death if we keep doing the alcazar thing."

Cici sits up a little straighter. "The end of the WORLD?"

Kate... does not look impressed. "Well... yeah? If we're taking this become a god stuff seriously--given you guys' stories about what kind of things are out there trying to DO that, yeah, we'd be totally fucked."

"If the noosphere breaks," Marlow says, "...we're not beating whatever comes through. Don't think they'll much care about the three locks at that point, either--might just smash right through the ground. If a god in the xanthous can use that power to leave the xanthous..."

You add, "She said what's coming will have an ontological shortcut straight into the house. ...I guess because Casa del Salamandra is the way into the alcazar, a god could make it work the other way around. We'd be at ground zero for the reign of the earworm, or eyes-in-mouth guy, or whoever else wins the divine royale."


Another, sterner silence, with some uncomfortable shifting in seats.


"So how do we stop Armageddon?," Kate finally asks. "We've got... us. The house. A lot of moxie. Whatever the hell the Choir is."

"About that," you reply, before hesitating even harder.

You finally just... spit it out. "Vainglory... kind of maybe implied she knows what the Choir is."

Everyone focuses their attention squarely on you.

You continue, "...And kind of implied that she used to have it herself. ...And also that the Choir might have... forgotten her. I can confirm there was nothing familiar about her--I didn't recognize the voice, and I didn't see her but the Choir did and I know what she looks like NOW, from THAT, but... they didn't immediately start shouting hey I know this pistol whipping turdgurgler like they did with the Trades Man. The Trades Man gives me an air of... not nostalgia, but there's something familiar there, like this distant appreciation for what he is and how something's not right with him. Vainglory is... new. Brand new. To both of us."

"Maybe she's lying," Marlow suggests. "I don't doubt she knows about the Choir, but anything past that could just be tryin' to get in your head."

"Or," you speculate, "whatever happened to the old librarian happened to Vainglory, too. Your inability to remember her name, everyone's difficulty spotting her in a picture she's clearly in... whatever mental barrier is there--"

Marlow blinks. "You think it affects the Choir, too?"

"They don't remember us going into the attic," Kate points out. "Do they?"

"No," you reply. "My first time in the back yard is still a blank, too--so there's precedent for... perception blocking, or memory wiping, or whatever the fuck it is, affecting not just us but the Choir, too. It helps me see things, and know things I shouldn't, and the voices can talk me out of doing shit that's objectively dumb... but I don't think having the Choir has or grants flawless memory by any stretch."



"How's she getting in?," Cici suddenly asks.

"Yeah!," Kate adds more excitedly. "That's a good fucking question, though! We gotta sleep in the house with you inside, or the alcazar won't let us in the dome--so where's Vainglory? 'Cuz if she's just chilling in the attic, we could find a way to beat her real ass--or figure out when she sleeps, change your sleep schedule around and dump her ass in the chaos zone."

Marlow puts into words the fear that had started to brew in your mind. "I'm not real sure she leaves," he says. "She was wearin' that yellow tape around her face and wrists--might be on the ankles, too, I didn't get to see. One of the witches or not, she coulda been there before we got there."

"She's..." Cici tilts her head. "Do Not Resetting herself...? What's stopping her from running out of mana, then?"

"Ambush tactics," you reply. "And using a fucking gun, instead of fighting enemies head-on with her dream powers. She probably has a lot of mana to start with; after that it's just a matter of never spending it. I can't imagine doing it personally, but I've barely been at this a week--she might've been doing this shit for years, accumulating higher and higher stats and learning how to cut costs until she can just... live in the xanthous."

"But she still has to BE somewhere," Kate insists. "In real life. Like, okay--she doesn't leave the dome so it can't keep her out, but where's her fucking body? It has to be in the house somewhere, right?"

You shrug. "If someone hauls my sleeping body out of the house while my mind's in the alcazar, what happens? She could be in the attic, or the basement, or under the floorboards, or... she could be in a hotel room somewhere, or in the back of a truck halfway to another state, or in a hospital with a feeding tube, or cryogenically frozen in a god damn bunker somewhere. I'd guess she had to have fallen asleep here at some point, but I'm not even sure about THAT--she could have copied the alcazar's arcane address and made her own duplicate entrance, for all I know. I don't know how any of this shit works."



Cici's phone buzzes; she pulls it out of her pocket, and-- "Oh, shoot," she mutters. "Looks like I'm late for work! What's the plan for tonight? Marlow took Kate's turn, so am I up next...?"

"I vote new rotation," Kate suggests. "Marlow-Kate-Cici. Last night was farts and I haven't even seen the Trades Man yet, I want tonight. I need it. I crave--"

"Fiiine," Cici interrupts, "but you owe me! I wanted to check out the grave garden place."

"It took us a week just to get to it," you point out with a sarcastic smile. "I'm sure we won't clear it before you get your shot at it."

"What time is it?," Marlow asks. "I might have to start getting ready for work myself..."

"You'd know if you carried a phone," Kate suggests through a smirk and gritted teeth.

It's about 11:15 am.

"11:13," Cici confirms with another quick check of her phone. She's most of the way to the door when you suddenly remember--

"Wait. Marlow! The ghost stuff."

"Oh, yeah!" He takes a second to sort his thoughts, takes a breath, and... "The big one I'll have to take back to the house to really analyze the results, but the small one... from around the time we fell asleep to right after we woke up it measured ten phantons worth o' activity."

. . .

Cici breaks the silence by asking, "Is that a lot?"

"Well," Marlow begins, "keepin' in mind I'm not even sure phantons are real, and I don't have much experience with that particular device... I've never seen it read higher than six phantons, and never for more than a minute. ...That, and the only place that clocked six phantons was the old library. Anywhere else you might get one or two phantons for a couple seconds. ..And, well... ten is as high as it scales. I need to look into the device more, figure out if it's really detecting what they claim it does--but even if it's not, that's still pretty dang weird."

"I'll bite," Kate remarks. "Do we know what a phanton is?"

Hmm. "It's something about etheric bodies, right? I... vaguely remember that from last night."

Marlow nods. "Supposedly, phantons are what ghosts are made out of. ...Or it's the energy that's created by ghosts moving. It's something about ghosts, and astral projections, and--...I thought it was like chi, where even on the slim chance it does exist it can't be what we think it is, and we definitely can't just... detect it. Guess I'm about to start taking 'em more seriously, though."

...You then watch in real time as the realization dawns on him.

Marlow finally concludes, "I need to go back and re-evaluate a lot of things, though. Last night actually happened, and I couldn't have hallucinated it 'cuz Plaire saw the whole thing, too. I guess I'll, uh... I guess I'll start collectin' my gear."




Will Schrag | Snervalton | Skullrama | John Wood | Tom Axon | David J Wu | Sekwel | Mochi | Wisp Pandemonium | arbit | Travis Whittaker | thatbloodypaladin | Avasraali | Nicolas Arboleya | Trent Brossman | Clotty Cola



21st Nov 2021, 12:36 AM
Xylas_Incarnum
That smaller ghost detecting device.... that.... sounds like something Zone 50 made based off research gathered on the three Electrician Ghost sisters.... Otherwise known as Edison, Tesla and Faraday.
21st Nov 2021, 12:37 AM
BJBlack
Well, you're awake again. Time to get to work.

Talk to Marlow about the Mayor. Given his policy on fact-checking before conspiracy-mongering, he must have sufficient evidence that Parsons is a vampire. You can ask about that evidence if you like, but more practically, get the details on what a vampire is. There's no end of vampire myths, but then there's vampire reality. You'll be in trouble if you rely on myths; let Marlow reveal what he knows about the reality.

Also, Vainglory mentioned that the mayor had goons. Marlow knows about the local government; if there are people besides Temperance that report directly to Parsons, he might know about it. You know about the library and police, and given there's running water and toilets, you can infer that someone (either on city payroll or contracted to the city) provides water and sewer service. Knowing about other city offices might give a clue to the source of the goons.

... Unless she's got some randos snared with vampire hypnosis or something.

While you're at it, Share the Sanctuary City idea with Marlow. He'll recognize it as his own idea, just a little bit more fleshed out. He might not know that Deedee tried to get a job as a cop and got rejected, so that's a tidbit you can give him.

Discuss Cherry as a potential operations security hazard. Cherry herself seems cool, and based on her characterization of how her AI was developed, she's safe to talk to, but what if she's wrong? Even presuming that she's right about her original development, what if (at some point) Chariot Mass Transit allowed a Mondol team of programmers in for a "co-operative R&D exercise" and Mondol snuck in a backdoor to record, analyze, and transmit to Mondol every conversation held on a Chariot MT bus? That would be multiple hells of illegal, but it getting aired out naturally could take months or years.

Considering some conversations about sensitive topics that you've had on the bus, maybe deploying your team hacker to check on it would be good.

If your team had a hacker.

Like, the closest people to fit the profile are yourself, the video game nerd who can edit videos; Afu, another video game nerd with too many cell phones; and Maria, who's some kind of underground mechanical engineer. Also, two of those people aren't actually in your party.

So, talking about it with anybody present may be the only action you can take right now. Maybe Marlow can recall some Infohazard podcast with insight into spying AIs that may not know they're spying?

Discuss the Old Library. It looks to be the first major (real-life) dungeon dive. Right now, iron out the operation as you'd like it to go: who does what, and how long it would take. Once you've got that, you can pencil in a time to do it: if you estimate it's short enough, you could squeeze it in after Cici closes the library some day or other. Too long, and you'll have to wait until Sunday or Monday (when the library's closed).

Once you decide on a day, call Animal Control to arrange for an escort. The north side's dangerous these days.

A party healer. Bebe, obviously, right? But Kate's laid down the veto on even talking to Bebe on sensitive topics. Will Kate compromise (after the dream trauma) so you can recruit someone who can patch her up? Or, will you give up on getting a healer just yet?

... Would you give Kate the boot for a healer?

These aren't pleasant questions to ask.



Miscellanea:
Check your mail. It's been four days (unless you checked during your alarmingly-less-rare-than-they-should-be memory gaps).
Exercise. Bodyweight exercises should be fine at your level of fitness. Pushups, situps, sprints. Record some numbers. It may motivate you to consider that good performance might be rewarded with a boost to your power tonight. Kick more ass, if only to spite Vainglory.
... Once, Cici said she would ask around and figure something out on the topic of getting you in better shape. If nothing else, bring it up with her again?
Research karada no setsudan online. You may have researched Japanese phrases before, as part of your job (?) as a producer of online videos. It's alright if you can't recall the exact words that Vainglory uttered in your brief encounter, though.
21st Nov 2021, 2:07 AM
Portal In Time
Plaire's only one person, and two people in our crew are heading out for work. Maybe we should just stick with some more manageable things, instead. Checking the mail and getting exercise seems like a safe bet. Maybe we could chat with Kate about some of our ideas while on a healthy totally platonic walk.
21st Nov 2021, 3:51 AM
Momerath
+1 to checking the mail, and exercise.

+1 to the suggestion elsewhere to eating breakfast.

Some of the research that people are suggesting could be delegated - I know some people have work but Plaire doesn't have to do everything. And Cici could maybe answer reference questions as part of her job.
21st Nov 2021, 4:00 AM
Frission
*So Many Questions!* I'm on board. No specific objections or points to push in particular from me tho.
God now I kinda wanna go scroll through the whole BiM archive again to see if maybe Vainglory was there and my derp butt just missed her hiding in the background somewhere.
21st Nov 2021, 5:14 PM
Guest
@Frission

I did a re-read of BiM couple weeks ago so my memory's somewhat fresh. I'm pretty sure Vainglory wasn't in there, or if she is, nowhere near Mine's party to have learned of the Choir, of which we don't even know Mine herself was aware of. We only became the Choir and a legit canon thing here in MDA, comments weren't acknowledged in-story in BiM.
21st Nov 2021, 4:12 AM
Xylas_Incarnum
blanket +1 to all of this.
21st Nov 2021, 11:47 AM
Pkrankow
Can include exercise logs in video fodder.

Lots of topics need discussion yes.
21st Nov 2021, 12:06 PM
+1 to checking Mail and Exercising. Exercising should come first, it’ll help Plaire calm down a bit. Or it might make her more pissed off, but too tired to care as much. Either way, it’ll be a better mindset before checking mail and potentially getting bad news (or bills).
21st Nov 2021, 1:33 PM
Limrix
+1 to talking to Marlow about stuff
21st Nov 2021, 6:44 PM
Gutz Grilla
Plus one to all that, but I'd go crazy if I was the author, with so much ideas to peruse XD

Maybe having someone else beside Plaire to do the research would take some of the burden off her shoulders.
21st Nov 2021, 1:06 AM
Momerath
Before I think about what course of action to suggest, I gotta ask: is it really 11:13 *pm*, or is it actually late morning?

Possible activity (if it's still morning) : make a video. Isn't Plaire almost broke? Maybe invite Marlow to do an interview, if we can avoid topics that would get the video delisted.

Loving this story, Morgenstern!
21st Nov 2021, 1:08 AM
Morgenstern
whoops
21st Nov 2021, 1:31 AM
Snervalton
+1 to making a video.
21st Nov 2021, 2:01 AM
Portal In Time
Ah god, I was worried about the time, too! Let's do something to start the day off right. Maybe take a walk after breakfast (leftovers) and brainstorm ideas for a video!

It doesn't have to be *exactly* about our situation, since the last one about inheriting powers got delisted, but maybe you could make a video on worldbuilding or atmosphere! We could even use it as an excuse to play Metroid Space Hunter for the night. Since video ideas didn't go well last time around :P
21st Nov 2021, 3:03 AM
+1 to video. I think some people, either in the comments section for a previous post or in the Discord, suggested doing a video on mental health, and how to cope with stuff when you're flat broke and can't afford meds or a therapist.
21st Nov 2021, 10:59 AM
Gatecrasher
+1 to video. Need food and money.
21st Nov 2021, 6:41 PM
Gutz Grilla
Plus one to that, yeah!
22nd Nov 2021, 10:27 AM
+1 to video, no matter the subject - but yeah, mental health would be nice, eventually.
22nd Nov 2021, 1:23 PM
lilWitchPepper
+1 Video with Marlow
21st Nov 2021, 1:12 AM
Hey Plaire? Choir member here.

Imagine reading a book. A really good book. Good enough that you want it to last, so you only read one chapter a day.

Then one day a jerk comes along and rips out all the pages from a chapter that you haven't read yet.

If you somehow didn't notice the ripped out pages, you may not even know they are missing. But that doesn't mean that that chapter didn't happen, just that you don't know what happened there. Characters in the book would know what happened there, as well as people with undamaged books, but not you.

That's kinda what we got. We are reading your story as it is being written. But if somehow someone prevents us from reading a chapter of your story, then we would have no recollection of it, in the same way you wouldn't remember reading a chapter torn from a book.

We, or at least I, have never met Vainglory, or read her story. Our previous host was, uh, maybe I shouldn't say her name. There was(n't) that thing that could also hear us, and naming her might be bad. But she did hug a lot of people. There was also a NSFW guy, but we don't talk about him.

However, we are interested in your story, and want it to continue. I, for one, want it to have a happy end.



I also like stories when they are interesting, so kiss Kate. Or Cici. Or both.
21st Nov 2021, 6:04 AM
Gigafreak
The possibility also exists that there is more than one Choir. It could be that Vainglory had another one.
21st Nov 2021, 8:25 AM
Pkrankow
It has been confirmed that time for the Choir does not move concurrently with time for ... our audiance(?) ... Plair. It is possible that time does not move in the same order of progression, particularly when the audience changes.
21st Nov 2021, 8:35 AM
Pkrankow
Plair's adventure, that consists of about 1 week started 2 years ago for the Choir. Time is not the same between her world and our world.
21st Nov 2021, 5:24 PM
Guest
The Choir is not a god, the Choir does not know all things.

That said, I'm disputing the "another Choir" theory. She knows about the hugging. For her to know that, if she did host the Choir, it would have had to be between BiM and MDA. Plenty of time for it since Marlow said the Thale Incident happened a few years ago.
21st Nov 2021, 6:27 PM
Spyder
That still wasn't US. So it could be described as "another choir" because in our reality (for lack of a better term) We were not involved with this chick.
Plaire cannot be retconned out of our collective brains, since we are all choiring for her right now - her reality could retcon her, but we would still know her - like we know Mine, and are keeping our collective eyes out for her.
21st Nov 2021, 11:44 PM
Gatecrasher
There's also the possibility we ripped those pages out on purpose.

Because they had Nil written all over them.

That just means we have to puzzle out what else was written there other than Nil. Sad, but necessary.
22nd Nov 2021, 10:32 AM
There's also the possibility that the Choir memory has been edited, and more than once.

Why we started with Plaire, and not with any of the others who bought the house and then passed it to the next owner?

That, or Vainglory is messing with us, or she thinks we would recognize her even with a different look, etc, etc, etc.

So, in the end...

-1 to kissing Kate or Cici. Let's leave Plaire's romantic life for her, ok? She definitively does not need our suggestions about that (at least now) : p
24th Nov 2021, 12:22 AM
Spyder
Perhaps because Plaire is the first one who actually can solve the house? Her video game viewpoint means she can win the game - unlike the poor lady who was strapped to a log in a lumber mill every night. And she's stubborn enough to not quit, she carried though on her plan to leave even when the person she was leaving for quit on her. "Too hard" has become her challenge - not her excuse.
21st Nov 2021, 1:40 AM
Snervalton
Check the rest of the house to see if the housewarming potluck worked to de-haunt the house at all and opened up any new areas.
21st Nov 2021, 2:27 AM
Zophah
Checking house dehaunting is good. Not only is the party a possible fix, but if the Alcazar has some real world connections then fixing the Miasmic Wound may have also helped.
21st Nov 2021, 10:18 AM
21st Nov 2021, 12:54 PM
Limrix
+1, and remember to give it good house thoughts.
21st Nov 2021, 5:27 PM
Guest
Hold up, now that you mention it, we did just have that potluck didn't we? And we found a Miasmatic Wound tonight. Didn't that flask store employee turn up uninvited? Think she might have anything to do with it? For someone that turned up uninvited and alone, she sure didn't look like she wanted to be there. Perhaps she came under orders?
21st Nov 2021, 6:40 PM
Gutz Grilla
Here, have a plus one to that!

The house is sick, and we may have at least patched up one injury.
22nd Nov 2021, 10:34 AM
+1 - and Marlow is here, so he can help with dehaunting detection.

+1 to good thoughts to the house as well.
22nd Nov 2021, 6:45 PM
PurpleKetchup
21st Nov 2021, 2:16 AM
Snervalton
If Kate's not going anywhere just yet then now's the time to spend some totally platonic time with her and get to know her well enough to find out what her true tarot is. Maybe ask her about the list of names we found in her trailer?
21st Nov 2021, 2:32 AM
Cyanic
I think our memory as the Choir, relies on seeing something the first time, if we see it the first time, we'll always remember it, so if we don't ever remember the first time, like with Vainglory, we'll be able to forget something fully.

We pointedly can't forget Plaire though, (unless it takes a lot of years of meta time, or a metamemetic-cognitohazard, which at this point I'd believe could exist)
22nd Nov 2021, 10:38 AM
We can't forget Plaire, I kinda agree with that, but there's no rule about the Choir forgetting Plaire - all that it has to happen is that a Choir needs to exist where no members of it ever heard about her.

So there's the possibility of a Choir with Blood veterans that aren't here participating of an adventure with Vainglory... and then, they went away.

Maybe there are members of a Choir that we don't know about and they created a new Choir between the Blood shenanigans and the Alcazar misadventures?
21st Nov 2021, 2:49 AM
SpoopyLaundry
I THOUGHT THAT VAINGLORY MIGHT BE MICHELLE BUT I DIDNT SAY ANYTHING. WHEN WE BUMP INTO HER AGAIN PLEASE FLOAT THE NAME "Michelle" TO THE FOREFRONT OF PLAIRE'S MIND. That is all. Excellent update and stellar writing as always.
21st Nov 2021, 4:02 AM
Frission
Now that I think about it, it is rather odd that everyone but Mine and Michelle have been mentioned so far in ways that Plaire's heard in the world. I never did actually finish reading BiM though so don't spoil that for me pls <3
21st Nov 2021, 2:38 PM
Spyder
Michelle is a tube cop.
No way this chick is her. Btw, the wheeze may be a clue - but the only . . .

Wait wait wait - remember the many?

So her having a faux "choir" could definitely be a thing.
I was going to say that the prophet was the only person in either of choirships that had a wheeze, but he dead - besides being a dude.
21st Nov 2021, 8:53 AM
Cheshire777
That's actually a neat thought, it would match up pretty well time-wise and location could be correct for all we know. Vainglory's coloration is a few shades lighter though, hair and skin. Also skinny. So it's possible Michelle went through some major makeover, but a little doubtful tbh that she would change that much.
21st Nov 2021, 12:57 PM
Limrix
This feels wrong to me, the cast of BIM wasn't really aware of the Choir, that term was never used. Unless it was talked about off screen. We have precedent for not seeing things that happen, it's plausible that our view of this is non-linear. In which case we're something like trolls.
21st Nov 2021, 5:33 PM
Guest
I'm with Limrix here. The Choir wasn't an in-story thing during BiM. We only became part of canon in MDA. Also, even if Michelle smoked her lungs out, she wouldn't be reduced to wheezing, since Mine's powers are keeping her in good health. No, if anything, she might have hosted the Choir between BiM and MDA, since she knows about the hugging.
21st Nov 2021, 3:09 AM
I suggest we try to materialize something in Plaire's house. We tried to materialize a decent polearm in the dungeon, but that just kinda bounced off. I don't think there's any harm in trying to do so again, even if it's another fizzle.

With that said, I suggest we try to materialize ONE MILLION DOLLARS. IN SMALL, NON-SEQUENTIALLY NUMBERED BILLS. LET'S GO FULL ON SCROOGE MCDUCK AND SWIM AROUND IN IT.

Also, in line with taking charge of our own destiny (Hunger's main beef with us being how we have things we didn't earn/work for/whatever), I'd like to suggest that Plaire shoot her shot with Kate. That is, of course, if Plaire's open to it herself.
21st Nov 2021, 3:47 AM
Momerath
+1 to Scrooge McDuck attempt.

+1 to making a pass at Kate (and/or Cici) if Plaire is interested. Kate picked Lust for her vice, so might be more open to it.
21st Nov 2021, 6:05 AM
Gigafreak
What's our consensus for working towards a harem ending
21st Nov 2021, 5:51 AM
Portal In Time
+1 to choir-materializing some cash dough (or literally anything). The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work!

-1 to the flirting though? Even if she does feel strongly enough about it, now wouldn't be the time.
21st Nov 2021, 8:29 AM
Pkrankow
Harem stories are about frustration and/or porn. -1
21st Nov 2021, 11:45 AM
BJBlack
-1.

I'm having a hard time understanding this "flirt with people to earn Hunger's respect" thread.

I've kind of got your back about earning Hunger's respect; she looks to be an impossible fight without a hell of a lot of training, and maybe, if Player learns more about what Hunger believes about what it means to deserve a boon, then Player can convince Hunger that she is worthy of Hunger's Key without necessarily defeating Hunger in combat.

But, was not Hunger's beef that Player got to enjoy "boons" without earning them? Were not Player's friends explicitly included in those boons?

So, Player's friends are "unearned." According to Hunger. It's hard to say how, exactly; she didn't elaborate well on what makes a boon earned or unearned and why these are the latter.

"If I took what I wanted," Player posited; Hunger admitted, "Maybe." So, did she "not want" Kate's friendship? Or, did she "not take" the actions that led to that friendship? If she did want it, and she did take it, why does it count as unearned?

My first guess would be, "IT WAS NOT YOU WHO TOOK IT. THE CHOIR DIRECTED YOU—HAD TO DIRECT YOU—BECAUSE YOU WERE TOO PATHETIC TO TAKE IT YOURSELF." If that guess is correct, then that objection would stand when seducing Kate as well, because Player hasn't been making the moves on Kate of her own initiative. So, the Choir steps in and grants her the courage and the impetus... and that's exactly what I posit disqualified Player's previous accomplishments, in Hunger's eyes.

Admittedly, this is a pretty tough nut to crack, if I'm right. "Player needs to take her own initiative? Alright guys, let's Direct Player to take her own initiative! ... oh wait fuck"
21st Nov 2021, 12:33 PM
-1 to Scrooge McDucking it. Even if we can make bills out of thin air, it’ll technically be counterfeit and thus not really usable outside of black market stuff. Now, solid gold on the other hand… something valuable like that could go a long way.
-0 to flirting. I agree with BJBlack in that flirting with Kate isn’t going to help Plaire gain Hunger’s approval if we’re pushing her into it.
That said, nothing’s stopping us from being as good supernatural wingmen as we want to be. Setting up romantic circumstances or giving advice when Plaire asks us for help should be fine, as long as we’re not suggesting anything to Plaire or any of her romantic interests directly. As long as Plaire is the one doing what she wants romantically, then it counts. Plus, there was the whole thing with the Miasmatic Wound, Plaire doesn’t need our help as long as she makes up her mind on what she wants to do.
21st Nov 2021, 2:45 PM
Spyder
Agree -1 on the flirt thing, this is a personal thing for Plaire and should be all her if she decides to go for it(unless she specifically requests choir wingmanship anyway)
+1 on attempting to appear a more solid asset that paper money - if we can get enough ppl unified on it, I don't see us getting anything if we're all over the place.
21st Nov 2021, 10:41 PM
A giant block of gold would be just as cool, but the question is where would we offload it? If we walked into pretty much any place that buys gold with a big chunk of pure gold, that would probably draw attention from more than a few unwanted parties.

That's why I specified the money should be in small denominations, non-sequentially numbered. $100 bills probably get automatically forgery checked at any establishment worth its salt, but $1s, $5s, $10s? Probably not so much. (And besides, magically generating this money from nothing will hopefully ensure that it's identical enough to the real deal to fool even the government). (Unless they can detect magically forged money, hahahaha). It'd probably still be a bad idea to just shove it in a duffle bag and try to buy a sports car or deposit it directly in our bank account, but it should cover groceries, dungeon supply shopping sprees, and the like.

Hell with it! Let's try to get $500,000 in cash, and $500,000 worth of gold doubloons. We can say we found a cache of pirate gold or something.
21st Nov 2021, 6:38 PM
Gutz Grilla
PLAIRE, DON'T OBEY! THAT'S AN ORDER!!!

And I have a little rant to make, no intention to be rude to anyone, but... I think that integration of audience participation into the story (such as we readers/commenters being "the Choir")... am afraid that it may end up making everything too convoluted, if not driving our dear author to madness/burnout.

People will start coming up with bizarre, absurd ideas for the sake of being absurd, and it will end up a mess. There's got to be limits, set by the author, of course.
21st Nov 2021, 10:23 PM
Cuttlefish
-1 to flirting - Not something we should be exerting influence on at all either way. We're voices in Plaire's head, not her buddies at a bar. Who gives a shit about what Hunger thinks lmao
22nd Nov 2021, 10:40 AM
+1 to try to materialize one million dollars, with our target of materialization being inside the house - if 1m fall from the sky toward the house... jesus christ

EDIT: Regarding Choir limits... I guess Plaire is already a good defense against absurd ideas, same about her friends. And that said, materializing something helps towards trying to figure out which exactly are our capacities and limits as the Choir.

...also, -1 to "THAT'S AN ORDER" - Plaire is her own person, and we are a multitude of voices in her head, let's respect her independence instead of trying to order her around.
24th Nov 2021, 6:00 PM
Gutz Grilla
To Another Guest:

😅 Sorry about that, I was jokingly elaborating on BJBlack's last line in his comment. Didn't mean it to be taken seriously, should have worded it better.

Of course you're right, Plaire is her own person, we don't give her orders.
22nd Nov 2021, 5:03 PM
There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing what we can do. I think it's been made clear that the best chance we have of anything is in between. And I'm sure there are plenty of in-story safeguards similar to what would have happened if we took a very costly Tradesman deal in the past.

Basically, until we see a big warning sign that says "Reality will tear apart if you don't stop your shit." I'm cool with figuring out if we can do anything like that.

-1 to forcing relationships. Is it even time for it right now? Everyone's going to work and we've got stuff to do.
23rd Nov 2021, 4:45 AM
Frission
+1 to silly attempt to materialize money and/or cookies. Preferably cookies. Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind coookieeeeeeessssss~! XD
23rd Nov 2021, 7:43 PM
Limrix
-1 to ducking, -0 to flirting. Idk, that doesn't seem like something we should get into as a choir right now.
27th Nov 2021, 7:58 AM
Gutz Grilla
Dunno about making money appear out of nowhere being a good idea. I mean, wouldn't that kind of thing raise a big alarm?

Seeing as Plaire just moved in and Mondol is watching everything... her suddenly getting lots of money that way may get their attention real quick (remember, they have the technology for that, as shown in pages 140 to 141). And that's without mentioning possible intervention of the government.

Sorry, but minus one for that. And a big minus one for the flirting, too. That kind of thing is personal, and there's a time for everything.
21st Nov 2021, 3:20 AM
Lapdragon
Marlow needs a hug - possibly a group hug. He just got hauled into the shit, overexposed to a grade of weird he wasn’t ready for, and then shot because he is our friend.

As for Plaire, she needs a nap somewhere safe (maybe she can go with Cici to work), and then she has some interwebs to research - they learned a bunch of new words tonight.

I think the mystery of where the bitchy lady is sleeping can wait a day, and everybody involved needs to start keeping a dream diary on a git or something so that they can compare notes or just jot down questions to confab over while they’re not with each other.

I think we need to consider the house some more - if we sealed a miasmatic wound in the dream, did we do anything good for the house in the process? I’m not sure if an allegory of the alcazar being a representation of the house (or vice-versa) is too far fetched to not look into. Maybe by sealing the wound, we’ll unseal a part of the house that had been hidden from us, or just improve our relationship with the house somehow.
21st Nov 2021, 6:24 PM
Gutz Grilla
A big, extra large plus one to all your ideas!

About Marlow, he also suffered a panic attack, which makes a lot of sense, seeing as he has been in prison (which raises more questions down the road). Although I'd say a hug might be uncharacteristic of Plaire and co., some other gesture of kindness to show him appreciation would indeed be a good idea.
22nd Nov 2021, 10:49 AM
+1 to a gesture of kindness - of everyone in the team, he's the newbie (in terms of Dream time), and finally found a secret that was real, so... yeah. Hug would be good.

+0 to a Git - we don't know how safe we are in terms of storing info in the web -, +1 to figuring out how to discuss and store info about the dream without it being hacked/snooped/spied.
24th Nov 2021, 12:27 AM
Spyder
Plaire isn't a hugger - and in light of the Vainglory's hug crack I think we should hold off of those for a bit anyway
21st Nov 2021, 3:41 AM
Huh. Is that the Priestess who briefly existed before that narrative branch was excised? That's the only character I can think of who existed, but then... un-existed, in our awareness. But that wasn't *nearly* long enough ago for her to have ended up like *this,* unless excising branches of narrative also leads to time fuckery.

I wonder if she might not be a character from one of MM's games, perhaps? I don't recall a character like her from BiM... although I guess perhaps the point is that we *don't* remember her because she's been that thoroughly timeline-wiped.
21st Nov 2021, 6:16 AM
Gigafreak
The "previous" wielder of the Choir was one who met the three ghost girls, according to the Paradoxes. And they still know about the Priestess who was "retconned out of existence" by the Alcazar's intruder countermeasures.

A) Vainglory had the Choir before that person
B) The Paradoxes are no more aware of Vainglory's Choir-wielding than we are, due to memory fuckery
C) There is more than one Choir and Vainglory had a different one
D) Vainglory thought she had a/the Choir but actually had something else (I'm not about to say "psychosis and hallucinations" but I want it known that I'm sarcastically thinking it)

The fact that Vainglory knows about the hug thing is... Telling, though. Correlation may not be causation, but it has a way of nodding and pointing suspiciously.
21st Nov 2021, 5:40 PM
Guest
About your point A. Rather than before, I'm considering AFTER. Between BiM and MDA. According to Marlow the Thale Incident happened a few years ago, so the time is there. I'm not inclined to C or D since she knows about the hugging.

That said, there's also the possibility that she just sensed us, peered into our collective memory and spun some lies to shake us. We know memory meddling is a thing, witches might also be able to see others' memories. Plaire also said the sin of vainglory includes "the hyping up of total bullshit".
21st Nov 2021, 8:57 AM
Cheshire777
I'm pretty certain she's not from either of the Labryneath games. I'll check around later today though, see if there's someone I missed... purely for important research purposes, of course :)
21st Nov 2021, 9:56 PM
Gatecrasher
Well, from Nast the Enchanter, it could be Nast using a disguise potion. The personality doesn't match in any way, but hey, blame a wizard on that.
21st Nov 2021, 3:52 AM
Alex
Honestly, the comment about us commanding her, or giving plaire orders, it annoyed me so much, like compared to how we were with Jane we're way different, if anything we're more like suggestions, and on that note, I want to make the suggestion of letting plaire do whatever the fuck she wants to do today. Money, mayor, go back to bed to try and fight with that tapeface douchebag, whatever she wants, she can do it.
21st Nov 2021, 5:53 AM
Portal In Time
LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK

We're like little Navis or something, not puppet masters pulling on Plaire's strings!
22nd Nov 2021, 10:52 AM
+1 to WE GIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR PLAIRE TO PICK OR NOT PICK OR JUST PICK HER OWN MADE CHOICES, WE ARE NOT THE PILOTS OF PLAIRE'S BRAIN, SO ANYONE HERE THINKING ABOUT ORDERING HER, NOPE.
24th Nov 2021, 10:02 PM
Snervalton
Honestly, I feel like this needs to be said: Plaire is a fictional character. I understand that people can get attached to and invested in fictional characters but we're not doing anybody any harm by making suggestions as to what a character should do in a story that's meant to be for fun. If you put pressure on a real person to do things or towards romance with the person you think is right for them then you might be moving into unethical territory. But Plaire can't suffer any psychological trauma or have her life ruined because she's not alive. That's why I have no problem giving a +1 to her flirting with another fictional character or suggesting whatever else to her.
26th Nov 2021, 6:05 PM
Cheshire777
I'm with Snervalton here. I get the respect and that we're keeping up a bit of roleplay because it's fun, but this is still ultimately entertainment (besides being a source of income for our dear Morgenstern). So I can see us logically vetoing 'forcing' Plaire strip and streak naked through MondolMall, but going to these extremes to avoid doing anything that could possibly make an IRL person uncomfortable at all seems, frankly, to be projecting a bit. Again, I'm saying this respectfully, and everyone will do the rping to a different degree, but yelling at anyone who "thinks about ordering her" is rather agressive for what should be a fun diversion IMO...
21st Nov 2021, 5:51 AM
The Beardman
OK so some BiM spoilers but...


























...... Is that Mine?

We never saw here again after she attacked original Thale, maybe she felt betrayed and abandoned by us. Or like we were controlling her. And maybe this particular weirdness is her and Thale's way back.

Fuck, what do we do about that? Anything we tell Plaire is going to come from us, and she might pick up on that. Idk.
21st Nov 2021, 7:43 AM
Guest
Definitely not. She is so completely beyond using a gun, and so is Thale. Not to mention Jane was nice without us forcing her hand
21st Nov 2021, 8:33 AM
The Beardman
She's presumably been through A L O T

Possibly even forcing herself to be harsh as a reaction to us telling her to hug

Plus how many years down the road are we?

Also also she's close enough to the sprites if you check, so there's a physical resemblance

I hope not, I don't like thinking that us trying to help is causing additional problems
21st Nov 2021, 10:45 AM
Gatecrasher
Mine is a strong possibility. If her red is still fully engaged with Thale, then part of her could have gotten away to find an edge. If so, Mine is incredibly bitter now.
21st Nov 2021, 1:51 PM
Limrix
It could be, or some unknown person we haven't interacted with yet from our perspective, but have from theirs. If true, it would be sad, as Vainglory is a long ways from the person Mine used to be, in any of her parts. She seems closest to Fuse!Mine from the dream sequence, if I'm reading it right. Taking everything we've seen though, I don't think it's her. Mine was a hugger before the Choir ever showed up.
21st Nov 2021, 5:44 PM
Guest
I seriously doubt this. There's only been a few years, the brown hair was dye, and she wouldn't be reduced to wheezing even if she smoked her lungs out because she can fix that by herself. I'm more inclined towards the idea that the memory wiping forced her to be forgotten. Mine's story is still there.
21st Nov 2021, 6:13 PM
Gutz Grilla
I hope not. Mine Ametsuchi was cool, cute and a very nice character. This one can't be her, this one is a JERK!

Besides, what happened to her blood then?
22nd Nov 2021, 7:23 PM
Momerath
But maybe her blood is on the striped room note(s)? Don't think she is Vainglory but she could be the amnesiac or something.
21st Nov 2021, 7:15 AM
Nima
24th Nov 2021, 11:37 PM
botanicalLightning
Yeah, is this Elizabeth?
21st Nov 2021, 8:21 AM
Pkrankow
Search the house
Laundry
Stairs up or down
Backdoor
New main floor rooms....

23rd Nov 2021, 6:47 PM
21st Nov 2021, 8:34 AM
The Beardman
One thing I'd like to propose - double-check with Plaire that she's cool with us helping and guiding. Get consent, make sure it's ongoing!
21st Nov 2021, 10:53 AM
Gatecrasher
Yes, I'd like to make that clear. Also Plaire is very self willed. I don't think we could control her even if she wanted to. She's free to reject or ignore us.

Come to think of it, ignoring us might be a good idea when dealing with Vainglory. Vainglory knows how the Choir thinks.
21st Nov 2021, 11:55 AM
21st Nov 2021, 2:28 PM
Spyder
+1
It's clear enough from Plaire's POV that we merely give her a array of options and opinions that are beyond what she would normally think of - this influences her behavior only as far as she allows it. Especially as she becomes more aware and cognizant of our collective info-dumps!
21st Nov 2021, 6:11 PM
Gutz Grilla
I can get behind that idea, yes! That way Plaire won't feel like she's never in control of her actions (even if she's more strong-willed than she thinks) and we establish rapport.
21st Nov 2021, 6:33 PM
Pkrankow
+1. Acknowledging each other might be a good kind of crazy to help Plair own her actions. We cannot control anything other than what we say.
21st Nov 2021, 10:08 PM
22nd Nov 2021, 12:28 AM
Cyanic
+1 time
22nd Nov 2021, 10:55 AM
+1 - as a powerful entity here that wants to collectively respect Plaire's boundaries and decisions... and honestly, just as entities, checking out if she's cool with us is an excellent call to do.
21st Nov 2021, 12:23 PM
Alright, now that it’s likely that the stranger is named after Vainglory (and now that I know what Vainglory is) then it’s looking pretty likely the stranger was just blowing smoke and we can safely ignore what she was telling us to do. Prepare for tonight, we’ll stand a much better chance against her when Plaire isn’t that injured. Even if Vainglory does have more experience, she is quite clearly overestimating us.

But now isn’t the time for that! We have things to do in the day! Get dressed, blow off some steam with Kate, check your mail and most importantly of all, feast on your very well-earned potluck leftovers! They’ll just get worse the longer they stay in the fridge, so eat like a king while they’re still good! And eating well will improve Plaire’s mood and mental state as well.
21st Nov 2021, 12:35 PM
Oh, and also write in the journal. We need to keep track of all the terms we learned from the Trades Man, and try to copy the diagram from the blackboard. And it can’t hurt to see if we wrote anything down from the black-out yesterday or any possible unremembered rooms we visited before bed.
21st Nov 2021, 12:54 PM
Snervalton
+1 to potluck food for breakfast.
+1 to checking and updating the journal with all new information.
21st Nov 2021, 6:35 PM
Pkrankow
Leftovers are the best! Reheat and eat. While not all leftovers are equal, they are assuredly good until eaten or they go bad (5-7 days with proper handling and refridgeration)
21st Nov 2021, 6:07 PM
Gutz Grilla
Plus one to your suggestions! (Especially about ignoring the jerk!)

Uh, by "overstimating us," you mean she's overstimating us as Plaire, or do you mean us as the Choir?

...Or do you mean "understimating?" She clearly understimates Plaire, that's for sure.
21st Nov 2021, 9:27 PM
I did mean that Vainglory is underestimating Plaire. Thanks autocorrect.
22nd Nov 2021, 10:56 AM
+1 to potluck
+1 to journal updates
21st Nov 2021, 12:25 PM
SHE KNOWS OF THE HUGS WHO IS SHE WHAT IS THIS MADNESS????????????????
21st Nov 2021, 6:36 PM
Spyder
I'm going with the collective response of Vainglory is champion of spinning bullshit - my personal take is that she can likely see/sense the choir connection and knows that Mine the serial hugger was the last choir connection - especially since we laid off the hug bit very quickly when it became clear Plaire isn't a hugger like Mine is.
21st Nov 2021, 8:16 PM
Indivisible
So. It looks like exploring the Graveyard of Dreams might be something we want to put off until we're stronger, now that we've met the person making traps and know that she's also a master of stealth and ambushes. It might be a good idea to use the Dream Ring to try to copy Marlow's facility with stealth and senses.

Fortunately, there's still a bunch of stuff to explore in the prison, and thanks to healing the miasmatic wound, we have the time to do so. Checking the maps and archive:

We've finished exploring Floor 1.

We haven't explored all of Basement 1 yet. It's full of enemies that Plaire can easily kill, and might have some more goodies/hints for future problems.

We've finished exploring Basement 2.

We haven't seen Basement 3 at all, since that's where the grenade trap was hidden. The grenade trap had Do Not Reset tape on it, so I don't think we need to worry about it anymore. We know that the enemies get more difficult to fight as we go down, and Plaire was struggling with the Basement ? enemies, so I think it's worth it to level grind against the Basement 3 enemies.

Basement ? has two paths that we haven't explored, and is filled with enemies that are a struggle for Plaire to fight. We've seen these enemies move in groups.


And then there's the exploration we can do while awake:

It looks like a lot of things are leading towards the Old Library. Vainglory might be the old librarian's sister, Marlow has only seen large amount of phantons in the Old Library before, and we've heard that the witches did witch-y things in the old library. Of course, the Old Library is also supposed to be Very Dangerous, in the most dangerous part of town, and no one will have dream powers there. Actually going there is going to take planning, preparation, and probably Deedee.
22nd Nov 2021, 11:00 AM
Vainglory may also be the old librarian - Kate commented before about dream metrics being fluid, so maybe she's her, but... well, dream metrics.

About the Old Library: planning, preparation, police equipment, a hacked bus as a mobile base, etc.
21st Nov 2021, 10:11 PM
Cuttlefish
"or cryogenically frozen in a god damn bunker somewhere" Lasker, you stay frozen dammit!
22nd Nov 2021, 7:35 PM
PurpleKetchup
I trust the Juries found a way to deal with him.
21st Nov 2021, 10:44 PM
Sometime today I want to talk to Cherry about the possibility of somehow getting her into the alcazar. Can I think of a way it would work? Well, no. But does that stop me from really, really wanting it to happen? Also absolutely no.

On a maybe more practical note, I think Plaire should probably make a video today, maybe bringing one of her friends on as a guest- either, as I think some people have mentioned, having Marlow talk about conspiracy stuff, or else maybe just doing a let's-play with any of them.
22nd Nov 2021, 12:57 AM
+1. Cherry is the best. (It might require liberating her server or whatever from the bus company, haha).
22nd Nov 2021, 1:22 AM
Snervalton
But, is Cherry even sentient? Or is she just a program that follows voice commands like Alexa? Shouldn't we try to find this out, maybe the next time we ride the bus, before we go trying to liberate her?
22nd Nov 2021, 11:02 AM
About Cherry, in practice, that would take us to talk with Maria about the bus, or some serious research and lore time about AIs in Plaire's world. Honestly, worth a shot to at least start to figure it out.
22nd Nov 2021, 6:36 PM
BJBlack
Like I posted above, I feel we put in some effort to make sure Cherry's not going to leak our secrets (not maliciously, just as an AI in a server in the ownership of a potentially-compromised company). That would come before the task of getting her in the house.



That said, once that's done, my idea is to plant a remote device in one of The Back Room's haunted dolls. This device would have a technology-to-magic interface; we'd want to consult with both Tech and Magic experts on making it (maybe Franklin and Marlow's daughter?). Then Cherry would access it remotely, try to establish rapport with the doll, and hopefully, they come to an agreeable co-habitation of the doll body.

And personality cross-contamination would keep our relationship with Cherry exciting, hahaha.
22nd Nov 2021, 7:28 PM
Momerath
+1 to Cherry. I wonder what her arcana would be? I'm thinking maybe the Heirophant. (Upright: tradition, conformity, morality, ethics, Reversed: rebellion, subversiveness, new approaches, per labyrinthos.co.)
23rd Nov 2021, 11:15 AM
Gutz Grilla
Although I know very little about tarot, I thought the names might be a guess. Cherry, for example, might be the Carriot. Maria Emperatriz might be the Empress, Temperance Walsh might be... uh, it's right in the name.

Well, yeah, maybe not how it works here. Not to mention it would be way too obvious. I'm just spitballing here.

Anyway, here, have a plus one.
21st Nov 2021, 11:19 PM
Spades
Should maybe warn them that Vainglory indicated she could kill us for real, permanently, messily. "I coulda painted your bedroom walls with your Moon buddy."
21st Nov 2021, 11:29 PM
Snervalton
+1. Everyone involved should know the risks.
22nd Nov 2021, 12:37 AM
Cyanic
+1 we may just be getting psychological warfare'd, but it's safer to believe the threat than to try to call a bluff if it's not actually a bluff
22nd Nov 2021, 11:03 AM
+1! Can be a bluff or not, the thing is yeah, we can't risk poking it to see if it's real.
22nd Nov 2021, 12:59 AM
Oh yeah, I don't remember if Kate's ever mentioned her dad, but Plaire should casually try to bring it up and ask her about it, because Marlow discussed how he met Kate's mom years ago and then she later showed up with her kid and it KINDA IMPLIES that he's her dad? (PS: Plaire, for the love of God, do not blurt this info out without any proof).
22nd Nov 2021, 2:26 AM
Snervalton
Oh yeah, I always wanted to ask Kate whether she inherited her mother's empathic powers. If she's sticking around then now's the time to ask her. I mean, if she inherited her mother's pink hair mutation then it's possible she inherited everything as a package deal, right?
22nd Nov 2021, 11:03 AM
22nd Nov 2021, 6:30 AM
Gutz Grilla
Okay, that's official: she is NOT an ally; she is an obstacle, to be removed. Also, she is an ass.

Although we'd better try to avoid meeting her in the next session, since she's so much more prepared for a fight. Besides, we still have OUR problems to contend with, such as: money, the house areas yet to be found, the house's history... and those are on Plaire's side. We also have to do something about Franklin (who's in jail), Harv (who's in hospital), Maria (who may need help with her underground lab, since Franklin can't do it right now).

Rill Parsons is obviously very involved with the house's mysteries, but let's not understimate Mondol. Not only are they trying to take over everything, they also seem shaken by our gang's actions (see page 148). If that's the case, I'd consider offering Heather (Kate's mom) some form of protection... we better expect something, what with her daughter's reputation with the cops.

I don't have an idea of what to do right now, and people in the comments came up with many good ideas already, so I'll just say this: be prepared next time in the alcazar, because we will have to deal with a Shadow Plaire over there in the grey garden (since we got shot before fading out). I don't think accomplices get a "shadow" to deal with (Kate was killed by poison in her first night), so there will be no Shadow Moon.

In due time, Vainglory, you witch with a capital B... you will have your teeth kicked in. With big, heavy, steel-toed, spiked boots. Next time, we will INDULGE in the urge to violence.
23rd Nov 2021, 3:14 AM
Momerath
+1 to offering Heather protection or at least warning her.
22nd Nov 2021, 9:10 AM
AlphaExile
Just as a side thought, what would happen if you brain couldn't return to your body? Any chance it might... I don't know... blow up? Or was that someone else the stranger took out?
22nd Nov 2021, 1:22 PM
lilWitchPepper
So, there's a chance that Vainglory is a person the Choir met on the journey with Mine... but I don't think so. There's a chance that she's from a quest that we weren't directly exposed to (Or, outside of Plaire's perception, a story untold). If she's outside of our perception, we... essentially haven't met her, based on Plaire's idea.
22nd Nov 2021, 6:02 PM
BJBlack
More speculation from yours truly. It seems (to me) to hold consistent internally, but I can't guarantee it's correct.



If Vainglory had The Choir before you, presumably said Choir advised her on various matters. Then, why is she called, "the shut-in," when she is referred to? The librarian's sister, who never left the house?

The Choir's been involved in you getting out of the Casa and making friends. Did she reject the Choir's advice? Did the Choir give different advice?

Did she follow the advice, but all the friends she made forgot her after whatever incident occurred?

When you got the Dream Ring from Ezra, he said that every Dream Ring fit its owner perfectly. But he sold two Dream Rings to the old librarian; one for her and one for her sister.

i just reread that and the sister was suffering from depression but one thing at a time here

How did he know every Dream Ring fit its owner? That means the sister's ring fits the sister's finger. The potential mundane explanation is that the librarian called back or visited again, and the topic of how the ring's fit came up. Or maybe the librarian's ring fit so well that his misfit-toy-loving heart jumped to the conclusion that her sister's would as well.

But what if she was there, and tried on the ring in front of him — to his satisfaction — but after The Incident, Ezra completely forgot about her?

If he did forget about her, who else might have forgotten, too? Honestly, if the Choir got her out of the house, and helped her make friends, then where are her Accomplices? Why haven't they shown up to tell of their friend's tragic explosion/disappearance/coma? Sure, it's been six months, but I would think that if they cared, they would make an effort to get back in. For revenge, or for answers, or something. If they were hit with amnesia, that would explain the silence on the line.



It would really be tragic if they just gradually gravitated, subconsciously, towards the current owner of the Casa. Vainglory would know their tarot card without asking, obviously. She might, if she couldn't handle the emotional pressure of it, choose to mumble something and cap them instead of confront them with a friendship she knew they'd forgotten.

But she might be reeeeeaally salty when confronting their new Mastermind (also their replacement for her) after that.



That concludes today's speculation. Even I'll concede that last part is super speculative, waaay less substantial than the rest. She confronted you differently than she confronted Marlow, sure, but how the hell did I jump to that conclusion?

Consider asking Ezra about that Dream Ring thing when you see him next, though.
22nd Nov 2021, 7:05 PM
Snervalton
Plaire puts an asterisk beside all the speculation made about the witches in this entry. We may get more information later that totally blows these presumed relationships apart. If Acedia is the sin of depression then doesn't it make more sense that the shut-in witch took the name Acedia, since a severely depressed person would have more trouble leaving their house? Of course, Marlow said that Vainglory was not the old librarian from his photo. I question how reliable that conclusion is because he only saw her for a brief moment in the fog, over a "wild distance" while he had a gun pointed at him, but leaving that aside... It's possible that the old librarian has a twin sister that's completely unrelated to the shut-in witch and that there were are actually three witches in Ninelives.

Plaire also questions whether the old librarian and the shut-in witch were sisters. I'm guessing that they were a lesbian or at least a queer couple. A lover visiting a shut-in at night mirrors the relationship of Plaire and Lora back in Addersfield. On page 137 Plaire muses that she could have become a similar shut-in herself.
23rd Nov 2021, 10:31 AM
Gutz Grilla
Plus one to asking Ezra about the dream ring.
23rd Nov 2021, 6:46 PM
About Vainglory, I also want to add that maybe she is the Old Librarian, but with the dream having a bit fluid measuring, she could be different enough on that moment to not be recognizable.

And now I really want to reread the comic to focus on how fast each Plaire's current friend becomes her friend and why. :/

+1 about asking Ezra about the Dream Ring.

22nd Nov 2021, 8:16 PM
PurpleKetchup
Considering that naming scheme, is the third one named Tristitia?
22nd Nov 2021, 8:20 PM
PurpleKetchup
Also... well, we've already know Temperance. Should we keep an eye out for any other Virtue out there ?
22nd Nov 2021, 10:08 PM
Guest
Oh shit, that's a point. Sins, Virtues, Paradoxes. I'm seeing a theme here.

+1 to keeping an eye out for sins and virtues.
23rd Nov 2021, 10:33 AM
Gutz Grilla
Oh, good catch! Yes, let's be on the lookout for such patterns! Maybe some research during the day.
23rd Nov 2021, 1:44 PM
Momerath
+1 to keeping an eye out for sins and virtues.
23rd Nov 2021, 6:48 PM
+1 for keeping an eye for sins and virtues
23rd Nov 2021, 6:42 PM
Crestlinger
My guess? Well hello psychotic Michelle. Explains the proficiency, timeline, knowledge, lots of stuff. If she snapped (or never Actually returned a certain book)....everything can fit. Happy to be wrong but If right...hoo boy. also remember this is a dream scape so actual apperances may vary.
23rd Nov 2021, 7:38 PM
Momerath
Vainglory is a lot more wiry than Michelle, more so than I think someone's mental image would vary from their waking appearance. (Not counting accomplices.)
24th Nov 2021, 7:34 AM
Cheshire777
Ohhh. What if Michelle was the accomplice, and this is just a really advanced subform? I still have my doubts psychologically, but still that kinda makes sense.
23rd Nov 2021, 7:44 PM
Limrix
Plaire didn't mention the Big Bad Vainglory talked about, maybe we should do that? Seems important.
Also exploded IRL != exploded in the dream.
23rd Nov 2021, 8:02 PM
Snervalton
+1 to mentioning the Big Bad.
26th Nov 2021, 6:10 PM
Morgenstern
Might be a couple days on the next page, internet's been doodoo and thanksgiving was thanksgiving
27th Nov 2021, 12:11 AM
Cheshire777
No worries, thanks for the update!
26th Nov 2021, 6:18 PM
Cheshire777
Here's one more option for Vainglory's identity: Cora, from the magic bookshop, right near the end of BiM. While she (from the pixel sprite, at least) looks a little shorter and darker haired, the resemblence isn't far off. She canonically has access to unknown magic (which could have allowed her some knowledge about the Choir), has kept tabs on and interacted with Mine (hugs), and has *literally been seen messing around with attention/memory altering spells* in the form of an un-noticable shotgun. She was wearing glasses before, but with the DNR tape blindfold who knows <shrug>. That would definitely be an obscure reference, but of the people we know I think it fits better than any of the other options we've been punting around. It's still a definite possibility that it's just a memory-erasure plot thread, and we've never seen her before though.
27th Nov 2021, 3:24 PM
Obs
I feel like we want to level the playingfield with Vainglory as quickly as possible.

In some games you can invest in the speed at which you gain experience. Perhaps we can try to spend mana in the alcazar on increasing the rate at which we gain XP. If we find that it's not a natural feature of the rules of the Alcazar, then we can play a game before sleeping, that has that option.
27th Nov 2021, 5:01 PM
Momerath
+1 to Obs' suggestion about gaining XP.

Our game selection is limited. Therefore I propose that, if Plaire's games and appropriate arcade games in town do not have this mechanic, Plaire should try to buy, scrounge, or borrow an appropriate game (made by the correct company), sometime today.