21st Oct 2022, 4:00 PM

Question Parabolic

Question Parabolic
"...Huh." You really weren't expecting him to be this, uh... talkative. Or even non-hostile. "Well, I'm Porcelain Salamander, and this is..." You turn to Kate, who only gives you a shrug. You turn back to Parabolic: "...This is my accomplice, Demona Brimstone." You can feel the sudden glare from Kate, but fortunately the helmet hides your smug grin. "Do you have a... tarot sign...? Major arcana? Like, I'm the Fool, she's--"

"Demonshells. Right?" His question shouldn't surprise you, and yet

"Y... yes?"

Parabolic's big satellite head gives a solid nod. "Yeah, we are on two vastly different setups--no tarot for me. Hold on, I was working on some slides a couple shifts ago..."

Slides...? Before you can inquire further, a beam lights up from his face; you and Kate both jump as the flash is aimed straight at the two of you, but it turns out to not be an attack of any kind--rather, a projection.

You barely get a good look at said slides before he abruptly turns away--looking off, upward, silently. "We'll have to pick this up later, though," he states a little quieter. "...Someone might be following me. Slowly, but... I think I accidentally lead her right down here."

You're almost afraid to ask, but... "...Vainglory?"

His dish snaps back to you. "You know her?"

"Yeah. She put a bullet in the back of my head. ...Pretty sure she's been through here before."

"You were lucky," he replies. "She's not with the knights, but she IS here to win... she's been taking us out left and right. People have died. Actually died."

"How?," Kate asks.

You, too, press the topic. "Yeah, she mentioned some shit like that when she ambushed me, but I still don't know how actually dying works in here. How... the fuck would you even...?"

He hesitates.


Takes another long glance back down the hall.

Finally he heaves a sigh, and begins to explain. "I'm not an expert. Okay? But... but, the world, this whole reality... there's ways to break its rules. The way we're here--demonshell, demoshell, doesn't matter--it's janky, and full of holes that can be exploited, or twisted around, or interfered with. Some only work on your type of body, some only work on mine.... and some just work.

You can cause the mind to snap back to the body 'wrong.'
You can cause the mind to snap back with something attached.
You can force the mind to bleed yellow back into the body.
You can cut the body from the mind completely.
You can cause the mind normally left with the body to flood into your body here, which is both more than a shell can handle AND leaves you braindead in the real world.

There's other ways. There's a uh... a long list of ways. I don't know how many Vainglory knows, but I know it's at least that many because I've seen her do them. ...To people stronger than me. Knights with more experience and much more powerful bodies than me."

Damn. Damn. "So I guess... teaming up to try and take her down's out of the question...?"

Parabolic's already making his way to the door, beginning to politely shuffle past you and Kate. "We would die," he says bluntly. "She'll kill us and it won't even take long. You can manipulate your stats, right? My advice, squeeze yourself out like a sponge--get as small as you can and hide. I'm locked at around this battle level, but if she's on my scent maybe she won't notice you guys."

Kate thankfully leaps in to ask the real questions while you get distracted by the phrase battle level. "Hey, uh... of the knights that're left, how many of them are stronger than you?"

Parabolic stops, turning back to you and Kate.

And he says, without an ounce of hesitation or doubt--

"All of them."

The talisman continues to charge

Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)
Load my Place Save my Place

Will Schrag | Snervalton | Skullrama | John Wood | Tom Axon | David J Wu | Sekwel | Mochi | arbit | Travis Whittaker | Avasraali | Nicolas Arboleya | Trent Brossman | Clotty Cola | TacticOwl | SomeRando | Cyrene DuVent | Swagner | thatbloodypaladin | Opunny | Kat Dixon | Harmony Petersen | ActionKermit | Scott Johnson | Loose Cog | James Nichols

21st Oct 2022, 4:20 PM
Boost us on TopWebFiction

Vote for us on TopWebComics

Join the Patreon

Help me deal with domain name fees/car bullshit/the rising cost of literally everything via Paypal

So, without going into a whole lot of detail (or naming names as I don't know if the hero involved wants all that): my computer problems are now basically solved and shit's about to get real. Every computer problem except one new problem, which is more of a tablet problem than a computer problem. It's a very solvable problem but it's probably not getting solved this month, so drawing is out and the next page might be a while.

That said, my newfound computer magic means I can do a bunch of dumb shit I've been wanting to do but didn't have the oomph for, like trying to animate more, and making games with less screaming involved, and possibly livestreams. I'm still figuring out what my options are, weighing the pros and cons of what best to spend my time on (vs how badly I need to make money), but expect a few side projects to pop up here pretty soon.

Including this one, which is still a work in progress but is going to be a roleplay/collaborative storytelling type thing based on fighting games and OCs and fictional crossovers and shit. Basically a sequel to Arena Arcadia, for anyone who followed that brief adventure. Anyway, hit me up on Discord (Morgenstern#1412) or join the official BiM/MDA discord if you want to keep up with whatever thing I'm going to be unleashing.

Regular MDA updates (as regular as they get, anyway) should pick back up in early November.
21st Oct 2022, 6:14 PM
(small typo report: "...full of holes that [c]an be exploited...")
21st Oct 2022, 8:07 PM
:D glad to hear that!
21st Oct 2022, 4:29 PM
Shit. She might need our gift sooner than we thought if Vainglory is coming, and this out for blood.

*Feeds the talisman*

Oh, hey, let's ask him if Vainglory winning would involve sealing the wounds or breaking them.

I don't think we care who wins as long as the world doesn't end, and if we can tell her we'll help her so long as we can seal those wounds in the process. Or stay out of her way and just do our own thing.

After all, gaining the power of a God probably wouldn't cure Plaire's anxiety. It would probably just make it worse.
21st Oct 2022, 4:37 PM
21st Oct 2022, 4:39 PM
Have to say -1 to confronting VG again until we get a grasp on our expanding power set. Feel like she's gone full 80's action hero in her own head. I don't think she'll hesitate to cap us at every opportunity, or worse.
21st Oct 2022, 4:45 PM
Oh, I don't wanna confront her. That's a terrible idea. Just figured the talisman could help Plaire if the worst happens, and our satellite dish friend here may know a bit about VG's goals.
21st Oct 2022, 5:02 PM
The talisman was supposed to help buff Plaire from emotional AOE sources like the wound(s).
Not sure how hot that'll fare against her, especially since she knows Plaire has the Choir and doesn't follow the usual dumb evil trope of revealing her entire hand before blowing their target's head off. Shoot first, teabag later, get caught monologuing never.
21st Oct 2022, 4:49 PM
-1 to asking any more questions for now. Parabolic's gotta book it, and we don't want him dead. He's probably the closest thing to an ally we're gonna get in here, aside from people we bring in ourselves.
21st Oct 2022, 4:39 PM
Teleport upstairs and try and explore as much as possible. Our run is probably gonna end when we meet Vainglory, talisman or not, so let's explore the garden and stuff while she's occupied hunting Parabolic down.

LATER I am all for confronting Vainglory, but I personally want to save that for last so we don't get blocked from doing anything else.
22nd Oct 2022, 3:35 AM
+1 to exploring while Vainglory is distracted
21st Oct 2022, 4:39 PM
Not to add to her concerns, but how well can Plaire hear us?? Are you aware that this question is being asked?

Wondering if charging reduces our impact.

Also, I'm guessing demonshells have more potential. Maybe focus on getting "small," in a metaphorical sense. Lower our stats for a moment. I agree we should stay hidden.
21st Oct 2022, 4:52 PM
Yeah, we as an whole entity should try to shift whatever stats exist more choirside, except stealth related ones. Make a "stealth mode" and a "bash stuff mode".
21st Oct 2022, 7:27 PM
21st Oct 2022, 5:09 PM
+1 stat reshuffle, everything in agility/speed/whatever stealthy stats there are.
Plaire's body is probably room temperature thanks to Jiangshi-ness (easy enough to check), should help somewhat.

...Maybe we can push the gamey part of the engine to break through the default paradigm. Clipping would help tremendously against line-of-sight based attacks in the dungeon.
21st Oct 2022, 8:14 PM

If nothing else, we'll learn about another new ability.
21st Oct 2022, 4:40 PM
I'm not sure we should keep him from his escape (nor be anywhere nearby when Vainglory arrives in pursuit), so maaaybe let's hustle to the candle and teleport away. (Mental note to recheck the Wound on a later visit, in case Vainglory wanted them open...)
But thank the satellite dish guy for the chat while we go our separate ways!
21st Oct 2022, 4:52 PM
+1 to all of this. Kiiiiinda wondering if we could leg it to The Chapel of the Father or somewhere nearby so that when Vainglory comes hunting, maybe she'll take him out for us and we can slip out unnoticed.
21st Oct 2022, 6:22 PM
There's a chance that Walldad is already out of commission if Parabolic had to fight it when he entered the dungeon from the courtyard.
22nd Oct 2022, 1:19 AM
Ooh, yeah, good point. Either way, we should head thataways and see if we can sneak around past VG and head outside. Go kick some Nega-Plaire ass and get our tape back.
21st Oct 2022, 5:37 PM
I say we let him run, and either try to hide or just straight-up wake up, 'cause we're still in no position to deal with Vainglory.
21st Oct 2022, 11:32 PM
+1 to escape or hide
21st Oct 2022, 11:33 PM
1+ to get the hell out of here!
21st Oct 2022, 5:57 PM
GIF retranscription for reference:
DEMONSHELL: made of YOU, infused with Yellow. Pro: rebuilt easily. Misc: connected to mind base. Con: limited fuel supply.
DEMO SHELL: made of Yellow, infused with ME. Pro: recharges in operation. Misc: independant; no base. Con: months to build/fix.
[Not the most convenient naming choice there...]
Stability (gradual, small changes) surrounded by
Imbalance (steady, substantial changes) itself surrounded by
Delirium (frantic, unpredictable changes).
"You are here": small bubble of 'stability' lost in 'delirium'. The bubble seems directly linked to a 'Knight construction point' somewhere in 'stability'.
[This interpretation decently fits what K&C experienced without Plaire.]
(real world) [bed + magic emojis] → imaginary palace/library/fort/lumbermill → your body that mostly looks like you (dreamside)
(real world) [horrible machine emoji] → stygian circuits → my expensive body with a satellite head (dreamside)
"Fraternal Order of the Pallor:
The FOotP is a group organized locally in units spread across the world, ready to put their energy, passion and intelligence at the service of mankind.
Members come from a wide range of backgrounds in over 25 countries."

Worth of note:
Pushing for talisman charge bumped from +5% to +13% per 'scene'. Exact value probably depends how long each scene lasts but that's already informative.
Hopefully we'll get some QoL messages when we reach enough charge to use it.

Second slide probably shows where the Knights entered the Alcazar from. Could be worth investigating if we ever lose access to the house, but we'd probably need a demo-shell to go that way. Unlikely in the short term.

The third slide seems to indicate that stygian circuits are to demo-shell users what the dream dungeon is for demonshell users. Still unsure what that implies since Parabolic is in the dungeon right now, so maybe I'll just skip that for now. Understanding how things work exactly isn't as critical as learning what can exist to begin with.
Slightly worried about the 'horrible machine' part. Getting a demo-shell might be worse than it sounds (maybe the required infusion of self into it is... unpleasant).

First slide points out demo-shell users can just stick around forever since they naturally regen 'fuel'. Plus they probably also have hidden levels that increase how big their pool is, like Plaire's demonshell. In comparison it feels that Plaire can only go for speedster/glass cannon builds since refilling with candies can't be sustained too long.

The fourth slide requires a metric ton of hard fact-checks since anyone can write nice things about themselves. I also don't see how we'd try to verify any of it without attracting every single sort of bad attention to Plaire. Small benefit of the doubt since Sir Parabolic acted appropriately (not hostile, quite informative without being overly inquisitive).

Anyway, store all that stuff for later when we don't have a sniping serial murderer closing down on us.
21st Oct 2022, 8:12 PM
Thank you for the transcript!
21st Oct 2022, 11:05 PM
"my expensive body with a satellite head"

27th Oct 2022, 9:39 PM
Fourth slide requires interrogation with dedication. And the first question must be "Where have you been during the Thale incident? It did involve a god that tried to de-exist the Earth. And a synthetic demigod devouring half a city. And they both fell to a rag-tag gang of random misfits and not your order."
21st Oct 2022, 10:03 PM
Golden Astronaut
Obvious point of interest there.
Could WE, as in the choir, jank through those holes Vainglory uses?
Also, is he "here for the show" because he is the weakest knight? As in, he is a scout of a sort? The satellite dish head supports that notion.
Does that mean the other knights will be more willing to help us prevent bad times?
I can't wait until we become stupidly powerful and beat vainglory when all of the professionals are helpless against her.
And finally,
*clears throat*
25th Oct 2022, 9:54 PM
Golden Astronaut
Do people just not even bother to read what I said because they expect it to be stupid?
I'm being serious here.
This is a legitimate question.
26th Oct 2022, 2:59 PM
I read (no bother, either) but had nothing particular to comment/add, either in support or against. Hence, silence.
I enjoy lore as well but I tend not to reply short, bloaty answers.
I'm not seeing any so-called stupidity, either. Don't kick yourself down because of some fun.
28th Oct 2022, 9:20 AM
Golden Astronaut
The thing is, I don't do complicated.
I guess I just expect people to understand my gibberish.
What I mean by using the holes is, maybe we can use them to manifest objects in the alcazar.
We would need to question Vainglory about that however so can't do that anytime soon.
If we track down more powerful knights, maybe they could help us get to the middle, at least we could get more information from them if they don't.
(Also, that last bit sounded funnier in my head)
I just throw out ideas. I leave the "how" to the people who know how to make plans.
28th Oct 2022, 9:24 AM
Golden Astronaut
Wait I just remembered we can just ask the tradesman about the holes.
1st Nov 2022, 4:22 PM
Ditto to what PK said.
21st Oct 2022, 11:28 PM
Okay two things occurred to me not very related to this part

1- Couldn't the Choir pass the knowledge of the Merchants' Ritual to Plaire somehow? Omosi or something?

2- In BIM I remember that in the chapter that introduces Fuse it starts with the Choir in it and giving it suggestions. Doesn't that mean that somehow the Choir can Choose to jump someone?

Well, those are my doubts.
21st Oct 2022, 11:49 PM
I'm pretty sure we can only show her what we've seen, so unless someone has a picture of the Merchant's ritual (and also funny green candles), I think we're out of luck.
Our dear Plaire also has less food, and less 'infinite blood' than Mine, so we should probably avoid having her exhaust herself with rituals proven to be costly.
25th Oct 2022, 9:19 AM
<<<minor spoilers>>>
Based on some of the very end bits of BiM, the Tradesmen are probably still in major disarray at the very least after being hit by Nil anyway.
22nd Oct 2022, 12:19 AM
Feel like getting us through the upper levels and exploring the Garden while Vainglory is hunting Parabolic gives us a chance to level. Information about the area/world is going to be the difference if we're down in power level in comparison to everyone else.

We also need to think about how we can defend ourselves from those perma-death things. I wonder if we as Choir can help shield Plaire/redirect Plaire's mind back to her body right?
22nd Oct 2022, 1:11 AM
I made some diagrams for Plaire and the rest of us, based on what Parabolic told us, and trying myself to deduce the mechanics of Demonshell connections
though the accuracy of this is very unsure, but it's something for us (Choir and Plaire) to chew on


(EDIT: the whole 5 images were a bit too large and inconvenient to scroll past,
here's the full album: https://imgur.com/a/6ypl8lz, or click the picture)
22nd Oct 2022, 1:19 AM
I have a bold and crazy plan: we delay Duke Dish with the aim to pit him against Vainglory. (Maybe even try to physically restrain him if we can't manage it socially).

-He/the FOP give off these bad Nazi/cop adjacent vibes (I elaborated on this in the Discord, but don't feel like repeating myself here verbatim)
-Vainglory is anti-fratboy, and since we (the Choir) used to be part of her, she presumably has a good head on her shoulders and good judgement as to who deserves smiting, even though she also has a lot of anger/bitterness going on. I tentatively trust her if she wants to kill them IRL.
22nd Oct 2022, 8:41 AM
I'm going to say -1. VG seems way more actively hostile to us than Parabolic, and we want to keep every non-murderous character around that we can.
22nd Oct 2022, 11:43 AM
-1. We don't know enough yet. All of the other members are stronger than Parabolic. Unless there's a moral or circumstantial imperative, we probably don't want them working against us.
22nd Oct 2022, 7:16 PM
I'm also going to -1 this suggestion for the reasons laid out by Chesire and Sekwel.
23rd Oct 2022, 11:55 AM

Killing someone off based on a hunch that he's subversive seems, to me, to be tyranny.
25th Oct 2022, 9:12 AM
Parabolic has been helpful, polite and informative. His default reaction to meeting us was talking with us. He spent his free time making an informative slideshow on a subject he likes.
Vainglory was unpleasant and is apparently really bloodthirsty. She attacked us first and asked questions later. She spent her free time making boobytraps. Also she killed Plaire even after it was obvious Plaire posed no threat.

He is helping Plaire escape Vainglory even

Also, murder really shouldn't be the default reaction to disliking someone.
25th Oct 2022, 9:26 AM
Oops, sorry, my post is missing a sentence apparently.

It should say : "He is helping Plaire escape Vainglory even if it could get him killed. He is buying her more time, why waste it?"
22nd Oct 2022, 4:34 AM
Plaire can spend yellow to boost her stats, but from what Parabolic said I think she also can reduce them , for stealth. So she shouldn't try to boost her stealth stat, she should try to reduce all the other stats.

Anyway , wish luck to Parabolic and start by finding somewhere out of the way to hide.
23rd Oct 2022, 12:45 AM
That would be interesting, if things in the dungeon detect you based on your power lvls, the more power you have, the more detectable you are to them?
23rd Oct 2022, 3:49 AM
I have a terrible idea: What if we reopen the miasmic wound, either to distract Vainglory or hide Parabolic? As long as the tape/nails(?) remain intact, we can reseal it later.
I'd like to reemphasize I don't think this is a good idea, just one that's crazy enough to work to keep Parabolic from being hunted down (as well as maybe us too if for some reason Vainglory didn't know about this place and NOW she does because of following Parabolic). Run it by Parabolic sense he seems to be pro-sealing and hopefully will tell us if it plain won't work or not.
This is, of course, ONLY if no one else can come up with a better idea.

On that note, \o/ more energy to the Talisman.

Also another idea for dealing with miasmic wounds: meat!Plaire had resistance because her meaty-meats were shielding against the negative energy. Could try experimenting making a mental shield (in this realm "physical" shield?) to dampen the effect.
Another direction to go in would be a similar premise to the fact a flashbang doesn't work on someone who is already blind and deaf. Instead of trying to shield against the negative energy, make it so there's (mostly) nothing for it to effect. Try turning DOWN senses, shutoff from the world, and approach the wound to reseal it that way.
23rd Oct 2022, 7:03 AM
I'm not sure if this would be enough. Assuming reopening the wound would mask whatever signature she used to track Parabolic down at first, if she's in the dungeon she can just follow his less-than-subtle trail of dead mob bodies to this floor, and resume hunting him down as she would normally.
And the wound's effect doesn't extend that far off from it, so I don't expect it to help much.

On a meta level, Para's choice of <i>running away</i>, considering his large experience and skill level, probably means it's the best solution; otherwise he'd have asked about using the wound as cover.
23rd Oct 2022, 10:15 AM
If there's one thing you want to ask Parabolic before he leaves, Ask what it means to 'wake' the members of his order. Show him the note if you want.

Also, Cut your halberd down to an axe. You've got a tricked-out touch attack now, a long melee weapon is actually not going to do you any good.

Keeping enemies out of arm's reach (with a polearm) is the exact opposite of your plan tonight.

You may or may not confront Vainglory this run, going by the implications of events so far. Nevertheless, so she doesn't see you've traded down your range for no reason and catch on to your power immediately, grab a shield. There's the small shield you grabbed back on Night 1, and that's it. Run down real quick when you get a moment and nab it. The enemies there are garbage to you now.

the judicious use of DNR tape could have amassed a small armory in the heart room if we'd thought of it
23rd Oct 2022, 8:44 PM
I wonder if we can make more of it in the real world and sleep with it to go into the alcazar?
23rd Oct 2022, 9:20 PM
+1 to cutting the halberd down to an axe.

-1 to asking about waking FOP members or showing Parabolic Acedia's note, at least until we know more about them. Parabolic and the others probably want to stay in the dream and giving them any hint that we might try to take them out could make them wary of us.
24th Oct 2022, 6:34 PM
Oooohhh, I hadn't considered that angle at all.
We got introduced to the dreamstuff with Plaire's free daily demonshell so it's hard to envision that "waking up" may be a one-way removal from the battle royale for that sweet divine power. Some active participants could definitely go hostile at that idea.
Maybe Parabolic wouldn't aggro (witness and all) but he may very well warn the remaining Knights. Calling a raincheck on that one.

FWIW, anyone with a demo-shell could have a non-human head. I assume non-Knights will have some. Mondol definitely has the resources to acquire a few of them.
And Acedia's request suddenly becomes a large pain in the rear, since that interpretation means we'd remove a lot of competition, which smells like ulterior motive.
Geh, now my suspiciousness is tainting things. Better leave it at that.
24th Oct 2022, 8:36 PM
I proposed this because Plaire still doesn't know what to do.

Acedia's plea is lacking so much context it's almost completely unactionable. These guys aren't dream projections of real-world sleepers. What does it even mean to wake them, then? One guess could be, "Kill their dream manifestations."

But, what if it entails pulling lost Knights out of the walls and reviving their demo-shells? That was my first guess, and the Order might be on board with that.

Yes, alternatively it might mean fighting them all. But we don't know that. And, not knowing, there's no shame in asking.

There might be shame in making assumptions and running with them.
25th Oct 2022, 3:39 AM
Point taken.
25th Oct 2022, 9:16 AM
Right, reviving them is what I was thinking too. If Pbc starts getting hostile, just quickly explain that it's a note we found laying around and we don't know any context of why the writer would want that. Not a lie, and trying to explain the whole thing with Acedia seems overkill.
25th Oct 2022, 8:53 PM
As long as we don't know what waking the men with strange heads entails we shouldn't let them know that we're thinking about doing it. It may be something they wouldn't want and there's no good reason to antagonize them at this point or alert them to our plans. This is a question that would more safely be asked of the tradesman, as I suggested in my list of questions for him on page 227.
27th Oct 2022, 7:55 PM
Conversely, if it *is* something they are favorable or even neutral toward, we could potentially get a lot of help and some more guidance with it. Unless mentioning waking them is an absolute berserk button (and so far Prb seems chill) we can just explain away any involvement pretty easily it seems to me. From the outside perspective, we just came across a weird note that seems like it might refer to his order, so we're asking him about it. Eh... I have been wrong before though.
31st Oct 2022, 11:18 PM
What type of hero is Plaire? The cunning hero, who keeps her opponents guessing, has her appeal. The bold hero, who tells it straight without regard to danger, has still more appeal (to me).

I do not understand any appeal to the "hero" who flees from "threats" without actually assessing if they are, in fact, threats to her.

Especially with an easy-out (Cheshire's idea) in Plaire explaining that she hasn't decided to act on the note.
23rd Oct 2022, 11:07 PM
I'll say +1 to both suggestions.
18th Nov 2022, 3:33 PM
Computer's up, shit's running fine, ran into other problems (internet company pulling some shit, dad almost dying again, someone tried to siphon $1500 out of my bank account but the joke's on them because I'm broke) so updates are up in the air until next month. I've started work on the next page but it's gonna be hard to post it after they shut my internet off.
18th Nov 2022, 5:25 PM
Geeze, not my idea of a good time. Surprisingly close to personal experience, although not on the bank thing.
Thanks for the update, and please be extra careful with that stuff.
18th Nov 2022, 10:15 PM
Likewise, thanks for the update. I wish I could help with any of that, but unfortunately I have few pertinent resources. I wish you the best with keeping all that under control, and as usual, take as long as you need. :)