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File: drowned quest 6.jpg (126 KB, 564x846)
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You are Ellery Routh. You were sentenced to execution via drowning. It didn't take.

The light of the campfire recedes around the corner. You're half-draped across Arledge's shoulders in a position comfortable for neither of you, and he step-drags you along to the rhythm of your incessant complaining.

"I don't understand. Why couldn't we have just stayed for the night and split up in the morning? They weren't-- they were the opposite of onto us."

"Gun," says Arledge, wearily. His left hand searches against the cliffside for guidance.

"Yeah, well, I don't even know what a gun does, so that's not a-- that's a bad argument. I think you're just a hermit crab. You're all hidey in your little spiral shell, worried th-"

"I'll forgive you because you don't know what you're talking about."

"I do know what I'm talking about, okay? They were duped. Except for Lexy, who I talked down because..."

This is where you'd say something like 'because I'm just that great'. You know you're supposed to. But your self-congratulatory instinct has bled out of you.

"...because, um, I had to, but she's not an issue anymore, right? It'd be better than--"

Arledge stops short. "Can you do ANYTHING but complain?"

"Can I- what's that supposed to mean! I don't--"

"SERIOUSLY! I can't go on like this. I need to know if you're being difficult or if this is an actual problem."

"What do you mean, an actual problem? There's nothing wrong with me."

"There's... okay." Arledge breaks your death grip on his clavicle and deposits you onto the ground. "Let's try this. Ellery, I'm sorry things are like this. I believe you probably... deserve better."

He sounds sincere. 'Thanks,' you're supposed to say, and you're supposed to feel better. You don't. You feel annoyed.

"That's not fair. You can't just say... you can't just say nice things as a test for something. Do you understand how fecked up--"

"Okay, it's chronic."

The silver needle Arledge withdraws from his leg glints in the scattered moonlight. The attached syringe frightens you back into speaking out loud.

"There's nothing wrong with me, okay! You can't-- you know what happened last time--" It comes out thouroughly garbled through the water, nothing like the precise, perfect speech of the Courtiers.

He pulls back the plunger with one hand and his teeth. The other hand prods at his neck. "Not for you. Is this a vein?"

You don't know what a vein looks like, and you're not sure why he expects you to. "I don't kn-"

"Don't repeat yourself." He's all business, all of a sudden. "If I have to handle this--" He gestures in your general direction. "--for a minute longer, I am going to snap. I'm trying to avoid that. You got it?"

You don't got it. Never mind him snapping. What about your neck?

"Calm down. 8 seas be whole in me live through me..."

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Your perfectly legitimate concern is brushed aside, as are your following ones: wasn't he just worried about the violently anti-magic people around the corner? ("They're not going to know.") How is this supposed to help? ("I'm tired.") What is 'chronic' supposed to mean? ("Your cooperative parts are floating around outside of you right now.")

"...break in me die through me," he finishes, and thrusts the needle into his neck.

The change is immediate, if largely undescribable. Arledge looks the same. But maybe he stands a little differently, and the ever-present something behind his eyes is a different shape. Or something like that.

"There we go," he says cheerfully and with far too much reverb. "That did it."

He lifts you like you're hollow and sets off at a rapid clip. There is no cautious feeling of canyon walls: he just walks like he sees where he's going and, you suspect, does.

The minutes bleed together like ink on wet newspaper, and you become convinced your heart beats to the thunk-thunk of Arledge's footsteps.

You wish you had a shirt on. You wish you had the scraps of your jacket, at least, because you really did like that jacket.

"See the buildings?" You stir from your almost-slumber at Arledge's words. "They have a roach issue. If that's why we're here--"

He trails off, but the implication of "I'll be pissed" is clear.

You do see the buildings, now, way up on the stair-lined hillside. They are uniformly orange, blocky, and unimaginative. They are also pockmarked with fragments of- of what looks like different buildings altogether.

When you heard tell of land-cities in the distant past, how did you imagine their architecture?

>[1] Yellow-gold and soaring.
>[2] Blue-silver and tenuous.
>[3] Gossamer and fragmented.
>[4] Much like your own, really. You had no frame of reference. You were a kid.
>[5] Write-in.
>Previously on: Drowned Quest

You encountered an old guy, who traded you two mysterious substances for two favors to be called in at later dates. Nothing ill can possibly come of this. Nothing strange happened during this.

Arledge dragged you out of Lorne's house and to the hills in a huff. On the way, you accidentally conjured up a nightmare beast that pursued you through a dark and claustrophobic ravine.

It caught you and tore your chest out.

The sun caught there was released, and its white light destroyed the beast and Arledge's retinas. Blinded but relatively uninjured, he dragged you as far as he could before collapsing from exhaustion.

You were found by members of the Wind Court: the same ones who were fending off deer the other day. They accepted a hasty lie about your names (Scott and Elliot) and brought you out of the ravine.

While you were bandaged, interrogated, and writhing as all the missing pain came crashing down upon you, Arledge went with a friendly Courtier named Dib to collect firewood and discovered the name of the woman who had persecuted him. You underwent a brief and unresolved existential crisis.

The fire was lit, somehow, making Arledge deeply uneasy. His attempt to leave was stopped at gunpoint, but thanks to your lungs loosening you were able to talk your way out of being shot.

You are making your way politely away from their camp.


- Voting windows are 10-20 minutes. If only one vote comes in after ~20 minutes, I'll take it. If there's a tie, I'll roll for it. Writing typically takes anywhere from 20-60 minutes.
- Unless it's a choice strictly between offered options (ex: loot, chargen), write-ins are always open and acceptable.
- I'll always take questions, comments, critiques, requests for infodumps, etc. etc.


On most occasions, you’ll be tasked to roll 3 d100s, potentially with modifiers. The number of times the 3 rolls collectively pass the DC indicates the result, as follows:
No Passes: Critical Failure
One Pass: Failure
Two Passes: Success
Three Passes: Critical Success

>Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned%20quest

>Twitter: https://twitter.com/BathicQM

>Pastebins: https://pastebin.com/u/bathicqm

>MECHANICS UPDATE: Mind and Blood out of 100 is too fiddly and confusing for me to really keep track of. They're being retroactively changed to out of 10.
You are currently at 2/10 Blood and 2/10 Mind.

Welcome back! I hate I have to start this so late, but I'll get out a couple updates tonight and pick up for a full session tomorrow.
>[3] Gossamer and fragmented.
We're back!
>[1] Yellow-gold and soaring.
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Rolling and writing!
>Yellow-gold and soaring.

You'd heard stories, of course. Everyone heard stories. There used to be huge rolling stretches of land where the ocean is, and people lived on it and built cities across it. The government's categorical denial of these stories only made them more plausible.

What was always lacking, though, were details. The look and structure of these cities were always left up to the listener. You'd imagined them yellow-gold and soaring: the color of the sun and tall enough to reach it, ten or ten thousand Pillars high. Glorious. Brilliant.

It's a little less glorious/brilliant when there's bits of gold randomly scattered across otherwise drab buildings. It looks more as if the architect were both filthy rich and sopping drunk.



"NONSENSE." You begin to wonder how long this is going to go on. This is a third voice, now. "VOTE FOR CHANGE. VOTE FOR MALLEABILITY. VOTE FOR THE PAGURUS. ...'S HOIST."


You have yet to see any lifts or hoists or elevators, not that you particularly know what any of those are. "They, uh, lift you," says Arledge, and he's so confused he's dropped the reverb. "How did you get from one level to another if you didn't have..."

All at once, three structures unspool from the hill and plummet to the ground before you. You're pleased to see they're labeled.

>[1] Enter the ROSTRATA lift. It is decorated sprays of grass-flowers, and "WELCOME GUEST" is painted on the bottom.
>[2] Enter the LATRO elevator. It certainly seems the sturdiest, if a little plain, and sturdy is what you want from something lifting you into the air. Water.
>[3] Enter the PAGURUS hoist. The "PAGARUS" isn't actually printed on, like the others: it's scraped into the wood, and the grooves are lined with blue paint.
>[4] Take the stairs. Or, well, make Arledge take you up the stairs.
>[5] Write-in.
>[2] Enter the LATRO elevator. It certainly seems the sturdiest, if a little plain, and sturdy is what you want from something lifting you into the air. Water.
>[2] Enter the LATRO elevator. It certainly seems the sturdiest, if a little plain, and sturdy is what you want from something lifting you into the air. Water.
>Take the LATRO elevator.

"Seriously," says Arledge. "Did you just have stairs? How long would that have taken to get from one to the other-- let alone the top?. What the hell was--"

"Well, I don't know!" This is dumb. This is a dumb argument. Don't go for it. "I never went to other levels! How am I supposed to know what a... there's three words for it!" Nevermind. I'm out.

"It's basic-"

"ESTEEMED GUEST." The first crab sounds a little anxious, if that's possible. "DO YOU HAVE A SELECTION."

Arledge gauges his options for a second before stepping onto the center platform. "It's built the best," he explains without your prompting. "I don't know if the others can handle multiple people."

You manage to suppress a swelling urge to debate this. It's just so boring of a choice.


The platform judders and begins to rise by means of a complicated system of pulleys. You reach instinctively for something to hold onto and only manage to find Arledge's collar.

His return stare drips with disdain. You find a describable difference: his eyes are ridiculously blue. You let go.

Would you describe your experience as powerful? Not really, though you suppose crab people may have a different definition of that word. Like "sluggish". Or "nauseating." It is both of those.

Arledge steps up and off the platform before it's even fully reached the top. "I am getting you medical care and I am going to sleep before this leaves my system. Got it?"

"I'm fine." Fine by a certain definition, at least. Better than previously. But you're in no mood to be conceding.

"You're falling apart. Um." He lessens the thrum, but an undercurrent of it still runs through his voice. "You're falling apart. You need help I'm not capable of at the moment. And you know I'm right."

It's difficult to argue this when you're half-naked, wholly chestless, and being carried in an embarrassing manner. You remain silent.


"The catch?" Arledge reads your mind, and you do mean in the sense implied by the idiom-- like, he didn't actually 'read your mind', as in, like, listen to your thoughts, like he has been doing. But he did 'read your mind', as in voice something you were going to think and then going to say before you were going to think and then say it, which is usually how it's meant when mind reading is not a literal possibility.

Please see a doctor.


"Is there medical care?"






"It doesn't..."


>[1] Stay at the DORMITORIES.
>[2] Stay at the FORTRESS.
>[3] Go BELOW.
>[4] You really feel like you should just, like, set up a tent or two.
>[5] Write-in.
>[1] Stay at the DORMITORIES.
I just want to get some first aid man
>Ask Alredge if CHANGING into being healthy is possible.
Per decision of my one-- one at time of writing voter I am going to sleep. Vote open. See you guys tomorrow at ~2:30-3 PM PST.
>[1] Stay at the DORMITORIES.

I don't want to be crushed between claws. And some changes are harder than others silly crabs.
>[1] Stay at the DORMITORIES
Crabbo number one seems the most on the level about this

Query Arledge about the third crab's pronouncement.

Writing for both. Apologies for beginning on the later side, but I suspect the majority of my voters will understand.
>Ask Arledge if that's a thing.

You have strong feelings about this.

"Wait. So this could've been resolved just like that, and you didn't tell me?! If I just think really hard... And you didn't tell me??"

"N- no. No. You'd need to be completely disconnected from-- no. It doesn't know what it's talking about."


"Excuse me," says Arledge.


"Excuse me," says Arledge. "We'll take the..."

The dormitories sound most comfortable. You don't need medical care. You're fine.

"...dormitories. But if there's no doctor, we're leaving."

"SPLENDID." The first crab crackles back in. "REVERED GUEST, KINDLY TURN TO YOUR LEFT." Arledge looks, but your head is already pointed in that direction: the sign perched above the doorway of one of the larger buildings lights up in yellow. "DORMITORIES," it reads, and just below: "FOR HUMANS ONLY".

"Thanks." Arledge shifts you to one arm and scratches the corner of his eye.


"AS WILL I," chimes in the second crab. "FOR A POWERFUL EXPERIENCE."


"This is creepy," you complain. "This is-- this is a setup to a shitty campfire story. I don't want to haunt the crab hotel forever."

Arledge is already walking. "We'll deal with that when I get some sleep."

The interior of the dormitory building is clean, brightly-lit (you can't see a light source), and absolutely swamped in flowers. There's flowers on every surface: mostly the small blue seagrass flowers you've waded through, but also in delicate white and frilly orange. Arledge has to brush a carpet of them off the stool he deposits you onto, and they're what you stare at as he negotiates with the crab clerk(?) at the desk.

You were just dozing off when he returns. "Have a room. Come on."

There's not a whole lot of coming on you can accomplish, so Arledge resorts to picking up the entire stool with you on it and carrying it down the sterile orange-clay hallway. He stops at a door marked "6".

"You need to sleep. I'm going to wake up a lot of people in the middle of the night, and maybe they have something to say."

You're laid on the bottom bunk of a two-storied bed. The mattress is stiff, but no worse than what you've suffered through before. Arledge fixes you with a warning stare (are his eyes glowing, or is that just the light?) and closes the door behind him.

You lay in darkness for less than a minute before a rustling arises above you. A man's face flips down from the lower bunk.

He has well-groomed black hair and, bizarrely, what looks to be black windows over his eyes. You've never seen the like.

"Hullo," he says, and his voice is so clear you can scarcely tell if it's actually coming out of his mouth. "Are you my roommate?"

>[1] (You guess you are.) Well, gee, so what if you are??
>[2] (Do you have the wrong room?) *He* has the wrong room, obviously! You're with someone. Not like that. In a normal way. In a normal way.
>[3] (Nevermind. Does this guy know anything about medicine?) There's no way this guy could possibly be a doctor. Right? No way.
>[4] (Write-in.) Write-in!!
>[1] (You guess you are.) Well, gee, so what if you are??
"You got a name?"
>[2] (Do you have the wrong room?) *He* has the wrong room, obviously! You're with someone. Not like that. In a normal way. In a normal way.


>ALL the angrily-worded questions.

"Um," you say warily. "I guess I am. So what?"

"So nothing! It's just-- it's rather late at night, isn't it?"

"Morning, probably."

"Early in the morning," he amends. "Now, say, I wasn't expecting a roommate, but this is all for the better."

You're not sure it is. "I think-- you must have the wrong room. There's not three beds in here, right?"

He shakes his head without dislodging the eye-windows. You're impressed. "Don't think so. Why's that?"

"Well-" Nosy neighbors (or roommates) always seemed to factor into shitty campfire stories. You don't want to be a hotel ghost. "-doesn't matter."

"I get'cha. What's your name?"

Even worse. But lying would definitely put you on the list of victims. "Ellery."

"Really!" He sounds genuinely interested. "Well, Ellery, I'm Charlie Barker. Call me Charlie. Or Barker. Or Charles Barker, if you'd like to sound like my boss. Howd'ja end up here, Ellery?"

You're supremely annoyed at just how excited he is. It's late at night/early in the morning. He should not be excited. "Got summoned."

"Really! Nothing that interesting, here. Just on a business trip. Been here 'bout two weeks with no sign of company."

"Oh." You're not sure what to say to that.

"Say--" He leans further over the side of the bed, revealing a rumpled sky-blue nightshirt. "--Sure got a lot of bandages there, Ellery. Feeling alright?"

"No." An understatement.

"Really! I sure am sorry to hear that. Do you want me to take a look? I'm no doctor, but I do dabble."

This feels far too easy. You are deeply suspicious.

For feck's sake. Maybe things are just easy, this time. Not everything has to be an ordeal.

>[1] You would really very much prefer he not.
>[2] Well... sure, okay. But make it quick.
>[3] Arledge is just out in the hallway. Call him in for this, just to be sure.
>[4] Write-in.
>[2] Well... sure, okay. But make it quick.
It'll be fineeeeeee
>[3] Arledge is just out in the hallway. Call him in for this, just to be sure.
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Rolling then writing.
>Call Arledge in for this.

If you're going to be strangled with your own bandages, you want an audience. "Arledge," you say to him.

There's a short delay before he answers. "Shit!"

Oh, gods. What is it now. "Wh-"

"It's- nothing. You surprised me. Go to sleep, Ellery."

"I can't." Obviously. "There's a guy in here talking to me. He says he wants to look at my stuff. I want you here so I don't get murdered."

"He's a doctor?"

"He dabbles, I guess."

"I'll be there. Saves me the trouble."

"Um," Charlie says, very politely. "I'm not sure I can hang upside-down all that much longer. Whadd'ya say?"

You wish he would use full words instead of smooshing them together into some hideous amalgamation of word-smoosh. Wsmoosh. Woosh.

The door cracks open and Arledge pokes his head in. He squints into the darkness. "Hello?"

"Hi. Uh, this is Charlie." You point. Charlie, a little confused, waves.

"Figured." He slides in and leans up against the wall. A couple of flower petals are lodged in the folds of his jacket. "Don't mind me. Just making sure he doesn't get axe-murdered."


"Axe-murdered, or strangled, or his neck snapped or shoulder dislocated. Or whatnot. Standard stuff."

You see how it is. Whatever. "Ignore him. You can take a look. Make it quick, though."

Charlie's withdrawn his head entirely. You have to stick your own out to see what he's doing up there, which is staring at Arledge. Arledge picks at his fingernails.

"Hey. You gonna--"

"Ah. Yeah." He shimmies down dextrously. "Sorry. What'cha say the issue was?"

"I didn't." You don't want to tell him. It sounds silly, when you think about it, and of course you've been thinking about it constantly.

He's gonna find out, like, as soon as he takes even a cursory glance. It'd be worse not to.

Godsdammit. You want to argue. "...but, uh, my chest was... ripped out."

"Really! Hold on, let me grab the light." He snaps his fingers. You wince along with Arledge as the room floods with yellow-tinged light. "Much better."

"Charlie," says Arledge, and Charlie looks. "...Nothing. Nevermind."

"Suit yourself." Charlie's fingernails are neatly trimmed and very nearly the color of the white bandages they pick through. "Hmm," he says, and adjusts his windows.

"Sunglasses," Arledge says.

His sunglasses. Whatever. Jerk.

"If I have to listen to you, you need to say the right thing."


"Hmm," Charlie says again, and doesn't elaborate. "Hm," echoes Arledge. "I'm not sure."

You can't believe you have to say "about what?".

"About him. I... I think he's off, but I'm also... well, and he's facing you. What do you think?"

>Roll me 3d100s-20 (-20 Clouded Mind) vs. DC 45 to decide what you think!

>[2] Write-in.

The revamped bonuses/detriments chart for Blood and Mind is as follows:
10 - +30
9 - +20
8 - +15
7 - +10
6 - +5
5 - +/- 0
4 - -5
3 - -10
2 - -20
1 - -30
0 - You won't be rolling at 0!
Rolled 45 - 20 (1d100 - 20)

Rolled 16 - 20 (1d100 - 20)

Rolled 89 - 20 (1d100 - 20)

>[2] Write-in.
"He's got trimmed and really white fingernails. That mean anything to you?"
>25, 0, 69 vs. DC 45 - Failure!
>Mention the fingernails.

>25, 0, 69 vs. DC 45 - Failure!
>Mention the fingernails.

Charlie looks like a normal guy, albiet a normal guy who says things like "wat'cha" and "dont'cha". He definitely has that sort of face. You didn't think there was a face for that, but now you know. You resolve to avoid what you christen the "woosh" face going forward.

I don't think that's a real thing. You just think he has a woosh face because he says those things in the first place.

Nope. It's a woosh face. You don't think it's an axe-murderer face, at least, but do axe murderers ever have axe-murderer faces? It's like that guy who murdered people with the sandbags. He probably didn't have a sandbag-murderer face, because if he did people would've gone "wow he sure looks like he murders people with bags of wet sand" and turned him in. Alas, as far as you know they're still going.

Man, what happened to the bodies? They were thrown down here, you guess, but did they stay dead? Are there sandbag victims roaming around? Or are there a bunch of bones under the trash heap?

"I," says Arledge, who sounds a little like he's choking on a bag of wet sand, "am going to PERSONALLY bury your bones under the trash heap if you don't stop talking about this. Does he look OFF. YES or NO."

You believe that was highly uncalled for. And also, no, he just has a dumb polite face. And very neat fingernails. You suppose that could be a sign of nefarious activity.

"No, but he does..."

"I can HEAR YOU the FIRST time. And NO! Why would that... no! I have clean fingernails--" He brandishes his hand to prove it. "--and that doesn't make me OFF-"

"You're on drugs."

"It's not DRUGS! It's a spiritual-- godsdamnit. Godsdamnit!"

Charlie ceases picking to watch Arledge go silently mental. "Well," he says, "don't mind him."

The words are uninflected, but you snigger in catharsis anyways. You immediately regret it. "Ow. Ow."

"Yeah. Well, you sure have your chest ripped out, dont'cha. Hope that's not contagious."

You keep one eye on Arledge kicking the wall. "I don't, um, think so."

"No? Really!" Is he joking? "It looks like it's gonna heal up if you don't mess with it too much."

Easier said than done. "Sure."

"Alright, then. Whatch'ya gonna do about the bedding situation. Is, uh, he sleeping here? There's only two beds."

>[1] You're injured and Charlie was here first. Arledge can get the floor.
>[2] You're injured and Arledge... well, you don't really want to mess with that. Charlie can find another room.
>[3] It's fine. You're used to sleeping on the floor, chest be damned. Arledge can get the bottom bunk.
>[4] You didn't hear the details of Arledge's negotiation, but there has to be another room, right? The two of you can move out.
>[5] Write-in.
>[4] You didn't hear the details of Arledge's negotiation, but there has to be another room, right? The two of you can move out.

Tell Ouro to get a frikkin VPN
>Aren't there any other rooms?

"We should move out," you resolve. "Sharing would be a bad idea, um, right now. There's lots of rooms, right?"

"Well... no, not really. They don't-- they don't get a whole lot of visitors, I think, and everyone's flooding in what with the whole convention-type thing tomorrow. This might be the only one."

"Oh." Bad news.

"Hey, you know what? I'll clear out." Charlie pushes his sunglasses farther back onto the bridge of his nose. "You folks clearly need your sleep more than I do, and there's way more chance of one bed being open than two. It only makes sense."

"Oh." Good news. You struggle for kind words. "Wow."

"Best of luck with the chest and all. Maybe I'll see you around."

He gives Arledge a friendly rub on the shoulder as he walks out.

You don't trust this at all. Nobody just gives up their bed in the middle of the night/early morning unless they're at knifepoint. They certainly aren't cheery about it.

Maybe he's just a nice person. Not everything is a conspiracy.

There's "nice", and there's "give up your room at estimated 5 in the morning for no reason". This is sickeningly nice. Like the sort of powder they use on rats that tastes all sweet, but they eat it and die and then you eat them and vomit for a week straight. Like that. You just don't trust it.

Arledge has switched the foot he's using to kick the wall. You hope the noise doesn't keep you up. You hope you're capable of sleeping on your back rather than all up on your side. You hope you feel a little less shit (later) in the morning.

You sleep.

>Roll me a 1d100 for sleep quality!
Rolled 89 (1d100)

Rolled 21 (1d100)

Oh, more dice. Nice.
You have successfully dodged the potentially endless amount of BS your subconscious is willing to throw at you!

For now~

The speed at which you black out is akin to being whacked on the back of the head by a bag of wet sand. You dream, but your dreams aren't meaningful: they're weightless, substanceless, and you flit between them with no regard for continuity or sense. You not only don't remember them on waking, you don't even remember them while you're in them. It's generally as it should be.


This feels like a good place to stop for no other reason than it's 12:40 AM and I have nothing else written. Whee. Time management.

Session likely Wednesday.
File: arledge.jpg (52 KB, 564x646)
52 KB
>|Blood: 4/10|
>|Mind: 5/10|

"...Hey," Arledge says, deliberately. "Um-"

You would be distinctly annoyed at this intrusion if you hadn't already been awake and staring at the slats in the bed above you. Curiously, they're metal: pitted metal studded with occasional rivets and the color of soot. You don't know why the bed slats are made of metal. You don't know why crab-people have beds in the first place, let alone metal ones. You have decided you don't know a lot of things.

You've been staring at the slats for a good ten minutes. Before that, you were staring to your left, to the wall: in the night (morning), somebody entered your room and hung a banner on the previously-bare wall. It appears to be of off-white canvas, and it reads: "WELL COME ". You were puzzling over the last word (words?): it's been so layered and scribbled over that it's absolutely indecipherable. You assume it's meant to say Arledge Graves.

Which, you have to say, is a little annoying. You're not sure why he's recieving the royal treatment. But whatever. Also on the wall, just below your eye level: twin impact craters where Arledge was kicking.

And before that, you were poking your bandages. You knew it. You could feel it. But you wanted to be sure: your lungs were cold and... glassy, once again.

You don't respond to Arledge's words.

"Um," he says again. "I don't know if-- well." You picture him picking at his cuticles on the top bunk. "...I'm sorry, um, for the way I... behaved. Yesterday."

"Oh," you say. You think of Arledge as poised or intense or intensely poised. You're not comfortable adding 'embarrassed' to the list. "Is that it?"

"What?" There he goes, back to intense. Much better. "Yes? Why would you- what else do you want?"

"I don't know, specifics? Like: 'sorry I got your entire chest ripped out, and sorry I was a prick all night while your entire chest was ripped out--'"

"I got your chest-- I gave you simple instructions! That you did the opposite of! And then you gave me a CONCUSSION! And your-- would you like to explain why I'm BLIND? It's not from hitting my head, there was LIGHT--"

He probably deserves to know. "Um, a flashbang."

"Made from WHAT?"

He........probably deserves to know. Still, you mumble the word. "...Sun."

The silence is deathly.

Arledge hops off the top bunk and lands, pantherine, with his back to you. You're wholly unprepared for the state of his face as he turns: the hollows under his eyes are so deep you have a compulsion to stick your finger in them. His eyes, heavily shadowed, are green and spent.

"It left," he snarls, though you voiced no comment. "The sun??"

"Uh..." Well, you said it. No take-backs. "Yeah."

"Okay. Okay." His hands jab at his temples. "What does that mean??"


You are saved by a knock, if you can call it a knock: it's really more of a bang or a slam. You guess crabs lack precision. "HELLO," says the voice on the other side of the door. "IS EVERYTHING O-K? WE DETECTED ALTERCATION."

The pressure applied to Arledge's temples doubles. "Yes," he says, and then repeats it louder: "YES."


>[A1] You never got to eat that deer, did you? Breakfast sounds like a good idea.
>[A2] You still have little idea what you're actually doing here, but it might be smart to get to the 'meeting chamber' early. Maybe you can find out.
>[A3] Charlie still ought to be around, right? He might be a friendlier face than Arledge at the moment. Go find him.
>[A4] Write-in.


>[B1] Continue to tell Arledge about the whole sun thing. He might know something about it.
>[B2] Take advantage of the distraction to move past the whole sun thing.
>[B3] Write-in.
>[A1] You never got to eat that deer, did you? Breakfast sounds like a good idea.
>[B1] Continue to tell Arledge about the whole sun thing. He might know something about it.

Does Arledge know how long we've been underwater? Madrigal was surprised that it was less than a week.
He does-- Madrigal informed the rest of the camp crew at some point in the group meeting. (It's not currently relevant, but Lorne also knows via Arledge.)
>Tell him

Writing! Dropped my trip there, sorry.
Wow! Guess who lost their entire update! It's me! I lost it!

Laptop died and it killed the whole thing. It's going to be a little while, folks, while I attempt to recreate it.
>Tell him. [when appropriate]

"Breakfast." Arledge scoffs. "Hah. That sound good to you?"

His words are scornful, but it does, actually, sound good to you. You were promised a deer, after all, and you got a deer, and then you never ate the deer. You miss food.


"I'm sure."

And with that, all the roiling anger and frustration he's been obviously, openly grappling with disappears-- or is sublimated, maybe, pushed down to whatever quiet corner or closet he hides it in. Left in its place is the shiny veneer of neutrality you recognize from your earliest encounters with him.

It's very sudden and very disconcerting and you're not sure why it happened. You're also not sure you like it.

"Can you stand," he asks, and there's not a trace of emotion behind the words.

You can stand, as it turns out, and you can even walk (shakily, awkwardly). "Here," says eerily-calm Arledge, and offers you his pole. You don't know where he got it.

"It's a quarterstaff," he says, and you're pleased to hear a note of-- annoyance? sarcasm? something. You resolve to continue to call the pole a pole, even though that you know it's actually a quarterstaff, now, and so there.

Arledge grunts.

The pole helps with your walking, and you quickly come to hobble along with the best of one-legged orphans or elderly invalids. It's good enough.

The dormitory corridor outside is empty, as is the flower-strewn waiting room. You don't wave to the crab receptionist as you exit, but it responds anyways with a cheery "HAVE A NICE INCURSION."

Outside, the morning water is warm and unreasonably bright. Crabs mill about, though "mill about" is a sore exaggeration-- they seem mostly to stand in one place and occasionally wave their feelers. You suppose it works for them.

There's a couple people outside, too: one group across the way appears to be negotiating with a guard(?)-crab, while a whole gaggle lies near a long building a ways to your left. The clearly-printed sign reads "DINING HALL" in large letters, and under it: "HUMANS ONLY".


Arledge twines and entwines his fingers as the two of you walk (/ limp) your way over. It's so hypnotic you barely notice your arrival at the dining hall, much less your seating at a table.

Why do you think he does it? Is it a sort of finger exercise?

Maybe, but you're not sure why anyone would exercise their fingers. It seems pointless.

Okay, maybe not that. Maybe it's a metaphor for his, like, pent-up rage. He's all freaky calm on the outside, and he works out all the hatred or whatever through the fingers. I assume it's some sort of technique.

That sounds more plausible. You hope Arledge plans on teaching you his secret finger technique in short order, because you really feel it could be useful.

File: waitress.jpg (76 KB, 564x746)
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"Stop," Arledge hisses, "talking about my fingers. I have to hold a conversation, which is hard enough without this. And look up."

You look up. The three other people at the table give you bland smiles before immediately returning to their discussion-- something about "Blossom Rock" and "horrible". Rude.

"Excuse me," says a woman to your right. She wears a pressed white shirt and pressed black pants and a pressed smile on her face. She presses a thin metal tablet into your hands. "Please take a look. What would you like to order?"

You've never really had options for what to eat before, much less-- whatever these things are. What the hell is a banana? Are you reading that right?

"Here," she says, gently. "How about I get you the special? That should work, right?"

You don't have time to nod or shrug before she's off. You return to watching Arledge, who's making stiff small talk. His foot taps one-two, one-two.

I don't think that's anything, but who knows.

In short order, a steaming plate of... something is deposited before you. There's a meat, maybe, a pinkish sort of color. There's some squishy white orbs. There's some yellowish slices of something.

The other people at the table are eating it-- except for Arledge, who doesn't have a plate in front of him. They aren't dying. You figure you ought to give it a shot.

>Roll me 3 1d100s-5 (-5 Weak Blood) vs. DC 55 for ???
Rolled 55 - 5 (1d100 - 5)

I do enjoy mystery rolls
Rolled 23 - 5 (1d100 - 5)

Rolled 13 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Weak blood? We need to train it.
>50, 18, 8 vs. DC 55 - Critical Failure!

Weak Blood is the Clouded Mind equivalent, or your drawback for having low Blood. You're at 4/10, which is a -5.
>50, 18, 8 vs. DC 55 - Critical Failure!

Tentatively, you pick up a yellowish slice and bite into it. It's slick and mushy, a little like boiled root, but tastes much better: sweet and vaguely, generically fruity.

Hey. It tastes like my cocktail. Weird.

You're still miffed that he saw fit to summon a fruity drink while you were incapacitated inside Arledge's head. Kind of smarmy, really.

Is that how that word is used?

Maybe? You're not a dictionary. You've seen a dictionary, twice. You mean, it is kind of weird-- the thing about the taste, not the word smarmy, or dictionaries-- but not weird enough for you to really care.

Your second bite is where you begin to really care. It isn't sweet, but fiercely bitter. It reminds you of something you can't recall. You mean to spit it out, but fail: its slick texture slides right on down your slick glass throat.

You think, briefly: maybe that was just a bad one. Bruised, or something. Not everything has to be a crisis.

Don't say that.


Your head hurts.

And at least quote me properly.

You weren't trying to quote him. And you take issue with the idea that you can ever quote him improperly, really.

You would like to know why he's talking like that.

I think it's the thing you swallowed. It's the obvious solution.


I think it's why I have two glass eyes.

He's going to be behind you. You have tripped and fallen from the start of a murder-hotel story straight into the middle. He's going to be behind you.

You look behind you. He's not there.

You look ahead. He's there; one foot obnoxiously on the table, the other dangling off. He's rocking what you're calling the 'Lorne look': your jacket, mercifully not torn to shreds, but no shirt. Just bandages.

More to the point, his eyes are unfocused and shiny and, you're guessing, glass. They're still blue.

You're suitably freaked out.

Listen, I am too. I like having eyes.

Is he taking the piss? That's not appropriate.

No, I really do. They're so MALLEABLE-

You look towards Arledge. Arledge isn't looking towards you. You're looking towards you, leaning on the back of Arledge's chair. You don't like to see your face looking how it's looking on him.

we're so MALLEABLE ellery aren't we
we've CHANGED so much
there'd be no harm in doing it some more

Wouldn't there?

we don't need you if you're going to be difficult
but we will wait, won't we?
we're not ready yet! soon

What has gone wrong?

When is soon? You can't wait till soon. You don't want to see soon.

What can you do?

>|Mind: 4/10|

(Choices next)
>[1] Nevermind YOU-- what about everyone else eating breakfast? You have to stop them from THIS, whatever THIS is.
>[2] ARLEDGE is right here. Does he ever know what to do? No, but-- you don't either, not really. You need ASSISTANCE.
>[3] The WOMAN was the one who gave you this! Is she responsible? Did she give you THIS? Interrogate her.
>[4] THIS is a matter of the MIND. You can deal with this on your own TURF. By which you mean freaky MIND GULLSHIT that you'll figure out as you go.
>[5] FUCK THIS. Your chest is already hanging open. Just claw through to your stomach and get THIS out of you.
>[6] WRITE-IN.
>[4] THIS is a matter of the MIND. You can deal with this on your own TURF. By which you mean freaky MIND GULLSHIT that you'll figure out as you go.
> Call in backup! Our other, uh, self! Not the not!lorne but, the other other us! The smarmy one! Maybe he can help!
>[2] ARLEDGE is right here. Does he ever know what to do? No, but-- you don't either, not really. You need ASSISTANCE.
This is he! He has lost his shirt and gained an ATTITUDE.
Feel free to attempt to summon another one, if that's what you'd like.
>[4] THIS is a matter of the MIND. You can deal with this on your own TURF. By which you mean freaky MIND GULLSHIT that you'll figure out as you go.

>Critfails eating a fucking banana
>Has a mental breakdown

What a fantastic idiot, I love it.
I think we got spiked with... was it seawater that summons the blue eyes white Ellery?

If he's so MALLEABLE how about we go in there and beat him into less of a shit
Word of god, transcribed here thanks to wifis blocking 4channel:

1) while I'm a total flake I'm not dead and 2) vote open until ~3 pm PST, post after that, not a session but promise one update. full session friday or saturday?
>[4] THIS is a matter of the MIND. You can deal with this on your own TURF. By which you mean freaky MIND GULLSHIT that you'll figure out as you go.

Ah yes! Changing


Calling and writing (at a leisurely pace).

Blue Eyes White Ellery (kek) is permanently summoned-- he's always around but chooses to speak only when he has opinions or sarcastic asides. Or, you know... this.

If you mean his original emergence, it's not obvious what caused it. Lorne and Arledge theorize that the seawater "transmutes" people into someone fundamentally different from who they were in the air, and sometimes this process comes with quirks and mistakes. Like him.

Of course, Lorne and Arledge are hardly the most reliable sources, so it's unclear how much of this is true.

Something is off, and you can't put your finger on it. Not the big thing, the obvious thing, not the thing about your doppelganger being-- hijacked? corrupted?. That's been covered.

No, it's something about him. And it's not his smile, though it's all you can look at: it's just too wide for your face to handle. He looks inhuman. He looks animal. You wish he wouldn't. The reminder of his blatant unreality has landed you a painful thrum behind your eyes.

That's not the only thing contributing, though. His mouth doesn't condescend to move with the words. There's no pretension of movement when you swivel your head to test-- he just stays in your field of vision as if anchored there. Arledge shoots you a glance.

Maybe you were going into this with the wrong expectations. The last time you saw That Guy, he'd peeled himself away from you. He was real, kind of, or at least dealing with reality.

He doesn't have to do that, now. He's in your head.


Okay. This offers a whole new perspective. You can deal with your own head, if you can figure out what to do with it. It's just a matter of what.

>[1] You have to go in. It will leave him in control, but he said he'd wait- and Arledge is right there. It's the only way you can deal with this yourself.
>[2] You don't have to go in. If you think hard enough, you can figure out where in your head he sits, and then you can decide what to do about it. Maybe. Right?
>[3] He's you. You've accepted that. But by that logic... are you him? Can you be him, and can he stop this if you were? Should you find out?
>[4] Write-in.
>[3] He's you. You've accepted that. But by that logic... are you him? Can you be him, and can he stop this if you were? Should you find out?

We don't want to be him right now, he's all fucked up! We're 100% gonna critfail and whatever's wrong with him is gonna backflow and infect us.
>[3] He's you. You've accepted that. But by that logic... are you him? Can you be him, and can he stop this if you were? Should you find out?
>>[2] You don't have to go in. If you think hard enough, you can figure out where in your head he sits, and then you can decide what to do about it. Maybe. Right?

We shouldn't do [3] at 4/10 Mind guys. We are at a distinct disadvantage in all these choices honestly
>>[3] He's you. You've accepted that. But by that logic... are you him? Can you be him, and can he stop this if you were? Should you find out?
Gimme dat forbidden knowledge
>2 for playing it safe

MYSTERY BOX it is. Please roll me 3 d100s + 15 (+10 Weak Blood +5 Clouded Mind) vs. DC 40 to OPEN THE MYSTERY BOX.
Rolled 47 + 15 (1d100 + 15)

Rolled 20 + 15 (1d100 + 15)

Rolled 60 (1d100)

>one success
Gonna leave this up to me, huh?
Writing after.
Rolled 12 + 15 (1d100 + 15)

Hang on, I can roll. Just got home.
File: metacoffe.png (218 KB, 469x512)
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218 KB PNG
No that's alright
>Do something unorthodox.
>62, 35, 75 vs. DC 40 - Success.

It's not just a headache. The thrum is punctured by a string of unwelcome thoughts about the nature of your existence, mostly retreads from your debate with Arledge: if he's not real, what's to say you are? If you hadn't been found last night, if you'd bled and bled until nothing was left: what would've remained? Who'd be lying there? He certainly wouldn't be you.

Because you aren't even a proper person. Proper people don't survive having their whole chest ripped off. They just die, like they're supposed to. They certainly don't have their entire identity tied to how much blood's in their body. They're not constantly in flux, they're not constantly--


He's still grinning, the bastard, and if it's possible the grin gets wider. It's not possible, actually-- you know for a fact your mouth isn't supposed to go there.

It's in such defiant opposition to how things are supposed to be that you're almost jealous. Through everything, he hasn't changed. He's been your constant neurotic companion from day one. He's more of a proper person than you, really, though of course he is you.

Or maybe you have that wrong. He's the one here who knows what's going on. He's the one here who keeps you awake and aware and alive. Even when he could change, he doesn't, because it wouldn't be proper.

(This is incorrect. He has changed, and is changed, but you got four hours of sleep and aren't wearing a shirt and are not at all in a state to notice or care.)

You have it the wrong way around. He's not you. You're him.

And, of course, you always have been.

>|Mind: 3/10|

still writing. dropping this to whet the appetite
Rolled 22 + 15 (1d100 + 15)

hold on, i can roll.
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134 KB JPG
Jesus christ.
You don't really have a name. You're okay with that.

This sucks.

You hate everything about this. You hate how blue your voice is. 'Blue' is a sound?. You hate that too. You hate the nonfunctional glass eyes-- I don't understand the point. I can see exactly the same.

I wish he would stop looking at me like that. Big stupid frightened-animal eyes. It's not like I'm not trying.

But it's hard.

It has extracted control of your voice and movements. It's fighting for your thoughts, though of course it won't work: you don't have any of your own, not really. It doesn't know that.

It wanted him. I'm just in the way.

It rips through you. It looks for anything of substance. It won't find it.

But I can't stop it when 'soon' comes.

MALLEABLE, it says automatically. What? You've given up on listening when he gets like this. You can't help, and you definitely can't help as a prisoner.

You mentally twiddle your thumbs.


- Hello, someone says, and coughs. Hello.

Hello? You've not had a voice in your head of your own. This is novel.

- Oh. That's weird.

No kidding. Have I cracked under the stress of being possessed?

- No. Well... No. I'm you.


He stares vacantly through you, but that's not uncommon.

- I'm not sure. I think you are.


You aren't Ellery Routh. You're of him, certainly. Maybe you used to be. But the gap now is too wide to leap.

But you don't know who you are, then. You don't have a name.

I- I don't think so.

- But you are.
- You have to be.

Okay. Even the thing is confused: your grin is still intact, but your brow is furrowed. If I'm Ellery, who are you?

- I'm you, I guess. It's the only thing that makes sense.

It's eminently reasonable. You were just mixed up, all along.

- So it's settled? You have to be Ellery, and I have to be you.


- Alright, then.

Like spun sugar, the world stretches and thins, and you find yourself in two places at once. You sit on the table, and you have a jacket. You sit in a chair, and you do not.

And then you sit in a chair.

2/3. 3 still being written
File: ellery routh.jpg (79 KB, 564x670)
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You are Ellery Routh. You know you are, because your hair is mussed and the bags under your blue eyes are enormous.

You are
just as you've always been.


He sits on the table across from you, legs folded. He is too loud, and his lips don't entirely move in-sync with the word. You appreciate the effort, though.

Oh, sorry. That's better. I'm still... well, anyways. Are you still blue?

It has retreated somewhere into the dusty recesses of your mind. It's baffled, though you don't know why. Everything's the same.

That's right.

With full control of your faculties, you're confident you can dig out the thing before it knows what's hit it.

You just need a plan.

>[1] Bide your time. It's a little risky timing-wise, but it's a lot easier than trying to dig it out yourself.
>[2] Comb your thoughts. You may make yourself vulnerable, but you don't want to hit 'soon'.
>[3] Write-in.
>[2] Comb your thoughts. You may make yourself vulnerable, but you don't want to hit 'soon'.
Hey look, the scar!

Fantastic scar. Extremely realistic looking.
>[3] Write-in.
Now I haven't taken mindscape warfare 101, but could we bait it out somehow so we can engage on our terms?
Thanks. I really ought to make this a drawquest.

Guess I'll stick with my vote then. Might make us less vulnerable while getting it sooner rather than later.

I hope.
We're currently at a 3-way tie, so by executive decision I'm gonna take the write-in(>>3370775). It more-or-less covers the other two.

You succeed automatically thanks to your +30 Clear Mind bonus. (You are at 4/10 Blood. You are at 10/10 Mind.) You could theoretically fail this, but the chance is so vanishingly small it's not worth the trouble to roll for.

File: it.jpg (99 KB, 564x752)
99 KB
>Bait it out.

A plan? Wow. I'd say just go in there and figure it out, but I guess you've got it handled, huh.

He's being passive-aggressive. You're not sure what you've done to warrant this, so you're choosing to ignore it. You're less interested in his words than you are in his actions, besides-- he's patting himself up and down like he's just discovered he has corporeal form. He looks terrified.

Actually... you suppose it is probably fairly rare for him. That's egg on your face.

Anyways, anyways: a plan. You consider and discard waiting it out (too risky) and searching for it yourself (also too risky). Optimally, you'd lure it out from wherever it went. No danger, no mess.

The bait: It wants change. It will get change.

The setup: You close your eyes and extinguish the little senseless thrill you get from doing so. There's a pink tent here, which will suit you nicely. You crawl inside and recline metaphorically on the hill of pillows.

You will indulge the thing. You will pound yourself into a different shape. You're MALLEABLE.

Not in reality. You're in public. But in here.

The execution: Your self-image is still new and bloody from the latest addition: the hole ripped in its chest. It's a simple matter of sliding it out of place (you briefly wink invisible) and slotting a choice image back in.

You crumple up into yourself and unfold differently.

Oh, you're the polka-dot crab. You ought to be too large for this person-sized tent, but it's politely enlarged to accomodate you. A rousing success.

You can do that?!

Why not? It's your head, after all. There's no expectations to conform to. (You were fairly sure he knew this, but whatever.)

A sussurus from nearby puts a self-satisfied smile on your face-- or, well, as best you can do as a crab-thing. It comes.

It is here. It immediately wriggles out from under a mound of pillows.

The thing that tried to hijack you is glassy, iridescent, and the size of your hand. It's cute, even.

you have changed, it mutters. already? it's not time

>[1] No use beating around the bush. Kill it.
>[2] Hold on, you have questions for the thing. (What?)
>[3] This was too easy. It can't be this easy. Leave this thing be and ready your defenses for the *real* culprit.
>[4] Write-in.
>[2] Hold on, you have questions for the thing. (What?)
"Who slipped you into my food?"

>[1] No use beating around the bush. Kill it.
Then steel ourselves in case it wasn't alone.

Oi. Who are you, and what's the big idea of jumping in here? I'm running a delicate operation!
>yo wtf
>kill it after
>stay on guard

Please roll me 3 1d100s-5 (-5 Weak Blood) vs. DC 35 to murder this defenseless octopus thing!
Rolled 32 - 5 (1d100 - 5)

prepare for a dunkening, squidward
Rolled 50 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 72 - 5 (1d100 - 5)

>27, 45, 67 vs. DC 40 - Success.
How is that cute? It's like a weird ocean spider. Sea spider. Sea-der? Nevermind.

You don't know, it doesn't seem so bad. And it didn't really do anything, anyways, just kind of made you (well, not you) spew some threatening garbage. No harm, no foul.

You will kill it. But you'd like to ask it some questions.

"What are you?"

just want you to change. thank you


"Okay, fine. How'd you end up in my fruit? Did someone send you?"


"Is that an answer?"


Also helpful. Very productive.

Okay, you would really prefer it without the commentary. You were fine when it was witty or relevant or (most pointedly) occasional. This is just trying too hard.


You weren't expecting him to sound genuinely cowed.

I just feel like I should, um, say something. I don't know what else to do.

You have no fecking idea what he does all day, but he should keep doing that. You're trying to deal with a threat. You have no time to babysit a grown-ass man.


He's not just regular unhappy, he's downright miserable-sounding. You had no idea your eidolon- was that the word?- was such an emotional wreck.

The sea-der is failing miserably to inch its way up your smooth, rounded leg. It's pathetic in, yes, a cute way. You'd rather not kill it.

Maybe you don't have to. It can't be all. You refuse to believe this thing sent you spiraling into a panic.

It's a decoy. It's a trick. If you kill it, you'd be playing into its hands, right? You have to leave it.


That Guy shimmers into view far below you, looking more rumpled than you've ever seen him. Oh, shit, he says, surprised. It worked.

He's just all out of sorts, isn't he? Maybe it's your residual blood loss.

...Yeah. Probably. Hold on.

He stomps the sea-der. He stomps it again and again until it's nothing but shards across the tent floor. You're sufficiently distraught, though it's difficult to emote with mouthparts.

You're welcome. Trust me, it was creepy.

He shoots you a 'watching you' gesture, raises his eyebrows, and vanishes.

...Oh, I forgot. I think Arledge is looking at me funny. Um, you funny, I guess. Us funny. You get to deal with that.

You open your eyes. The party at your table is gone, as are most of the people formerly in the dining hall. Arledge is tilted back in his chair. His hands are tightly interlaced in his lap and white at the knuckles.

His voice doesn't belie how tense he is. "Hi, Ellery."


Isn't he blind? Why is he looking at you?

"I retain a certain level of awareness. It's easier when I'm not about to be killed." He arches an eyebrow. "What's going on with you?"

"What?" This could refer to a number of things. You go with the most obvious. "Um, I think my food got spiked. It's probably resolved."

"Oh. Huh?" He untilts his chair. "Okay, we'll... discuss that later. No, uh, I meant you. I was hearing a lot of things that worried me earlier, and then they stopped. Are you okay?"

You know what he's talking about, but it's something you find hard to answer. There's a layer of emotional remove between then and now.

Also, you're surprised he cares.

"I have to care. I don't want you disappearing one day, okay, and that's what's going to happen if you end up in a funk. It's not unreasonable."

>[1] Be frank. You don't believe he likes you. You don't trust him with your emotional wellbeing.
>[2] Be polite. You appreciate it, but you're feeling better right now. You can handle it.
>[3] Be open. You don't entirely understand what you were thinking earlier, but you can repeat it. It might do you good to share.
>[4] Write-in.
>[3] Be open. You don't entirely understand what you were thinking earlier, but you can repeat it. It might do you good to share.
>>[3] Be open. You don't entirely understand what you were thinking earlier, but you can repeat it. It might do you good to share.
>Be emotionally vulnerable!
What a thought! Writing.
>Be open.

You appreciate that he asked. That's what it comes down to. Whatever his motivations, he didn't have to ask after your wellbeing.

But he did, and so giving him platitudes or brute emotion would be an insult. He deserves the truth.

What? No. You're not going to spill my fecking insecurities out to Arledge. He's going to hold it over me forever.

You don't think he will. Or he'll keep it under wraps, at least, and you're comfortable with that. Also, "his" insecurities?

He'll get a look.

You're quaking in your boots. Your very dirty books, now that you look at them. There's no reason not to give them a polish.

Uh. Well, your whole bit is off-track now. It summed up to 'that's childish and petty.' And also 'I need to take better care of myself', apparently. How have you not combed your hair? Even with your fingers? It bristles upwards like a frightened cat.

I hate this.

Good, now you've been silent for too long. Arledge is drumming his finger on the table.

"Um," you start, "I guess... it's mostly the blood loss that gets me. I'm not comfortable with the idea that my identity is predicated on... something that I don't think of as mine."


His face is a mask of shock. Was he not expecting you to actually respond? You suppose it's rare for you to open up, but even so. "Oh. Uh, continue."

"So when I'm directly confronted with the idea that it is, I guess, that I don't have ownership over who I am... things start going south. It starts going into 'am I even real'-- like, I know I exist, but am I actually a person making choices? Or am I just being driven by some outside force I can't influence? And it's worst of all when I can actually..."

Your emotional barrier is starting to crumble. The pain was hard, but the blood loss was worse: you were left with nothing to cling onto. You don't want to talk about it, but you're too deeply committed to stop.

"...feel it happening. I'm really just leaking out, aren't I? Like, I can think, and talk, but there's nobody actually back there pushing the buttons. And it's scary."

"And so I get to thinking: you know my eidolon? I don't remember if--"

"Blue Eyes. We've met multiple times."

"Blue... well, no. Brown Eyes. Hazel Eyes. But it doesn't matter. It's like... he's kind of more of a person than I am."

"What, nn... how so."

"I mean, if I'm just kind of... a brain and a heart in some casing. He doesn't deal with something determining who he is."

"You determine who he is."

"Sure, but... I don't know, it's not the same thing. And that's not everything. He's just... someone, all the time, while I feel like I'm not. I'm in too much flux."

Arledge rests his chin on one hand. "Two things. One: you're wrong. Change is what makes you more than him."

You don't know how.

"I think I'm right in saying this. He can maybe change superficially, but not fundumentally. No matter what, he's always going to be built on the same thing: you.

You're not built on anything at all. You can reinvent yourself, and remake yourself, and mold yourself into whatever you want to be. That's exactly the human thing to do, and it's the only thing we do. We change."


"Second thing: it's definitely Blue Eyes. I'm talking to Ellery, right?"


"Hm. Okay. Well--" He stands and offers you a hand up. "--I'm glad you shared. And I'm sorry."

You accept his hand and fumble for his quarterstaff to lean on.

"Forcing people down here is cruel. You have no idea what to expect, and then you snap from the stress and mental toll, and then you die. I just don't want that to happen, is all."


Arledge clears his throat. "Ahem. Um, the reason we're here is starting in about five minutes. I don't know if you know that."

"Um, no." How long were you out? "We really ought to get going."

"Yes." He casts a long glance in your direction. "You're okay?"

"Yeah." You are.

You follow Arledge out the door.

next time: plot! consequences? continued emotional maturity?
potentially tomorrow, potentially sunday, likely scattered updates regardless
good night
Thanks for running!

"Do you see it?" Arledge holds his hand up to shade his eyes, though it's unclear if it's useful or just instinct.

The buildings are carved in two straight lines: against the cliff and parallel to it. They increase in size and complexity as you look forward. They also become increasingly ridden with unnatural golden streaks.

The dormitory is on the far end of the town(?), where you came in. The dining hall lies somewhere in the middle. Your destination, judging by the great 'MEETING CHAMBER' banner, is near the end. It lies next to the largest building of all, a giant chiseled edifice that helpfully says "PALACE" above the darkened entrance.

You're so *observant*. I guess I'm usually too wrapped up in my own stuff to look around.

It's difficult to tell if he's being sarcastic. If he is: was that needed? If he isn't: what does he mean? It's not his job to observe things, it's yours.


"Yeah," you say to Arledge.

"Lead the way, then."

You do, at the fastest pace you can muster-- still slow enough to make conversation. There's something you'd like to bring back up.

"Hey, on the topic of full disclosure. You wanted to know about the, um, the whole light thing?"

"What? Yeah, I did, I suppose." Arledge doesn't look like he believes this.

"That was the sun, I think."

"The sun."

"Yeah. It was in my chest, but then, um, that happened. I think it's gone, now."

Arledge chews the inside of his cheek for what feels like a full minute. "Okay."

What does that mean? "Okay?"

"That's all I have to say."

Wow, look at that. You made him mad at me.

You don't think he's mad. You think he's confused. But either way, you prefer that he knows.

The meeting chamber is circular in shape and almost half golden. It's really more of an amphitheatre than a chamber inside, with a circular hallway ringing some sort of mass seating area. A quick glance through one of the doors in reveals maybe twenty or thirty people sitting inside, though the area looks capable of holding a couple hundred. Orange flower petals coat every seat.

The arched ceiling makes the low murmur of the crowd feel more like a low roar, but two voices still cut through. Charlie, now in a smart black suit, stands when he notices you and raises his arm. "Ellery! Right over here!"

The mention of your name draws somebody else's attention. Duncan from last night lays sideways near the back, his hands folded behind his head and his legs covering several seats. He sits upright. "Hey! ...Scott and Elliot! Come on over!"

>[1] Sit with Charlie. He might be good company, and you owe him a thank you for giving up his room.
>[2] Sit with Duncan. He's alone, after all, and he's totally bought into your story. It would be good to secure him as an ally.
>[3] Sit alone. Both of these men are far too nice. The only people that nice are hiding something.
>[4] Write-in.
>[1] Sit with Charlie. He might be good company, and you owe him a thank you for giving up his room.
>Bring Charlie over to Duncan and introduce them

>But ask him to call us Elliot first

How could this possibly go wrong?
I want to point out that Duncan perked up at 'Ellery' and not Elliot. I suppose they are similar but still.
I have to run out for a good long while-- likely at least two hours, if not more. Vote will remain open until my return, and the session will proceed as expected from there.
Yeah, I noticed that too. Figured either he misheard or he just looked up because someone shouted, and saw us when he did.
>>[1] Sit with Charlie. He might be good company, and you owe him a thank you for giving up his room.
roll-kun here, this seems more fun
fuck i didn't update, rolling with this one then
Let's go, support
fuck you, you took too long and made me go and promise things. Fiiiine...

Switching back to >>3373137
>Sit with Charlie!

>Group hang!

Writing on my phone rn but I'll be home soon and will switch over to usual laptop!
File: dib.jpg (66 KB, 564x617)
66 KB
>Invite Charlie over here and introduce him to Duncan.
>Ask him to call you Elliot.

You could pick a seat, but the simplest and most diplomatic thing to do would be just to invite one of them over. They'll get on like a house on fire, you're pretty sure.

You give Duncan the 'wait' finger (he returns with a thumbs up) and stagger down the stairs to the bottom of the rows of seats. Charlie sits with perfect posture between a surly woman in a sheer dress and another with red dyes streaked down her arms and across the bridge of her nose. He raises a hand in greeting.


That almost bothers you more than the contractions. Regular people say "hello" or "hi" or "heya". There are no 'u's involved.

It's possible, you suppose, that he's foreign. Or rich, the same thing. He has the slight tinge of an accent either way.

"Hi," you attempt to begin. You'd forgotten you can't speak. You try it again in handsign. "You S-I-T there?"

"Wave," you command Arledge, and he does.

Charlie's eyebrows raise from behind his sunglasses, but he stands. "Whatever you like. Say, how'dja nab that scar? S'that new?"

"No." You've always had it.

"It was pretty dark, I guess! Alright, lead the way."

The crabs must be running late, because you're sure it's been longer than 5 minutes. It's no matter. By the time you make it back up the stairs, Duncan's not just out of his seat: his arm is wrapped around a stony-faced Arledge.

"The crabs," he's saying, "right? I mean, a buncha- Elliot!"

Shit. You'd forgotten your alias, and that's something you don't want to come up in casual conversation. You hope Charlie will be willing to accommodate.

You tap his shoulder. "My N-A-M-E no E-L-L-E-R-Y. E-L-L-I-O-T."

"What, really, or..." You give him a pleading look. "Well, I don't blame you. Must be tough having all that baggage, huh? I'll be flexible."

To Arledge's great relief, Duncan breaks away from him and hops down the few stairs spanning you and him. He sticks out an enthusiastic hand to Charlie. "Hiya. You're Elliot's friend?"

Charlie takes the hand and pumps it twice, but doesn't let go. "Suppose so." A little presumptuous. "I'm Charlie Barker. I see you're a Courtier?"

"Sure am. I'm Dib. Sunglasses with no sun, huh?" He makes no effort to extricate his hand. His smile is a little plastered-on.

"Got a condition." Charlie is unruffled. "Noneya."

"None of my business?"

"No, it's actually called Noneya."

"Got a joker." Duncan narrows his eyes. "Hey, if you know so much about the Court, you should know we don't want any trouble. We're just normal people trying to survive down here."

"Nothing wrong with that." Charlie brushes down the front of his suit with his free hand.

"Here's my issue. Normal people don't wear sunglasses indoors. Normal people aren't supposed to have sunglasses. Take them off and we won't have any trouble, okay?"

"I can't do that, Dib."

They're still locked in handshake. "Sure you can. Elliot, would you care to help him out?"

This is very much not the reaction you expected. Arledge, behind them, looks concerned but not surprised.

>[1] Alright, they need to break it up. You don't care whether Charlie has sunglasses or not. Let's all be friends.
>[2] Dib's clearly in the wrong here. It really is none of his business.
>[3] You don't see how it could possibly be any harm for Charlie to take off his sunglasses. It'd take two seconds and hurt nobody.
>[4] They can work this out on their own. Just quietly take your seat.
>[5] Write-in.
>>[1] Alright, they need to break it up. You don't care whether Charlie has sunglasses or not. Let's all be friends.
>[2] Dib's clearly in the wrong here. It really is none of his business.

How can you fault his personal preferences?
>[4] They can work this out on their own. Just quietly take your seat.
This is going exactly to plan!
Rolled 2 (1d3)

Rolling then writing.
Rolled 88, 82, 79 = 249 (3d100)

dc 75
>Dib's in the wrong.

You would not like to help him out. Actually, you're a little disgusted. Are threats really necessary for something this minor? Who actually gives a shit about his sunglasses? What happened to Duncan being a nice guy?

You shake your head no, a little harder than you meant to. Charlie's mouth turns up further at the edges. Duncan's does the opposite. He whirls upon you like you just told him his mother were the Pillar horse.

"Fine, then! I thought you were okay, but I guess not! What is it, huh? What's wrong with you?!"

That's not a question you can adequately answer. You stumble backwards towards Arledge, who manages to radiate an aura of 'I told you so'.

The physical distance is enough to turn Duncan's attention back onto Charlie. He yanks the handshake (it's not even a handshake at this point) backwards, and Charlie trips forward.

"Mr. Barker," Duncan says in the voice you recognize from last night. It's an exceedingly nice voice. "Take off your sunglasses, and let's sit down. Huh? I don't want to make a scene."

"You're cute," Charlie says. "But no. That's not a threat you can back up, I--"

>88, 82, 79 vs. DC 75

Duncan lashes out with his free hand so fast you don't see it happen. You just assume it must've: the sunglasses now dangle in his two-fingered grip, and Charlie...

Son of a bitch. I thought it was going to be something cool. Like, I don't know, magic eyes. Or no eyes. Not-

Glasses. He has regular clear glasses on under his sunglasses. They're horn-rimmed, thin, and don't suit his ovalish face in the slightest. The eyes behind them are an ordinary mossy green and crinkle in exasperation. They don't really suit his face, either, in a way you can't explain.

"He has glasses? Shit. What kind?"

"They're sort of skinny rectangles."

"Shit." Arledge doesn't continue.

Charlie relinquishes his grip, finally, and folds his hands by his waist. "Excellent. Are you satisfied? I wear glasses."

"Yes." Duncan tucks the sunglasses into an inside jacket pocket and takes Charlie by the chin. He doesn't resist. "Yes. Have you noticed?"

"Have I noticed..."

"There's a rip in your face, Mr. Barker."

Is there? There is, right by Charlie's right ear: not a cut or a scratch, but a tear as if in paper. You dislike the implications of this.

"Should we go," you ask Arledge. "This doesn't seem--"


Charlie(?) lets out a slow exhale. "...Bound'ta happen, eventually."

"So you don't deny it. So you don't mind if I-"

He lashes out again, quick as a snake, and with a terrible noise the tear lengthens until it crosses the breadth of Charlie's(?) face.

File: probably charlie.png (635 KB, 479x750)
635 KB
635 KB PNG
It's kind of nice having things not be about you, for once. It's kind of nice to be able to think "I am not the strangest thing going on here." How can you be, when somebody's eyes are being ripped from their head? Not from the sockets, just the head: Duncan peels up the entire strip of flesh between the bridge of Charlie(?)'s nose and the area just below his eyebrows. Except-- the second it leaves the skin it's not flesh. The details of the glasses and eyes and skin are printed on in excruciating detail, to be sure, but it's straight-up paper: it lacks any depth, and the edges are furred with loose fibers. It's paper.

Almost worse is what's left behind, which is to say absolutely nothing. You can see the amphitheatre stage through the back of his skull.

>|Mind: 9/10|

Wow. I got magic eyes *and* no eyes. Go me.

Duncan has grown ashen but nevertheless maintains his nerve. He rolls the eye-paper between his fingers.

"Good job." Charlie(?) has lost his patience. "You win. Would'ja give me my eyes back?"


"Because the rest of it's going'ta be-- oh."

"Naturally, Mr. Baker. If you cooperate. I have protocol for this. Scott?"

Arledge is busy contemplating. "That's you," you hiss, and he jolts back to awareness. "Yes?"

"I like you. Help me out and take his arm. We'll handle this together."

It's hard to read Charlie's face when a quarter of it is gone. Arledge looks resigned. "Stay here. I'll be back soon," he promises. "This is fine."

"APOLOGIES FOR THE DELAY," a crab says, and the lights dim. "WE ARE BEGINNING."

You sit down alone.


>[1] Ellery POV
>[2] Ellery / Arledge Split POV

why is it 2 in the morning god help me
maybe like one update tomorrow
planning on writing a short(???) supplementary pastebin on the adventures of the "person" formerly known as ellery routh
because it's something I want to write but it's so irrelevant story-wise I can't justify putting it in-thread
so keep an eye out for that
good night

Oh god
I'm sorry Charlie

Who knew Dib would roll so freakish good
>[2] Ellery / Arledge Split POV
Test post. May or may not be banned.
>Ellery PoV
>We need to redivide responsibilities. Hazel can do lateral thinking, imagination, humor and emotions while Blue does the responsible stuff.
Hello! Phew.

In your present state, this is not an idea that would occur to you. Try it if/when everyone's back in their rightful places.

I'm not prepared to run* yet, so I will be leaving the vote open until such time that I am.
*probably not a full run. maybe a light jog.
I'm actually not sure I'm going to run today, and I can't tomorrow (I'm going out! To do something fun!). That being said, I do have something for you guys:

As promised, a very short look into how much it sucks to be the man formerly known as Ellery Routh right now.

I have more I'd like to write along this vein and it's still irrelevant to the main thrust of the story, so expect a couple more pastebin vignettes in the future.

Have a nice day.
You should post that in-thread. Maybe in greentext. Pastes don't always last forever.
"At this moment in time we do not delete pastes that do not have an expiration date." -Pastebin website
If they announce a policy change I'll keep that in mind. For now, I'd like to keep the optional stuff optional.
It will be tomorrow or Thursday. I have a lot I need to get done in rl today. Apologies.
...Tomorrow. Sorry.
I also have another vignette in the works! So that's good! Right?
Eh, I'd say it's more silver lining.
I joke. If I sound "desperate" I'm usually joking. Text doesn't translate super well.

I wish a session were in the cards, but it just didn't work out. Writing something short is a lot faster than running for 4-9 hours, though, so that's something I could squeeze in.

See you guys around ~5-6 PST?
File: 20190327_134750.jpg (5 MB, 2396x3478)
5 MB
Little later than 6, probably, but here's your bin:

I'm really bad at actually writing optional content. This will come up later. You should probably give it a skim.
You are Arledge Graves. You are very good at keeping a straight face. It's with difficulty that you maintain one right now, and it's very bad. Your eyes reflexively narrow every time Duncan or Charlie ("Charlie") speak.

Half of this was expected. You had hoped Duncan was in the slim minority of Courtiers just in over their head, but it wasn't as if you trusted him. His latent psychosis isn't shocking.

The other half was not. You had known something was off with Charlie, but you assumed it was benign quirkiness and not... being Gideon Wainwright.

You can't be certain, but everything clicks. Gideon's been gone for three weeks. Gideon has the same accent, if a different voice. And crucially, Gideon has-- how does he put it?-- an "eye quandary".

He never made the extent clear, but this is an eye quandary if you've ever heard one.

If he is Gideon, you're going to have to the both of you out of this. If he isn't, you're going to have to get the both of you out of this. You won't brook with interrogations and certainly not with threats, no matter who the target.

This whole matter would be a lot simpler if you had a way to communicate privately with him, but with Duncan just on the other side of you that may be difficult to pull off. You need to make a decision.

>[1] Try and slip him a mark. It's subtle and noninvasive, but you'll have to cut yourself without drawing attention and then hope the resulting smudge isn't noticed.
>[2] Try and fake an accident that results on you both spilling blood. This would be very difficult, but if done properly there's no way you could be blamed.
>[3] You'll just have to try your best without any private channel with Gideon(?). It's too risky if you get caught, though the benefits would be huge.

We'll continue with Arledge until a stopping point is reached and then carry on with Ellery until both are caught up chronologically. I don't want to try and handle two at once.
>[1] Try and slip him a mark. It's subtle and noninvasive, but you'll have to cut yourself without drawing attention and then hope the resulting smudge isn't noticed.
>[2] Try and fake an accident that results on you both spilling blood. This would be very difficult, but if done properly there's no way you could be blamed.
Rolled 1 (1d2)

>Slip him a mark.

Please roll me 3 1d100s + 5 (+5 Poker Face) vs. DC 35 to pull this off without getting caught!
Rolled 98 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 54 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 49 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 99 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 88 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

>103, 59, 54 vs. DC 35 - Critical Success!
RNGesus is pleased tonight. Writing.
>Slip him a mark.
>103, 59, 54 vs. DC 35 - Critical Success!

A mark is your only real choice here. If you're fast, Duncan won't notice. He may not notice even if you aren't-- he's whistling again. You doubt his focus is on you.

The motion is graven from a thousand repetitions. First: the knife in your palm. The new one, not the ritual one. Feel the water, feel it in the water, feel the water in your hand, feel it in your hand. There we go.

It's already open and sharp, but you need to squeeze tightly against it to get the blade in past your callouses. There it is. It's only water now.

(Gideon(?) is saying something in your ear. Ellery is saying something in your head. Duncan whistles. You aren't listening to any of it.)

You bring your bleeding palm up to ostensibly rub your nose but really to discreetly expectorate. You've never been able to get an answer for the role of the saliva in the marking: it doesn't have any special properties you can think of. It's possible it's just a placeholder. But you aren't taking any chances.

Finally, you have to get the concoction onto his face. You'd prefer the forehead, but beggars can't be choosers.

If you know Gideon even a little, he's smiling. This is something you can afford to gamble on. "Wipe that SMIRK off your face," you snap, and backhand where you're roughly certain his face is.

It goes off without a hitch. "That's the spirit," Duncan cries, and jostles Gideon the other way with more force than you feel is warranted. A connection crackles to life--

"You know," Gideon says, "I was wondering if you still had that. Certainly took you long enough."

You're remembering why he was never your favorite.

"I'm sorry." Keep your face neutral. "I didn't expect you. You're lucky I managed this at all, you realize?"

"Yes. I'm joking, Arledge. Thank you."

You were hoping he was gone for good, just a little. Joking your ass.


Duncan's purposeful stride slows, indicating the time for frivolous conversation is slim. You should probably get your most burning question out of the way now.

(Pick one!)

>[1] Gideon vanishes for three weeks without notice and returns with a different face. What is he doing here?
>[2] You suspect the "eye quandary" will be the topic of most of the discussion. You better hear an explanation before Duncan does.
>[3] You don't have a contingency plan for "bodyguard to Courtier interrogation/arrest". Has he been caught before? Does he have something in the works?
>[4] Forget a plan-- you need a good lie. Scott was so brilliant he managed to invade your head. Does Ellery have another cover up his sleeve?
>[5] Write-in.
>>[3] You don't have a contingency plan for "bodyguard to Courtier interrogation/arrest". Has he been caught before? Does he have something in the works?
>Does he have a plan?

You had not prepared for this. You hope he did.


"That's me. Excellent job remembering."

You press hard at the little cut in your palm in closeted frustration. It's already closing.

"Yeah. How do you expect to get out of this?"

It's the accent that makes everything he says deadpan. Where is that from? Is it a real place? It's the only explanation for his response: "I don't, really."

He must be joking again. You wait for the punchline.

"I figure they'll arrest me, I'll write a little manifesto in the castle dungeon, start a revolt. That sort of thing. What about you?"

"I'm serious."

"So am I. I imagine it'll be titled 'Story Of My Life'. I'll credit you, don't worry- maybe the dedication. 'To Arledge Graves, my most ardent supporter, who kicked me out of my own room-'"

Would it've been so difficult to not run into him? He could've died. You'd assumed he was dead, really.

"Do you have a plan!"

"I appreciate the concern, but there's nothing you need to do. Stand in the corner and look tough, I suppose. You have the right sort of face for it."

He's definitely smirking. You're seriously considering repeating the backhand.

"This is appropriate." Duncan stops completely. You hear a door close. "Scott, would you sit Mr. Barker down?"

You shove Gideon against the wall of the... closet?, definitely harder than necessary.

"Ow," he says mildly.

"And if you'd get the door from the outside..."

>[1] Sure. You can talk with Gideon through it, after all, and it saves you the trouble of having to contribute. But you can't readily help if you have to.
>[2] You can't-- you'd like to ask Mr. Barker some questions yourself. Attempt to steer the interrogation yourself.
>[3] You can't-- you're blind. You wouldn't be any good out there. Play for sympathy.
>[4] Write-in.
>>[2] You can't-- you'd like to ask Mr. Barker some questions yourself. Attempt to steer the interrogation yourself.
>Yourself twice

>You'd like to stay in- you have some questions.

"If you don't mind," you say, "I'd actually like to stay in here. I have some questions myself."

"Oh! Well, fair enough. I plan to be comprehensive, but let me know if I forget anything!"

He slaps you on your shoulder. You flinch.

"Now- I do hereby declare that you Charles Barker have been accused of bending breaking or otherwise altering the immutable laws of reality as the general public knows them...you have infringed on the rights of others to lead everyday lives unmolested by the unnatural...you are knowingly contributing to the moral and mental decline of society, as well as the impending destruction of all we hold dear. What sayeth you to these grave charges?"

"I say..." He's back to the Charlie voice, somehow even drier than the norm. "...I would really like it if I had my eyes back. I don't think that's super unreasonable."

"Mr. Barker." It's shocking how easily Duncan slips from peppy to serious to murderous. "We can do this the easy way. We can do this the hard way. It doesn't matter to me, but I believe it will matter to you. What sayeth you?"


You know this particular tone. This is the Journalistic Crusader tone. This is the tone that has ruined multiple consecutive game nights.

"Gideon," you warn, but it's too late.

"Um. Well, I sayeth that for all the Wind Court's emphasis on 'traditional values' you sure as hell make a mockery of the traditional justice system! Have you heard of 'innocent until proven guilty'--"

"Mr. Barker, I'm in possession of a quarter of your face."

"So? You have all the immutable laws of reality on a napkin somewhere, dontcha? You know what's supposed to happen? Believe me, I'm not enthused that you have a quarter of my face; I'd actually call it unpleasant! So if you'd care to exercise some societal morals and hand it on over--"

"Mr. Barker, I would call this the hard way. Would you agree?"

"Gideon." You can't do much besides gnaw the inside of your cheek and hope this reverses itself.

"Threats are not protected speech! Have you heard of legal proceedings- do courts still exist? People should know what they are, at least, it hasn't been that long..."

It's not gonna reverse itself.

"Duncan," you intercede.


"...Dib. I don't need the... oath to ask questions. Why don't you let me..."

"He's been driven insane. I don't have any recourse." There's a pop- a cork? "It's the hard way."

"I like the bottle! Poison-type deal? Got enough of your life as a pretend corrupt cop--"

8 Seas preserve your blood in death. You raise your voice.

"One question. If he answers, we're settled. If not, you can do your... thing."

Dib sighs, and with a wet squelch recorks the bottle. "One."

You have no idea where to start. You have no idea if Gideon will even cooperate. You have no idea how long Duncan will let you continue.

>[1] You need to address the basking shark in the kiddie pool. Ask about the eye thing while you're in charge of the conversation.
>[2] You need to hit him hard. You want big revelations out now, and you need Duncan to trust that you're serious. Is that even his face?
>[3] You need to lead this away from any sensitive topics. Ask about something probably innocuous-- what's with the sunglasses, anyways?
>[4] You need to feed this little personal crusade to distract Duncan. How old is he, anyways? Does he perhaps feel there's some... values that are lacking in this modern era?
>[5] Write-in.
Alright! Vote remains open, but I need to take a hike (to bed). We'll pick up tomorrow, in this thread if it lives or a new one if it dies.
>[1] You need to address the basking shark in the kiddie pool. Ask about the eye thing while you're in charge of the conversation.
>[1] You need to address the basking shark in the kiddie pool. Ask about the eye thing while you're in charge of the conversation
Rolled 95, 46, 66 = 207 (3d100)

No reason.
Rolled 99, 55 = 154 (2d100)

No other reason.
Is this the first time we've read about Gideon Wainwright?

Also, Ellery is gonna be damn scary when he grows up. He's ridiculously facile at magic.
>Ask about the eyes.

>Gideon's Disposition (95 = +25) - 75
>Duncan's Disposition (46 = -5) - 45

You need to get this out of the way. "Mr. Barker, I--"

"Oh, please. It's Charlie."

"Mr. Barker, honestly. Why don't you just explain to us what's going on? That's all that needs to happen."

+ "Gideon," you warn in the pregnant silence that follows, "if you don't cooperate--"

+ "I don't know, I think the dungeon would do me some good. It's quiet, it's dark..."

It's better to not engage.

+ "...Alright. Only because you're asking."

The Charlie voice is so specific in its clipped intonations that you wonder if he's imitating someone. "What's going on is that I have a medical condition."

Another pop means the bottle's back open. Duncan is displeased.

"It's called 'my eyes aren't Real.' With, ah, a capital R. Rrreal."

You'd figured as much. You were more interested in how or why, and you open your mouth to ask-

"So you concede! You plead guilty."

"I'm not guilty, Dib."

This does not look like cooperating to you.

"You plead guilty to bending breaking or otherwise altering the immutable laws of... Mr. Barker, you just indicated you suffered from a medical condition called-" Is he writing this down? He sounds like he's reading from somewhere. "-'my eyes aren't Rrreal'. It's not up for debate. Thanks, Scott, you made this--"

"I haven't broken a thing."

You are rapidly losing your grip on the situation, but you'll be damned if you let it slip past you entirely. "Mr. Barker, you have your face missing."

"Just the eyes, Scott, and there's the rub. Reality's doing just fine. I just happen to be exempt from it in certain ways, like how Dib here happens to be exempt from all standards of reasonable conduct."

+ "Would you stop?"

+ "No."

You have your work cut out for you.

(Votes next post.)
>Gideon's Disposition -5 - 70
>Duncan's Disposition -10 - 35

(The Disposition system: Represents Gideon and Duncan's respective moods. The lower Gideon's gets, the less tractable he'll be. The lower Duncan's gets, the more likely he is to do something drastic. If you can get it high enough, he'll leave off.)

>[A1] Press more on this topic. It sounds relatively safe, and Gideon seems mostly okay with discussing it. Duncan might lose his patience if it doesn't prove fruitful, though.
>[A2] Duncan's sounding ready to break out the Hard Way again. You need to placate him by extracting some answers, even if Gideon would prefer to stay tight-lipped.
>[A3] Seize your chance to lead this totally off the rails. It sounds like Duncan needs at least some semblance of evidence, and if you stall for long enough it's possible he'll just give up.
>[A4] Write-in.

>[B1] Swallow your pride and beg Gideon to cut the shit. He's going to hold it over your head forever, but you need it.
>[B2] If he wants to be carted off in irons, that's his problem. You're not going to involve yourself more than you have to.

+ indicates private conversation. I've been doing this through context previously, but when there's enough going on I think it's better to specify.

It's not! You may recall it's his tent you were sleeping in back at camp, and Madrigal was out looking for him when she found you. He's on the Other People pastebin, even.
We're on page ten, so I'm gonna leave off here and pick up in a new thread... maybe tomorrow? Probably tomorrow.

Archive is updated: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned
>>[A3] Seize your chance to lead this totally off the rails. It sounds like Duncan needs at least some semblance of evidence, and if you stall for long enough it's possible he'll just give up.

>[B2] If he wants to be carted off in irons, that's his problem. You're not going to involve yourself more than you have to.
>Try to use Ellery as a bribe. Or a distraction.

Ellery and Gideon probably would be interested in talking politics together. Isn't that what he got dumped into the ocean for? Arledge might not know that, though.
I don't think Ellery is only made up of the worst parts of him, the parts he hates. He should try to figure out what he likes about himself.

Nah he was that missing dude. I think they gave us his tent.

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