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You are typically Charlotte Fawkins, noted heiress, heroine, adventuress, and detective, cruelly trapped underwater (in the sticks!) after the completion of your quest to find your long-lost family heirloom. Worse, nobody here l̶i̶k̶e̶s̶ ̶y̶o̶u appreciates your talents, even Richard— the snake who lives in your head.

Right now, you've finally regained post-possession consciousness, only to discover that everything's wrong: the (different) snake you're seeking is too large, the basement it's in is not a basement, and, also, you're not Charlotte Fawkins.

You are Dame Ramona Birdwell, and this party is not going precisely as you'd hoped. You should be shaking hands and exchanging insincere compliments with the wealthy and well-lubricated. You should be well-lubricated. But you had brought your ornamental sword, and it was thought very funny to send you into the night to deal with the gatecrashers.

They're there at every party, pooling outside the fences: louts and aspirants from one, two, three levels down. You're unsure what they're doing there— do they think status will alight on them like moths, or are they simply waiting for the wee hours of the morning, when partygoers wander out to throw penny coins through the slats?

In either case, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that it's a slow night: there's only two, a man and a woman, and they're more dirty than threatening. The bad news is that they're absolutely bleeding mad.

"Lester," the woman says, "give it up. She's not alive, let alone sapient— may as well argue to the lock. Quicker, easier, more entertaining..."

Lester jangles the fence. You take a step back. "Listen, assh- ma'am, it is very important that we be let in. We're not from here, see—"

"Oh, I can see that," you say. "You're wearing plaid, sir."

"I'm…" Lester looks down at himself. "…Okay, I am, but I didn't choose that. Some stupid dickwad chose that, got it? He's named…" He puts his hand to his temples.

"Lester, come on."

"…Augh. Clifton Rainey. That's whoever the hell I am, okay? Blame dickwad Clifton Rainey for the plaid. I'd never wear plaid, believe me, ma'am—"

Bleeding lunatics. You'll have to submit a tip later, keep them off the streets. "Sorry, where are you from?"

"Nowhere you'd know of, ma'am," the woman says. "We'll be on our way n-"

"Pat, shut up. We're from Namway Co., ma'am, we've been trapped here for days, weeks, I—"

"Hard to know the passage of time in memories," Pat says.

"—I mean, not here, it keeps switching— it went mine, Pat's, mine, and now it's neither, I think— listen, could you let us in? It's where the snake is."

"Does it talk?" you say.


"Does the snake talk?"

"I, uh…" Lester coughs. "I mean, kind of— oh, shit!"


"...Are you okay?"

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You are Charlotte Fawkins, and you are not okay. An abridged list of reasons why: your legs are too long, your dress is too tight, you're expectorating black gunk all over the anemones, you planted those anemones, when you were nine, with coin from your allowance. This is your house.

"Yeah," you say huskily. "Yeah, I'm- I'll be fine. I just need a..."

"Guess it is a live one." Pat rubs her forehead. "Look, could you open the gate? Ma'am? We're in the same boat, looks like."

You pat your pockets— you don't have pockets. Damn. You do have a sword, which is a stroke of luck, but not immediately applicable. Probably? Could you cut the lock? You could kick the weak spot, but it was fixed years ago. "Um, I don't know if I… oh, wait."

No, there's the weak spot, rusty as ever. It is years ago, at least… four. Er, seven? You've been away for three. You kick the spot. The gate swings open.

"Thanks!" Lester bustles inside, stepping over the puddle of black goop, while Pat follows sedately. "This is all yours, then? Nice house."

"Er, yes. Thanks?" You're attempting to avoid looking at it, actually. It's been too long. "You're… you work for the company? You stole Branwen's snake."

"I mean," Pat says, "we'd put it back when we were done, if we weren't… Clifton Rainey and, um, hold on… Miranda Byers. Yeah. This is a bit of a roadblock."

"It's Management's fault," Lester says. "We're just doing our jobs."

"Not well," you say.

"No," Pat concedes. "Not well. But here we are, and here you are, ma'am, so let's not be tetchy. What's in the house?"

You're in heels and a tight blue dress. It doesn't take a genius to make the leap. "A party. Please call me Charlotte—"

"Sure. What kind of party?"

What kind of party? It's a nonsensical question. A party is a party is a party: five to fifty people get in a room, get drunk, and you have to pick your way through the wreckage in the morning. "Just a party. You'll have to sneak in, though, or change clothes… you won't get in like that."

They look at each other. Pat raises her eyebrows. "Oh, we'll figure it out," Lester says. "How about you go in and scope out the scene, we'll catch up. Deal?"

What can you say? There's no sign of Richard nor Madrigal, and it's unclear if you'd recognize them on sight. It's even less clear they'd recognize you, all dark and gangly, and God, you don't like to think about this. (At least you know where the mirrors hang.) You're alone, and the pair seems, if shady, basically nice.

"Sure," you say.

"Fantastic. Scope out the scene, don't cause a scene. That's how we destabilized the first two. Got it?"

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You pick your way up the path, keeping your head down, not smelling the familiar garden-smells, and not tearing up, not even a little. That would be stupid. You're not really home, after all, it's just a sort of memory or hallucination or God knows what. And yet—

Raucous laughter drifts out the ajar front door (white paint scratched from the pot your mother threw at it). You feel a silly amount of trepidation as you push it open.

It is a party very clearly in its later stages, lit by dim electric lights and augmented by candles. Hell is being raised at the drinks table, it looks like, while a different kind of hell's at the piano: a man is tearing up the keys, surrounded by a gaggle of admirers. (You squint. He's greying-blonde. Richard?) "HAS ANYONE SEEN MISS FAWKINS?" someone hollers, and you open your mouth before realizing they couldn't mean you— not you right now, anyhow. "Hoy! Ramona!" cries a man you barely recognize (something Lovett?). "Back already? Showed the idjits what-for, eh? Where's your sword?"

"I'd like to show her my sword," someone says, and a round of chuckles ensue.

[Pick one.]
>[1] You can't just let that stand, can you? Show these idjits what-for, eh.
>[2] Just head over to the drinks table. God knows you need one.
>[3] Is that Richard at the piano? You never knew he played, but he seems to have no end of hidden depths. Find out.
>[4] What are they looking for you for? Or, well, "you"? Find out.
>[5] Mingle. Get your bearings. What year is it, for instance? Why this party?
>[6] Write-in.
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>Previously On: Drowned Quest Redux
Inside a mysterious facility, you bumbled your way into the security room, met the dying security guard, and promptly faced ego death. Richard [who possessed your body] and your boss/frenemy Madrigal decided not to kill the guard, met Lester, the manager of the facility, exploded his clone, and descended into the basement. Madrigal met the actual snake, who screwed with her for a little bit; Richard met the snake's clone, who forced Richard to un-possess you and gave a harsh review of his job performance. It then promptly did… whatever's happening right now.

>Last thread: >>4167383

>Note: The original Drowned Quest made it to 8 threads total, so this is somewhat of a milestone for me. Good news is, we're looking to clear its record. Here's to eight more threads of Redux, and eight after that, and so on!

-> find the other snake, again
-> get out of here
-> uncover source of mystery flashback
-> pay off tab
-> buy new clothes
-> get The Sword
-> get/steal radio
-> get recommendation letters (???)
-> blackmail margo
-> weird business card? RSVP? tomorrow evening? ?
-> don't get shot by margo
-> illegal(?) courier thing?
-> get stolen model back
-> finish new model
-> tell monty he might get assassinated (maybe)
-> madrigal servant thing
-> figure out why ellery un-died
-> get truth from ellery
-> ???
-> Fill crown (?????)

Once a day for sure. Multiple a day depending on how I feel. It's a lottery.


>Twitter (I update this when I remember it exists)


This quest is a sort of sequel/reboot of the original Drowned Quest, which ran for eight threads in 2019. Reading the original isn't required. Check out the attached image instead.

>I have a question/comment/concern?
Tell me!
>[2] Just head over to the drinks table. God knows you need one.
>[3] Is that Richard at the piano? You never knew he played, but he seems to have no end of hidden depths. Find out.

Grab two drinks, go to Richard the Pianist, and toast his playing. Ask what song it is. For the drinks, ask for martini's, dry, shaken not stirred.

Because it's amusing to have a Bond villain drink Bond's drink. And the tackiness will possibly irk Richard.
>Illegally do more than one thing

You know what? You need to focus. Get your priorities straight. Think clearly. Okay. Alright.

You need a drink. Just one drink, just enough to grease the wheels a little bit, help you gloss over the uncanniness of it all— it all being identical to your memory, except for you. And also the fact that your center of gravity is higher, or something, so you keep wobbling in your heels like a tipsy stork. That might be worse.

The drink table is manned by someone else you only vaguely recognize. Is he your aunt's friend? Your mother's? He looks like an H, though whether that's first or last name you don't know. You give a curt nod to your hecklers and teeter away.

H is locked in conversation with someone you actually know: Winifred Givens, the face of Givens Salvage. You never knew why she came invited to these things, being of a crasser sort of breeding, but perhaps your aunt thought it novel. In any case, you can't hold it against her: when you were 12, she'd bring you packs of chewing gum.

Winifred Givens is sloshed. "C'mon, whatsyerface. One... more."

"I'm cutting you off, Ms. Givens, for obvious reasons. Martin's playing right now. Why don't you go listen?"

"Y' don't… hey. Hey. Lookit— lookit. I am drunk."

"That was the obvious reason, yes."

"Yeh. But I wassint— I wassint. Until now. Lissen. Five— five mins. Five ago." Winifred holds up her palm to demonstrate. "I was fukkin sober. Sober as a… shit. Goddammit. Sober as a… shit. As a boulder. A fukkin rock. Lissen."

"Even if that were the case," H says, in a tone that indicates it very much wasn't, "you're still plastered now, Ms. Givens. Can I help you?" He's looking in your direction.

"Er, yes." You clear your throat. "Do you have punch?"

"That's not much like you, Ramona. But sure, I'll—"

Oh, God, you have to contend with someone else's taste in drinks. "The usual, then. Gosh. Oh, uh…" You glance over to the piano. "…make it double, whatever it is."

"Ah, what I do for you people." Before your horrified eyes, H stirs up two dry martinis. "Pace yourself."

What are you supposed to do with a martini? Is there supposed to be lemon? It smells like cleaning fluid. You take an obliging sip, trying not to screw up your face, and discover to your surprise that it's actually rather good.
There's two options here: either gin has always been good, and you've missed out, or Ramona Birdwell has sunk her foul talons into your brain. You don't like the thought of either, so you take a larger sip and feel much better. You nod to H, who's in the thick of it again with Winifred ("I can handle my fukkin likker, youuu rat bastard--"), and trot over to the piano.

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There's a thick crowd around it, but you're able to peek over a couple of shoulders. It definitely looks like Richard, at least from the back— same hair, same sort of build. You wait through a couple final glissandos, mime clapping as best you can with two glasses in your hand, and announce throatily: "Hey! A drink for the master."

"A drink!" everybody roars, and parts to let you through. The man on the piano seat turns, and it is Richard— a little younger, no sunglasses, but Richard all the same. He grins and accepts the martini. "Dame Birdwell! Don't you know I'm more of a brandy man?"

It's not quite Richard's voice, though— it's deeper, twangier. More importantly, you don't know enough about alcohol to be clever. "Uh-h," you stutter. "Sorry."

"No, no, I'll take it." Richard downs the martini and slams it on the piano top. It's not the first glass there, you notice. "There!"

The crowd roars again.

"Dame Birdwell. As thanks for being so gracious, do you have a request? I'm no professional, but I do try to practice…"

"Oh. Oh, okay, sure." You dip your head. "I'm Charlotte," you whisper.

"Don't think I know that one!" Richard says blithely. "Do you have another?"

"No, I mean... I'm Charlotte. This is Charlotte, here. Charlie."

"…" He stares at you, then pushes up from his seat. "Dame Birdwell and I will discuss her request in the other room. Give us a moment, pray."

"What'll your wife think!" someone yells. Richard chuckles and ushers you into the darkened dining room. He stops chuckling. "Hi, Ramona. Do you have something to say?"

"I'm Charlie. Hello?"

"No, you're not." Richard takes out a pack of cigarettes. "You're really not. Want a smoke?"

Something hammers at the side of your skull. "…Sure." You take one, he lights it, you put it to your mouth and inhale and regret your decision instantly.

"Not much of a smoker?" Richard comments sympathetically. "It gets easier. I'll eat shit for doing it in here, though. Was that all you had to say?"

Is it? He's not responding to any of this. "…What's your name?"

"Ramona." He blinks. "It's Martin."

>[1] …Okay. This is some kind of misunderstanding. Save whatever face you can and back out.
>[2] This is stupid. It's very clearly Richard, it's him except for the voice— he's just deluded. Splash him with your martini and see how *that* wakes him up.
>[3] Write-in
>[1] …Okay. This is some kind of misunderstanding. Save whatever face you can and back out.

Haha, it's just a game we're playing. I'm Charlie, and we're trying to find Richard. Like party tag, except we don't know who is supposed to be Richard. We're looking for a third person, the Snake, as well.

Where do people normally go when they need a smoke around here? "Richard" is a smoker, that's why you thought he might be him.

Also, ask if he's seen Ms Fawkins, someone was asking about her earlier what was that all about?
>[1] …Okay. This is some kind of misunderstanding. Save whatever face you can and back out.
I like playing Charlie. Because if my write-ins are terrible then I just feel like it's in character.
>[1] …Okay. This is some kind of misunderstanding. Save whatever face you can and back out.

Look, you're not wrong.

Oh, hell. It's not Richard, is it? There's no way. Your face is glowing red from the alcohol or the cigarette or the embarrassment or all three. "Sorry," you mutter, and cough. "Sorry. It's just a- a- a- game. Party game. Mmm."

"We're rather past the point for party games, don't you think?" Martin raises his eyebrows. "And, pray tell, what's the object of this one?"

"Uh…" This is more complex than you had bargained for. "There's, uh, th… three players. The Charlie, which is me, obviously, and the Richard, which is… well, I thought it might be you, and the Snake, which is, well, it's…"

An essential change has come over Martin. He was serious before, but there was a kind of slackness to it, a loose and pervasive geniality. No longer. His face is hard. "So it's blackmail, then."

"Um, what?" What is in this martini?

"Coming in here, springing it on a happy occasion. You're not even sober enough to do it properly. That's disgusting. That's sick."

What did you say wrong? Was it the 'snake' thing? "I- I really don't think—"

"If you have something, get it to me during daylight hours. We can negotiate like civilized people, then. I will not discuss matters during my party."

Your heart's in your throat. "Um… okay," you manage. "Yeah. Will do. I… hey, um, do you know what the whole 'Miss Fawkins' thing is about? I—"

"Stay the fuck away from Charlie," he snarls. Ash rains down onto the nice dining-room rug. (Aunt Ruby will not be happy.) "She's 14. She's not involved in any of this."

"I was just asking, I didn't…"

He pinches his brows. "I think you should leave, Dame Birdwell."

This is all escalating too fast for you to comprehend. "…I can't leave."

"Oh, God, you're right." Martin tosses his cigarette onto the hardwood and grinds it irritably with his heel. "It'll cause a stink— I'll just have Henry tail you. Blackmail me sober next time, will you?"

He shakes his head, pulls his coattails down, and makes to leave, before turning in the doorway at the last second. "Song request."

"…'Red Do the Roses Grow'?"

"Sure." He exits, and a roar springs up from the parlor. You take a long drag of the cigarette, finish your martini, and stoop to scrape the ashes off the ground. You keep your head down as you exit, locate the nearest ashtray, and deposit the litter. You leave the glass on a side table.

Martin's conversing quietly with Henry(?) the designated bartender. They both look meaningfully at you, then continue. Finally, Martin taps the top of the table and hastens back to the piano, where he strikes up "Red Do the Roses Grow." Henry's stare is hot on the base of your neck.

For reasons you don't understand, you're being tailed.

(Choices next.)
>[1] Attempt to dodge the tail. This is an old house, and more importantly it's your house— you know where all the nooks and cubbies are. You should have the advantage. [Roll.]
>[2] You need a distraction, and Winifred Givens is now going essentially unsupervised. Go see if she'll help you out, knowingly or not.
>[3] Oh, whatever, you weren't blackmailing the guy anyways. Just go outside and find Pat and Lester. Surely they're done by now.
>[4] Write-in.
>[2] You need a distraction, and Winifred Givens is now going essentially unsupervised. Go see if she'll help you out, knowingly or not.

We need them to tell us what's going on.
>[2] You need a distraction, and Winifred Givens is now going essentially unsupervised. Go see if she'll help you out, knowingly or not
Go ask Henry to accompany you while you find Lester and Pat. They can probably do something about him.
>[3] Oh, whatever, you weren't blackmailing the guy anyways. Just go outside and find Pat and Lester. Surely they're done by now.
Rolled 2 (1d2)



I can't tell if this is a switched vote to [3] or not, so I'm going to leave it out of the count.

Rolling and then writing.
>Catch some fresh air

"I thought you wanted to be independent," you mouth, because the dead stillness in your head is making you nervous, and it's what Richard would say were he here.

"I mean," you mutter back to yourself as you thread your way through a gaggle of people, "I do, it's just that when I don't know what's going on, the logical thing is to—"

"Charlotte, you never know what's going on," you-as-Richard say frankly, and you don't have a good answer to that, so you just stop talking, push the side door open, and slide out onto the portico. A last glance behind you reveals Henry sidling away from the drinks table, and then the door swings shut again.

It's not nearly as crowded out here as it was out there, but there's still a handful of people out and about on the patchy lawn. Two men and a woman have struck up an impromptu game of five-on-the-docket; two more women, both in taffeta, watch and smoke. A young couple out by the trellis is deep into a necking session. No sign of Lester or Pat, though. You sigh.

A scream rents the night, then is stifled. The ambient conversation swells… "From far away, that was." "Westerly." "What, you think it was—" "A lady stubbing her toe?" "Someone put a tack on Falk's fancy chair?" "Could be murder. It'd spice up the day, wontcha." "Oh, don't say that." "Yeah, Kerton, take your strike—" …and lapses.

You wade cautiously out onto the lawn, struggling to keep your balance amid the clods and stones and unpredictable potholes. Thinking better of it, you slide off your heels (three inches, same blue as the dress), stop, and breathe deep. Your head is light. You should be panicking, you think, but… you don't know. You're just not up to it.

Someone taps you on the shoulder. "Ma'am?"

You blink. Emelia and Émile Autrey (you'd always pitied and envied twins) hover before you in charcoal and violet. She grasps a wrench in her ungloved hands; he an undone bow tie. Their eyes are stark white against their flushed faces.

Emelia nudges Émile. "Charlotte, Les."

"Get off my fucking back. Sorry. Hi, Charlotte." Émile/Lester? claps his hands together. "Everything look good in there? Any snakes?"

"Any…" You'd like to say you're not aware enough for this, but you'd never be aware enough for this. "…Did you— you're Pat and Lester. Did you possess them?"

"What?" Emelia/Pat? shakes her head. "No, that's not possible."

"…Cut off their faces?"

"They still have their faces, Charlotte. Listen, nothing weird happened. We just went around, scoped out two randos taking a walk—"

"Skulking," Lester says.

"—taking a walk, snuck up, knocked them out, bundled them into the woods out back, stole their clothes. So far, so good, right?"

You should've kept the second martini for yourself. "Yep."

"Okay. So, we put the clothes on, and they don't look great. And they're nice clothes, so it's not that, it's us, right? Not to mention what happens if someone recognizes them."

"'Hey!'" Lester mimics. "'You stole fuckface's clothes!'"

"Right. So we copied their faces, too. Copied. They're in their skivvies, but they've got faces, yeah? That clear everything up?"

Three martinis, maybe? "Yep. Gotcha."

"Great. So, inside. You didn't get into any trouble, r-"

...You come to a belated conclusion. "I don't have a woods behind my house," you say quietly. "We couldn't afford a woods, and anyways, there's a walkway and then more houses. No woods."

Lester and Pat exchange glances. "…Well," Pat says. "We bundled them into somewhere. Do you… need to see?"

Yes, you do need to see, and so you follow the pair around to the back of your house. There is a woods behind your house, though you'd never thought to call it a woods before. The twisted mangroves of the Fenpelok reserve are behind your house.

"Huh," you say. Something's gone sour at the back of your mouth. "I guess you're right."

Pat, having tossed the wrench into the underbrush, straightens the sleeves of her gown. "Told you. That wasn't there originally? Must be some kind of filler, or buffer, or—"

"Hey, Charlotte. What's in that room?" You swivel to find Lester pointing up at the back of your house. There are ten sackcloth windows, of which nine are dark. The tenth, on the second story, is lit. "Shouldn't everybody be out? It's a party."

You close your eyes to better picture heading up the staircase, looking down the hallway, finding the first door on the left— no, right— whichever one has the turret window. The right. You open the door, and inside is…

"Um, that's my mother's room," you say. "I suppose she fell asleep with the lights on."

"Not a partier, then?"

An innocuous question with a complicated answer. You simplify. "Not often, no. It's nothing, I wouldn't…"

"Who's that?" Pat points. Henry-the-bartender has appeared around the corner of the house. He loiters against the siding, arms folded.

"My chaperone," you mumble. "Look, things may not have—"

"Oh, shit." A silhouette has appeared in the lit window. "Pat, it's the snake."

This seems to you an extraordinary conclusion to draw, even given Lester's track record. "…It's not the snake, it's my mother."


(Choices next.)
>[A1] …Find out why this conclusion is being jumped to?
>[A2] Find out everything. Their explanation earlier was marred by you being half-conscious for half of it. You need the details. [Write-in anything specific.]
>[A3] Whatever. They're probably right. You are long used to trailing in the wake of madmen.

>[B1] You need to set your priorities straight. Like, all of them, right now, while you still have a sort of fragmentary calm left. [Enter planning mode.]
>[B2] It's cool. It's cool. You'll just take things as they come. Deal with Henry first. (How?)
>[B3] Ignore Henry. Do something else. (What?)

>[C] Write-in.
>[C] Write-in.
smack her booty and french kiss her
>[A3] Whatever. They're probably right. You are long used to trailing in the wake of madmen
>[A3] Whatever. They're probably right. You are long used to trailing in the wake of madmen.

Kinda wanna see mom anyway.

Is the shadow snake shaped?
You wouldn't do that! You barely know Pat! And what if she stole your face?

Guys, you gotta pick a [B] and/or [C], or this is a vote that amounts to "stand there and do nothing." Unless you really, really wanna do that.

The silhouette is human-shaped and roughly mother-sized.
Whoops, missed the multi option part


Is Henry gonna stop us from going up to mom's room? If not we don't have to deal with him. We can just let him tag along.
>[B1] You need to set your priorities straight. Like, all of them, right now, while you still have a sort of fragmentary calm left. [Enter planning mode.]

If I recall, we are here to get snek. But there are two sneks here. Anyone want to get them to help us look for our Dick snek?
I'm incredibly sorry, guys, but I've been vaguely out-of-sorts and then quite a lot out-of-sorts all day. I don't have an update.

I will call the vote here for [A3] [B1], for what that's worth.

>Will Henry stop you?
If nothing else, he'll tell Martin that weird blackmail lady is skulking around in the unlit personal areas of the house.

I'll return with this update at minimum tomorrow, hopefully two-- but if not two, though, there'll be a double-header before the thread is over to compensate for this.
>So alright, cool, whatever

You don't actually have an answer to the "so?". Why not. They're the experts here. "Uh, nevermind. Is there something you'd like to do about it? I mean, what's the... what's the plan."

"Could climb the side," Lester muses. "Go right through the window. Dumbfuck wouldn't know what hit it."

Pat brushes a lock of hair behind her ear. "You couldn't climb a ladder, Les, and you're not in heels. You think that's a good idea?"

"I never said it was a good idea, Patricia, but I'd like to hear a better one—"

"The stairs," you say firmly. "We can just take the stairs. And— and then what. Will it attack? Why is it— what's the point of putting us here? I mean, it it getting something out of…"

"…Why the hell should we know? If we knew anything about snakes, we wouldn't be here. I mean, think about it—"

"Everyone told you they were bad luck, Les—"

"—Shut the fuck up. Look, we only got up to it once. Last time. And, you know, it looked like a— well, it was my ex-wife, actually. But it wasn't... it really seemed to think it was her, you know. So I don't know if—"

"It might be in the same boat, too." Pat wraps it up. "Like it didn't mean it, or it was instinct, or whatnot. It might just be your mom, except it's actually the snake, and you can tell cause it's got a medical-grade focus-cut crystal around its stupid neck. It'll melt without it. Hopefully we won't."

Your thoughts are elsewhere. "…Could ask Richard about the— why it's here."


"My, uh… he was there, too. And here, now, maybe, him and… I should find the people I came with," you finish lamely. "I don't know where they are. Or who they are."

"It'd probably kick them out just the same if we got the crystal," Pat says. "Might be side-effects, I don't know, but I doubt they'd be trapped. Either way, though, there's that— it'd be good to have weapons, too, though you do have a sword. Need a general strategy. Need to deal with whatever you said— your chaperone. Need…"

"Need a drink." Lester scratches the back of his head. "It is a party."

"…I had a drink," you say.

"Well, we need one."

[A significant amount of choices next.]
>[A] Nevermind, you don't have nearly enough fragmentary calm for all this. Just wing it. [QM's choice of plan.]

- OR -

>You must pick one from all lists except [C], where you must pick two, and [F], which is optional. Each option is worth a certain amount of Action Points (AP). The total AP of all chosen options must add to 7 or less-- you have limited time and energy. (For example: [B1]+[C1]+[C5]+[D2]+[E3]+[F2] = 7, which is valid. [B2]+[C1]+[C3]+[D1]+[E1] = 9, which isn't.)

>[B1] Take it slow. Be as stealthy as you can. Backtrack and reroute if you have to. [3 AP]
>[B2] Lean hard into your role should you fall under suspicion. You are Dame Ramona Birdwell… [Lose ID.] [2 AP]
>[B3] Go in loud. Go in guns blazing. Throw caution to the wind. All those idioms! [May destabilize memory.] [1 AP]

(You must select two options, one each for Richard and Madrigal. The AP cost stacks.)
>[C1] Hunt down Richard yourself. [2 AP]
>[C2] Send Lester or Pat to hunt down Richard. [Roll.] [1 AP]
>[C3] Hunt down Madrigal yourself. [2 AP]
>[C4] Send Lester or Pat to hunt down Madrigal. [Roll.] [1 AP]
>[C5] Richard and/or Madrigal will be fine! Probably. Possibly. [0 AP]

>[D1] Deal with Henry, quietly. [2 AP]
>[D2] Deal with Henry, loudly. [1 AP]
>[D3] Don't bother with Henry. [0 AP]

>[E1] Search for the family sword. You're the eldest (and only) heir. It should be yours. [Check off your to-do list: find The Sword.] [1 AP]
>[E2] Search for Aunt Ruby's weathered handgun. Just in case. [1 AP]
>[E3] Use Henry's tortoiseshell knife. It's shed a lot of blood. [0 AP if Henry is dealt with.]
>[E4] Stick with the ornamental sword. [0 AP]

>[F1] Do a little sleuthing and find out exactly what party this is. Maybe it'll help? [???] [1 AP]
>[F2] Take a detour to your old room. …Just because. [Regain ID.] [1 AP]
>[F3] Gird yourself. You don't know what's coming next. [Buff future rolls.] [1 AP]
>[F4] Stir up another martini. Or get some gin, at least. Please. [Mixed effects.] [0 AP]
>[F5] Write-in. [??? AP]
>[B1] Take it slow. Be as stealthy as you can. Backtrack and reroute if you have to. [3 AP]

Don't want to lose more ID and definitely don't want to destabilize memory.

>[C3] Hunt down Madrigal yourself. [2 AP]

>[C2] Send Lester or Pat to hunt down Richard. [Roll.] [1 AP]

We already tried doing this ourselves? Didn't go so hot. Maybe they'll manage better. Tell them he's also kind of a snake but also not a snake at the same time, maybe it'll help.

>[D3] Don't bother with Henry. [0 AP]

Potential meatshield

>[E1] Search for the family sword. You're the eldest (and only) heir. It should be yours. [Check off your to-do list: find The Sword.] [1 AP]

fuck yeah

>[F4] Stir up another martini. Or get some gin, at least. Please. [Mixed effects.] [0 AP]

Get extra for Lester, and Pat too if she wants one. Lester said they needed them and they are finding Richard for us.
> [C3]Find Winifred. She's likely Madrigal since she wasn't drunk and then suddenly was. [2AP]

Get info from her.

> >[F5] Write-in. [??? AP]

Try and remember where you were during th8s party. Ask some questions about where people are going vacationing this summer, what they think of current shows you remember (Richards voice is based on a show you heard often, depending on the season it's on we could narrow it down)?

>[B1] Take it slow. Be as stealthy as you can. Backtrack and reroute if you have to. [3 AP]

>[D2] Deal with Henry, loudly. [1 AP]

Lure him somewhere secluded. Accuse him of impropriety when you were alone, with Pat and Lester as "witnesses". Also gives us a good excuse to "retire" to collect ourselves and put the spotlight on Pat and Lester, hopefully distracting not-richard. During this time we can

>[C1] Hunt down Richard yourself. [2 AP]

Find Charlie. Since we aren't us but sometimes Richard is maybe he's us. Especially since our Mother may be a snake.

>[F2] Take a detour to your old room. …Just because. [Regain ID.] [1 AP]
>[F3] Gird yourself. You don't know what's coming next. [Buff future rolls.] [1 AP]
Whoops! For some reason I thought some of those gave us actions. Change B1 to B3 and drop finding Maddie.
Finding Winifred as [C3] is 0 AP, as that eliminates all the trial and error of going around and questioning. Excellent catch.

That write-in is a moderately more detailed [F1] and costs the same.

I'll give this a little bit to see if a tiebreaker comes along/modifications are desired.
>[B1] Take it slow. Be as stealthy as you can. Backtrack and reroute if you have to. [3 AP]

>[C3] Hunt down Madrigal yourself. [2 AP]

>[D3] Don't bother with Henry. [0 AP]

>[E1] Search for the family sword. You're the eldest (and only) heir. It should be yours. [Check off your to-do list: find The Sword.] [1 AP]

>[F2] Take a detour to your old room. …Just because. [Regain ID.] [1 AP]

Also this:

>[F5] Write-in. [??? AP]

Try and remember where you were during th8s party. Ask some questions about where people are going vacationing this summer, what they think of current shows you remember (Richards voice is based on a show you heard often, depending on the season it's on we could narrow it down)?
The question is . . . Will a hammered Madrigal be a help, or a hinderance? Maybe Lester and Pat know how to sober her up.
If we end up with an extra AP from the vote, can we use it to gird ourselves?
If we just got C3 for free, if we can't take multiple F options might as well change D3 to D1
You can take multiple F options, apologies if that wasn't clear.
Ok, keep D3 but throw in F2 and F3

So now my vote looks like this:

Rolled 3 (1d3)


In light of the fact that I have three different proposals, though, I'm going to compromise and go with the options with the widest support, or that are free, as follows:
>[B1] Keep it stealthy -- 3 AP
>[C1] Hunt down Richard yourself (focus on... yourself) -- 2 AP
>[C3] Hunt down Madrigal yourself (focus on Winifred) -- 0 AP
>[D3] Don't deal with Henry -- 0 AP
>[E1] Family sword -- 1 AP
>[F4] Another drink -- 0 AP

This gives you 1 left to splash around in the [F] category and 3 remaining [F] options with support. I'll roll between the three for fairness.

1 - Find your room
2 - Ask around
3 - Gird yourself
>Gird yourself

Writing. This plan will play out over multiple updates.

One more note about the write-in, since I forgot to mention it earlier: Charlotte is unaware of that particular conversation, obviously, but she'd deny Richard sounding like anybody in particular were Madrigal to ask. She'd also deny ever hearing of or listening to that radio show.
Huh. Interesting.

I wonder if she can recognize Richard by his voice. Also, this makes me even more curious about the blackmail.
>stay up to ungodly hours writing
>no internet
>too much formatting to phonepost
>mfw I have no face
Update in 6 hours! When I wake up!
do you get enough sleep
Seems to be in the process of getting enough as we speak
I used to, and then the quarantine ruined it. Now I'm all over the place.

Give me 20-30 minutes, actually. The main body of the update is complete, but I'd like to add an extra chunk that I wanted to add last night, but, you know, it was 4:30 in the morning.
>Live it up a little

You blink. You've had a buzz coming on ever since you went outside, but it's really hitting you about now. "…I mean," you say amicably, "I guess one more couldn't hurt. May as well have fun if we're here, right?"

"Hey, that's the spirit!" Lester grins, though you wish he didn't— there's just something wrong about it, the muscles a little loose, or misaligned, or something. "Catch a breather before the shit inevitably hits the fan. Pat? Are you going to—?"

"Gods, I just clocked two fake people with a wrench, what do you think? Come on."

Henry vanishes around the corner as you begin to head back, and is back at the drinks table like nothing had happened by the time the three of you enter through the side door. You've been discussing logistics under your breath. "Look, I know it's somewhere, probably over the mantel—"

You're drowned out by the chatter and the piano, but you might've stopped anyways to admire the look on both Pat and Lester's faces. It's part awe, part disgust, part envy, and it solidifies what you'd assumed since Pat said 'gods': they're sandeaters. Up a couple rungs on the ladder, maybe, but sandeaters at heart. No wonder they landed outside the gates. No wonder they're so… gauche. The look persists until you make it to the drinks, then it's replaced with hunger.

"My ex-wife," Lester says plaintively, at your nonplussed reaction.

Winifred is still there, sucking at a beer she must've obtained while Henry was out watching you. Henry stares at her balefully. "You really shouldn't."


Pat hesitates, then pushes through the remainder of the crowd. "Hi. I'll get a black and tan and a highball."

Henry remains baleful. "This isn't an actual bar, Lady Autrey, you realize, it's a well-stocked private residence. There's only one kind of beer out."

"Geez, a beer and a highball."

"You're welcome," Henry says after a beat. "And Ramona wants a martini, I bet."

You nod.

"Which I shouldn't give her, Ramona, but I'll be nice. Don't give this one to Martin, will you?"

This is far more amicable than you expected. You follow Pat up to the edge of the table. "…So you don't believe I black-"

"I believe Martin believes you did." Henry pushes the beer across to Pat. "Because he's jumpy and he's had three drinks and there's 35 people over and a third of 'em are watching him play. As long as you aren't off wandering the house I see no reason to worry. Highball."

Lester grabs his highball. Winifred eyes him blearily. "Who… th fukk are you."

"Er…" He glances at you. "…Lord Autrey. Pleased to meet you, Ms…?"

She squints down at her tankard. "Mmm. Thas'a… good question. Good question. Lossa possy… possybilities."

"Martini," Henry says. You retrieve your martini gratefully. "And this is Ms. Winifred Givens, Lord Autrey. Cut her some slack, will you? It might be too many syllables at the moment."

"I can see that," Lester says. "Pleased to meet you, Ms. Givens."

Pat nods. "Me too."

"Whoerr you, then. Yourr him. Matching. Heh-heh-heh-heh." Winifred wipes her nose. "Ugh. Never seen… any of you fukkers. In my whole life. None of you."

You have the stirrings of a suspicion, but it's not one you can entertain right here. "Hey, Henry, we can take Winifred off your hands for a while."

"Would you?"


"You're good people, Ramona, don't listen to Martin. Just stay in the parlor, will you?"

>Find Madrigal

For now, you don't see why not. Winifred(?) is unresistant as you wrap one of her hands around your shoulders and drag her off to a couch, which she flops down onto. You lean in so nobody overhears. "…Madrigal?"


"…It's Charlotte."

"Yourr not Ssharlotte. Her tits are way bigger."

"Nice," Lester says behind you. "Ow!" Pat has stepped on his foot.

"…I mean," you say, "I guess that's not wrong." (There's a reason you've never worn dresses like this.) "But here I am. And here you are, Madrigal, so you ought to get used to it."

She does, via doubling over and retching into the nice expensive carpet. You grimace. When she sits back up, her eyes are clearer, though still half-lidded. "Fuck me."

Lester, behind you: "Su- ow!"

"Do you need a minute?"

"No, I… I'm… whym I… why am I," she forces through, "drunk? I dinnit- did, int- didn't drink. At all."

"I mean…" You lick your lips. "You did, I assume, you just weren't… you yet. I think is how it works."

"Oh." Madrigal clutches her head. "Fuck me. Whass- what's happening? Explain quick before I get real incoherent, cause itsh- it's gonna happen. Where'd your tits go?"

"I mean, they're still… on my body, I guess. Hopefully?" You look back over at Lester and Pat for help. "I don't know, maybe these guys can…"

"Oh, yeah." They provide a brief summary of the situation: snake, memory, party, bodies. You chime in with pertinent details. Madrigal looks woozier by the end of it. "Fuck m-"

"Maybe you should stop saying that," you hastily interject. "But there you have it."

"Thanks." She pauses. "Wait, shit, you're Charlotte?"

After all that? "Yes?"

"Richard stopped walking you around? Thank god, right?"

There's an immediate pit in your stomach. She knows. "Yeah, thank god."

Madrigal leans back onto the couch, closing her eyes. "So, anything else? I have, ehhhh, two minutes before I take my finger out of the dike."

Behind you. "Ow! Shit! I didn't even say anything!"

…You cough. "Sorry, what?"

"Is that a… maybe it's starting. Sorry. I'm still sodding drunk, basically, you just— I'm fending it off right now. Fuck if I know how. Wish it usually worked like this."

You nod in commisseration. Pat coughs. "Hey, Charlotte—"

"What?" You turn.

"Oh, it's not— I was just thinking. Uh, we're about the same height, right? For the moment."

You appraise the difference. "I'm taller."

"Not by a lot, and your heels are taller, too. I think it's even. Meaning…" She scratches the back of her head. "…Look, we're not staying in this room, right? We will wander the house. Meaning that guy will call the rich person cops on you."

"…It's not called the 'rich person cops,'" you say, "but sure. I was just planning to sneak out. It's a busy party."

"You probably could, yeah, but what happens when he notices? He's gonna notice, you said his whole job was to watch you. And you suddenly go missing? That's just flinging shit at the fan, then."

"Okay, what's the proposal?"

"I use your face, we switch clothes, I cover for you."

You sip at your martini. "No."

"Charlotte, come on. Why not."

"It's creepy."

"Okay, it's not—" Pat looks at Lester. "It's practical," Lester says.

"Yeah. It's practical, and that's super rude. Geez. It wouldn't hurt, it solves this problem, it…"

You sigh.

"One… minute," Madrigal says.

>[A1] It's not rude, but whatever, fine. It is a good idea, at least in theory. [Lose Pat, lose 1-2 ID, no 'rich person cops' on your back.]
>[A2] Seriously, it's just creepy. No.

>[B] Any last words for Madrigal? (Write-in, optional.)

>[C1] When Madrigal's incoherent again: take her with you. She's part of the team, even if she's dead weight. Woo!
>[C2] When Madrigal's incoherent again: just leave her on the couch. She'll be fine.
>[C3] When Madrigal's incoherent again: throw her back at Henry. Maybe it'll keep him distracted while you're in the back of the house, no creepiness required.

>[D] Write-in.
>[A2] Seriously, it's just creepy. No

>[B] Any last words for Madrigal? (Write-in, optional.)
Tell her to stay strapped

>[C3] When Madrigal's incoherent again: throw her back at Henry. Maybe it'll keep him distracted while you're in the back of the house, no creepiness required.
>[A2] Seriously, it's just creepy. No.

>[B] Any last words for Madrigal? (Write-in, optional.)
Don't do anything we wouldn't do. I mean it.

>[C3] When Madrigal's incoherent again: throw her back at Henry. Maybe it'll keep him distracted while you're in the back of the house, no creepiness required.
>Be careful
>Don't do anything stupid

Writing sporadically. Update within 10 hours or so.
>No way
>Safe & Sane
>Don't be a good people

You shake your head no! at Pat and push your bangs out of your face. "Okay," you say at Madrigal, "it'll be fine. Uh, just be careful— don't do anything I wouldn't do, okay?"

"Sounds good," she drawls. "I'll go watch a man die, then. Hell, I'll have an excuse."

Still hung up on that? You suck on your teeth. "It's more, um, don't start any fights, don't hit on my neighbors, don't- don't talk to the guy at the piano, uh… stop drinking— basic stuff, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah. Cross my heart." She limply makes the motion. "…Wait, are you leaving m-"

"Be honest, will you be any use?"

Madrigal wipes her nose. "…Prolly not. You know, it's funny how long iss… iss been sense I… aw, shit." She digs her painted fingernails into her thigh. "…since I've been this wasted. There, you get th full- shit. Full shentence. Les jus'… urgh."

It's uncanny, watching Madrigal dissolve under the full effects of a beer and… three shots? Four? The unconscious clench of her jaw looses, and her face softens, and she sways back onto the cushions.

"…Madrigal?" you say uncertainly. She's not moving, and more importantly she doesn't look like Madrigal any longer— like she contains Madrigal any longer, you mean. It's just drunk Winifred Givens, there on your couch. (The existential distress can't quite penetrate your one-and-a-half martinis.)

She looks up. Her eyes are unfocused. "Yeh?"

"Oh." She's still there. "Nothing. I was just…"

Lester coughs. "Hey, hate to interrupt, but we better get out of here sooner versus later. Were you gonna leave her here, or were you gonna…"

"Leave her, I guess, or—" You look at Henry. "He could keep an eye on her, and therefore not on us? Yeah?"

"Sure, that works."

"I mean," Pat says, "I don't know if leaving your drunk friend alone with a bunch of strangers is the best idea, but you do you."

"'S not my friend," you mumble around a mouth of gin.

"Okay, your drunk girlfriend."

What! "I- I-" you sputter. "No! No. She's just— she's just— I know her, okay? That's it. Only relation."

"Okay, your drunk acquaintance. Geez. You're gonna leave her?"

"I mean, Pat," Lester says, "that's all very noble, but I'm not sure she can walk. Something's got to be sacrificed."

"Yeah!" You nod aggressively. "Something's got to! And Henry's— he's fine, he'll watch her. He was trying to stop her from drinking—"

"I can take care of mysh… myself," Madrigal mumbles. "Fuk off."

Pat raises her hands. "Okay, okay, geez. Let's go, then."


Henry pinches the bridge of his nose. "Seriously?"

"Look," you say, "we didn't say how long we'd take her. So here you go. Winnie, say thank you. Winifred. Hey." You shake Madrigal's shoulder. "Yourr th man," she slurs.

"See? You're the man, Henry."

"You're not good people. I take it back."

"Bye, Henry." You plunk your empty glass and toothpick down. "Have fun."

"Didju know I ripped… ripped my spine out?" Madrigal leans bodily across the table. "It was fukked—"

You make a hasty escape while Henry's distracted and dart into the dining room after ensuring the coast is clear.

"So," Pat says, "now what?"

>Obtain The Sword

You explain now what. Your audience is less than receptive.

"You already have a sword," Lester says.

Pat has her hands on her hips. "And, I mean, you're not actually… your family sword, or whatever, it's not real. You understand that, right? It's a memory-thingy. It'll be gone when we get out."

You stare at both of them for a moment. They don't understand. How could they possibly? They have no concept of, no capacity to understand honor and legacy and duty. And if they're going to be like this, well, you have no need to associate with them. You turn on your heel and flounce over to the kitchen, which holds no interest to you, and out through the family room. You halt only when you reach the fireplace, because that is where The Sword is hung. It's where it's always been, only you've never been tall enough to reach it, nor strong enough to push an armchair over, nor cunning enough to convince someone else to do it for you. It's always been just out of your grasp.

Until now, of course, because you're 5'6.5" and in high heels. You stagger over (you're starting to feel the second martini) and pluck it off the mantle.

>[To-do Completed: get The Sword]

The Sword! Its proper name is Wormbite, or something like that, but that always felt flashy to you, excessive— all it needs is proper capitalization. The Sword. It's beautiful, all silver with a spiraling grip, hand-and-a-half, ancient— before the flood, you'd always heard. It's been in your family for generations. It's rightfully yours. It is yours.

>[+2 ID: 7/11]

So why aren't you happy? No, wrong question, you are happy— but it's not culmination-of-years happy, it's definitely not culmination-of-years-plus-two-martinis happy. Why are you holding The Sword and only mildly satisfied?

>[-1 ID: 6/11]
>[To-do Added: hey, what's the matter with The Sword?]

You collapse onto an ottoman and turn The Sword over in your hands. Is it Ramona's fault? She doesn't give two whits about the thing, probably— but her preferences haven't been especially meaningful before. Is it... gosh, you don't know. Your attempts at speculating are running up against a thick and pleasant fog. How much alcohol is in a martini? Is it more than your usual?

"Okay, that is a pretty nice sword." Lester peeks through the doorframe, with Pat behind him. "And it didn't take very long, I guess. Hope that's all good. Do you know where to find your other guy?"

"Huh?" You look up. "Richard?"

"Yeah, and what's your relationship to him?" Pat raises her eyebrows. "Just for clarity."

Your relationship with him? Clarity? You titter. "Not gonna get much of that. He's a snake. Did I say that?"

"Um…" Lester edges into the room. "No."

"Oh, okay." In for a penny, in for a pound. "Yeah, he is. I mean, sometimes. All the time? I don't know when it's supposed to count."

Lester looks baffled. Pat nudges his ankle. "Les, she's yanking our chain. Okay, Charlotte, that's very funny, but there's one known snake in the southeast and we have it. Not to mention, it's not a… person. It's an animal. Intelligent for one, maybe, but—"

"I'm not yanking your chain," you say, though you titter a little more at the thought. "He's a snake."

They glance at each other. "…Like a pet, or…"

"No!" You watch The Sword flash in the moonlight. "No, no, not at all. I mean, he talks, so."

"It talks," Pat says. "Like, in pictures?"

"No. God, I wish." You lean all the way back onto the ottoman. "He won't shut up, more like. 'Charlie, do this.' 'Charlie, stop doing that.' 'Charlie, you're a dummy.' Heehee. Every single day!"

"Maybe the drinks were a bad—" Pat starts, but Lester cuts in. "I guess we'll have to meet him, then. Did you have any ideas where to find him?"

"Uhh…" You did, at one point, but they're growing difficult to remember. "Um… give me a minute." You slide off the ottoman, hold The Sword out dowsing rod-style, and swivel in a full circle. "Hmm."

Lester folds his arms uncomfortably. "Is that helping?"

"Hmm." The swiveling isn't do anything but making you dizzy, but you have managed to remember the original plan. "Okay, yeah! Yeah. Look for me. I'm in the walls somewhere, most likely."

"…I need to step out," Pat says. "Back in a sec."

She leaves. Lester never really stopped being baffled. "You're right here."

Similarly, you haven't really stopped tittering. "Hee hee. Yeah, I am, but I mean… me. Old me, you know. Richard's probably nearby, knowing him. Or maybe he is me. I hope not. That'd be weird."

"Um, I bet." Lester shifts his folded arms. "If it helps, I've done three of these and neither Pat or I've ever been each other. Dunno if it's impossible or anything, but him being you seems pretty unlikely."

"Oh, good. Thanks." You teeter back to the doorway and show Lester your The Sword. "Hey, what do you think?"

"It's nice, Charlotte— oh, shit!" He stares out past you. "Who's—"

Your reaction time isn't up to speed, so all you see is the secret door in the family room slamming shut. "Oh. Who'd it look like?"

"A girl? Lots of hair. She came out of the wall—"

"Hair color?" you prod.


You're already peeling away. "Wait," Lester calls. "What- do you know her?"

"It's me." Your heel catches the edge of the rug, and you stumble. Damn. Goshdamn. You tear off the offending shoe and pitch it across the room (it hits a bookshelf), then, thinking better of it, toss the other as well. "Pat," Lester's saying distantly. "You better be here—"

You make it to the secret door (it's built into the paneling), find the latch, and pry the whole thing open. Inside, trying desperately to work the swivel mechanism, is you. She's 13 or 14, hair in ribbons, hands covered in dust, tiny. Her eyes (count 'em, eyes) are big and blue and terrified.

Old-you, to her credit, rallies quickly. "Who are you? You're not supposed to be here."

This might be accurate, though she's omitting the fact that she's not supposed to be there, either. You feel very strange.

>[1] "Where's Richard?"
>[2] "Have you seen a guy around? Wears sunglasses indoors?"
>[3] "I'm you. From the future. But I've been cursed, that's why I look like this."
>[4] "I'm Dame Ramona Birdwell. You should know this, Lottie, Aunt Ruby's drilled you."
>[5] "You want this sword?"
>[6] "What year is it?"
>[7] Write-in.
> "Didju know I ripped… ripped my spine out?" Madrigal leans bodily across the table. "It was fukked—"

Yaknow, Maddie kinda deserves a drink.
>[4] "I'm Dame Ramona Birdwell. You should know this, Lottie, Aunt Ruby's drilled you."
>[5] "You want this sword? I know you do, because I'm you. From the future."
> Write in. "Regardless. Have you met the snake in the attic, yet? If not, then I recommend you don't. He's terribly complicated."

Oh goddamnit. We KNOW where Richard is. We already found him there once before.
Oh yes, make sure to proffer the sword handle first and with proper etiquitte.

Let's not leave room for misconceptions.

Oh and

> If you want to know what I'm doing and where I'm going, you're welcome to come along. This is your house as much as it is mine. I can show you some things you haven't seen yet.

Then proceed to move through the walls using the secret passages we shouldn't know and have a lovely fun tour down memory lane with ourselves, talking about our memories of the place.

What could go wrong.

Also Charlie being a toff explains a lot

What's wrong with the sword? Obviously it's that posession doesn't make it our sword, I mean it is but there's a difference between taking it and being bestowed it. However, giving it to us from the past puts it with the proper "us" for it and, to my mind, sort of self-legitimizes it being ours. After all, if future us gave it to us, then it's like destiny or fate or something. Yes that's not quite sane but hey fuck sanity

>[4] "I'm Dame Ramona Birdwell. You should know this, Lottie, Aunt Ruby's drilled you."

Silly us.

I think if it worked like that we'd be 13 year old us and not Ramona. Maybe Richard works differently though.
I figure it's worth a look, since he's a snake.
I'm not going to confirm or deny anything, only note that you can't access the attic from the first floor (where you are)-- you'd need to make it to the second floor, which is your ultimate destination.
Can we get up to the second floor while in the walls?
Yes, though it may not be any easier.
>Various write-ins

Called and writing. Results within 12 hours.
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Oh, dammit, I didn't fully read the first set of votes and missed the part where you do actually reveal yourself. That makes the two votes contradictory, so they need to be tiebroken-- luckily, I can go either way with the remainder of the update.

Officially rolling between the two. 1 = reveal yourself, 2 = don't.
> This is fine.
>Come on, you should know this
>Bestow your birthright

Well, you can't just tell her-- it goes against all the rules. You've got to be suitably enigmatic. "Okay, it starts with an R..."

"Hey! N-no fooling!" Old-you fumbles with something stuck in the belt of her party dress. Eventually, she brandishes a small knife. "What's your name!"

You contort your face to keep from laughing. "Where'd you get that? The kitchen? You can't have knives, you're gonna cut yourself."

"I-I'll cut you first if you don't--!"

"Lottie, I have two swords. Pick your... oh." Her bottom lip is trembling. "Oh, um, hey. Hey. I won't tell Mommy, alright? Or Aunt Ruby. But you've gotta-- gotta put that back in the kitchen."

She drops the knife a little. "It's not from the kitchen."

You can't actually think of another ready source of knives. "...Where's it from?"

"Um, I'm not s'posed to tell anyone." She squares her shoulders. "Or I'll die. And I don't wanna die."

Look at her, bright and credulous and clinically, chronically honest. Look at you. You continue to feel very strange. "Why would you die?"

"I swore a blood oath."

You can't argue with that. "Sorry to hear it."

"'S okay." She rubs her palm. "Please tell me your name."

Finally breaking out the manners, then? You stoop down. "Come on, you know this. Starts with an R? I go to lots of these parties? Doesn't Aunt Ruby quiz you on these?"

"Maybe," she mumbles, "you're too boring to 'member."

Ouch. It's worse because it's true: had you not arbitrarily landed in Ramona Birdwell's body, you'd struggle to pick her out of a crowd. But still. "That's very rude, Lottie."

"So? I'm right. You're drunk, too, you've got drunk eyes. And you're a thief." She folds her arms.

You touch your eyes self-consciously. "Listen, you have got to behave around guests. I'm not drunk, I'm- inebriated, and I'm really not a thief."

Her face, meanwhile, lights up. "I haven't got to behave," she crows. "You can't say anything about me, cause you're not s'posed to be here. You can't trick me, either. Inebriated means drunk-- I read that-- and that's my sword in your hand."

"Okay, it doesn't..." You brush your bangs out of your face. "Look, one drink is tipsy, two is inebriated, three or more is drunk, gotcha? I can still talk fine, can't I? And it's my sword, actually, I'm older."

Old-you is unconvinced. "So? You're not a Fawkins. You're a... whatever."

"So what-- ack!" You flinch as someone taps you on the shoulder. "Oh, sorry," Lester says. "This is you, then? She's very cute."

"Hello, Lord and Lady Autrey," old-you dutifully repeats. "Welcome to our humble estate... if there's anything I can do to assist you please let me know... I'm not cute."

You scoff. "You remember them?"

"Yeah, they've always got matchy outfits. It's weird."

"It is a little weird," Pat mutters behind you. She clears her throat. "Uh, thank you, Charlotte. I think we're okay."

"You are cute." You put one hand on your hip. "And you're only gonna be cute for, like, another year, so you damn better enjoy it while it lasts."


Yeah, she won't understand until later. But while you're on an advice-giving streak: "Great. Have you ever been up to the attic?"

"I'm not s'posed to go in the attic."

"You're not supposed to be sneaking around back here with a knife, either, but... whatever. Don't go in the attic. Don't open any boxes in the attic. Don't talk to any snakes in any boxes. They'll make a lot of promises, but they're lies, okay? You're listening? They're lies. Just shut him up in the box again and pitch it out the window."

"You said they, and then you said he." She pauses. "Why?"

You were not an easy child. "Because I said so."

"What's a snakes?"

Gosh. What is a snake? "It's compl-"

"It's a kind of animal from under the ground," Pat says. "And sometimes underwater. Charl... Ramona, this is very charming, but we've got to get a move on. Are we following her, or what? Does she know where Richard is?"

"Um..." You stroke your neck. "I don't know."


"Uh..." You turn back to old-you. "Look, we're going in the passages. Do you want to tag along, I guess?"

She's got the knife out again. "No! You're not allowed!"

"Nobody's allowed! They're off-limits!" How did your aunt deal with this? "Look. Look, I have The Sword. I'll give you it if you let us in, okay? Deal?"

She pouts. "Maybe."

"Okay, then. Here. I'm giving you it." You proffer The Sword. "Look at that, huh? It's finally yours."

She hesitates, then snatches The Sword by the hilt. She turns it around in the air, and the awe on her face is such to the point where it makes you a little crabby. That's your awe. She stole it. Finally, you've had enough. "Okay, then, can we go in?"

Old-you thinks, and then breezily levels The Sword at your chest. "Go away! I'm not letting a bunch of Autreys and a Birdwell in my passages!"

"Oh," you say. "Now you remember."

>[1] Fine. Lose your enigma, reveal yourself. But will she believe you, after all that? [Relatively easy roll.]
>[2] Oh, whatever, you don't actually need her-- you know the passages better than she does. Wait until she leaves, then go in and find Richard yourself (well, with Lester and Pat). You'll be in the dark, though.
>[3] This is hardly the only entrance to the passages, and it's not closest to the dumbwaiter up to the second floor. Hunt down a different one and save yourself some time... though you'll be exposed in the open.
>[4] Seriously, though, has she met Richard?
>[5] Write-in.
>[1] Fine. Lose your enigma, reveal yourself. But will she believe you, after all that? [Relatively easy roll.]

>"If you're really concerned about what we might be doing, then you can come with us. But what we're doing is *important*, and not the kind of "important" that the party is, this is real. I have to see if my . . . Friend, Richard, is here because if he's lost he might not be able to come back without me."

She takes the blood oath seriously, let's appeal to her sense of honour and adventure. Besides, she has the sword, doesn't she?

>Please roll me 3 1d100s - 5 (-5 Suspicious Lady) vs. DC 30 (-10 Credulous -10 Just Like in One of My Japanese Animes) to convince Lottie you're a bonafide time traveler.
Rolled 21 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 41 (1d100)

Rolled 49 - 5 (1d100 - 5)

Rolling the last for expediency.
Rolled 81 (1d100)

Just for fun
>16, 36, 44 vs. DC 30 -- Success


Hey, success either way.
>Spill the beans

"Hey," you say, hands raised. "Hey, rule one of safe handling. You don't point that at anyone you're not planning to kill, okay? And I know you don't want to kill me."

Old-you's grip wavers. "M-maybe I…"

"No, you don't, so let's just… point that at the ground. Hey, there we go."

She's lowered the sword, but she's still contriving to look as fierce as possible. "I- I'll scream if you go through! I'll scream!"

You can't call her bluff there: she will scream, and it'll be a massive pain in the ass. You glance back at Lester and Pat, who are in various stages of disinterested (Pat sits on a settee, pinching her forehead; Lester paces), and forward again at old-you. You sigh and crouch down. "Please don't scream. I'm going to tell you something, okay? And it's going to sound crazy, but it's… just hear me out. Um…" You massage the side of your face. "I'm you from the future, only I've been sent back in time and cursed to look like this. And I'm trying really hard to… get back to my own time, so I'd appreciate all the help I could get, Lottie."

"…!" You've knocked all the wind out of her. Her mouth hangs ajar. "Y-you're…"


"You're not fooling?"


She glances around, then approaches you as one might approach a rabid dog. She leans in close to your ear and whispers. "Where'd I bury the amulet?"

After receiving a cheap plated necklace as a present when you were nine, you promptly dubbed it 'the amulet' and buried it under the porch in hopes long-term exposure to the soil would impart it with elemental power. As far as you know, it's still under the porch, and you tell her so.

She claps both hands over her mouth— the sword clatters to the floor. (You wince.) To your vast bewilderment, her eyes begin to well with tears. "I- I-"

You have the curious idea that you ought to cry, too, but you swallow it down. "No, it'll— it's gonna be okay—"

"It won't!" She stumbles backwards. "I… I called you boring!"

Is that all? You look at her and discover: yes, that's all. She's still got one hand over her mouth, with the other balled at her side. Her whole body is quaking. You rub your wrist. "So?"

"S-so this is the most interesting thing that'll ever happen to me, and I- I- I ruined it!"

You're no good when people start crying— it makes you nervous— but this isn't the same. It's more like solving a crossword with the answer key out, or with all the answers lightly penciled into the boxes, maybe. You know this. "Lottie, this isn't the most interesting thing that'll happen to you."

"Yes it-"

"No, it's not. It's not even in the top ten. So even if I did hate you, and it was ruined, it doesn't matter. Okay? Interesting things are overrated, by the way."

Old-you wipes her nose with her elbow. (Did she lose the hankie again?) "Y-you're just saying that. You don't un-" She stops short.

"I do understand," you say mildly. "Even if nobody else does. And I don't hate you, because that'd be stupid, wouldn't it? I actually need your help."

'Need' is an exaggeration, but it does the trick: old-you straightens up and scrubs away the rest of her tears. "…For your quest? To break your curse?"

"Yes, for my quest, which is very, very important. More important than anything you've ever done, maybe. I'm looking for my… um…" Tricky word. "…friend, Richard, who's also been cursed. Have you seen him?"

She fidgets.

"…I don't know what he looks like, exactly, but… I'm guessing he's a man, might have sunglasses, might have a really smooth voice… He'll seem smug, like he knows more than you do… anything?"

There's definitely something: she's a worse liar than you are, and that's if you couldn't already read her like a book. She's rubbing her palm like crazy. "…Is it the oath?"

She goes red. It's the oath. "…You don't have to tell me, but is it against the rules to lead me there? Me and… they're cursed, too, but you wouldn't know them." You jerk a thumb towards Pat and Lester. "The three of us. Could you do that?"

Near-inperceptably, she nods.

"He's in the passages, right?"

Another nod.

"You're very brave. Thank you."

>Find Richard

You round up Lester and Pat (relieved to finally be getting somewhere), retrieve your shoes, make old-you retrieve The Sword, and open the false wall in the back of the dusty chamber. Behind it lie the passages, those hidden corridors, rooms, and tunnels that line the walls and floor of your house. What's the point of them? They were for long-gone servants, is the official story, but you're inclined to think that some ancestral Fawkins kept a lot of secrets. In either case, they were strictly off-limits.

This never stopped you, and it's clearly not stopping old-you, who holds The Sword in two hands and an oil-lamp hung with a rope around her shoulder. (How did you never light the house on fire?) As she deftly leads you through crevices and around moldy spots on the floor, she peppers you with questions: how old are you? (23.) What cursed you? (A monster.) Where'd you find a monster? (...Can't tell you.) What's in the top ten interesting things? (Can't tell you that, either, else they wouldn't be interesting. …Haha.) How do you know Pat and Lester? (Just met them.) Where are they from? (Pat: Like, originally, or...? Pillar 10, I gu- Lester: We're physically based out of the Corcass, but I work remote, actually— Pat: She's not gonna know where that is, Les-) Where's that? (Pat: See? Lester: It's underwater.) Underwater?

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You cut the Q&A off there, because you'd rather not get ideas any earlier than you already did. Also, you're here. You weren't sure where you were headed, at first, nothing seemed to be quite where it was supposed to… but then it all straightened out. You're deep in the bowels of the house, somewhere under the ballroom. More specifically, you're very near to a little room you'd designated as a clubhouse, for you and, um, anyone who'd eventually come along.

Old-you rounds the corner, and the oil lamp illuminates a strange scene: two people at a rickety table, playing cards in (what was) complete darkness. One person you don't remember at all, though you absolutely should: their oily hair is off-green, and their skin is riddled with white splotches. The other you remember quite well, if only for one thing: he has twelve fingers, and his last name is Glover.

"Eight of shells," Glover says, and places his last card face-up on the table. "I win again. Hello, Charlie. How'd it go this time?"

"I mean," you say, "it could be better? Richard, wh-"

"Not you, Charlotte. Although, hello, took you quite long enough. How's the knife, Charlie?"

"Er…" Old-you twirls her hair. "I have a sword now."

"Ah. I see." Glover/Richard sounds a little hurt. "You would have a sword. Well, that's alright, then. Did you—"

You fold your arms. "Richard, what are you doing here?"

"Arrived three hours ago. Went looking for you." He rubs his nose. "Well, I found you."

It takes you a moment. "You've been alone with 13-year-old-me—"

"14," old-you says sourly.

"—14-year-old-me for three hours? What've you— what kind of ideas are you-!"

"Charlotte, I'm offended." Richard tilts his head as he reshuffles the cards. "I did nothing but play Eights, impart some useful advice, and give her something to defend herself with. Whyever would you assume otherwise?"

"Gosh, I don't know, because you're made of ulterior motives? You do nothing but say one thing but mean another—"

("Some friend," Lester mutters.)

"And yet you came looking for me. How sweet." Richard places the shuffled deck flat on the table and stands, and keeps standing. You had forgotten how tall Sidney Glover was. He's a peculiar-looking man in general, with a broad face and choppy, chin-length red hair, not to mention the thing with the fingers. A starched collar pokes up above the grey overcoat Richard hasn't bothered to take off. (Poor man. Only just arrived.) Though you have no idea what Glover did for a living, he reminds you immensely of an undertaker.

Richard has circled around the table and stands before you. "Well, I see you're drunk. It'd explain my migraine."

"Inebriated," you say, and cough. "Uh, actually, I haven't been feeling it…"

"Since you've been near Charlie, I'd imagine. Yes. It wouldn't do to be unbalanced. You've also got a chokehold on that poor woman. Have you found it difficult to walk?"

"…I mean, I am inebriated."

"No, that's not all of it. Don't be a bitch." Richard touches your chin. "You're not working in concert with her, Charlotte. Possession, it's like riding a horse—"

"Excuse me," Pat says, having either summoned the nerve or tired of waiting, "you're Richard?"


"Charlotte says you're a… snake."

"Yes. This one is too. Is that all?" Richard raises his eyebrows. "You, I don't know. You—" he gestures dismissively towards Lester— "I exploded. Welcome back."

"What?" Lester says.

"'…This one is too?'" you say. "Wh- your cards partner?"

"No, Charlotte, the table. Yes, my cards partner. No suitable cats or toddlers around to house the thing, unfortunately, so it sort of… DIY'd a body. Still not much of a conversationalist, I'm afraid. And not at all good at cards."

You're having trouble keeping track of things."…I thought the snake was doing all this."

"Don't be stupid, that's the false snake. This is the real snake. Speaking of! Now that you're finally here, we should get going. The dumbwaiter, yes?"

You were planning to get to the second floor through the dumbwaiter. How'd he know? "Um, yeah. But isn't it just nearby? Around the corner and… to the right, I think? We can just walk—"

"Would you like to see?"

Would you.

The corridor where you came from is ordinary. The corridor where you're going is…

Well, it looks like some malign force shoved the Fen, the sewers, and the facility hallways together into the bottom of your house…

And you're absolutely sure that's what happened. "I hate this," you say. "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this."

"Oh, buck up, Charlotte." Richard pats your shoulder. "We're almost done. By the way, we're leaving three people behind."


"Oh, yes. Have you ever tried to navigate an eldritch location with six competing personalities? It's a disaster. It's got to be three, tops."

(Choices next)
>Pick TWO PEOPLE/SNAKES to BRING ALONG on this home stretch! (You're already included.)
>Alternately, bring more than two… but things will be more difficult!
>Should everything go smoothly, everyone will leave safely and with minds intact regardless of options chosen here.

>[1] Bring Richard. You'd like to prove you can do things without him, and you'd really like to see the look on his face, and it's Richard… but he's undeniably, if nebulously, powerful, and it's Richard.
>[2] Bring the snake. It can't (won't?) talk, and you have no idea what it can do, if anything… but if you leave it with Pat or Lester, you're almost sure they'll still have it when you escape. And that'd just be a pain in the ass, you know?
>[3] Bring Lester. He's shady, and possibly not the sharpest knife in the drawer… but he's got weird/useful shapeshifting(???) abilities, he has inside knowledge of what the false snake was made for, and he'll be *pissed* if you just leave him behind.
>[4] Bring Pat. She's shady, and possibly not the sharpest knife in the drawer… but she's got weird/useful shapeshifting(???) abilities, she has inside knowledge of how the false snake was made, and she'll be *pissed* if you just leave her behind.
>[5] Bring old-you. You don't want to put her in danger, and she doesn't have a lot to contribute except guts… but she's you, isn't she? She deserves the chance. (You're less drunk around her, too.)
>[4] Bring Pat. She's shady, and possibly not the sharpest knife in the drawer… but she's got weird/useful shapeshifting(???) abilities, she has inside knowledge of how the false snake was made, and she'll be *pissed* if you just leave her behind.

>[5] Bring old-you. You don't want to put her in danger, and she doesn't have a lot to contribute except guts… but she's you, isn't she? She deserves the chance. (You're less drunk around her, too.)

The thought of leaving Lester and Richard behind together is just darling.

>[2] Bring the snake. It can't (won't?) talk, and you have no idea what it can do, if anything… but if you leave it with Pat or Lester, you're almost sure they'll still have it when you escape. And that'd just be a pain in the ass, you know?

>[4] Bring Pat. She's shady, and possibly not the sharpest knife in the drawer… but she's got weird/useful shapeshifting(???) abilities, she has inside knowledge of how the false snake was made, and she'll be *pissed* if you just leave her behind.

And make old us go back to the party because I don't want timeline fuckery
There's no real possible timeline fuckery here-- you're not literally in the past, you're in a simulated version of one night of it, so even if it all goes tits up you're only affecting your future. That being said, you do appear to share some kind of metaphysical link with your old self, so nothing wrong with taking precautions.
So can we try to fusion with our old self? When nobody is looking because it'll be embarassing if it doesn't work.
I can't think of a good reason why you'd want to do that, but you could certainly attempt it, yes.
Because fusion is the power of the heart.
>[2] Bring the snake. It can't (won't?) talk, and you have no idea what it can do, if anything… but if you leave it with Pat or Lester, you're almost sure they'll still have it when you escape. And that'd just be a pain in the ass, you know?
>[5] Bring old-you. You don't want to put her in danger, and she doesn't have a lot to contribute except guts… but she's you, isn't she? She deserves the chance. (You're less drunk around her, too.)

Whatever we do we're fusing with Charlolitte
>Pat, old-you

>Snake, Pat

>Old-you, snake

Called for old-you and Pat.

Charlotte will consider the fusion idea this update, but something that potentially major will come in a separate vote.
> something that potentially major

I honestly thought it would just be funny to try and fail at.

The possibility of it actually happening makes me want it more.

That way we get the sword back. But it feels weird to keep it from young us. So this solves that problem.
Rolled 2 (1d8)

1d8 for random event.

1: Found
2: Split
3: Bite
4: Out
5: Step
6: Lost
7: Drown
8: Bleed
>Pat and old-you
>Random event: 2 — Split

You make to stuff your hands in your pockets, find no pockets, and cross your arms instead. It's as much an attempt to stabilize yourself as it is an expression of petulance: with old-you back in the clubhouse, you're starting to feel woozy.

"So I expect it'll be us and the snake, then," Richard continues. "It does count, unfortunately. Shall you go break the news?"

It's a command couched in a question. You will break the news, and you will grab the snake by its weird elongated wrist, and you will ditch, with a fig leaf of explanation, your younger self, and you will be led by the nose all the way upstairs. There, Richard will hover by the banister, or the door, or your side, as you speak to your mother-who-is-probably-the-snake.

You don't want those things. But what can you say? "Yeah. Um, hold on." You wipe your nose, take a last look at the tunnel ahead, and stop. You have a question, and you don't trust yourself to remember it later. "…I saw someone who looked like you."

Richard raises his eyebrows. "I look like lots of people, I'm sure."

"Exactly like you. I thought it was you, I mean, but then it… really wasn't. Do you—"

"Sure. One mystery solved, in fact. That's who you put me in."


"Charlotte, I know thinking is difficult for you, but come on." He interlocks his fingers. "I'm a snake— I am not, inherently, a person. The only reason I am sometimes a person is because you force that preference on me. That specific preference."

You blink to focus. "I want for you to look like... that guy."


"But I don't even know that guy. He's just— I guess I must've seen him at a party once. Why the hell would I—"

"There's no need to get worked up, Charlotte, it's really not that complicated. Perhaps he looked closest to what I sound like, or what you associate with me." Richard shrugs. "Same reason you ended up in a woman with a sword, I suppose. Now, would you—"

You take the hint and stumble back up the corridor, leaning heavily on the wall. "Ride the horse!" Richard shouts to you. You keep going.

Eventually, you begin to hear snatches of low voices.

Lester: "—didn't want to say anything, but—"
Pat: "—fuck snakes. All three of 'em. Fuck Management—"
Lester: "—n't repeat that word, Charlotte, darling, it's—"
Pat: "—can say whatever she—"
Old-you, clearly: "No, I can't, or I'll go to hell like you 'n doctors—"

You round the corner. Lester and Pat wince. Old-you wheels upon you vindictively. "Tell 'em. Tell 'em I can't cuss."

"…I mean," you say slowly, "it's because it's uncouth, not the hell thing, but yes. Don't cuss. Er, look…"

"They said you weren't coming back. But I said, course you'd come back, because I'd come back, and that's how it works, doesn't it?"

You glower at Lester and Pat. Lester looks guilty; Pat shrugs. Old-you doesn't seem to notice: she just stands there and fidgets, stands there awkward and pigeon-toed, awkward and short and chubby, stands there in a dress she didn't pick, stands there with dirty hands and scuffed knees, stands there, and she doesn't care. It's not that she doesn't notice it— she always notices it. She's bred to notice it. It's that she's part of something happening, now, and she—

You can't keep going. You'll kill yourself if you keep going, reach some solipsistic critical mass and implode. But at the same time you can't stop— can't pull yourself far enough away to be callous. You can't leave her. You are her.

"…Yeah," you say after a normal amount of time. "That's how it works. Good job. No, I was just out looking at the way upstairs— it's pretty, um, screwy. I'll need backup, like, um... Lottie?"

She makes a good show of things, examining The Sword and fixing her ribbon and scuffing the ground, but she wants it and you know exactly why and how much she wants it and thus the game was lost from the start. Finally, she goes: "…Me?"

"Yeah. And, uh… Pat. All in the same boat, no?"

Pat furrows her brow. "What about Lester?"

"Haven't got room for Lester. He can play Eights with the snakes, can't he? Come on."

Lester appears less than enthused. "You're bringing the kid."


"And leaving m- whatever. Pat's going. It's fine." He walks to the cards table, sits down, and thows his hands up. "Better for my health."

You're not too sure about that, given that Richard at one point exploded(??) him, but you're not about to argue. "Okay. So we'll just… Lottie, bring the lantern. We'll just get going…"

",,," Pat sighs. "Okay, let me just…" She too walks to the cards table, bends over, and pecks Lester on the cheek. "What?" he says. "Not the lips?"

"It's weird when we're twins, Les," she says lightly, and rubs his shoulder, and withdraws. "Win at cards, okay?"

"I will. Hey, good luck out there. Show that piece of shit snake what for, wontcha?"

"I will, Les." Pat walks back to you, sees the look on your face, and keeps walking out the door.

Old-you, wielding the lantern, leads the way down the corridor. You hasten to keep up with Pat, who is looking straight ahead. "I thought you were friends," you say. "Didn't you say that? I thought you said that."

"I never said that," Pat says. "It's complicated, okay? It's complicated. He's my boss."

"Oh." This is all inane, you're never going to see these people again (right?), but you're thirsty for new gossip. "Wow, that's rough. Aren't you not supposed to do that?"

"Probably." She hunches her shoulders. "But would you believe it, there's not a lot of fish in the sea… in the sea."



when it is not almost 4 in the morning, you know the drill, forgive me
Thanks for running!

Pat seems the most willing to give up if getting the Snake means getting exploded, instead of being overcome by greed.

I mean, we clearly should not be here. They're obviously gonna turn on us at the soonest chance, so we leave Richard to convince or kill Lester while we work on convincing Pat that it's best to let us take the snake and leave.

Heck, maybe we could even take her with us. Richard, as much of an ass as he is, doesn't actually refuse to do things we ask him to unless he actually can't.

Richard loiters at the boundary between normal-corridor and weird-corridor. He barely looks up as you approach. "So that's how it is, then."

You feign confusion. "What? I don't…"

"Don't get cute with me, Charlotte. You being selfish and short-sighted is nothing new, of course, but I had no idea you had a death wish. No, please, go on." You had stopped short. "Exercise your girl power, I'm sure that'll pull you through. You and your trusty squad of a small child and a felon with an artificial face will save the day."

"Are you done?" you say, at the same time Pat folds her arms and demands "And who the hell are you to—", at the same time old-you scowls and goes "I'm not a small child, I'm 14…"

"Yes, I'm done. Good question, who the hell am I. Charlie…" He squats down to get her at eye level. "You are a small child. I advise you get used to it, because that'll never change." A meaningful glance at you. "Now, listen. Don't do anything rash out there. Be careful. Remember what I told you."

She nods. You scoff. "What, I don't get that treatment?"

"Why would you?" The sunglasses render Richard inscrutable. "Even if I felt like it, it's important to keep a strict division. Wouldn't want to be superfluous, would you?"


"Well, I'm off to play cards." He stretches. "I'll see you soon, Charlotte."

"What? No, you can't just—" He has pulled an enormous key ring from his overcoat and is thumbing through to find a key. "Richard, what do you mean superfluous—" He's turned and is inserting his key directly into the neighboring wall. "You can't just say things like…" He's stepping into the clubhouse. "Richard!"

"Don't reminisce," he says, and the wall swings shut behind him.

Pat turns to you incredulously. "You're friends with that?"

"I mean…" You rub your wrist. "It's um, different, when… He's nice, sometimes. Tries to be nice. I think he tries to be nice."

"Sometimes," Pat says dryly.

"He was nice to me," old-you announces. She's already some ways down the corridor "I beat him at cards. I got an 8 of Kites, and an 8 of Claws, and an 8 of…"

"See?" You don't like the way Pat is looking at you. "He was nice to her."

She shakes her head. "Gods, that's sad. You're worse than I am."

"It's not—" Old-you is bouncing on her heels. You sigh. "Look, let's just go."

Pat snorts. "Hey. You're the boss."

>Gird yourself

Pat, having shaded into "tipsy," keeps trying to make conversation, but your attention is elsewhere: you've got to keep one eye on old-you (still leading the way) and one eye on your surroundings. The corridor seemingly cannot stick to a theme, hopscotching between concrete, grungy tile, and sudden outcroppings of roots and mud, but other than that seems benign. You don't buy that for an instant.

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But there's little you can do until something happens, and so you're just half-listening to Pat ("15 permanent employees, a couple temps at any given time…") and trying to… prepare. For the inevitable, you know. Take a deep breath. Draw the sword. It's a bad sword, too heavy, not sharp, made solely for strutting around with. You could take it by the blade, you suppose. Take it by the blade, club the intruder with the handle. Something like that. That's doable. That's workable. You feel better with a plan.

>[Gained: Girded — +10 to upcoming rolls that require an element of bravery]

Pat, perhaps sensing your disinterest, has shuffled on ahead to talk to old-you— who's having none of it. "You're drunk, too."

"I'm not drunk, kid, I've had a beer. It's a normal thing that adults do. Listen—"

"Aunt Ruby says that if I drink, I'll end up like Mommy."

Oh, God. You hasten to catch up to the two of them. "Hey. Hey, that's a bald-faced lie, Lottie. Don't listen to Aunt Ruby."

Old-you holds the lantern to your face. "Aunt Ruby says I should always listen to her, cause she knows better than my low-down whoring bastard of a father, and Mommy's touched in the head, God bless her heart. That's what she says."

Pat whistles. You shoot her a scathing glance before returning to old-you. "Our father's been dead for 14 years, Lottie, so Aunt Ruby shouldn't be saying anything at all about him. And Mommy's not touched, she just has episodes sometimes. And anyways, none of that has to do with drinking, which is fine once you're old enough. Okay? You got-"

You are rudely interrupted by virtue of being torn in half.

>Random event: Split

Not literally. Maybe literally. It's hard to tell such things in the initial confusion, when all you can gather is that you were walking, and there was a squelch that went all the way to your teeth, and an inexorable sense of being divvied up, evenly, fairly, right down the middle, of course, of course. But literally down the middle? You don't know. Why are you in a place in your life where you have to stop and ask yourself in what manner was I torn in half? Oh, for the love of God, Charlotte, just look down.

Okay, not literally. You've got all your guts where they're supposed to be, it appears, so maybe this is just the kind of thing where you get psychologically, uhhh, tormented. Yeah. You've done that before, it's not so bad, really, though it's unfortunate you'll have nothing to club with your sword. Until you get to the snake/your mother, you guess, but it sucks all the fun out if it's your mother. Look up, Charlotte, you've been looking down too long.

"Oh, shit," Pat says twice, which is a pithy summation of your initial thoughts. The corridor, which used to be a straight shot into darkness, has divided: two paths run parallel to each other. You're on the right, looking straight out to the left path, where you are. You're on the left, looking straight out to the right path, where you are. You're on the— no.

There's two of you, one on the left and one on the right. This is a fundamentally wrong state of being, you know it in your bones— so one of them isn't you, not really. You'll be damned if you know which.

Old-you, both of her, quivers. The Pats look identically exasperated. "Hey, I know what this is," they both say. "Do you?"

"…Should I?"

"Look where we are. What part we're in." They tap the wall, painted a bland beige-grey. "This is us. Namway. Meaning this is… I mean, I'm guessing it's a brute-force attempt at producing goo dupes. Only it's a dumb fucking animal, so it doesn't know how it works. It just split us down the middle."

"Okay." This is far more of an explanation than you have. "So now what?"

"Gee, I don't know, Charlotte, let me consult my 'What To Do if You're Trapped in a Memory Simulation Thing and You're In The Tunnels Under Some Sad Rich Kid's Giant House and Suddenly a Snake Makes It So There's Two of You' guide. I mean." They grimace. "I guess I can try something."

"Then you should—"

"But don't make me. You don't want to see it. Try something else."

>[1] Sure. Just… take a good, hard look at yourselves. Maybe you'll turn up something unusual. [Roll.]
>[2] You're split? Put yourselves back together, then. Just step on over and… press your hands together, or… you'll figure something out. [Roll.]
>[3] Club yourself over the head with your sword. Finally.
>[4] This isn't actually affecting your quality of life much, come to think of it. Just keep walking.
>[5] No, actually, you're going to make Pat try the thing. [Resolve the situation. Lose Pat for the rest of the way.]
>[6] (Check on old-you[s]. They're not looking too hot.)
>[7] Write-in.
>[6] (Check on old-you[s]. They're not looking too hot.)
>[4] This isn't actually affecting your quality of life much, come to think of it. Just keep walking.

We're normally two minds of everything anyways, haha.
Rolled 2 (1d8)


1: Found
2: Found
3: Bite
4: Out
5: Step
6: Lost
7: Drown
8: Bleed
So this is . . . .good?
No. You didn't deal with Henry.

It'll be interesting to see how he reacts to the six of us.
>Aw, who gives a damn

"…I mean," you say, "this isn't so bad. For me, anyways, I don't know how you're—"

"Me? Oh, no, I'm good." The Pats shrug. "This is practically in my job description. Might be in my job description. It's a little more hands-on than usual, but otherwise… yeah. What, are you proposing we ignore it?"

You hadn't meant to put it so bluntly, but she's not wrong. "Yeah, if you're good, and I'm good… we can do something if it gets worse, I guess, but if we just pick a side to pretend to be on, don't touch, don't cross over— oh, God. Lottie!"

Having failed to get the memo, your younger self stands face-to-face with herself, pressing her palm against her palm. At your shout, she stumbles back, cradling her wrist.

"Hey," you say. "No touching, okay? We don't know what…"

Oh, she's not coping well— the same wild gleam in both sets of eyes proves that much. "That's me."

"…Yeah," you say. "That's you— but it's not a big deal, okay? Look at me. That's me, too. Do I look worried? Don't answer that. I'm not. So why should you be? If you just ignore it, it'll go away eventually, right? That's how it works."

What's different this time? What's not getting through to her? She's just standing there, all the brio flashed away, dripping raw terror. "Poor kid," the Pats say. "I guess she's not used t- shit, it's kind of an awful thing to be used to, isn't it?"

"When we met I thought you were the less sweary one," you say reproachfully.

"Beer. Hey, kid. Hey." Pat (you can't justify maintaining the plural) moseys over and crouches down in front of old-you. "I'm going to tell you a secret. Really big, important secret. Are you ready?"

Crisis or not, you're always ready to hear big, important secrets, and so old-you nods slightly.

"Okay, here it is. Nobody gives a shit about who you are, or which one you are, or whatever. Got it? You could get a hundred people in a room, and poll them, and none of them would give a shit. All that matters in life is what you do— so are you gonna cower like a bitch, kid, or are you gonna take your damn sword and keep walking?"

Maybe in all your empathy you'd overlooked the route of abstract insults. "Don't say 'bitch' to her," you still feel compelled to add. "I don't want bad…"

"Keep walking," old-you mumbles.

"Good. You'll feel better on the move, that's a fact. Do you want me to hold your hand?"

There, finally, a proper reaction: old-you recoils, clutching the sword to her chest. "No! I'm 14! I don't need—"

"Alright, alright." Pat steps back. "Don't swing that thing around, will you? Last thing I need is four hands chopped off."

>Random event: Found

So you keep going, staring at the wall to distract yourself from the fact that you're also staring at the other wall. Having sensed a tactit need, you're holding your younger self's hand anyways— she is pretending very very hard like it's not happening, but she's not letting go. Pat trails behind with the lantern.

Worryingly, the two sides of the corridor have begun to diverge, and you're starting to go with them. Rather than speaking at once, you're using one mouth or the other at random, a draining and irritating state of affairs. Worse, you're no longer able to completely merge the dual perceptions: every time you speak, you're jolted aware that there are two of you, and it isn't right. It's unpleasant.

>[-2 ID: 4/11]

You're sure it's the same for the others, and that's why you've all lapsed into uneasy silence. This means, unfortunately, that you can't ask if they're also hearing voices in the walls.

"—knew this'd catch up to us in—"
"—for a good cause—"
"I'd like to say I told you so, by the—"
"—readings, they're fucked over—"
"—you piss off, this time?"
"—wedge-shaped, right back… but that's just a wall. Henry, that's just a—"

You're less surprised than you could be when Henry-the-bartender phases out of a solid wooden wall 5 feet in front of left-you. You're less surprised than Henry is, probably. You're still surprised.

Henry has discarded his suit jacket, and his red dress shirt is rolled up to his elbows to reveal spiraling sleeve tattoos. He's faintly sweaty, looks older than you remember him (40? 45?), and is covered with knives. Knife in his boot, knife in his other boot, knives at his thigh, his waist, in his hand. How did he get through your door? Does one man really need so many knives? You have no answers.

He stares at you for a few eternal seconds, calculates, and promptly ducks back in through the wall. Brief and muffled shouting ensues, and you consider running, but the moment you really get around to it the shouting comes to a crescendo, ends, and Richard— not Richard, keep it straight. Martin spills out of the wall, sleeves down, eyes bloodshot, sweatier than Henry. He's got a sword— unexceptional, maybe scrap-iron, but with a proper edge on it.

Old-you is keeping a death grip on your hands.

Like Henry, Martin stares. "Caught it straight-on, didn't you. Hah."

"Um," right-you says, because you have to say something, "I think this is all a big misunderstanding, act-"

"Misunderstanding!" Martin wipes his mouth with his hand. "Misunderstanding! You have XXXXXXXXXXX, you stupid c—"


What was that? He said something there, his lips moved, but the word (words?) got mashed up or mangled as they left his mouth. He doesn't seem to notice, but Pat sure does, she's giving you bewildered side-eye…

"—goin' to have to kill you. Wouldn't have to if you'd just stayed in the- the damn parlor…" Oh, Martin's drunk, too. Oh, good. Good. You love parties. And here comes Henry, out from the wall, making a running leap across to the right half of the corridor. He lands with surprising grace and stands from his crouch. The knives, all tortoiseshell-handled, glisten slickly in the lamplight.

"I'd like to say hand over the girl and nobody gets hurt," he says politely, "but that wouldn't really be true, would it. Let's just make this quick."

>Martin is on the left, Henry is on the right. As far as you know, they just have a sword and a bunch of knives. There appears to be no rationing with them.
>Most likely everything's going to require dice. I'll roll for the NPCs with open DCs and modifiers, you'll roll for Charlotte.
>What's your top priority?
>[1] Offense! Finally! People to club!
>[2] Defense! For some reason, they want old-you. For very obvious reasons, you don't want this. Keep her safe.
>[3] Run! There's no turning back now, but you might be able to juke them and flee ahead down the corridor. You just need to find the dumbwaiter.
>[4] Write-in: strategies, details, suggestions for Pat/old-you, etc.
>[2] Defense! For some reason, they want old-you. For very obvious reasons, you don't want this. Keep her safe

Very clearly, Pat is going to hold our old self hostage. After all, Old Pat doesn't even see her as *real*.

>[2] Defense! For some reason, they want old-you. For very obvious reasons, you don't want this. Keep her safe.

Option 1 should really say people to Sword, not people to club
Ah, but you don't have The Sword-- old-you does! You only have a heavy ceremonial no-capitals sword.
Well then we can sord people and she can Sword people. But no clubbing, it's undignified.
Honestly fuck these assholes. They said Charlie wasn't part of this, and here they are trying to kidnap her.

Time to get stabbed.

We should make good use of the narrow space and use our sword to hold off Henry while making fun his knives.

Also Pat should get that knife oft of Little Charlie and throw it into Martins fucking face.
I'll refer you to the first paragraph of >>4219044 :^)

Desperate times call for desperate measures... and it is a legitimate technique, even if Charlotte doesn't know that. Or maybe she does? https://zweaponry.wordpress.com/articles/what-is-half-swording/


Called for [2]. Lots of rolls upcoming, I'll make a separate post for them.
Using a sword like a spear is not a bad plan in a narrow space.
Rolled 53, 23, 78, 8, 38, 63, 12, 57, 71, 21, 10, 86, 70, 62, 54, 95 = 801 (16d100)

Okay, boys, prepare yourself. 16d100s.

Martin: 3 1d100s + 5 (+15 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, +5 Underground, -10 Drunk, -5 Wrong Sword) vs. DC 60 (+10 Defended)
Henry: 3 1d100s + 15 (+10 Marked, +5 Deadeye) vs. DC 50
Pat: 3 1d100s - 15 (+10 Resilient, -10 Initially Unarmed, -10 Split Attention, -5 Just a Scientist) vs. DC 40 (-10 WTF)
Old-you: 3 1d100s - 20 (+5 Guts, +5 Right Sword, -10 Split Attention, -20 Fourteen) vs. DC 35 (-15 Charlie, No)
Everybody: 1d100 each to resolve conflicts. Higher is better.

As for you:
>Please roll me 3 1d100s + 5 (+10 Girded, +10 It's You, -10 Split Attention, -5 Wrong Sword) vs. DC 50 to defend old-you.
Martin: Success
Henry: Success
Pat: Success
Old-you: Success

Where's all these nice rolls when you need them?

Old-you > Martin > Henry > Pat for the tiebreaker. I'll wait for your 3.
Rolled 70 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 25 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Roll submitted. Now to make sense of that post
Rolled 60 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

>75, 30, 65 vs. DC 50 -- Success
Man, you guys are not making this simple, are you?

I need one more 1d100. You're ideally looking to beat Martin's number (70). Good luck.
Rolled 50 (1d100)

Rolled 4 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 45 (1d100)

Didn't Old Charlie stab Martin with that 95?
Can we spend ID to have one of ourselves act differently and club Martin while the other one clubs him from a different angle?
Ah well. Thanks for all the rolls, guys.
Depending on how quick the update is, I may be around for a few more combat posts today.


One of you is on the left with Martin, and one of you is on the right with Henry. There's a small but significant gap between the sides at this point, with void in between. You could spend ID to jump that gap and club him, sure, though note that'd leave Pat and old-you alone on the right with Henry.

If you'd like to do that, I'll call that 1 ID. You're at [4/11] right now. Let me know before I start writing.
oh man, so they aren't split like us? each hallway is a 3v1? I feel better now.
Let's do that, but to club Henry instead as he is more dangerous.

Can we take old us with us when we do?
You could try to bring her, but I'd need an extra set of rolls.

Yeah, it's two 3v1s.
Can Pat jump on her own?
Rolled 30, 38 = 68 (2d100)

Yeah, but she doesn't really want the mental strain.

Lucky for you, I only take rolls when they're explicitly called for, not just mentioned :^)

Is that a "yes, gang up on Henry, bring old-you along" from everybody? Show of hands?
I'm down. A 5/6 on 1 is better than a 3 on 1.
I mean. Do we need to? I'm honestly unsure how the fight is going.
It hasn't really started: all you know at the moment is the results of the rolls. Up to you whether you want to try and get the jump on Henry or if you want to get more info first.
What stops Martin from just jumping after us? Also we don't know how being close to our double will affect us. I say hold off.
Let's wait then.

>Go for it

Gotcha. No spendy. Writing (finally).
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>A whole lot of things, all at once

It's too much to take in, seeing both sides at once— it's like going cross-eyed. You couldn't walk in these conditions, let alone fight. You squint hard, attempting to wrench your attention to the left…

Martin advances in a half-crouch, his empty hand extended towards old-you. "Charlie," he says softly, "Charlie, I need you to listen to me. I need you to- to give me Wyrmbite, please, and I need you to run. XXXXXXXX come find you. Don't even worry about that. I'll… make sure she doesn't hurt you, Charlie. Just come here, and—"

Old-you is choking the life out of your hand. "I'm not s'posed to listen to strangers," she declares, with hardly any waver. "And if you take my sword I'll- I'll stab you, so—"

He's stopped. He stands straight, looking straight down at her, and you were wholly unprepared for the level of grief on his face. "Charlie," he says, his voice cracking, slightly slurred, "I'm XXXXXXXXXXX—"

Nothing. Old-you stares up at him with abject bafflement, and you're no better. He sees this, and he swallows, and hunches his shoulders, and looks directly at you. "Ramona," he snarls. "What have you done—"

And you throw down old-you's hand and rush forward to meet his lurching charge, kicking off your damnable shoes as you do, drawing your sword barely in time to parry his driving thrust. You grapple for leverage, but he's stronger than you, and the point of his blade is inching towards your neck.

"Hey!" Pat yells from way behind you, and brains Martin on the forehead with a pinpoint throw of her high heel.

He flinches, buying you enough time to stumble backwards, raise your sword by its blade, and thwack him in the chest with its three-pound hilt. "Oof!" he yelps, but you hit nothing vital: he's recovered, and charges again, this time past you. He takes old-you by her shoulder, might be going for her sword… but she screams, yanks it up, and plunges it into his side.

Something metallic zings past your ear. Your other ear, on the right. Your attention snaps that way…

Henry's knife missed your face by millimeters, but it finds purchase squarely in Pat's windpipe. "Ghrrk," she manages, and brushes the knife's handle with her fingers. The flesh of her neck is odd and sickly-looking. All of a sudden, she cough-laughs and wrests the knife out. There's no wound. "Bad call."

You're keeping a wary guard over old-you, who seems ready at any moment to storm out and challenge him. Henry isn't interested. "So it's like that, then," he says, and cracks his back. "That's okay."

Pat was clearly hoping for more than that. "That's okay?"

"Yeah." He slides another knife from his belt and, curiously, runs it through his lips. His eyes are dark. "Catch."

(Choices next.)
>Write-ins involving simultaneously focusing on both of your selves will cost ID.

>[A1] Grab The Sword yourself and attempt to out-fight Martin.
>[A2] Grab The Sword yourself and use it as a distraction. Maybe Pat can shank him?
>[A3] Let old-you continue with The Sword-- she seems to be doing pretty well. Carry on with your clubbing.
>[A4] Write-in.

>[B1] Henry isn't paying attention to you. Seize the opportunity and preemptively rush him down.
>[B2] Henry isn't paying attention to you. See if you and old-you can make a break for it down the corridor. (Though you're not sure what'll happen if only one half of you leaves...)
>[B3] Stay where you are, on your guard. You don't know what he's capable of.
>[B4] Write-in.
>[A3] Let old-you continue with The Sword-- she seems to be doing pretty well. Carry on with your clubbing.
>[B1] Henry isn't paying attention to you. Seize the opportunity and preemptively rush him down.

At least cut with it. Attacking with the hilt was a countermeasure for armor, which unless I misread the descriptions neither of these guys are wearing.

>[B3] Stay where you are, on your guard. You don't know what he's capable of.
>[A4] Write-in.
"Martin you drunk asshole, can you just fucking stop and talk this shit out for once instead of fucking everything up more?"

But because this is a fight say this while hitting him with the sword. Diplomacy!

>[B1] Henry isn't paying attention to you. Seize the opportunity and preemptively rush him down.

Get Pat to throw her high-heel at Henry to keep him from throwing his knife again.
Wait, no, Pat has a knife now!

We can attack Henry with our sword, which is longer than his knives, while Pat waits for a moment to "return the favor" and throw a shoe followed by a knife while he's busy with us.
They're unarmored as far as you can tell-- the big issue is that the ornamental sword is about as sharp as a table knife, so cutting with it is going to be about as effective as hitting. It's designed to be an accessory, not an actual weapon.

>Talk but keep fighting (so A3)

>B1 + Pat, help

Called, including the write-ins since I don't think they're super controversial. Less swearing, though, because you are a lady. Round 2 of rolls incoming (give me a minute to write them up).
Rolled 16, 64, 48, 46, 58, 15, 77, 79, 27, 99, 47, 49, 61, 75, 59, 69 = 889 (16d100)

Martin: 3 1d100s - 5 (+20 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, +10 Tremorsense, -15 Ow!, -10 Drunk, -5 Wrong Sword, -5 You Bastard) vs. DC 55 (+5 Under Attack!)

Henry: 3 1d100s + 10 (+10 Marked, +5 Venom, +5 Deadeye, -10 Vertigo) vs. DC 50

Pat: 3 1d100s - 10 (+10 Resilient, -10 Split Attention, -10 Seriously, Just a Scientist) vs. DC 45 (+5 How'd He Just... -10 Standing Still)

Old-you: 3 1d100s - 25 (+5 Guts, +5 Right Sword, +5 Thrill of Victory, -10 Split Attention, -20 Fourteen) vs. DC 45 (-5 Charlie, Please...)

Everybody: 1d100 each to resolve conflicts. Higher is better.

As for you:
>Please roll me 3 1d100s - 5 (+10 Girded, -10 Split Attention, -5 Wrong Sword) vs. DC 45 (-5 Distracted) to successfully attack on either side.
Martin: Mitigated Success
Henry: Success
Pat: Success
Old-you: Mitigated Success

Tiebreakers: Henry > Old-you > Martin > Pat

Awaiting your rolls. If someone would like to roll an extra 1d100 for your number, that'd be appreciated.
Rolled 59 (1d100)

Rolled 7, 73 = 80 (2d100)

rolling, plus the extra because my rolls are terrible and why am I doing it again?
Rolled 9 - 5 (1d100 - 5)

if I roll under a ten the QM has to arm wrestle me
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Rolled 35 (1d100)

>54, 2, 4 vs. DC 45 - Mitigated Success
Henry beats you by default, so tiebreaker isn't required.
Update within 6 hours or so. I have to do something first.

Alright, man, roll me a d100...
Rolled 86 (1d100)

Hey, you're not >>4223371...

Clerical error, guys: you should've been receiving a +10 "Good With A Sword" (paraphrased) bonus from your crit the other thread. This doesn't actually do anything for you this time around, but you'll have it in the future.

Also, I'm writing now.
This isn't going anywhere. It'll be tomorrow, sorry all. Hope you have a nice night.
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>A whole lot more things

This time, you have the forethought to duck. "Pat!" you cry, but she twists away a fraction too late: the knife grazes her bare shoulder. A thin ribbon of blood trickles down her arm. "Aw hell," she says. "Do you have to—"

"It'd be nice if you stood still," Henry says breezily. He's stepping backwards, preparing another knife, not paying you the slightest attention. "Help an old man out. Less hassle for you, less hassle for me, less gory for Charlie— hey!"

You lurch after old-you, who has bolted out from behind you, and catch her by the collar. Henry wipes his mouth. "For godssake, stay— thank you, Ramona. That's how you get a knife to your eye, kiddo, and I don't want to— hey, you too." Pat has slipped off her high heel. "I'm not Martin, I don't do melees. One at a time. Y-"

Inconsiderately, you've chosen this time to slip close, duck down, and clobber his kneecaps. He plummets, and you swing for his chest— but he rolls out of the way, cursing, and staggers to his feet. His tattoos are glowing through his sleeves. "Okay," he spits. "Fine. Sorry, Charlie, I'll-" He paces backwards as you advance. "-explain-" You land a meaty hit on his side as he dodges right, towards the wall- the second knife clatters out of his fingers. "-later." He kicks up onto the wall, barely escaping your follow-up, and within a few seconds stands vertically on the ceiling. His head is about level with yours, only… upside down.

"Martin," you snap, apropos of nothing, "you drunk bas-"

Wrong mouth.

"Martin," you try again, on the left. It seems you've continued to move, and speak, and reason, without your conscious interference— a nightmare for another time. "You drunk bastard." Martin is clutching his wound and staring past you, towards old-you, who is gawping at her blood-covered sword. "Don't worry," he's muttering vaguely. "It's not your fault. It's not your fault. I forgive you…"

"You drunk bastard!" you try again, a little louder. "Is that good? Can we stop and just- talk this out? Like civilized—"

You have to parry his response. You're better-prepared for it this time, able to leverage your way past his fuddled guard and unsteady footing, and you force the butt of your sword into his lip. He reels backwards, blood dribbling down his chin, and you hit the same place again and again, until finally he spits and a chunk of tooth drops onto the floor. "Unngh," he grunts. "Charlie…"

"Shut up about Charlie!" you cry, and don't stop; you rain blow after heavy blow onto his unresisting body, until he should be down, or dead— and he'd deserve it, too, you wouldn't even feel sorry. But he's fine, you're gradually realizing, he's not even flinching, something has changed: his eyes are dark and lucid, and his black dress shoes are sunken an inch into the earth.

He smiles as he sees it click, and it's this more than anything that throws you for a loop: it is exactly a Richard-smile, vibrant, joyless. "In your defense," he says, "you couldn't have known."

In your defense, you couldn't have known: you try to parry, but the force of his next blow is tenfold what it was, metal screeches, and your sword skitters out of your hands. You're knocked backwards, into old-you, who… who wasn't practicing rule one of safe handling.

The Sword pierces your back.

A high heel hits Henry in the face. Pat's scratched arm hangs leaden at her side, but she holds the other up proudly. "Hey, shithead!" She follows it with the tortoiseshell knife.

Henry catches it. He catches it by the blade— you'd smirk at the schadenfreude, were you not in phantom pain— but he catches it, and ignores the blood running down his palm. "Not a doctored one," he remarks, stiltedly. "Might as well have kept it. Ramona, you want it back?"

"What?" you manage, before Henry launches the knife underhand at your chest.

>Roll me 3 2d100s. Managing being stabbed is DC 40 [Girded]. Dodging is DC 55. Roll high!
>[1] Write-in. (Optional.)
Rolled 50, 57 = 107 (2d100)

Rolled 96, 97 = 193 (2d100)

Man. Fuck these guys.

> Pretty sure Charlie can see who the monsters are here.
Keeping these rolls even though I accidentally delete part of the reference.
Rolled 99, 3 = 102 (2d100)

no fair, how come they both get the mystical mumbo jumbo power up?

damn bro sweet rolls
Because they're fucking monsters.

Charlie won't believe their lies, because after this she'll know that whatever they say, they came in to kill without asking questions.
Actually instead of saying >>4224907

Can we say

> You seem like you want to protect Charlie, but you have no idea how much killing me will hurt her. Because you're not willing to stop and talk about it. If you really give a damn about her, you could stop have tried that first.
Oops, change that to

> If you really gave a damn about us.

Not her. Because we are her. IDK if anyone wants to keep talking while fighting though.
Ah, how the turn tables :^) You'd have magic mumbo jumbo, too, but you left him behind to play cards.

>50, 96, 99 - Enhanced Success
>57, 97, 3 - Success
Very nice rolls.

Noted. I'll include this unless someone explicitly disagrees.
>Don't Die: 50, 96, 99 - Enhanced Success
>Don't Get Killed: 57, 97, 3 - Success

Maybe it's because his hand is injured, or because he's upside down, or just pure dumb luck, but Henry's throw is off: you're easily able to duck it. He sighs. "Well, I have lots of these. It can take all— for godssakes, what's happening over there?"

What's happening is you have a silver hand-and-a-half sword lodged in the small of your back, and you're not even the one screaming. It doesn't hurt, after all, not yet: it just throbs, and your blood roars in your ears. And you've been stabbed before, haven't you? You've been stabbed before, and you're here now, aren't you? Though Richard was always present—

No, it's old-you screaming, and taking great big sobbing breaths, and generally making a scene of things. "Oh my God! Oh-" she's blubbering. "I'm- I'm- I'm- I'm- oh-hh…"

Martin, caught off-guard, stands exactly where he is; Pat has backed off somewhere you can't see. You can feel old-you, still crying, brace herself against The Sword, and start to pull— "No!" you exhale, but it's too late. It's out. You clutch your hands to your back in a vain attempt to stanch the bleeding.

As a result, you're unable to reciprocate when she ducks under your elbow, wraps her arms around you, and buries her tear-soaked face in your shoulder. "I'm sorry!" she says into your sleeve. "I'm—"

How long has it been since you've been hugged?

You take one hand off your wound so you can try and stroke her hair, or her back, or- or- something, but the hand's already all stained, so you end up sort of patting her with your wrist. You don't know how to feel. You feel like you've been stabbed, maybe. "…It's okay…"

"It's okay? I—" and here she looks up at you, and her face is so red you worry she burst something— "I killed you!"

"…I don't think…" You probe the wound with your fingertips. "…I think it's pretty shallow, Lottie, I don't think it hit… I mean, it's gonna hurt, and I'm going to need bandages, but… I mean, you didn't— I'll be fine. You didn't kill me."

For some reason, this news makes her cry harder, and she returns to your shoulder. God, were you really like this? Has it only been nine years? The throbbing is beginning to turn into legitimate pain. Dammit. Martin is still standing there. Why is he standing there? He should be stabbing you while you're standing here, that's how it works.

It's weird, looking at him, because it's Richard— you can't overstate that point, it's him to the bearing, maybe a few wrinkles short but that's all— but the longer you search his face the more you're wondering how you ever mistook him. Richard tries to be human, you think (for his benefit? yours?), but he can't… there's always a stiffness to him. An artificiality. He's trying too hard. Martin…

Martin seems truly, genuinely harrowed by old-you's distress, and though for the life of you you don't know why, that's more than Richard has. It's also a considerable improvement over "murderous." "Hey," you say to him, "Why her? Why do you care?"

"Wh-" He appears to doubt your sanity. "She's… she's XXXXXXXXXXX?"

"Okay, geez, whatever." You grimace as you return your second hand to your back. "I mean, it just feels like… I mean, look at her." She hasn't let go of you. "And you want to kill me?"

"…" He spits blood. "…You've seen too much."

There seems to be an obvious logical flaw here. "I didn't see too much before you started trying to kill me, though."

"Goddamn. You're doing this, Ramona? You're blaming me for dealing with trespasser who beguiled and is trying to kidnap XXXXXXXXXXX? I appreciate you not liking it, but blaming—"

"What?" you say. "But you're trying to kidnap her."

"Are you-" He rubs his forehead. "Are you trying to gaslight—"

"You're definitely the kidnapper," Pat calls from some distance away. "I just want to clarify."

"She's not kidnapping me," old-you scoffs thickly. She turns, releasing her hug, but keeps a firm grip on your forearm. "She's me. From the future."

Martin closes his eyes, opens them, and squints, like he hopes that'll make what's being said go away. "She's— Charlie. You can't believe that."

"She is. She's proved it."

"Charlie, that's not… okay. Okay. She's 'proved' it. Ramona, you're Charlie. From the future."

"Um…" you hedge. "Er…"

"How old?"

"23," you say automatically. "I mean, um…"

"So nine years, then. Sure. Prove it."


"No! Gods, don't—" Pat comes tearing up out of nowhere. She grabs your shoulder and hisses into your ear. "Do you want to fucking destabilize the—"

"Prove it," Martin says, "or I'll kill you. Henry—!" Henry, on the ceiling, pauses. "Hold off, they're—"

"Oh! Already got one, mostly." Henry points to the ground on the right: Pat lies there, rigid. "Guess there's spares, though—"

"Yeah, that's fine." Martin gives a thumbs up before returning to you. "So?"

>[1] Prove it. (Write-in. Martin is a tougher audience than old-you. I will add the specific life details, should the plan require it. Possible roll.)
>[2] You can't, or won't, prove it. Continue sparring until death or escape.
>[3] Write-in. [You still have to pick either [1] or [2]— this is an optional addition.]
>[1] Prove it. (Write-in. Martin is a tougher audience than old-you. I will add the specific life details, should the plan require it. Possible roll.)
"You see, i can't use hard facts because it will fuck up the timeline or whatever, but I try using an exemple. Do you know what happens when you spin a spinner in a dream ? well, it's whatever you want. Now imagine something told you a certain event would happen and then it happens, you'd be impressed and would like to tell everyone about it, but that voice warns you that if you do, your existence will be no more. So you end up in a moral problem of what should be done."
I don't think we should tell him he is fake.

Let Charlie to tell them that we already proved it to her because we know things only we would know.

Honestly, we ran into her in the walls by mistake, and instead of trying to leave we're going deeper into the house. For crying out loud, we gave her the GOOD sword.

Even if Martin doesn't believe us about being from the future, we're the worst kidnapper ever.

Honestly, we just need to see our Mum and that would have been a hell of a lot easier if Martin hadn't been the sloppy drunk Aunt Ruby likes to claim Mom is.

We don't know what he's all messed up in, but if he wants he can come with us while we go see our mom. We brought Charlie along because it's her mum too, and we would have loved to have gone on an adventure. She even got to hold the *sword*, he has no idea how badly we wanted to do that as a kid.

We know these walls. We spent a ton of time in them. We know these grounds, this house. We can even lead him there.

What's weird for us is we can't hear what he's trying to say either, and we don't know *him*. Honestly, it should be clear at this point we're definitely not Ramona, and we have questions too. Lile why the mention of the snake freaked him out so much. Because he looks just like it. And apparantly if he

God. We already told him we were Charlie. If he wants answers to what we're doing, he can come along with us and damn well see.

Honestly, from how we were getting our asses kicked it's not like they're risking much.
TL;DR we aren't here to kidnap Charlie. We're here to see mom. He can come along if he wants, and if he's willing to see her. If we're kidnappers we're the worst ones ever. We wouldn't even have met Charlie if Martin being an asshole hadn't driven us into the walls in the first place.

Also let's avoid thinking about why Richard looks like him and why those X's line up with the phrase


Because that is a later problem and will probably collapse the world.

>[1] Prove it. (Write-in. Martin is a tougher audience than old-you. I will add the specific life details, should the plan require it. Possible roll.)

Even if we can't prove it, suggest they double chaperone us.
>[3] Write-in. [You still have to pick either [1] or [2]— this is an optional addition.]
This >>4225655 >>4225662
Also, who said we were the ones who beguiled her. We can't hear what he's saying either, which makes sense if she was actually beguiled because then we would be too.

We know about the snake because we ARE charlie, and we warned her to stay away from it already. Hopefully it works, because it hasn't made us happy at all.

The snake is not a euphemism. Since him and Henry can do the same magical BS as a snake, they should know that too. Whoever he is to us, if he's trying to pull us into getting the snake then he's a bastard.
Alright! Let's see here.

>Be threateningly cryptic
>Just follow me into the dark alley, man
>Don't think about the plot, don't think about the plot, don't think about the plot [actually charlotte doesn't have enough IC information to draw any conclusions there, so not to worry]
>Seriously, just follow me into the dark alley, man
>So about snakes

This is a lot! I'm not going to require a roll, and I'll combine elements of all of these (you won't explicitly tell him he's not real). Writing, ETA 2-6 hours.
I mean.

You know what, I'm not gonna explain it. Because Charlotte doesn't need the stress right now.
I'm not saying you're necessarily on the wrong track... but Charlotte can't count the number of characters of anything, Richard offered her a plausible explanation for the resemblance back here >>4216519, and her father is dead. It's not something she's going to immediately consider.

She may have some further questions about Martin's relationship with young-Charlotte, though, because that's still a bizarre unknown.
That, and the whole "beguiled" thing was what was getting me. Also, Richard gave a satisfactory explanation, but it's still too strange that he looks like a man we don't remember who has some sort of a relationship with Charlie that he would forgive her for stabbing him.

And he knows about snek.

You cast a nervous glance towards Pat, who's seized your upper arm. "Um…" you say, falteringly. "I guess it's… I can't tell you, I mean. The timeline, you know, it's… don't want to mess it up. Haha."

Martin nods. "I understand."

"You do?" Oh, thank God. "Thank y-"

"Of course. Henry! It's back on, look sharp." Henry, squatting idly on the ceiling, rises. "I'm glad you came to your senses, Ramona, cockamamie gullshit's below your stat-"

"It's not- it's not GS," you interject. "Please, just— look, can I give you an example? It's like… oh, I don't know, a- a spinner, in a dream…" Martin is spit-polishing his sword. "…Can't Lottie just tell you what I told her? Lottie." You nudge her. "Tell him what I told you."

"Godsdammit," Pat says, letting go of your arm.

"I can't tell him!" Old-you spins towards you, fists balled. "It's a secret!"

You open your mouth, think better of it, and close it again. Martin is pressing a ball of fabric (his shorn pant cuff, looks like) against the wound on his side. "Even if it wasn't, she's not, forgive me, a reliable source. Ramona, come on."

You wipe your nose. "I— look. I don't… let's just put aside the future thing, okay? I'm Dame Ramona Birdwell, that's me, and I'm kidnapping your darling… whatever. Great. Why the hell does she have The Sword? Why would I let her have it?"

"Oh, gee, I don't know, bribery? You promised her adventure? Excitement? You think I don't know she wants it? Bless you, Charlie, you're not subtle—" Directed towards old-you.

"…Oh, come on," you say. "Seriously?"

"Yes? I've got to say, Ramona, I expected something a little more substantial. At least your grasping is somewhat entertaining."

God-damn, your back hurts. You grit your teeth. "Please."


"Please. Please, at least just— I'm going to tell you the plan, okay? You don't have to believe me, just… wait on the murder. Yeah?" Martin is lighting a cigarette, which you take as a yes. "I'm going to see my mother, that's all. And I brought Lottie, because… she wanted to go."

"You're going to see Mrs. Fawkins, you mean," Martin says dryly. "She's resting. On the second floor. I don't suppose you know where you are, are you—"

"Under the house," you say, "but, there's a dumbwaiter that can—"

"There's also stairs, Ramona? I don't suppose you thought of those, seeing how they'd be the logical solution."

"…This is safer," you say. "Look, you can— you and Henry can come with us, if you have to supervise. Hold a knife to my throat. I don't even care."

"I care," Pat declares from somewhere over your shoulder.

"I kind of…" Old-you tugs at your wrist for you to bend down. "I don't think you should deal with bad people," she whispers frantically.
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Neither of them are really grasping your desperation. "No, I mean it," you say, but Martin's tapping ash off the cigarette in a manner that indicates he's no longer really listening, and is about ready to murder you again, just as soon as he finishes. You scrabble. "…Er. What about, um, the snake."

He looks up, and his face is clouded. "Not in front of her."

"Wh- okay. Whatever. Fine." You raise your hands nonthreateningly. "I'll come over and we can whisper. Please don't stab me."

He nods brusquely. You duck around old-you and hasten over, keeping an eye on him all the while: his sword hand doesn't twitch. You slide past him, and he turns, laboriously. "You have to understand," he hisses. "I gave that up. I gave that up, and I have a house, and a family, and a career, and—"

"You gave it up," you say.

"Four years ago. Ask Henry. Ask him. He'll—"

You snort. "Then why did I find it in the attic a decade later?"

"What?" The cigarette droops onto his chin. (You note, with some satisfaction, the dried blood beneath it.)

"The attic. Is that what you did with it? You hid it? You hid it in the attic? Well, I found it, and it ruined my—" You lower your voice, conscious of Pat's eyes on your back. "—it ruined my life, so thanks a lot, you drunk bastard. You're why I'm here."

"…" Martin rubs his temples. "…I don't know what you mean, 'it.'"

"The snake?" Obviously.

"…I never 'had' 'a' snake, I don't know what you…" He seems to be working through something. "The attic?"


"You would." He tosses his cigarette to the floor, goes to stomp it out, looks at his sunken feet, looks at your bare feet, sighs. "Shit." He lights another. "Shit. You would."

"You—" You don't quite believe it, after all that. "You believe me?"

"Let's go with that. I'll let Henry shank you if you try anything." He exhales. "Damnit, Charlie. Why didn't you tell me? You got me alone, you—"

"…I don't know you," you say, though you're really starting to wonder. "Why the hell should I?"

"Charlie…" He blinks. "Charlie, what's happened to—"

"Who the hell are you?"

"Charlie, I'm-"

And here Martin stops, for the sword falls from his hand, and the cigarette from his mouth, and he clutches at his throat like he's begun to suffocate. You're grateful, then, that it's quick: his lips peel back, and his jaw cracks and swings open like a doorhinge, and a yellow eye emerges from his throat. It sees you.

You stumble back, snatching the dropped sword off the ground. Pat sees your face. "Shit." Henry, across the way, sees the whole thing: he laughs bitterly. "Karma. Stupid bastard didn't believe me. Watch, here I-" And then his face splits into segments, and another eye emerges, and "Shit!" Pat says, and she catches old-you by the hand, and checks you with her shoulder, so you're pushed forward, and— "We have to go," she says frantically, "we have to get to the— whatever, the—"

"Dumbwaiter?" you say.

"Yeah. Fuck you too, by the way. I hope you're happy."

"No, actually."

"Good. It's gonna spread. That's what it did, the last times— I am not doing this again, understand? I'm not doing it again. We have to go."

"…What about us?" On the right. On the right. What's happening on the right? You can no longer tell.

"Fuck us. Run."

>Whoops! You destabilized the memory!

>[1] Make a run for the dumbwaiter. It has to be ahead. Leave you behind, to whatever consequence that might entail. [Roll.]
>[2] No, but seriously— what *about* you? Shouldn't you… reunite? Isn't that… important? You have to take the time to check.
>[3] Write-in.
>[2] No, but seriously— what *about* you? Shouldn't you… reunite? Isn't that… important? You have to take the time to check.

We ain't Pat and Lesters friends. Richard already found the snake we are looking for.

And whatever is happening is clearly survivable, if incredibly unpleasant.

> You're talking about merging with younger Charlie, right?
Also, hey! Now we know that Martin had Richard before us.

Gonna have some questions for him later. Also about why he Martin would have hidden it in the attic.
Hey, just to stave off miscommunication: Martin actually indicated the exact opposite re: Richard. Charlotte assumes he was the previous "owner," but then he denies 1) ever "having" a snake (no ownership), and 2) ever having "a" snake (meaning he dealt with... multiple snakes? nebulous 'snakes as a whole'?). He also professed not to know what 'it' was through some fairly readable context, assuming Richard behaved the same.

Of course, Martin could've been lying?
>[2] No, but seriously— what *about* you? Shouldn't you… reunite? Isn't that… important? You have to take the time to check.

Who would go underwater and tell lies?
I mean, maybe he didn't call it a *snake*, but he knew something about it. A snake by any other name still ruins lives.
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pic related :^)

He certainly knew something about something, but it's unclear if that something is Richard, Richard-adjacent, or unrelated. You're welcome to ask Richard about it whenever you get the chance.

>Nah bro it's chill

"...'It.' Your stomach churns. "What do you mean, 'it.' Surely not…"

"I mean everything turns into eyeballs, including us, by the way, and then it resets and we've got to start all over in a different hell nightmare. Why? What did you think—" She follows your gaze to the back of old-you's head. "Oh," she says. "Gods, that's appalling. Why the hell would I— you know what, whatever, let's just—"

You're already gone, hopped over to the path on the right. The reasoning behind the absence of you-on-the-right becomes immediately apparent. You-on-the-right is dead.

Or, not dead, maybe, but there's a knife lodged in her shoulder, she's sideways on the floor, and she isn't breathing. You aren't breathing. Ramona Birdwell isn't breathing. There she is, legs at odd angles, shoulderblades like daggers, neck like a crow's nest, just look at her hands and that's you. You're her. Look at your hands. (Massive. Like mitts.) Oh, God.

>[-1 ID: 3/11]

It's not difficult to piece together what happened: Martin told Henry to keep up the murder, and so he did. You don't feel sad, or anything, just sort of drained. Should you feel sad? Pat's dead, too, over here. Old-you is gone. Fled? Vanished?

"I'm not sure you're really grasping the urgency," Pat says, with a note of hysteria. She's followed you over. "There's no point in mourning. We have to go."

You crouch. "I mean… do we? You do, certainly, but—"

"You think you're getting out of this?" Pat's laugh is more of a bark. "Well, gods, I admire the optimism, but you're here. You're stuck. I'm stuck. You may not get that now, but trust me, you don't want to learn—"

"Hmm." You've pressed two fingers to your other neck. There's a weak pulse. "I guess we're just paralyzed."

"Charlotte, please. Please don't be selfish. Come on."

Picking [1] or [2] will not further progress the countdown.

>[1] Press further. Into the neck. (Reunite. Become, metaphysically, half-paralyzed.)
>[2] …Put you out of your misery. And then press. (As per [1], but half-dead.)
>[3] Just leave. (You have a 50/50 chance, upon exit, of not being real.)
>[4] Put you out of your misery. Then leave. (As per [3].)
>[5] Write-in. (Anything taking more than a cursory amount of time will progress the countdown.)
>[3] Just leave. (You have a 50/50 chance, upon exit, of not being real.)

What has being real ever done for us anyway?
Is there any chance of not being real if we chose 4?
Yeah, it's the same 50/50. "Per [3]."
What exactly is "half dead" in 2? Weren't we already that from being Drowned?
>[1] Press further. Into the neck. (Reunite. Become, metaphysically, half-paralyzed.)
Grab The Sword.


If Pat doesn't want to reunite, that's her decision.

Also, if everything is collapsing, can we try to like, will ourselves to be faster? Or will the collapse to stop? I mean, this is OUR memory sort of. We will have OUR sword. It's not just a memory, but an obsession. We can use that to cut away the corruption because it's not just a Sword but a symbol. Of our childhood, of our lineage, of our aspirations and hopes, and it's ours.

Sometimes, you have to put a snake in its place.

Also, can't Richard maybe do something?
Think of it as, eh... legally dead. (But only half.) Whereas drowning leaves you... philosophically dead.

I won't offer anything beyond that!



The second Sword is gone with the second old-you-- you're going to have to request it from the one who remains.

>Can we try to will ourselves to be faster?
Sure. It'd take ID.
>Will the collapse to stop?
This place is built from your memories, but it's not actually inside your head. Your control is limited at best.
>Cut the corruption away?
Sure. I'd call this a modifier on the upcoming roll. Write it in when I call for it.
>Can't Richard do something?
He's off playing cards. You have no immediately apparent way to contact him.

Called for [1] and writing.
Rolled 1 (1d2)

Quick roll, the only outcome is cosmetic at this point so don't worry too much

1 = R
2 = G

"I just need a minute," you say, oddly, distantly. "Don't worry."

Pat, calculating her chances of convincing you and coming up short, backs off. "A minute."


You keep your fingers on your other neck, and, with the oblique conviction of a dream, push in and down. Under the pressure, the neck-skin distends, thins, and finally ruptures.

You leak in beads from the breach, leaving pearly snail-trails on your skin, leaving behind an empty skin. "Oh, I see," you say, and slip the skin on like an overcoat, for you are cold, and you have nothing to wear. There is a hollow in the ground where you used to be. "Oh, I see," you say again, and you bend down, and fit yourself exactly in the hollow, which is slick with pearly snail-trails.

You close your eyes, as it seems the thing to do, and you wait three hours, until you feel whole again, and then you open them again. You sit up from the ground.

"Oh, thank the eight." Pat wipes her mouth. "Thought you went and kicked it."

Your head is sort of misty. "What?"

"You just said 'oh, I see,' twice, and then you vanished. I'll give you this, it was less than a minute. Are you good? Got everything sorted?"

"Uh…" You have the vague feeling that it's wrong to be sitting up, but that's not something you're interested in exploring. "Yeah, I think so. Uh—" You stand unsteadily. "Yeah, I'm… I'm fine. Let's go."

Old-you, on the other side, won't stop staring at you. "You disappeared!" she stage-whispers.

"I keep hearing that, yeah." Pat is busy hunting down her wayward heels. You scratch your neck, stiffly— your muscles are being uncooperative. "I guess I've had worse."

"What did it feel like?"

You reach for the words, falter, and return to an old standby. "Weird."

"Got them!" Pat, down the corridor, waves her shoes. "Come on. Final stretch, huh? Don't touch the bodies."

(The eyes on Henry and Lester have multiplied. They look like strange boils, except for the blinking.)

>Roll me 3 1d100s vs. DC 60. Modifiers will be determined after the window for write-ins has closed.
>[1] Write-in— strategies for the descent? (Optional. Unusual or strenuous options may require rolls or ID spend; I'll tell you this before locking the vote.)
Rolled 36 (1d100)

Rolled 52 (1d100)

can't think of any strats yet, so hopefully I can roll well at least
Rolled 85 (1d100)

Strategy? Against what? We know where we're going, this is OUR house and all we have to do is reach the Dupe Snake.

Hold Charlies hand, get her to give us the Sword and we just have to keep moving forward. If something gets in our way, give it a smack and keep moving forward.
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Called. Your modifiers are as follows: (+10 Girded, +5 The Sword, +5 God-dammit, It's Yours, -10 Half-paralyzed), for a sum total of +10. This makes your rolls...

>46, 62, 95 vs. DC 60 -- Success


I missed it by ~70 minutes, but I'd like to note that May 1st marks the year anniversary of when the final thread of the original Drowned Quest was archived. Read: it's been a full year, give or take a few days, since the original Drowned Quest died. I'd like to thank anybody who's stuck with me, and also anybody who's started reading since. Love you guys.

*It's 1 AM-- I intended to start 4 hours ago but ran into an unexpected personal complication. I'll start, but it's unlikely I'll get far, so realistically expect it tomorrow.
Forgot to mention that I've updated the Who's Who pastebin-- check it out if you have the time. Many of the people listed haven't been seen for several threads, so it might be worth the refresher. https://pastebin.com/4ZHiLzv4
>Forge onwards - Success

You hold your palm out to old-you. She chews her lip, takes a breathy little exhale, and hands you The Sword.

You take it, and a host of questions come to your freshly-sober mind.

* Why does The Sword fit so well in your hand?
* Why didn't you take it with you when you jumped? You packed, you planned, and you left the object of your desire behind? For what purpose?
* Why is a lump developing in your throat?
* You didn't take it with you, right?
* Then why have you held it before?
* Did you have it? You must've had it. Where is it? What happened to it? Why can't you remem-

>[To-do Completed: Hey, what's the matter with The Sword?]
>[To-do Added: Find The Sword, for real.]

You crack a mordant smile. (God. What's wrong with you?) "Hey! Look at that."

She nods solemnly, scuffing at the ground.

"…You can keep holding the lantern?"

Another nod.

"…I'll put it to good use, um, against the curse. You saw the curse?"

One more nod.

"Do you want to hold my hand?"

A vociferous shake of the head. She's offended you'd ask. (You're offended you'd ask it of her.) "Let's just go," she mumbles.

"Okay." You signal to Pat, who loiters by the edge of the lamplight. "Let's go."

She grabs your hand almost immediately. You hold The Sword down, at your side, and ignore your back, and ignore how strange it feels to move. By serendipity, the two sensations neatly cancel themselves out, and you're left to concentrate on matters like "putting one foot in front of another."

It is a long walk, and a slow walk, and a mostly silent walk. The surprises have ended: maybe the snake is busy self-destructing, or maybe your aura of quiet irritation has driven it off. You're glad of either, but it means that everything settles into a tedium of poking around corners and tripping down unexpected slopes and stabbing the odd eyeball, which you do with resignation.

You would like to have an aura of seething menace, and to stab with righteous fury, but you don't have the heart for it. You just want to see your mother.

Finally, interminably, you find the dumbwaiter.

"Yeah," Pat says, "I guess I could've expected this."

It is not where it usually is, and it's not what it usually looks like. This dumbwaiter is enormous, freestanding, encased in a cement shell. It is guarded by a steel door, above which is graffiti of a skull with jagged teeth. It's the door from the sewer.

It is also unlocked. Inside is the ordinary dumbwaiter. It fits one person, barely.

You eye Pat apprehensively. "What?" she says. "Aren't you gonna go?"

"Oh," you say, and consider whether to voice your concerns. "I, uh… I don't know, I thought maybe you would… want to."

"You thought I'd fight you for it? Me? It's your damn mom."

Damnit. Did it show on your face? "Okay, don't put words in my—"

Pat raises her eyebrows. "That's a rude fucking assumption, but I'll let it slide. Go. I'll keep an eye on her— not literally, uh…"

Her. Old-you is standing there, cradling her forehead. She had complained briefly of a headache, before falling silent for the rest of the trek.


>[1] Give old-you some parting words. (Write-in.)
>>[A] …And reminisce. [This will have consequences.]
>>[B] …And let go of the past.
>[2] Give Pat some parting words. (Write-in.)
>[3] Just head up the dumbwaiter. End this.
>[4] Write-in.

>"Remember you're the best, and you'll always be the best, no matter what happens or what any snakes tell you."
I should have explained, I didn't want to hold her hand to comfort her, but instead because some freaky shit is happening and I was hoping we could resonate with her or something so she doesn't turn into a bunch of eyes.
> Remember, if you do get a snake, then it's your snake. Don't let it control you just because it's stronger and smarter than you.
>1] Give old-you some parting words. (Write-in.)
>[B] …And let go of the past.
"If- or when- you meet a talking snake, he's just bullying you because he's low on his totem pole (pillar, whatever this analogy needs to work in-universe), and you're at the top of yours. You'll always be Charlotte Fawkins, and Charlotte Fawkins will always be the best of the best."
>[2] Give Pat some parting words. (Write-in.)
Thank her for everything, and ask her not to let old (young) us get too out of hand. Apologize for being so out of hand.
>[2] Give Pat some parting words. (Write-in.)

Thanks for your help. If you ever ditch this place, you can look me up.
Called and writing.

Should've specified, but fwiw the result would've been the same either way. The only reason she hasn't turned into a bunch of eyes yet is already because she's with you.

>Low on his totem pole
This is a reasonable OOC conjecture to draw, but Charlotte hasn't thought about that encounter since it happened, and would find limited memory of it if she did. I'll write this as a platitude, not a specific reference, with the rest intact.
While I'm here, this was the outcome of [A1]: Due to redundancies, you would've been consolidated with old-you. No physical change, but your mental age would've ticked back a few years, with an associated debuff put up to an additional vote: being an even worse liar, mood swings, recklessness, or having nobody take you seriously. Being 14 sucks!

If you had rolled a mitigated success or failure, old-you would've been more severely affected by the collapse, and there would've been more incentive to "rescue" her (in a twisted kind of way). As it stands, the only reason to pick [A1] was for curiosity, which I thought was fine.

"Pat," you say, as she begins to turn away. "Um… thanks."

"For what?" She cocks her head.

You were not expecting to have to elaborate. "…Helping? You know, coming along, um…"

"Not stabbing you in the back?" She snickers at your expression. "Kidding. Hey, like I said, we're all in the same boat. You were pretty decent, too."

Coming from Pat, this is likely high praise. It feels good.

>[+1 ID: 4/11]

You rub the back of your neck. "Uh, thank you. And thanks for… you know, keeping an eye on her. You'll make sure she doesn't run around and… break her neck, or whatever? Stab herself?"

Pat shrugs. "She was never alive to begin with, so breaking her neck wouldn't make much difference. But yeah. Won't have much else to do."

"Thanks." You clear your throat. "Say, if I was ever …annoying, or too much of a handful, I just wanted to say—"

Pat tries to put a knowing hand on your shoulder, but you flinch away. "Gods," she says, "you've got issues."

"…I'll take that as a no. Uh, thanks again for everything, and—" How exactly are you supposed to go about this? Is there a guide? (Where's Richard when you need him?) "—if you ever… ditch this place, look me up."

"'This place?' Here? I'm out as soon as you stab the fucking thing." She squints. "What, Namway? I love my job."

You did it wrong. You did it wrong. "Um, nevermind. Not important."

"No, it's— I mean, do you even live in the area? The Corcass?"


"Oh! Okay, fantastic. A lot of people work remote, so—" Pat brushes a loose curl out of her eye. "Say… did you ever say why you were here? You and the rest of them?"

"Snake," you say, because maybe she won't need elaboration. "Same as you?"

She always needs elaboration. "Sure, but I mean… how'd you get to the snake? You're not much of a rescue squad, no offense. Test subjects?"

You're just about to invent a response when, out of the corner of your eye, old-you stirs and groans. You shoot Pat an 'apologetic' glance before rushing away.

There is a lump the size of a petrel's egg in the center of old-you's forehead, and you don't think she's noticed. She stops rubbing her eyes as you skid over. "What?" she demands. "I'm fine."

"Uh…" You can tell she's in considerable distress, actually, but you guess old habits die hard. "I know. I just wanted to say goodbye."

"Oh. Okay." She wipes her nose. "'Bye. Have fun… doing whatever."

There's a distinctly bitter ring to her last words, and she's making little effort to hide it. "I have to go," you say. "You know I have to go, Lottie."

"And you'll never come back."

You manage a smile. "…I mean, give it nine years."

"Hardy har har." She crosses her arms. "That doesn't count."

"No, it doesn't, but… that's just how it is, sometimes. You have to leave people behind." She bites her lip, won't look at you. "Lottie, hey. Hey. You're the best, you know that? You're the— and you'll always be the best, and you can't let anybody take that away from you, okay? Not even snakes. Not even— and you know, if you do, hypothetically, find a snake, that's your snake, okay? No matter what it says, it's yours— even if it's stronger, or smarter— not that it is— it's yours, and you've got to put your foot down—"

You take her hand and a shaky breath. "Look, you're… you're Charlotte Fawkins, okay? And you always will be, that's what you need to remember, because you'll— sometimes it'll be hard. You're you. You're you, and you're the best of the best— you're at the top of the heap, okay? You're at the top of the heap, and the snake's, um, at the bottom. He's at the bottom. Remember that. Keep that with-"

«"I'd like to speculate that this is the source of your throbbing ego…"»

Old-you's hand is icy cold— you drop it in surprise. Her face hangs slack. Richard's voice, thicker than usual with static, trickles out of her parted lips.

«"…But that's, of course, not possible. You're aware none of this happened, Charlie? You're wasting your breath entirely."»
«"Interesting how you speak about me when I'm not around, though. Eight of shells. Claws."»

"Richard…" you croak. "You can't… you can't do this. Not now—"

«"Whyever not? Like I said, nothing's being accomplished here."»
«"I'm not hurting her, Charlie. She won't know this happened."»
«"This is just a hacked-together remote connection."»
«"I'm not actually here.

You pinch your temples. "That's— that's good, but this was still a private—"

«"I suppose congratulations are in order for not killing yourself or others. Congratulations! Unfortunately, you're also in the process of killing some 40-odd innocent people and a nice house, so… congratulations.»
«"(Using your definitions of 'people,' 'innocent,' and 'nice,' of course.)"»
«"Oh, but none of that was the point— five of claws. The point was, the crown is on your head."»

You touch your head, which is bare. "What?"

«"The crown. We spent three years looking for it. We found it. You inexplicably decided you didn't want it anymore. That crown?"»

"I never decided…" Feeling all the way around the top of your head is not producing anything. "I just… I got preoccupied. It's not on my head, by the way."

«"Hm. I suppose, technically, it's on your usual head. You may have to do some visualization."»
«In any case, you are in a… serendipitous situation. This place is bleeding law. Have you noticed? That was rhetorical. You haven't."»
«"But it is, and you can take advantage. Locate the imposter—"»

"It's my mother," you say.

«"I don't care. Locate it, disembowel it, run one of the tines of the crown through its lifeblood. Take the other crystal as collateral. One down, fifteen left. Simple enough."»

"Disembowel my mother," you say.

«"It's not your mother— it'd still be worth it if it was, though. I trust you're capable of it. Do it quickly, I'll see you soon."»

"Richard…" You rub your neck. "The guy who looked like you, he…"

«"We'll discuss later— ace of claws. Would you look at that, I win again."»
«"Over and out."»

Old-you crackles for a little while longer, then falls silent. She closes her mouth. She rubs her eye.

"Hi," you say.

"…Hi?" She cradles her shoulders. The lump on her forehead has swollen. "I don't…"

"Don't worry about it, Lottie." You don't want to be here when the lump peels back. "I mean it. Just— know what I told you, okay? That's all. I- I have to go."

She sniffs. "Yeah."

"…I love you."


"…Okay." You can't stay any longer— you'd start eating your own tail, if you did. "Goodbye."


You walk away, and don't look at her again. Pat nods as you pass. You crouch into the dumbwaiter, and take the rope in your hands, resting the Sword against your leg. You give it an experimental tug, and the dumbwaiter jitters.

It's manual. You'll have to haul yourself up… more than two stories. You didn't get a proper look at it, which is probably for the best.

You swing the door of the dumbwaiter shut behind you, and you pull yourself upwards. Somewhere above you, pulleys clatter. Somewhere below you, latches click. You pull yourself upwards.


The two-martini buzz clocks you upside the head after a couple minutes. You're pleased to have it back: it deadens your burning forearms and your red-roughed palms and your back and your thoughts.

You don't hear the panicky scream from below.

You kind of hear the ruckus from the first floor, but you ignore it.

Something gooey has sprung up beneath your knee. You shift your knee.

You pull yourself upwards.

(Maybe the dumbwaiter doesn't lead anywhere. But that'd just be cruel.)

You pull yourself upwards.

(Maybe it does lead to the second floor, but the second floor is somewhere else.)

You pull yourself upwards.

(Maybe the issue is with time, not the dumbwaiter. It's dark. Time goes all runny in the dark.)

You pull yourself upwards.

(But is that true for all dark, or just water-dark? You don't know. Memory goes all runny in the dark. The only constant is you.)

You pull yourself upwards. You hear a "chunk," and the dumbwaiter stops. You kick open the door. It's the second floor of your house, with hardly any eyeballs. The only light is from the floor below, and from the crack under your mother's door.

You roll out of the dumbwaiter with far less dignity than you anticipated. You drag yourself to your feet. Your sword is in your hand.

You walk to your mother's door, consider knocking, and can't see the point in it. You open the door.

Your mother is in white muslin. She is predictably wan and skeletal. Her room is cluttered, though free of eyeballs. There is an untouched meal on her nightstand. It's a down period.

She is staring out the window. She turns, at the opening of the door, and looks at you. You lean bodily against the doorframe, clutching a blood-encrusted sword. You are inebriated.

There is a crystal necklace on your mother's breast. She looks at you, Dame Ramona Birdwell, and she covers her mouth with her hand. "Lottie," she says, like it's the name of a spirit, or a god. "I… thought you were dead."


>[1] Disembowel your mother while you can. If you can. [Roll.]
>[2] Don't disembowel your mother. Not yet. Talk, first. Consider. (Time will pass.)
>[3] Write-in.
>[1] Disembowel your mother while you can. If you can. [Roll.]

>[1] Disembowel your mother while you can. If you can. [Roll.]

yeah sorry fake mom but you're not really mom and infinite power awaits

wanna ask why she thought we were dead but the answer will probably just fuck us up even more

>Roll me 3 1d100s + 5 (+10 Inebriated, -5 Your Own Sword) vs. DC 70 (+15 Your Own Mother, +5 Dead?)

>You may spend up to 3 ID, with each ID adding +10 to the results. Your ID may be additionally damaged, even on a success.
>[ID: 4/11]
>[1] Spend how much ID?
Rolled 48 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 22 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Rolled 77 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

no spendy 4 is low
>53, 27, 83 vs. DC 70 -- Mitigated Success
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>Mitigated Success

"No you didn't," you say roughly. "You're… not my mother."

"That's news to me, Lottie. Those nine months were all for nothing, then?" Your mother's smile is tight at the edges. "I suppose you could quibble with the succeeding two decades. Ruby does."

"You're— you're not, though." You're almost sure of this. "You're a snake. You're not even a real snake."

"Nobody's perfect." Your mother drifts over to her vanity, bends to look in her steel mirror. "Least of all me— you know this."

"You're a snake," you say, because repeating it might make it happen. "You only— you look like my mother, because you're- you're wearing her. Like a skin."

"Pot, kettle. Hypocrisy isn't ladylike, Lottie." She looks at you. Her eyes are green. (But they've always been green.) "Are you drunk?"


"You always were your father's daughter. Have I told you you look good in blue?"

"I'm gonna to kill you," you say, having decided to just be straightforward. How did you start talking?. Where did you fail? "I've got a- a sword, and you're unarmed, so I'm just gonna… gut you. Please just let me. Please- please look like a snake. I can do it to a snake, that's easy."

"Lottie, I can't look like a snake. I'm your mother." She sighs. "But I suppose this is what I deserve."

Don't ask why. Don't ask why. It doesn't matter. It's not your mother. You have to kill it. Charlotte, you have to kill it. "Why?"

"Because I let you die, primrose."

There, you got your answer. You hope you're happy with it. Now you kill her. Kill it. Kill it… now. Now. Right now. "I'm not dead," you say. "Do I look dead?"

"No," your mother says. "But nonetheless—"

It's difficult to concentrate on your impending demise when a snake is issuing you staticky staccato commands, but you're managing. You are plummeting 90 MPH feet-first towards the uncaring ocean, and all you can figure is 'it seemed like a better idea at the time.'

That's as far as you get before you hit the water. Your duffel bag broke the surface a fraction before, so it's more like getting socked with a fist than it is with a brick wall. The bigger issue is the water, which goes up your nose and down your throat before you can think. You gargle, and kick, and clutch for the surface, and hold what little breath you can, until you can't, and you inhale— and the seawater spits and bites at your lungs, you go very limp, and the world goes very black.

And you die.

>[-2 ID: 2/11]

"That's not what happened," you protest, though your nostrils and tonsils and throat burn with salt. "Not the last part."

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"Are you sure?" your mother says, in a strange tone of voice, and you think, and find yourself not sure— and that's when you stab her.

It's inelegant and messy. All that happens is you sort of thud forward, The Sword outstretched, and pierce her breast. It bleeds red, and stains her muslin, and her hand, and the vanity. The color matches the lipstick stubs.

(You'd like to leave it here. Sword through the chest is [you've always thought] a poetic way to go out, very heroic, very storybook. You could tolerate it, if you left it here. You could rationalize it: it's not your mother, and even if she was, well, isn't this a good way to go out?

But there's the matter of the disemboweling.)

Your mother collapses backwards against the painted bedframe, taking The Sword with her. She stares at its hilt with rheumy eyes. "Funny…" she pants. "…Your grandmother always said marrying a Fawkins would kill me one day."

"You haven't got a grandmother," you say. "I know you haven't. I'm killing you. Why pretend?"

She coughs. "Are you pretending to enjoy gin?"


"Are you pretending to-"

"No," you say shortly, "but that's not the same thing at all, that's—"

"Of course it is. Nobody's ever gone. They leave… fragments, folderol. Scrabblings on cocktail napkins." Your mother clutches her breast. "Bloodstains. And it's all in the shape of a person. Do you understand? I don't understand. I'm only repeating."

"…Please keep talking like that," you say. "It'll help with the disemboweling."

"Lottie," your mother says, "I don't want to die. I've only just been born."

"Yeah. Like that." You screw your eyes shut and twist The Sword free.

"I don't want to die. Lottie, look at me."

"I'm not going to look at you."

"Charlotte Frances, look at me."

You look at your mother, the snake, and she rolls her head to look back at you. "You could just leave. Leave me. You don't have to be cruel. You're not cruel. Who pressed the thorns on you, primrose?"


>[1] Leave. Take the crystal and leave. Who pressed the thorns? [+1 Max ID.]
>[2] It's not your mother. It might be the outline of her, maybe, but it's not her. Do what you must. [1/16 tines filled.]
>[3] They're your own God-damned thorns, and you will have no pity and no remorse. Fall into a familiar pattern. [1/16 tines filled; ?????]
>[2] It's not your mother. It might be the outline of her, maybe, but it's not her. Do what you must. [1/16 tines filled.]
The fake mom may not be proud of you Lottie, but I am

>[3] They're your own God-damned thorns, and you will have no pity and no remorse. Fall into a familiar pattern. [1/16 tines filled; ?????]

Mystery box?
>[1] Leave. Take the crystal and leave. Who pressed the thorns? [+1 Max ID.]
>[1] Leave. Take the crystal and leave. Who pressed the thorns? [+1 Max ID.]



Called for #1 and writing.
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You wipe your nose with the back of your hand. "You'll die anyways. You'll— Pat said the crystal would melt you. Or whatever."

"I'll be unbodied," your mother says reflectively, "but the pattern of me will remain. I have died a thousand times. It is not death."

Your resolve cracks. "It's not?"


"…" You flick your sword to your mother's throat. "I could kill you, though."

"I'm sure you could, Lottie."

"…" You cut the cord of the necklace. It falls to her lap, and you retrieve it with the point of the sword. You take the crystal in your hand, and the bare flesh of your palm erupts with eyeballs like clustered pinheads. Your tendons, meanwhile, seem to dry and stiffen— you try to curl your fingers, and find you cannot.

"…" You scoop and dump the crystal onto the floor, and your hand unstiffens. You stop it from rolling with the ball of your foot. You raise your sword.

"I am glad," your mother says, "that some of you survives."

>[+1 MAX ID: 12]
>[+4 ID: 6/12]

You bring the sword down onto the crystal, and it cleaves neatly in two. Nothing happens. "God-damnit," you say, and look to your mother, who is dripping onto the hardwood. "Oh." The tissue pooling around her is blue-white and faintly translucent. This is not your mother. If nothing else, your mother has bones.

"Huh," you say distantly, for the floor has begun to soften under your feet. You lift your foot, and mucous threads cling to the sole of your shoes. You put it down again, and sink three inches. The walls are running, too, and the furniture, bleeding out into a sea of grey-brown muck, which rises to your ankles, then your knees. You bend down, submerging your torso, and scoop up the halves of the crystal. As you do, the house creaks, and the muck surges to over your head. You choke. It tastes like the inside of your mouth.

You are Charlotte Fawkins.

Your eyes burn at a surge of electric lights, and you find yourself in a stoop. The Sword is in your hand, its blade clean. About you is the melting remnants of the giant snake. You are on an archipelago of land, around which is void: thick, soupy void, a richer black than black. The light does nothing to touch it. This place might've been a basement.

There are other people. Madrigal, in a lean, braces herself against the floor to your right. A woman in a grey coat crouches down ahead of you, while a sallow, grey-suited man is in a slump to your left. (Pat? Lester?) Richard, a five-foot snake draped around his arms, stands upright above the man. He stares directly at you.

"Charlie," he says icily, and makes to stride in your direction— but stumbles. The man has grabbed his ankle. Meanwhile, the woman stands, wiping her eyes, and Madrigal vomits. "Urrgh."

"Um," you say. "Hello."

The woman looks at you. "Oh," she says through her facemask. "You don't work here."

"No shit they don't," the man (definitely Lester) spits. "They're shithead card-counting reptile thieves, Pat." Richard, bemused, kicks his leg, but Lester clings on. "You got duped."

"…Dammit." Pat closes her eyes. "Charlotte. You're Charlotte, yeah? Look like her."

"Er, yeah," you say.

"Are you in our basement to steal our damn snake?"

"…I wouldn't say steal…" you say. "Not your damn snake," Madrigal rasps at the same time.

"See?" Lester says. Pat throws her head back. "Godsdammit. I thought you were decent."

"Okay, I am decent," you scoff. "You stole someone's pet!"

Madrigal raises her head. "Working animal."

"Working an-"

Richard twists, stomping hard on Lester's hand ("Yow!"), and finally breaks free. He stalks over and grabs you, quite hard, by your collar. "Charlotte," he hisses, clears his throat, and draws you closer. He removes his sunglasses.

«Charlotte,» he says in your head. «How are you getting out of here.»

"I thought I'd cross that bridge when I burned it," you whisper back. "That's how it usually works."

«You have burned it. It is smoldering. That's not even a real metaphor. You have <no idea> how to get out of here.»
«Because you are a useless, spineless piece of shit.»
«As usual.»
«You <need> me.»

You snort. "I do not need you. I got out of there just fine without—"

«Oh, yes. Got yourself stabbed. Filled your household with eyes. Got out without the one thing you were supposed to.»
«And that's with you <knowing> how. Amazing. Look at you go, Charlotte.»
«Forgive me if I doubt your prodigious abilities.»
«I will handle this. This is non-negotiable.»

"Are we interrupting?" Pat says, arms folded. "Or are you working out the best way to give us the damn snake?"

"And forget you ever came here," Lester adds. He's finally standing.

"Gods." Pat pinches the bridge of her nose. "That too. Or cut your damn tongues out so you can't talk. Gods, did you have to— I don't want to do this, you know? Holy hell. Lester, are you calling security?"

Lester is holding a doohickey to his ear. "Nobody's picking up."

Guppy. You snort.

"Hey. That's not fucking funny." Lester narrows his eyes. "Bitch."

"Don't call her a bitch, Les—"

«Now, Charlotte.» Richard's grip on you is more of a stranglehold. «Now. Look in my eyes.»

>[1] Look in his eyes. ["You" and Madrigal will escape unharmed, with the snake. You'll cede control to Richard until he determines otherwise.]
>[2] Burn your bridges? (Write-in an alternative plan of escape. Possible roll(s). There is an "answer" hinted to in this update, but other suggestions may still work!)

I know he's probably super mad we passed up our chance for infinite power just because a sack of goo pretended to be our mom, but when he's so demanding I want to be contrarian just to spite him. We're going to get out by jumping into the void if we have to.

Before jumping into the void we should look at where the lights are coming from. Maybe there's a ladder or staircase.

At least it wasn't a total loss, the boost to max ID is nice.
What this guy said >>4238681

Except push it further and see if they need THE damn snake, or just A damn snake.

I assume this means warning them that we have our own snake, and that if they push us, we'll have to kill them with it.

They aren't *real* enough to him to stop him. Like the people in the house.

How do they think we got in here? Why isn't security responding? Lester seems real unable to cut his losses, but they can either show us the door and we can leave . . . Or we can make one and nothing will be left behind.

We just cut down a slightly-less-real version of our own mother. We'll do it to a slightly-less-real friend if we have to, and Pester too.

That's not a misspelling.
I also want to point out they couldn't really handle a trapped snake. I doubt they could handle ours. Not all snakes are the same, after all.
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Cool. Writing. Leap of faith was correct. The void-wall between the facility and the sewer was described in a similar fashion.

The lights are coming from the ceiling. It's just the basement's original electric lighting.

In other news, this will be the last update of this thread-- we're on Page 10, and I believe this is an excellent stopping point. Congratulations on escaping..... mostly in one piece!

In light of so many new characters being introduced all at once, I've drawn up a couple sketchy headshots. Pic related. Check them out?

The next thread will be the week after next, starting tentatively on the 17th. I'm taking some time off to straighten out my sleep schedule, which anybody who's been paying attention to my update times knows has been bonkers. Wish me luck.

As always, direct your questions, comments, etc. here. And thanks for reading!
I see Lester and Pat have taken covid precautions.
>Piss off, Richard
>MY snake could kick YOUR snake's butt

"Hasn't anybody told you," you snap, yanking your collar out of his grip, "'you catch more flies with honey than vinegar'?"

«Were that only so.» Richard slides his sunglasses back on. The snake around his shoulders hisses in your direction. «Very well, Charlotte, go ahead. Wow us.»

"I— okay, whatever. God." You sweep your hair out of your face and duck out from behind Richard. Lester is muttering into his doohickey. Pat is pointing a pistol at you.

«A replica of a .32 Tiffith, I believe. Silenced.»

You're sorry, she's pointing a silenced .32 whatever at you. "Charlotte," she says firmly. "I'm sorry, but we need that. We haven't got a choice. If you'd just like to hand it over, we can discuss a peaceable—"

"You can't shoot me," you scoff.

Pat looks down at her pistol. "Sure I can?"

"No, you don't—" You fold your arms. "Okay, you can, but I wouldn't even bother. He'll kill you first."

"Lester?" Pat glances over. Lester waves her away impatiently. "No. Who, the— wait, that's the guy who was kicking your ass."

"Uh, it's— no, he's different. Different guy." A bead of sweat trickles down your temple. "He just looks the same."

Pat drops the pistol a little. "What? Why?"

"I don't know why. It's complicated. Um…" You wipe your face. "It's not actually relevant. The relevant point is that he'll, uh, kill you— and you can't stop him, cause you're… I bet you're not even real."

"What?" She squints. "Gods, I don't even know if that's an insult. Why would I not be— I mean, if you want to get all semantical, I guess, but then you're not real either?"

"Uh…" This isn't turning out like you'd hoped. "Richard, could you just tell her?"

Richard is radiating smugness in waves. "Tell her what?"

"That you'll— she shouldn't shoot me, because it'll end… bad."

"Well, I'd imagine it'd end badly. You'd be shot." Richard mimes daubing at his eyes with a handkerchief. "Awful way to go, really."

"…But you'd- you'd kill her. And you'd fix me. And we'd… blast out of here."

"Kill her with what, Charlie? I'm not armed." Richard raises his open hands. "And I have all the athleticism of a, let's see, barely fit 49-year-old… thanks for that, by the way. What do you expect me to do?"

You turn upon him. "What you always do?" you hiss. "Hello?"

«What I always do to you, yes.» He's smirking. «Which you've unfortunately declined.»

"J— God, do it to yourself!"

«It doesn't work like that, Charlotte.»
«Even if it did, though, I could hardly afford a <fracas>. I should hope I don't resemble a pugilist.»

"…" You grimace. "You're awful."

«You'll get over it.» Richard clears his throat, his hands still raised. "Sorry, ma'am, I don't know what she's on about."

"Hah. Yeah." Pat rubs her eye. "I need the snake, please. No stupid threats."

>[-1 ID: 5/12]

"…Do you need the snake?" you say. "Or just 'a' snake?"

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"What, you've got another one? That guy doesn't count." Pat shakes the pistol. "I don't think Management gives two tosses what snake, but this is the snake. It's the only damn snake in 30 miles."

"I could… get one," you say, tentatively. "If you don't need a specific…"

Pat lowers the pistol. "You'd do that?"


"Really? We could probably... Les, you could buy some time, right?"

Lester is pacing back and forth, one hand behind his back. "What?"

"He could buy some time. Three real days, maybe, tops. You'd do that for us?"

>[1] Sure, what the hell. You don't know where or how to find a snake, but it can't be that hard, surely. And you'd stay in Pat's (...and Lester's) good graces. You're not, um, in many people's good graces.
>[2] On second thought, maybe you shouldn't aid and abet weird shady clone businesspeople.

Of course you would, or maybe you wouldn't — maybe Pat's finger slipped, maybe your offer slipped away, maybe Lester, tiring of negotiations, slipped his own gun out of its concealed holster — the immediate past slips from your mind, but a stray gunshot has rung out, and you find yourself teetering on the edge of the abyss. You have made the decision that between gunshot, starvation, and impact, impact sounds quickest.

Madrigal hasn't spoken for some time, but she's right beside you, hands jammed in her pockets. Richard is somewhere behind. Any fear of heights is somewhat tempered by the fact you've made a similar leap, from much higher up, and lived…

"You can't jump," Pat says, exasperated. "Come on."

It's all the motivation you need. "Sure I can?" you say (pleased as punch at your own cleverness). You step decisively off the edge.

You fall, as could only be expected. And then the world turns ninety degrees, and you are spat into… not-quite-darkness. There are faint tracings of things: of sewer tile, of algae stains, of the largest spiral staircase you've ever seen. (There it is. You knew there'd be one.) The Sword is gone from your hand.

Madrigal and Richard have not followed. You linger for one minute, two, three, before worry begins to gnaw at you. Did Madrigal have second thoughts? Is this Richard's punishment? Did they get lost? Land somewhere else? Should you cut your losses? Is it right of you to cut your losses? Does it matter if you're right? And then Madrigal stumbles out in front of you, and a shape settles itself around your shoulders, and you pretend you didn't worry at all. "Hi," you say.

"…Hi," Madrigal says tersely. There's a little white box clutched in her palm, and a lit match in her fingers. The snake is around her shoulders. "Is this the way out?"

"I don't know, I haven't really—"

"Good enough for me." She starts up it at a rapid clip.

You hurry behind. "Where were you?"


"With? Where? About?"

"Whatshisface. Richard. Your dickhead snake, or whatever he is. I don't know where. That's personal."

"With Richard?" You'd known she knew, kind of, but you'd pressed it to the back of your mind. "He's not a- that. How'd you even- why'd he—"

Madrigal barely turns her head. "You know he possessed you for, like, half an hour, right?"

"And he told—"

"It was fucking obvious, Charlotte."

«It wasn't that obvious.»

You screw your eyes shut. "Oh, God."


"Oh, God." It's really starting to sink in. Three years, down the tube. "Are you going to tell—"

"I'd really like to discuss this in broad daylight, please." Madrigal's using her manners— it must be bad. You ascend the staircase the rest of the way in silence.

At the top of the staircase (dozens, hundreds of feet up?) is a plain trapdoor. You attempt to push it open, but find it barred. Only Madrigal applying her spear like a crowbar wedges it open. Ultimately, you emerge, blinking, into… the snake pen. You're in Branwen's barn. By the quality of the light, it's been an hour or less.

"God," you say.

"Fuck," Madrigal says, and deposits the snake on the ground. She sits down next to it. "Fuck."


>Don't forget to vote! Scroll up!
>Like I said, next thread ETA May 17th-- possibly a little later, we'll see how things go.
>We're archived here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned%20quest%20redux
>As always, direct your questions/comments/concerns/etc here! I'll be here until the thread drops off.

Some interesting(?) notes on this thread's events: things progressed more or less as expected, with one major exception! Meeting Martin was intended to end right here: >>4199852. You talk to him, discover it's not Richard, make your apologies, leave. All you get is "huh, that's weird," and you never see the guy again.

And then this >>4199869 write-in happened, and things officially went off the rails. You got on the topic of snakes, so he gets pissy and sends Henry after you. Still "huh, that's weird," though a little more topical.

And then... you guys missed three separate opportunities to deal with Henry, and you chose to go the sneaky underground way, so he and Martin go after you. You proceed to bring old-you, leave Richard, and roll a 3/8ths chance of hitting the correct encounter... and that's how you get here >>4221218. In short, a bunch of disparate options and a healthy dose of RNG all converged, and as a result you guys got information you weren't supposed to be privy to for a long time coming!

You really can't beat questing, can you?
>[1] Sure, what the hell. You don't know where or how to find a snake, but it can't be that hard, surely. And you'd stay in Pat's (...and Lester's) good graces. You're not, um, in many people's good graces.

Info we weren't supposed to have? Like XXXXXXXXXX? That info?

So if anything in the upcoming thread feels strangely rushed... now you know why!
>>[1] Sure, what the hell. You don't know where or how to find a snake, but it can't be that hard, surely. And you'd stay in Pat's (...and Lester's) good graces. You're not, um, in many people's good graces.

Yey, my write in helped.

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