[a / b / c / d / e / f / g / gif / h / hr / k / m / o / p / r / s / t / u / v / vg / w / wg] [i / ic] [r9k] [cm / hm / y] [3 / adv / an / cgl / ck / co / diy / fa / fit / hc / int / jp / lit / mlp / mu / n / po / pol / sci / soc / sp / tg / toy / trv / tv / vp / x] [rs] [status / ? / @] [Settings] [Home]
Settings   Home
/qst/ - Quests

File: 2.0 21.jpg (242 KB, 445x677)
242 KB
242 KB JPG
You are Charlotte Fawkins, noted heiress, detective, adventuress, and heroine, cruelly trapped underwater (in the sticks!) after the completion of your quest to find your long-lost family heirloom. Tragically, nobody here l̶i̶k̶e̶s̶ ̶y̶o̶u appreciates your talents, even Richard- the snake who lives in your head. Right now, you have decided to conduct an investigation into the multiple murders committed by your evil time-traveling gooplicate.

Well, you don't have to be asked twice. If a fake (and highly inferior) version of you can do detective work, you certainly can— oh, wait! You already have. So how is this any different? "Okay, then," you say decisively. "We should examine the body for, um, clues. And then all the other bodies. If you haven't already."

"Uh..." Jesse scratches the back of his neck. "A little bit... I've been pulling quadruple duty, Charlie. I'm telling you, this whole thing has spiraled way out of control. She wasn't supposed to start killing people."

"And Lucky hasn't assigned you any help?" You're kneeling down.

"There's the guys at the entrance, but they're only on guard, they're not investigating... he says you're supposed to be my help, there."

"...Right. Ow." Your attempts at tugging the corpse out are going poorly. "I mean, he isn't wrong— ugh."

«Lift with your knees, not your back.»

Gee, thanks... Richard? You glance down at the snake: it looks exactly the same.

«Yes. I am here.»
«I am certain you missed me.»

Oh, sure, you missed him. You missed his creepy beady eyes and his weird lack of inflection and you missed him telling you what to do and say all the time and you really missed those electric shocks he gives you. And you absolutely hated being free to go wherever you wanted without getting yelled at by a... what did Eloise say? Not even a real animal?

«They are not electrical shocks. They are merely similar.»
«And, certainly, trust that grinning carny about serious matters. See how far that gets you.»

Would Richard like to tell you about snakes?

«No. It is not of importance to you.»

There he has it, then. If he won't give you an alternative explanation—

"Charlie?" Jesse pulls gently at your sleeve. "Are you okay? Do you need me to lift the—"

File: charlotte - @twgp.png (617 KB, 800x1263)
617 KB
617 KB PNG
"Nope!" You brace yourself and tug the corpse sideways: finally, it spills out onto the damp mud of the road, face-down. One of its hands lolls over your shoe, and you kick it off. The crowd bursts into squabbling conversation.

The crowd? When you turn, Jesse's already advancing toward all of them, one guarded hand on the hilt of his sword. "Keep back!" he says. "Give us space! The situation is under control!"

The squabbling grows louder. Somebody jeers. There's at least 20 people standing around, a few you vaguely recognize (townsfolk) and most you don't (the newcomers?). Every one of them looks exhausted. But do they look murderous... no? Maybe? How are you supposed to tell?

"Under control?" someone bursts out. "That's the fifth in four—"

"Sixth! Margo—"

"We believe that Mrs. Lindew's death is unrelated," Jesse attempts, "and, I can assure you, our full resources are going into— excuse me, please stay back. My colleague here—" He points back towards you. "—needs to determine the cause of death. It's possible this is an entirely unrelated—" ["Go!" he signs clumsily at you. "Keep off will I they!"]

...He'll keep them off? You're fairly certain Courtiers aren't supposed to learn handsign at all (it's unnatural, or something), so you guess you can't be too fussy about his. You sigh and turn back to the body.

It hasn't got up and run off, so there's some mercy left on this blighted earth. It's still there, still pallid, still slightly greenish. As you'd noted earlier, it's a man, thickset and balding... poor luck, to drown while balding, and to get stuck with that hairline forever. But it's poor luck to be murdered, anyhow. He's in yellow breeches and a knee-length blue coat, trimmed with yellow piping. Bold choice. Perhaps he was foreign? His shoes look expensive, but they're absolutely caked in mud. That's a normal thing. Not a weird thing. So why—

«Do I need to hasten this along so you return to productive endeavors.»
«It's pure.»

It's... pure? Oh. Oh, huh. Richard is (unfortunately) right: there's the usual crust of leaves and sticks and things that've stuck onto the mud, but the mud itself isn't all gritty and pebbly like it usually is around here. The texture is finer, and, now that you're looking closer, it's a different color. Kind of reddish. Did he come in from the Flats?

It seems likely, but you're unsure if that actually means anything. (Positive thinking!) By which you mean you've found a clue, and it'll undoubtedly be the first of many. Yeah. That's more like it. You drop the shoe and brush off your hands.

File: two puncture wounds.jpg (19 KB, 680x443)
19 KB
What else? Well, the coat isn't ripped or dirty: maybe there wasn't a struggle? Maybe he was ambushed, or poisoned unsuspectingly, or he was too weak to fight back, for some reason. Does he have any wounds? Jesse said there were puncture wounds on some of them, didn't he? On the neck. But there's nothing here, at least that you can see.

And you can't see anything else on the back, so you muster your strength, flip the body over, and regret it. The front, with its lidded eyes, its pursed, swollen lips, its bloated hands, is worse. It also smells— not like rot, you think, but of something nasty and acid. Vomit?

You don't see any vomit, luckily, but you still hold your breath as you lean in to inspect. Oh, here's the puncture wounds. Larger than you'd expect. Is it a really big needle? There's two, right next to each other, with just a little space in between. Like he got bit by something. Huh. Was the murder weapon a massive spider? (Are there spiders underwater? You haven't seen any, but Gil's beetles, so...)

But if that's what killed him, where's the smell coming from? You prod around gingerly before coming to the conclusion that it's definitely the mouth. Great.

«Open it.»

Thank you, Richard. (Positive thinking.) You suck in another breath and pry the man's jaw open. "Oh!"

>[-1 ID: 4/(9)]

The smell is worse. The smell is much, much worse. And the inside of his mouth is all twisted, inside, like the flesh melted into soup and only partially reformed. His teeth are white pebbles.

«I'd expect his organs look like that, too.»

Would he.

«That's poison.»
«Administered orally, judging by the teeth.»
«Are you quite done.»

You shut the jaw and sigh. You're not— you're almost done. You just want to look at the eyes. Eyes are important, usually.

The first eye, when you lift the heavy eyelid, is brown. And dead-looking. You aren't sure what you expected. The second eye (you are a completionist) is brown, and dead-looking, and... there's something wrong with the pupil. It's gone sort of vertical. Sort of slitty. Drugs? (Can drugs do that? Does Richard know if drugs can do that?)

«I think I've enabled you enough.»

Great. Thanks. You stand— ow. Can Richard fix pins and needles in the legs?

«Do you expect me to be God.»

No. No. That would be blasphemous, anyhow. (Ow.) Jesse hasn't noticed that you've stood: he's turned towards the crowd, waving his arms like a lunatic, which does nothing to halt the insults and... oh dear, the handfuls of sand he's being pelted with. The crowd has evidently become restless. "STAY BACK," Jesse says, at a volume a smidgeon below yelling, and now several people jeer. "Or what?" someone says. "Why?" someone else adds. "Got something to hide, court bitch?" "City boy?" "You kill him?" "You kill all of them, you sicko?"

"NO," Jesse says, at a tone a smidgeon below 'losing it,' "I am just DOING MY JOB, which is to HELP you all, and—"

"It isn't him!" It's a clear, soprano voice, and it cuts through the ruckus like a crystal bullet through Gil's forehead. (Why did you think about that? Don't think about that.) The crying woman, no longer crying, stands rigid at the back of the crowd. "It's HER! I saw her!"

She points at you.

>[1] Oh, God-damnit: clear up the confusion once again. No, it's not you, clearly, you have blood, you're not made of evil goo. Surely everyone will be reasonable, and then you won't have this problem later. [Roll.]
>[2] Talking to the whole crowd won't solve anything: go discuss things with your accuser, face to face. Does this mean she didn't just discover the body— she saw you do it? When? How? [I'll use the roll from last thread.]
>[3] Change the topic: announce your findings about the body. Does anyone know the murdered man? Or know about underwater spiders? Drink anything poisoned, lately?
>[4] Sometimes, the best way to deal with problems is to not. Deal with them, you mean. Just walk away: you need to examine the other bodies, anyhow.
>[5] Write-in.
File: charlotte - @sketchy_cc.png (1.67 MB, 2197x1526)
1.67 MB
1.67 MB PNG
Welcome back to Drowned Quest Redux! Couple things: 1) I have two new pastebins for you guys... or docs, Pastebin tried to censor these. Decided to publish the finished half of the Eloise one I teased last thread, and also wrote one from Gil's POV after all-- about what he's doing alone in your tent right now. Check them out here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1e9ypo1BE2MxLrPn02bD5nRlZnAHD77dx?usp=sharing

2) I will have finals at the tail end of this thread, so it's possible I'll have to cut things off early so I have time to study. QMing is time-consuming, bls understand. I'll be able to run pretty much straight through mid-December to mid-January to make up for it.

One a day, sometimes more if the first one was short. There may be sporadic half-updates (no options) if I start writing too late in the evening, sorry in advance. I am in the PST timezone.

We use a 3d100 roll over degrees of success system with crits. The base DC is 50. Modifiers may be applied to the roll or to the DC as relevant. The # of rolls that match or exceed the DC determine the result. Probabilities may be found in the Dice and Mechanics pastebin.

The degrees are:
0 Passes = Failure
1 Pass = Mitigated Success
2 Passes = Success
3 Passes = Enhanced Success
0/100 = Critical Failure / Critical Success [regardless of other rolls]

The MC has a pool of 9* Identity ("ID"), which may be considered both HP and the measure of her current sense of self. It may be lost through physical, metaphysical, or emotional damage. It may be regained through write-ins, designated options, and at reasonable narrative points, including sleep. It may be spent on a flat +10 bonus to most rolls, as well as on more elaborate metaphysical effects. Dropping to 0 ID is bad.

[*The ID cap is typically 12, but prior choices have lowered this until a sidequest is completed.]




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.

>I have a question/comment/concern?
Tell me!

Immediate goals:
- Investigate the murders!

Short-term goals:
- Spend your share of the heist $$$
- Meet back up with Annie the worm
- Fix Gil #2 (somehow)

Long-term goals:
- Rescue Madrigal
- Procure permanent, non-melting body for Gil
- Regain your missing ID
- Regain your missing memories
- Finish your model
- Find the Gold-Masked Person and their snake, reclaim the Crown
- In the meantime, continue collecting and storing Law (3/16)
- Learn more about, and explore, the Grande Mangrove
- GTFO of this underwater hellhole
- Make friends???

- Who or what drove Ellery into self-imposed exile?
- Who or what is Namway Co.'s “Management”? What did they want with the clone of a snake?
- What's the deal with that weird sword training flashback you had?
- What kind of company(?) does Richard work for? What is its endgame? What does it want with you?
- What is Richard actually like, behind the whole... dad thing?
- What is a clone of you doing running around in the Fen? What was it saying about "Human Resources"?
- What is the meaning of Jesse's spiral tattoo?
- What is Ellery's patent for? Is it connected to his entire deal?
- Who is Horse Face investigating, and why?
- Who is the Gold-Masked Person? Why did they want your Crown? Where are they now?

Ongoing assignments:
- Inform Eloise (and the Wind Court?) about anything you discover about Namway Co

You project your complicated feelings about the shooting/kidnapping onto Real Ellery, by which you mean you hate Real Ellery, and unsurprisingly the two of you (and Anthea) part acrimoniously. Back in your own manse, you discover Gil miraculously unshot: only a fraction with him actually went with you. Nevertheless, after Richard (who exists again) exposits what's wrong with Gil #2, you resolve to fix him through the power of shenanigans. You also let Gil #1 possess Madrigal's now-empty body.

Back in the real world, you drag Gil #1 along to tell Monty about the kidnapping. Monty believes you, sort of, but is still clearly pissed at you. (For no reason!) You send Gil out of the tent and confront him about this, and also about him strangling you (for no reason). Somehow, Monty comes to the bizarre conclusion that you've forgotten every bad thing you've ever done, which pisses him off further. You do manage to extract a vague explanation, but no apology, and in the process discover that his arm stump is oozing a lot of weird black stuff. Monty kicks you out of his tent.

Outside, you discover Fake Ellery trying to talk to "Madrigal" (Gil #1). You rescue Gil and explain the whole situation, then accidentally imply that you want Fake Ellery's help. He agrees to help, unfortunately, so you give him nothing to do and leave.

You walk randomly until you run into Eloise, who grows very concerned when you tell her about Namway's involvement in the kidnapping. After ignoring her warnings, she offers some opinions on how you might find Madrigal, as well as the issues with duping a snake. (You can make a dupe any size, and a snake too big can warp reality.) She also suggests that Monty might be leaking "rejection fluid." In exchange, you tell her about Anthea and Horse Face.

You leave Gil in your tent and continue into town, where you are accosted by a group of ruffians before your evil time-traveling gooplicate's cop ex-boyfriend Jesse stops them. Apparently, said gooplicate has been murdering people using your face. You don't learn much more than that before there's a scream: another body has been found.


>Don't forget to scroll up and vote!
>[1] Oh, God-damnit: clear up the confusion once again. No, it's not you, clearly, you have blood, you're not made of evil goo. Surely everyone will be reasonable, and then you won't have this problem later. [Roll.]
Two was tempting but this should clear up further misunderstandings down the line.
Though it might give our copy cover, I don't want to bleed a little bit every time someone sees us. There must be a better way.
>>[2] Talking to the whole crowd won't solve anything: go discuss things with your accuser, face to face. Does this mean she didn't just discover the body— she saw you do it? When? How? [I'll use the roll from last thread.]
>[2] Talking to the whole crowd won't solve anything: go discuss things with your accuser, face to face. Does this mean she didn't just discover the body— she saw you do it? When? How? [I'll use the roll from last thread.]

Lead in by asking what she knows about poison, or dangerous animals with snake like fangs.

Weird, if he was given poison orally why is he also bitten?

Anyways. Yeah, let's pick out and then pick on this person.

Like. Lead in agressively.

> Oh, so you know what's going on, do you? You know about the poison the victim took, or the animal that left bite marks on him? Come on up, let's hear what you believe happened to explain the evidence on the body. Maybe if you had come forward earlier, we wouldn't be looking at this corpse now.
>>5059000 (nice trips)


Called for [2]. I'll take aspects from >>5059093, but because it didn't garner any support, I may water it down a little. Writing.
File: jesse - @ssyyuu.png (976 KB, 690x797)
976 KB
976 KB PNG
>Et tu, brute?
>39, 73, 11 vs. DC 35 — Success

"It wasn't me!" you snap. "Do I look like a goo thing? Do I sound like a goo thing? I'll have you know, I'm a, a righteous, upstanding, human citizen, as anyone who's from here can attest to, like, for example—" Is Jacques in the crowd?

"Could be lying," someone says. "Could be covering for the city bitch," someone else parries. "Speech sounds prepped." "Yeah!" "Now that you say it—" "Fecking hell." "Yeah. Sounds like something a goo thing would say."

You don't see Jacques. Maybe he's holed up in the Nothing, like a sensible person. (Surely he isn't dead.) "Or," you say loudly, "it's something an innocent person would say, cause they're innocent, and they don't go around falsely accusing—"

"I SAW you," the not-crying woman says again, and her voice is like a broken window. The crowd stills. "Two nights ago. You can't fool me."

You can't fool her? Heat rises in your cheeks. "Charlie," Jesse is saying quietly, "It's nothing to worry about, honestly, they're just all on edge— just show them a little blood, and it'll be fine. It's under control."

Good, and now he's lying to you: 'under control' your ass. Well, no. Not your ass. (That was vulgar.) The situation is under control, just not your control, or his: it's the woman, whoever she is, whatever she knows, that's the pulsing heart of this crowd, this mob, and you are going to storm over there and cut her open. And then and only then will it be under control. Jesse.

«How upstanding.»

Well, not like— that's not— you're not going to murder her. You phrased that poorly. You just— look. Watch. You've shouldered past Jesse, you're surging into the crowd (which parts around you), one hand resting unsubtly on The Sword, and the woman backpedals a little when she sees you coming, but it is too late and you are there and you loom over her.

Okay, before Richard says something, you are not 'looming over her' in the dictionary sense of the word. She is two inches taller than you. But certainly in presence and in spirit you loom, and she senses it, because much of the proud gloss has come off her. "Would you like to say all that to my face?" you snarl.

"I saw you." Her voice is neither like a bullet nor a spray of glass. It's just a voice.


"Two nights ago."

So not this body, then? "Doing what?"

She has to compose herself, a little, before answering. "K-killing that woman."

Definitely not this body. "Uh-huh. And tell me this." You lean in. "Why, exactly, did you not report any of this? Jesse— uh, Harrier-Lancepesade Lai has been stationed here for days. Longer than two. If you'd just gone to the proper authorities, this man—" (You flourish towards the body.) "—would be alive. What do you have to say about that?"

"I—" is all she has to say about that before her composure falters and she begins to cry again. It's not ladylike. There is snot, there is sobbing, there is fat, ugly tears, and it is all your fault.

«Oh, you beat me to it.»

How do you stop looming? Can you turn it off? If you back away, you'll ram straight into the mob, which has closed in on the two of you. You're a better spectacle than the body is, evidently. And it's not your fault! It's not your fault. To be clear, you don't feel badly for the woman, who deserves it. Don't throw stones if you can't handle people picking up the stones and throwing them back at you, or however that saying goes. But this has suddenly become horribly awkward at best, dangerous at worst (if the mob's sympathy turns), and the only route out is to... oh, God.

Apologize. You have to apologize to this stupid manatee of a woman, this whore, this bitch, and you have to do it with enough sincerity to convince 20 people not to stone you to death. Oh, God. Is that even possible? Maybe Richard ought to stop your heart, as he'd occasionally threatened to do. Lay you out in the mud, same as the man over there. That'd stop her crying.

«You're catastrophizing. Stop.»

Oh, sure. Stop. It sounds so easy, doesn't it? Maybe he should try being you. Maybe he should stand here and watch this whore woman choke on her own mucus, and you can be a snake and you can say things that sound smart but mean nothing. How about that?

«I have been you, when you have been too incompetent to be yourself.»
«Do you require me to elaborate on why you would not like to be me.»

Yes, actually, and then you can laugh at how absolutely inconsequential his—

"Excuse me. Excuse me. Pardon me." ("Piss off, city boy!") "Working on it. Excuse me. Ahem. Under jurisdiction of the Wind Court, myself and Honorary Harrier-Leftenant Fawkins are exercising our right to speak to direct witnesses, so ma'am, if you'll please— ma'am, please come with us. Your testimony is valued. And if the rest of you would please disperse, please return to your daily routine, then—"

Jesse! Jesse, your savior, has pushed through the crowd: he stands before you, brow furrowed, shoulders squared, glowing, it seems, from within. He reaches a hand out, and you feel a pang of something when you realize it's not for you. He takes the crying woman's shoulder.

File: better than nothing.jpg (42 KB, 564x386)
42 KB
"Thank you," he says firmly, and begins to steer the woman out of the crowd: you trail after, and only flinch a little when the mob behind you begins to yell. But they don't pursue you.

You barely notice the walking: your eyes are fixed on the back of Jesse's head. You barely notice the knocking or the jingle of the door, either. You only refocus when you smell... spirits?

"And who are these, Mr. Lai?" It's dim inside the Better Than Nothing: a few sunbeams coming through the slats are all that light the place. Jacques, who licks his finger and turns the page of an old Corcass Courier, has the place boarded up tight. Except for Jesse, apparently. "I mean, I recognize Miss Empty Pockets, but are you certain you got the right one? Heard she's been a little knife-happy, these days."

"Hey!" you say. "It's various poisons," Jesse says, "not stabbings. You're thinking of Mrs. Lindew. Er... would you mind if we speak to the witness in here? It's— there's a lot going on outside."

"I heard the screaming." Jacques looks at you over his sunglasses. "Sure, but I'm not making drinks. Bar's closed until this sorts itself out."

You make a face. The woman blubbers. Jesse clears his throat. "Uh, thanks, we'll try to make this quick. You can—" Jacques flips the page. "—uh, you can stay there, I guess."


"...Alright." Jesse pulls out a chair and sits. "Excuse me, ma'am, what's your name?"

No response. Just loud sniffling.

"How long have you been residing in town?"

Nothing. Jacques snorts. You shift your weight, which makes the floorboards creak. Richard winds around your neck.

«Apply yourself, Charlie.»
«Oh, wait, you tried, and look what happened. This.»
«Do you need assistance.»

He's going to do it whether you want him to or not, so he may as well skip the preamble and shoot you up with snake juice, or whatever. You've had a long day.

«It isn't—»
«Very well. There is something to be said for efficiency.»

>[-1 ID: 3/(9)]

The words don't just sound different out loud, you notice, they're different even as you think them. Like they've been oiled. "Excuse me," you say. "Why was that man bit and poisoned? Separately? Which did he die from?"

"What?" Jesse says. (You're with him. You hadn't drawn that connection until a half-second after you spoke it.) The woman's crying slows.

"And what bit him, precisely? Something with fangs. A big spider? A snake? Um." A snake? It could be a snake, but— God. For your sanity, it really can't be. "You know, don't you?"

"How would I?" She sniffles.

How would she? You have no idea. You're just going with the flow, as they say. "That's a bit of a 'you' question, isn't it? So why don't tell us what you do know, ma'am?"

You didn't expect that to work, but the woman blinks and wipes her eyes. Her voice is surprisingly steady. "Not that much. I was out in that dreadful swamp of yours the other night when I spotted this woman, her breasts out for all the world to see, and she was painted or inked all over with red spirals. I don't remember which. I don't know where she came from, only that she stumbled about in a daze. I was just about to work up my nerve to call to her and help her back to this town of yours, when another voice rang out. Yours. You were dressed differently, but looked the same. You called to the woman, who came near you, and then you took ahold of her and kissed her for a long time. She collapsed, and I know she died, because your dog—" A long look at Jesse. "—found the corpse."

You knew your gooplicate was criminally insane, but that just about seals it. Kissing a woman! A (presumably) unmarried woman— though when you think upon it, married would be worse! An indecent unmarried woman!

"So you didn't see the death of the man out there?" Jesse says.

A canny look passes across the woman's face. "Not his death. But last night, I was so appalled that I went back to the same place. I thought I could catch you, this time. But you weren't there— only that man. He wasn't all painted, like the woman, but he was acting strangely. He was breathing heavy, like he'd run from somewhere. And he kept holding his neck."

"And you didn't help him?" Jesse fidgets with the tassel on his sword.

"Help a strange man? He didn't seem in immediate danger... what was I supposed to do?" The woman sighs. "And then he ended up like that. That's life, isn't it."

Holding his neck? So maybe he got bitten beforehand... and poisoned after, 'orally'? Weird.

"Do you want to know what I think?" the woman says, and continues before anyone can answer. "I think it's that cult." (Jacques snorts again.) "They're doing things to people, and they're turning them loose in your swamp, and you're preying on them when they don't know six ways from Sixsday. That, or you're a part of it, and all this..." She waves her hand around. "...is cult business. Ritual murder. Seems more likely than some cockamamie 'goo' idea."

"...Right," you say. Of course she's a loony. Of course. "Ritual murders. I bet. So—"

"I could take you there," she says suddenly. "Not you, or you'll grab me and kiss me and spit poison in my mouth. I'm not stupid. But you, Mr. Lai..."

"Harrier-Lancepesade to you, ma'am."

"...I could show you. It isn't far... and maybe the murderer hides out around there." A pointed look at you. "Or the cult. Or both. Wouldn't that be a score for you? Two for one."

Jesse has dragged you around the side of the bar. "So?" he hisses.

"So what?"

"It's a lead, Charlie. Do you know how long I've been sitting here, corralling people, while the corpses stack up? And if there is the cult here, that would..." He looks sideways. "...um, that would be a— a score. Yeah. She isn't wrong. I need the captain to treat me like a valued member of the—"

"How does he treat you now?" you ask.

"Like shit! He doesn't trust me." Jesse pinches his forehead. "I should go."

You're not getting it. "So go?"

"Well, yeah, it's just..."

Nevermind. You get it. You're the decision-maker in this partnership, evidently.

>[1] Okay, great! Multitasking! Richard will love that. Jesse will check out the murder camp(?), you can take a look at the rest of the bodies, and you'll meet back up later and swap info.
>[2] Okay, great! He can go, and you'll trail him secretly through the Fen. There's no way you're letting him find a cult without you. [Roll.]
>[3] No... you don't know. Wandering off into the Fen is harrowing on the best days, and that's without a weird woman leading you places. You can make your own leads, thanks much. (What do you do next, instead? Write-in.)
>[4] Write-in.
>Clarify Jesse's phrase about "various poisons". Previously he told us to look for puncture wounds. Does this mean the pattern of being bitten and poisoned holds across all bodies?

>[2] Okay, great! He can go, and you'll trail him secretly through the Fen. There's no way you're letting him find a cult without you. [Roll.]
he'll need us in case this weird woman is in some cult herself

Supporting >>5059458
>[2] + write-in

Cool! I need dice.

>Please roll me 3 1d100s +10 (+10 Earthsense) vs. DC 75 (+10 ???, +15 Depths of Fenpelok) to successfully track Jesse and the woman.

Spend 1 ID for +10 to all rolls? You are at 3/(9) ID.
>[1] Y
>[2] N
Rolled 16 + 10 (1d100 + 10)

Watch THIS!

>Spend 1 ID?
Rolled 21 + 10 (1d100 + 10)


spendy spend. ID is temporary. Success is forever.
Rolled 21 + 10 (1d100 + 10)


>26, 31, 31
>No spendy
Oof, not even close. Writing.
File: jacques.jpg (34 KB, 474x474)
34 KB
>Tail 'em
>26, 31, 31 vs. DC 75 — Failure

"So go," you say again. "What's the issue? Don't get shanked and you'll be fine."

Jesse leans against the bar, jostling some cups. "I said it wasn't stabbings, it's poison. Well, and one strangulation."

"So don't get poisoned or strangled and you'll be..." You pause. "Wait, what about the puncture wounds? Do you think the fanged thing poisoned them, then? Because I'm not sure it did."

"The fanged thing?"

"You know, the— the thing that bit them. With the fangs." You mime fangs, then drop your hands when you see Jesse's look of confusion. "Were the other ones not bitten?"

"No, I didn't... I meant a puncture wound from a needle, or a syringe, or something. Not a snake."

"You think it's a snake?" Damnit.

Jesse blanches. "No, I— I mean, it could be anything, really. Anything... fanged. But no, uh, that's— I think the puncture wound's where she drew blood, right? For disguises. That's how they do it, they need the blood of their victim. I thought it was a poison needle, at first, but the strangled one had it too, so..."

"But no bite marks?"


"Huh." The plot thickens. "Well, thanks for the info, I guess. I'll see you later? Or—" Inspiration has struck. "—you know, I could follow you in, so if you do get shanked I can avenge your untimely death! Or— or save you. Probably save you."

"You'd do that? I mean, I appreciate the backup, Charlie, but..." He touches his neck. "I'm sure you have better things to do than—"

«You do.»

You fold your arms. "Than investigate? I'm following you, and you're gonna like it. Jesse. Am I allowed to call you Jesse? Or is that Harrier-Lancepesade Lai to me?"

"...Jesse's okay, unless you'd rather..." He coughs. "No, that's great. That's great. Sounds like a plan, then. I'll set off with her, you can track us, and if anything goes wrong, then... yeah. Yes. Fantastic. We're set."


Jacques barely looks up when Jesse and the woman slink out the back door. Before you can follow them, though, he whistles and catches your eye. "Stay safe out there, Charlotte."

"Oh," you say. You don't know what to say. "I will."

>[+1 ID: 4/(9) ID]


The day is stretching into afternoon, and the crowd, starved of outrage, is largely returned to those favorite vagrants' hobbies: playing games of dice, throwing pebbles at unlucky crustaceans, laying motionless in the sun, getting into arguments over games of dice. How can Monty believe he's in hell? Unless you're roaming around on your own, and so long as you're not seeking out trouble, the worst torture down here is simple boredom.

«Does this confirm that you're seeking out trouble.»

File: dense forest.jpg (92 KB, 828x512)
92 KB
That's not— he's twisting your words. The simple fact is, you are superior to the average Corcass ruffian, and you aspire to greater things than 'not dying.' You seek out mystery, and adventure, and that is why you're going into the swamp to find a cult. Jesse and the woman are just vanishing into the treeline, and you jog a little bit to keep them in sight. Why didn't you bring any shoes without heels?

«Because you are a midget.»

Okay, A), that's rich, coming from a two (three? two-and-a-half?) foot reptile, and B), that's not even true, seeing as how you're average height. It's hardly your fault that other people are freakishly tall, and they probably suffer health problems from it, besides. Skeletons aren't meant to be stretched like that.

Could Richard make you taller?

«Possibly. It is very low on my list of priorities.»

He has a terrible list of priorities, but you guess you already knew that. Oh well. The Fen is closing in around you: branches choke the sky, roots choke the ground, and vines and slimy algae choke all the space in between. You still hear Jesse, who's keeping up a low conversation with the woman (maybe for your benefit?), but you only see flashes of his doublet once in a while. Maybe it's for the best. If you get caught, you'll really look like a murderer.

You walk.

And walk, and walk. 'It's not far?' Utter GS, unless this woman's sense of direction is worse than yours. Or maybe she's stuck in... looping space? Like how Horse Face says he's stuck in time, or whatever, but instead she just walks and walks places and always ends up back at the start. So that's why she's nutty, and that's why any finite distance, no matter how vast, seems short to her.

«Or she lied.»
«Or you're going in the wrong direction.»

Or, Richard is a killjoy. Or, you can't be going in the wrong direction, because you're just following Jesse. Who's... who's right ahead of...


Damnit! Double-damnit! He was right there, you swear to God, and then you just looked away for a second— a second— and he vanished. This is not your fault. Why didn't Richard inform you?

«This is for the best. We can now return to your scheduled tasks. The Court man can be left to his fate.»

Oh, because he didn't want to. Because of course he didn't. Well— newsflash, you don't even know what your scheduled tasks are, and they're probably boring, so unless Richard would like to walk you back to camp himself you're not going anywhere. And second newsflash, he can't, because you don't even know where you are. Somewhere darkish? The algae's gone all stripey.

But it's fine! All you really need to do is believe you'll find Jesse, and you'll probably run into him. Or his corpse. And you have to hope that something large and toothy doesn't start believing it'll find dinner.

...On second thought, maybe you better exhaust your other options first. Can Richard find him? Richard doesn't want to find him, because he's a jerk. Can you find him? Uh... well, you're not sure how far away he is, but maybe your earth powers could—

«I implore you to stop calling it that.»

Your earth powers could sense his vibrations. Or whatever. You'd use more accurate terminology if Richard would explain how it works, but you're not holding your breath. At least you know how to use them: you just pull off your boots, and your socks, and stand barefoot on the earth, and you press your palms against it, and let your mind wander... down. Down past the roots, through the fine silty soil, through the sludgy clay soil, through the rock chunks, down to rock and rock and rock, so much rock that there can't be anything else, you can't be anything else, and though you can't feel your body you're certain it is slowly calcifying. This comforts you. You would like to be rendered as stone, perfect and unchangeable and unthinking; you would like to be of the earth, which knows you and loves you and drags you into

«This happens every time, Charlotte.»
«Why did I think this was a good idea.»

into, into, um— into his embrace, and your mouth and nose fills with him, and he packs your lungs, and

«And your brain, apparently. This is asinine.»
«Come back up.»

For what? What's up there for you? Your problems? All the people who don't like you? Richard's soft, cuddly demeanor? Alternating days of mortal terror and drudgery? You don't even have the Crown. At least something loves you, down here.

«You are deceiving yourself. 'Projecting.'»
«The Wyrm cannot love.»
«Come back. There are beetles waiting for you.»

Gil doesn't like you.

«And nevertheless he waits. Come.»

You don't know how.

A pause. «Then I will get you.»

There is nothing to see, and you have nothing to see with, so all you have is an abstract sense: that there is a kind of hunt, and a kind of strike, and that you're scooped up in maybe-jaws and brought kicking and gasping back to


You open your eyes.

"Nice shoes. Why are they off?"

...Jesse? But you lost him. But he's there, above you, prodding at his jaw. "Uhhh," you say. "I just... I was communing with the earth. Where'd the loony woman go?"

"Beats me," he says. "She just sort of... left. I like you in this pose, by the way."

On your hands and knees? What? You stand. "Sorry to disappoint, I guess. Did you find the cult? Or the murderer?"

"Afraid not."

Damn. So much for that. "Well, I guess..."

(Choices next.)
File: underground.jpg (67 KB, 700x1003)
67 KB
>[1] You better get back in the swing of things.
>>[A] Head back to town and check out those other bodies.
>>[B] Head back to town and attempt to round up the townsfolk for a mass inspection.
>>[C] Write-in. (You can delegate Jesse, if you want.)

>[2] You better call it a day: after that little incident, you don't need to tempt fate. Head over to the archive Eloise was talking about instead. (Do you want to set up a night watch with Jesse?)

>[3] Write-in.
>[3] Check if this Jesse is the gooplicate. No way would he be this nonchalant about losing the witness who's his chance at being treated like a valued member of the—.
I can back paranoia >>5060301
He was a lot closer to the woman than we were after all, which I imagine would make him harder to ditch, and he's talking kinda weird.

If he's legit,
Backing this.
Good call. Writing.
>Plot twist

"...we better get back in the swing of things, huh?" If you let a little bit of weird magick stuff stop you, you would've shut Richard back up in that box and pitched him out of the attic. "You still haven't shown me the bodies."

"You haven't shown me yours," Jesse says.

"Well, I don't have any, because I haven't been going around and murdering—" You stop. You flush. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me, Charlie." He loosens his collar. "Come on, do you think I haven't noticed the way you look at me? We both want this."

«So you are aware, I am prohibiting this.»
«Attempt to engage in any sort of 'relations' and you will be duly—»

Thanks, Richard, you weren't planning on it: you would never engage with someone so forward. For God's sake, not even a glimmer of courtship. Does he think you're some sort of paid whore? And it's all very strange, too— perhaps Jesse had expressed some 'interests' before now, but never in such an indecorous fashion. (You like that about him.) Maybe the woman hit him over the head?

Jesse has taken your pensive silence as a 'yes' and is advancing on you. And here you pause. Did Richard make you taller?


Well, it's just that Jesse seems shorter than normal. Not that he was ever tall (you also like that about him), but he was taller than a few inches above you, right? So did Richard do it? You were knocked out, he could've—

«No. As previously stated, that is low on my list of priorities.»
«It gets lower every time you mention it.»

Ah. Okay. You push Jesse, gently, away from your face. "Hey... buddy. What if we did a blood test? There is a goo monster running around, after all. Better safe than sorry."

He blinks. "...Sure. Good idea. You can just test my neck, real quick, then we can get back to—"

"Your neck? What, so I sever an artery?" You shake your head. "Give me your hand."

He doesn't give you his hand.

"Jesse? You scared of a little blood?"

Without saying anything, he tears off his glove and drops it to the ground. You draw The Sword. "It'll just take a..."

You're only half-prepared for the lunge: Goo Jesse grabs at your sword hand and grabs his own sword with his free hand. You attempt to pull away, but his nails (sharper than usual?) dig into your wrist, and his sword arcs toward your neck.

>Wat do?! [Everything will need a roll.]

>[A] How do you defend?!
>[1] Yank your wrist down, hard, and watch him stumble.
>[2] Duck!
>[3] Drop suddenly to the ground.
>[4] Angle yourself so his sword will hit the putative scales on your shoulder. (They've hardened by now, presumably.)
>[5] Write-in.

>[B] How do you attack?!
>[1] The classic stomach-stab. It's never failed you.
>[2] The classic neck-gouge. It's also never failed you.
>[3] Who needs The Sword? Ram your head into his stomach and wind him.
>[4] He's wearing a sort of protective doublet, but his legs are unarmored. Sweep him off his feet.
>[5] Write-in.

>[C] Write-in.
>[A] Close in right up to him so he can't swing properly
>[B] Bite him in the neck.
Do this >>5060642

>captcha is g2g4y
Sorry boss this is gonna be my last vote.
>>[A] Close in right up to him so he can't swing properly
>>[B] Bite him in the neck.
Welp. Guess this is it.
Rolled 20, 13, 54, 82, 85, 5 = 259 (6d100)

>Love nibbles
Okay! Honestly, I was prepared to let this one sit until tomorrow, but with all the new votes I can't do that in good conscience. However, I did have other plans for the night, so in order to write right away I'm gonna do the rolls myself.

>Charlotte (defend): 3 1d100s - 5 (-5 Grabbed Onto) vs. DC 57 (+7 Already Close?)
>Charlotte (attack): The DC is so low with all the modifiers (18) that I'm just gonna autopass you here -- good write-in! The neck is a weak point
>???: 3 1d100s - 10 (-10 Not Good With A Sword) vs. DC 58 (-7 Close Quarters, +5 Scales, +10 Bitten!)

>gtg gay
Go out and live your best life, anon. Love is love.
>Defend: 15, 8, 49 vs. DC 57 -- Failure
>Attack: Autosuccess
>???: 72, 75, 0 vs. DC 58 -- Success

Alright! Seems like both of you are landing hits. I think this was the most realistic outcome, honestly: you're already within arms length of the gooplicate (it's holding onto your wrist), and 'closing in' any further would mean dodging directly into its sword thrust... which I guess you'll be doing.
File: images.jpg (10 KB, 226x223)
10 KB
>his sword arcs toward your neck
File: crying cat.jpg (24 KB, 530x365)
24 KB
>mfw when anon calls me out on my tiny retcon
Listen, we all know I don't know squat about combat, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled startling relevations/fever dream soon, bls hold
>I vant to suck your blood
>Defend: 15, 8, 49 vs. DC 57 — Failure
>Attack: Autosuccess
>???: 72, 75, 0 vs. DC 58 — Success

Toward your neck? Toward your... neck.

«Charlotte, <duck>.»

You duck. Maybe. Kind of. Well, okay, you don't duck in the "traditional" sense of ducking, but that's because it's an outmoded concept, "ducking," and you have lept past it, screaming, in a flash, nay, an explosion of brilliance.

Also, you have lept, and there is screaming. Yours, and it's primal fury? Yours, and it's because the sword, no matter how clumsily swung, has bitten through your sleeve and into your forearm? Goo Jesse's, because you are biting his neck?

You don't know and you can't tell because there is blood in your mouth, rancid, bitter blood, and you gag and blink back tears and really don't have the werewithal to process all the screaming. Something hurts, dully, and soon it'll hurt sharply, but you are biting Goo Jesse, and he is flailing and blee...ding.

He's bleeding. That's not right. The very first thing anyone learns about goo is that it doesn't have blood, it can't have blood. But this is clearly blood in your mouth and on your face and trickling onto your neck, so... what exactly are you biting? Is this Jesse after all? It can't be. (His blood tastes better than this.) Is it Jesse's evil identical human twin? Have the Namway people been churning out perverse goo-human hybrids, specifically to confuse you?


Yes, you know there's more important things happening, it's just that you're fairly secure in your position: you've latched onto Goo Jesse like a limpet, and no matter how hard he tries to shake you off he can't dislodge your grip on his shoulders or your legs wrapped around his hips or, for that matter, your teeth. Before Richard brings it up, you will admit that you've gotten more use out of these than you'd ever expected.


Yes. Good. You could be here all day, probably, except for the fact that Goo Jesse has broken into a jog and has begun to ram you repeatedly into a tree. "Ow," you say, around neck. "Ow." "Ow." Your thighs slip. "Ow, shtoph it."

«I would advise a timely change of tactics.»

>[1] Let go of his neck and bite his face.
>[2] Attempt to swing around his back and use his momentum to ram *him* into a tree. Maybe bash his head a few times into the tree if it doesn't take. [Roll.]
>[3] Dislodge yourself and get his neck at swordpoint before he can react. You want an explanation for the bleeding, please? [Roll.]
>[4] He's already staggering around with you on him: attempt to shift your weight such that he collapses under you. [Roll.]
>[5] Write-in.
>[4] He's already staggering around with you on him: attempt to shift your weight such that he collapses under you. [Roll.]
>[3] Dislodge yourself and get his neck at swordpoint before he can react. You want an explanation for the bleeding, please? [Roll.]

Also he is the guy telling everyone we aren't the murderer, so if he's drugged or something then we don't want to kill him.
>Also he is the guy telling everyone we aren't the murderer
He isn't. This is a gooplicate.
Are we certain about that? The whole bleeding thing is weird.

Also I'd rather us not get caught with a dead body that looks just like him with bite marks on his neck and blood all over our face.

I'm quite sure he's not real - the original is a member of the Wind Court and they hang around real fire at points.

The neck blood is weird - I think the gooplicates wised up to the tests and started carrying around blood sacs internally to fool us. Remember at the start he suggested we test his neck, and only after we insisted on his hand did he attack.
>>[4] He's already staggering around with you on him: attempt to shift your weight such that he collapses under you. [Roll.]


>Are we certain about that?
Charlotte seems to be pretty certain:
>Is this Jesse after all? It can't be. (His blood tastes better than this.)
Whether you trust her judgement or not is, of course, up to you.

In any case, I'm calling it for [3]. I won't guarantee an update tonight (got a paper due Tuesday), but I can at least get rolls.

>Please roll me 3 1d100s + 3 (+10 Improved Grip Strength, -5 Ow Ow Ow, -2 Slightly Dislodged) vs. DC 45 (+5 Slippery, -10 AUGHHH) to bowl your gooplicate over.

Spend 1 ID for +10 to the results? You are at 4/(9) ID.
>[1] Y
>[2] N
Rolled 1 + 3 (1d100 + 3)

Rolled 89 + 3 (1d100 + 3)


You suck.
it is our fate
you shoulda rolled a hundred
Rolled 42 + 3 (1d100 + 3)

Here goes something!
>1, 103, 55 vs. DC 45 -- CRITFAIL
I think we're legitimately cursed, guys. Okay. No update until tomorrow, which may be for the best, because I need to think through the consequences of this. Have a nice night!
File: common dental emergency.jpg (183 KB, 1158x1748)
183 KB
183 KB JPG
>Wrestling strats
>1, 103, 55 vs. DC 45 — CRITFAIL

And you would 'advise' that blah blah blah blah blah.


You're sorry, you're a little busy getting bashed against a tree. But okay, sure, you'll just— can you get up on his shoulders? That's bound to— to topple— "OWH!"

Shit! Hell! You thought you were enduring this okay— you'd take a few bruises, maybe, but you were hanging on fine— until this stupid asshole— your TOOTH! That's your own blood in your mouth, now, after he smacked you so hard your vision blackened, and your tooth— you— shit!

«Calm down. This is perfectly fixable.»

Oh, so Richard isn't God, but he can get you a brand new tooth? You can feel it on your tongue, still weirdly pointy, as you slip off the gooplicate: you've gone all woozy. From rage.

>[-2 ID: 2/(9)]

«Yes, I'll get you a brand new tooth. Now focus. This is still an active combat—»

Goo Jesse crouches over you, sporting a mocking grimace. He clutches his neck in one scarlet hand and his sword in the other. "That's more like it, sweetheart."

Your head hurts. Your mouth hurts. Your arm hurts like nothing's never hurt before, except the previous time you got stabbed in the arm. (How is this a regular occurrence?) You spit blood at Goo Jesse.

"What, this one isn't doing it for you? I thought you found him handsome. I think he's a little plain, to be honest, but the heart wants what it wants." He swipes blood off your chin and tastes it. "How's this for you?"

His face warps nastily: his jaw softens, his nose shortens, his scar vanishes. In short order, you're staring up at yourself— mostly yourself. It's still in Jesse's clothes, its neck still bleeds, and it has no bad eye, just a stretch of empty skin where the socket ought to be.

"Ew," you mumble. You think your lip may be swelling.

"No? Not a fan? You have good bone structure, you know. Full lips." Your gooplicate cocks its head. "Shame I have to get rid of you. There can't be two of us."

You mouth foul words at it, but it's pointing Jesse's sword at your chest. Can you catch it by surprise? Roll out of the way before it lunges? Grab its wrist? Bite its wrist? Maybe, but you don't trust your reaction time, not with your vision blurry like this. Can you use your earth powers to... open a sinkhole, or something?

«How many times do I have to reiterate—»

That's not how it works? Okay, can Richard open a sinkhole?


Then how would he know? He's clearly no expert in sinkhole opening. And— and what if the ground you're on is fragile? The bedrock is probably full of holes: put one foot wrong and the earth will cave in, just like that. You know it. You just know it. The earth magyck told you so. It'll happen... now.


If there is anything in particular you would like to see, you can mention it and I'll take it under consideration, not guaranteeing anything though
I wonder what happened to Jesse and the witness.
Or was the witness the gooplicate?
That's not a vote!
Rolled 2 (1d3)

Okay then
Whatever happened probably isn't as important as watching our good name get ruined.

I mean our bad name get further ruined
Calling for [2] and writing on airplane, happy early Thanksgiving folks
File: tortoiseshell knife.jpg (55 KB, 794x340)
55 KB

It comes like an ink spill in reverse, white bleeding through velvet black, red dripping onto pearly white, all of it pooling onto you— this is one stain you can't scrub out. You are in a claustrophobic white nook: a skull, a geode, a marble apse. One of those.

The people here are dressed in red, though the quality of that red varies from handsome scarlet robes to hasty juice-dyed neckerchiefs. (Much of it fits poorly— borrowed?) Their faces are also red, from clay or streaked blood or anticipation. They crouch or prop themselves against the walls. They clutch lucky totems or chunks of sooty chit.

In the center of the nook lies a mound of earth the size of a person lying down. It is fine, loose black earth, free of roots or pebbles or burrow-crabs, and it sparkles slightly: it is crystal-rich. With how clean and white the rest of the nook is, it must have been specially retrieved.

Straddling the mound is a man. You can only see the back of him, but from his rich dress and power stance he must be important. His arms drip with crystal bangles. Perhaps that explains his magnetism: he is more vibrant, more defined, more real than real. Later you'll wonder how he hasn't choked to death on seawater, like every other fool crystal-user. For now, he raises a tortoiseshell-handled knife in the air and says something.

You don't hear anything, and would not understand anything if you did. You watch neutrally as the man crouches down and thrusts the knife into the mound, and perceive neutrally a force taking hold of you, and accept with equanimity the nauseating twisting of your perspective.

You wake atop the mound. Atop it? Or inside it? You are staring at the man straddling the mound: the man in red.

Not a man in red, like most of the crowd. The man in red. Him of your stormy dreams, him of your snake-past, your father's friend: later you'll remember the name 'Henry.' He is older than you remember him, though not as old as he ought to be. You attempt to rise off (out of?) the mound of earth, but it rises with you. Henry speaks, but you don't comprehend: later you will read his bewildered lips from crystal-sharpened memory. "Lottie Fawkins?"

Lacking an inclination to respond, you look down at yourself. You expect a body. You find earth: fine, loose, black, sparkling earth. It is of you, not over or under you, and finally a note of terror shatters your inner silence, and you crumble to pieces.

You fall.

Or you're still falling, rather: you never stopped. Perhaps you never will, you'd say, except you know exactly where you're going, and what you'll be doing there. You are falling under the world, and you will be buried alive there. It is scrawled in the strings of you, written in contract and in tapestry. It is your destiny. The earth wants you.

The note of terror is now a warbling flute solo.

>[1] Sleep here. [+3 ID. Brief timeskip.]
>[2] No! [Wake. Gain MALUS: The Earth Wants You.]
>[1] Sleep here.
We have enough maluses.
>>[1] Sleep here.
>heel sleepy
>heel sleepy
File: cosmic serpentfire.jpg (43 KB, 564x705)
43 KB

You ignore it. You will accept the destiny writ for you. You will sink down and bear the weight of the world on your back. You will taste dirt in your mouth, bitter and metallic and wet like blood. You will be pressed into eternal dreamless sleep. No more problems. No more choices. No more mysteries. No more pain in your mouth or head or neck...

>[+3 ID: 4/(9)]


«No. Nothing is wrong.»

You are a heart, a great big living heart, which is why all of you seems to be throbbing in unison.

«The damage is strictly cosmetic.»
«If the vitals 'dipped,' that was the intended result of a safe and intentional process. What part of that constitutes a 'mishap'—»

Or maybe you are meat, not the bird kind or the fish kind, but one of those hulking slabs of meat they grow God-knows-how, the kind stained candy red, wrinkled like a wet thumb. That's why you're raw and slimy and tenderized.

«Just because she has yet to regain consciousness, that's hardly indicative of anything, much less a— Charlie. Charlie.»
«(I told you so.)»
«Charlie, you stupid bitch, kindly illustrate—»

You open your eyes. You are... somewhere. Somewhere darkish. The sky is a ways above you.

«You are in a hole.»
«You remember holes.»

Yes, you remember— ow. Ow. It's still day, which is some consolation for the fact that you've been beaten all over by hammers.

«You took a fall. You hit your head, among other places.»
«Your duplicate assumed you were dead and left you here. Thanks to my timely intervention.»

What, does he want a thank-you? You don't have any slacks on.

«It also took some of your clothing, presumably for disguise purposes.»

Gee, thanks for the timely intervention, Richard. You spit out a mouthful of blood and dirt and prod at your swollen lip. Your tooth is still gone.

«As it's said, 'I had bigger fish to fry.' You are alive and functional.»
«I suggest you reevaluate your sense of gratitude, firstly, and leave this hole, secondarily.»

And put some slacks on, thirdly? God, your coat's gone, too— at least it left your shirt. Your clothes stolen twice today and it's not even evening.

«Perhaps you will find that Courtier's stolen clothing.»
«But perhaps you will also take this little exercise as a sign that your childish pretensions of 'investigating' lead to nothing but trouble, and you will consequently reevaluate your decision-making process.»

Is he joking?


Really? Because this does nothing but solidify— but solidify your ardor. Yeah! You're not gonna let stupid fake evil you get away with beating you up and leaving you in your skivvies. You're going to— you're going to— ow.

(Choices next.)
>[1] You're going to make Richard juice you up with painkillers, is what you're going to do. You're alive, and functional, and that's— that'll have to be enough.
>>[A] Seek out Jesse. Maybe he's alive and well. Maybe he's bleeding out. Maybe he's dead. You'll either stage a heroic rescue or recieve closure, and you need both.
>>[B] Seek out the gooplicate's hideout— it probably wasn't lying when it claimed it had one. If it isn't there, you can prepare an ambush.
>>[C] Make a beeline back to town. With a better disguise, the gooplicate's probably wasting no time in ruining your excellent reputation— every minute you spend faffing about with Jesse or the hideout is another rumor you'll have to squash.

>[2] You're going to limp back to your tent and lay down for a little while. Not like a coward, just to... to regain your strength. Yeah. You'll re-embark in the evening.

>[3] Write-in.
>Seek out the hideout
Time for a bit of hide and seek.
>Seek out Jesse. Maybe he's alive and well. Maybe he's bleeding out. Maybe he's dead. You'll either stage a heroic rescue or recieve closure, and you need both.
Solely so that we can tell him how dumb he was, of course.
>>>[B] Seek out the gooplicate's hideout— it probably wasn't lying when it claimed it had one. If it isn't there, you can prepare an ambush.

It thinks we're dead, so now is the best time to take it by surprise.


Called for [1B] and writing.

>Solely so that we can tell him how dumb he was, of course.
Of course.
File: sunlight.jpg (65 KB, 564x564)
65 KB

Surely there's something Richard can do to quell this terrible— can you even call it pain, when it's such a full-body experience? It's just your default state of being, now, albeit a deeply unpleasant one. Have you broken bones? All of your bones, possibly?

«You landed badly on your wrist, causing a small fracture. I have already patched it up. You should experience no adverse effects.»
«Otherwise, you have a gash on your forearm, a missing canine tooth, a few scratches, bruising everywhere, and what may be a minor concussion. Largely cosmetic damage.»

But painful. Painful damage. He fixed your wrist but he couldn't fix that? Doesn't he like pills? Isn't he supposed to be making you happy?

«I am supposed to be keeping you alive. You are clearly alive.»
«Moreover, pain is often a useful motivator. Presumably some part of you is now discouraged against repeating this behavior.»

You sit up, wince, and grope around for Richard: he is draped over an outcropping root, and wriggles balefully when you grab him. "Ur ooing ih oh uhpuh?" you snap, and reconsider. He's doing it on purpose? That's— that's— why did he even tell you that!

«It matters little. If you are now aware that recklessness will get you what you deserve, you will now avoid being reckless.»
«I am not your 'coddler'. I will not cater to your every whim, Charlotte Fawkins. This is for your own good, and if you are too stupid to understand, then—»

Then you'll just go ahead and lower your satisfaction rating, won't you? What did you tell that lady with the too-long arms— he was 'very good'? You don't know what you were thinking. You're feeling like a 'very bad.' A 'terrible.' A 'please go ahead and replace this ugly son-of-a—'

Richard's expression doesn't change, as it never does: his eyes remain flat and yellow, his face locked in a snakey grin. And he doesn't say anything. The twinging frustration you're feeling from him, then, must be the product of a deep unconscious bond, or otherwise pure projection.

You'll take it either way.

>[+1 ID: 5/(9)]


It still feels like you've been hit by hammers when you emerge, scrabbling, from the hole, but they're now much tinier hammers. You yank yourself forward onto the broken grass and lie there breathing, staring up at the sky— not really the sky. The ocean's surface. But it looks like the sky, especially this time of day, when the waning sun makes it glitter like a jewelry box. What time is it? 2 PM? 3 PM?

«3:12 and 41 seconds.»

You long ago ceased to question how Richard has a clock. "Gh, Ivh en ouh—" (Okay: lip stopped hurting, lip still swollen.) God, you've been out for a while, haven't you? You could've sworn it was around noon when you headed to town.

«Not as long as that. The trek here took a substantial amount of time.»

File: lottie formal.jpg (91 KB, 564x861)
91 KB
Right. The trek. And now you have to trek... back, alone, with nobody to follow, and when you return there'll be (at best) a load of people who think you're there to murder them or (at worst) a load of people riled up to murder you, if the gooplicate slunk back there wearing your coat and slacks. And Jesse isn't there to calm them down, because Jesse is... dead? Kidnapped? Appealing stuff.

«This is irrelevant. There is nothing you need that place for anymore. Your sole current goal is—»

To fill the Crown, blah blah blah, get out of here, blah blah blah, but you don't have the Crown, Richard, so all his pretensions of 'sole current goal' and 'sticking to the plan' are starting to look a bit hollow, aren't they, like he's just staying with the script because he doesn't have another script, because he doesn't know what to do, so he just repeats the same platitudes and spews the same insults and spins his wheels forever and ever. Like a wind-up bird that keeps hopping after its winder is long gone.

«That is—»

So what you're saying is that you're not going back to town, or camp, you're going to go find— not Jesse. (He could be dead. You don't want to see him dead.) You're going to find the gooplicate's lair, where it plots its evil deeds, and you will either strike it dead or lay in wait. And what's Richard going to do if he doesn't like that, give you a shock? You could be set on fire and it'd tickle, you're on enough... whatever he pumped through you.

«Your dedication to illogic is astounding.»
«You don't know if there is a 'lair.'»

There is a lair, because why wouldn't there be? And it is in the Fen, because where else would it be, and you will find it, because not finding it just wouldn't be right. It wouldn't make any sense.

With this shining fact in mind (and Richard's sullen silence), you set off. It takes about 5 seconds and one poorly-placed rock before you realize that you are not wearing shoes. Or slacks. Richard.



Richard gives in quickly: either you already have him beat or he recognizes the perils that come from trekking in a swamp barefoot. It's the red dress, because of course it is, because Richard hates you and won't spend any time thinking up other articles of clothing.

«The only reason I didn't say that making you taller was at the bottom of my list of priorities is because 'thinking up other articles of clothing' is there.»

Hardy har. You've set off properly this time, no stopping, and you're not going to let some jerk talking scarf get in the way. You do your best to tune Richard out and put the whole of your attention towards the lair, finding the lair, the lair that definitely exists and is easily findable and is not too far away...


The lair that definitely exists is farther away than you were hoping, but you do find it relatively easily, so you'll call it 2 for 3. Or, well, you assume it's a lair. It looks to you like more of a 'hideout,' or maybe a 'temporary shelter': a lean-to made of sticks and fabric (is that from the poncho it was wearing?). There's a big pile of grass inside. Was it sleeping in this? How has it not been eaten?

«It likely doesn't smell human. Goo is unappetizing.»

...Okay, that makes sense. You hate when Richard makes sense. Besides the grass, there's a small stack of manila folders, which are enormously tempting but could be booby-trapped. Or something. Or maybe not, and you'll still look at them, but you'll enjoy your fleeting self-control while you've got it. Behind the lean-to, stuffed in a turtle hole, are Jesse's clothes.

So Jesse (or Jesse's corpse) can't be wearing anything? No, that's not— no. No. No. It's only when you surreptitiously rifle through the bundle and find no undergarments that your rising panic dies down: perhaps he (or his corpse) aren't completely indecent. You wouldn't be able to heroically rescue him if he were completely indecent, that would— it wouldn't be heroic. It'd be horrible and weird. But if it's just shirtlessness, you can handle—

«Kindly tamp down the psychosexual neuroses. There's company.»

You whip around. There is company: a woman is standing half-hidden behind a gnarled cypress on the opposite end of the clearing. The gooplicate! You draw your—

«Possible, but I find it unlikely. Look at her.»

You look. The woman doesn't quite look back: she stares blankly into space, her arms twisted up towards her chest. Something stains her mouth.

«If she continues to do nothing, you should ignore her. No use in kicking the hornet's nest.»
«Of course, you do seem to thrive on getting chased by hornets.»

He's right... you do thrive on that. Hmm.

>[1] Do something or say something to the woman. (What? Write-in.)

>[2] You know, if she wants to talk, she can come over to you. You have an ambush to prep for.
>>[A] Secure a good hiding place and force yourself to pay attention. No distractions, no conversation, just staring straight ahead and listening— you'll be borderline-guaranteed to get a drop on the gooplicate. If only Richard had painkillers for boredom.
>>[B] Secure a good hiding place and force Richard to get started on fixing your injuries. You'll be a little more distracted but a lot less beat up: a good trade, in your book.
>>[C] Go steal the folders and bring them back to your hiding place. Look, they're secret evil documents! You can't not read secret evil documents.
>>[D] Write-in.

>[3] Write-in.
>[2A] Secure a good hiding place and force yourself to pay attention. No distractions, no conversation, just staring straight ahead and listening— you'll be borderline-guaranteed to get a drop on the gooplicate. If only Richard had painkillers for boredom.
The woman seems to be one of those hypnotized victims the witness talked about.
>>>[A] Secure a good hiding place and force yourself to pay attention. No distractions, no conversation, just staring straight ahead and listening— you'll be borderline-guaranteed to get a drop on the gooplicate. If only Richard had painkillers for boredom.
>[2] You know, if she wants to talk, she can come over to you. You have an ambush to prep for.
>>[B] Secure a good hiding place and force Richard to get started on fixing your injuries. You'll be a little more distracted but a lot less beat up: a good trade, in your book.

I bet they use the woman as bait and if we mess with her they'll know something is up
Rolled 50, 23, 62 - 20 = 115 (3d100 - 20)




Called for [2A]. Rolling dice for the gooplicate to detect you: 3 1d100s - 20 (-20 Nothing to Suspect) vs. DC 55 (+10 Nothing Disturbed, -5 Bored to Tears) Regardless of whether it does, you'll still strike first: your attention is undivided. Writing.
Rolled 77 - 20 (1d100 - 20)

File: tree knot.jpg (243 KB, 695x900)
243 KB
243 KB JPG
>Lie in wait
>Gooplicate perception check: 30, 3, 42 vs. DC 55 - Failure

Okay, so maybe you want to go talk to her. Or at least wave a sword in her face. But you are cool, calm, rational, whatever [i]Richard[/i] says of you, and thus you will... not do that. She can come over to you. Yeah.

Instead you'll go and look at those-

«Those folders.»
«And immediately warn the thing that someone has been snooping around.»
«Yes, very wise.»

God! So you'll just have no fun at all.


You should've stuck Richard in the fireplace. You should've fed him to your neighbor's elderly dog. When he told you to jump, early that morning, the sun just cresting over the horizon, you should've pitched him into the ocean and gone back to bed. And now look at you, stuck with him forever and ever, not even allowed to look at mysterious documents. They're [i]right there.[/i]

«You are not stuck with me 'forever and ever.' You are stuck with me until we are able to fulfill our mutual goal, and then I will be happy to be rid of you.»
«It's not my fault you are too busy living in fantasy. It is especially not my fault that you are <blackmailing> me into enabling this.»
«If this is indeed 'forever,' there is nobody to blame but you.»

So what you're hearing is that you can look at the documents later, after you've captured, interrogated, and summarily executed the gooplicate. Yeah?

«Fine. And after that, you will return to-»

After that, you'll play it by ear. You'll go find Jesse, maybe, or you'll go show the cut-off head to the townsfolk and bask in their praise and adulation, and then maybe you'll go make sure Gil hasn't chewed all his nails off, and you can fix him, and-

«It's puerile to throw salt in the wound, Charlotte.»
«Conceal yourself.»

Aye, aye, cap'n. (You can't really smirk with your lip the size of a croquet ball, but you try.) Your hiding place is obvious: a big blue-barked tree overhangs the lean-to, and you don't need to worry about breaking your heel or ripping your slacks because your boots and slacks were stolen. Can Richard sew?

«In what sense.»
«I am capable at weaving, unlike many of my-»

Well, he's probably a better sewer than you, then: if you tear this dress in an embarrassing fashion, it's his responsibility. Alright. You pace around the tree before finding a promising place to start: a large knot. Sticking your left foot in it, you push up with your right...


You've scraped your knees, but you can't feel it: you're more concerned with picking all the leaves out of your hair. Do trees reproduce via leaves? Is that it? Because these leaves, thumb-sized and spiny, seem tailor-made for getting caught in one's hair, and hooked into one's dress, and when they're later shaken out, they could fall to the ground and become new trees...

«Trees have seeds like every other plant.»

How does [i]he[/i] know? He's a snake. Unless your dead father knew and Richard ate all his memories. Or your dead father told you about it and you forgot because he turned into a horrible reptile who won't even let you look at documents.

«Are you attempting to provoke me. It's failing.»
«Focus, Charlotte.»

You're not trying to [i]provoke[/i] him, you're just bored, and your mind wanders to little matters like 'my father did not actually die before I was born, he was alive for at least 14 years of my life, and I can't remember any of those because some snake laid an egg in his brain and it hatched and ate him and then sat in a box, and also that baby snake was Richard, who has been tormenting me for the past 3.5 years' when you're bored.

«That is an inaccurate representation of the snake reproductive process.»
«Moreover, I was under the impression we had moved past this triviality.»

Oh, yeah, you moved on, alright, moved right on past the minor detail of your entire childhood being a lie, because after that you also learned that Richard was entwined in a whole snake conspiracy thing, and Ellery wasn't even the real Ellery, and you were stabbed fatally for a little while, and Horse Face summoned a dumb pagan god, and the dumb pagan god told you you were doomed, and you learned that God was a big snake, and your dad probably worshipped the big snake, and you have God blood, and Jesse thought you were his girlfriend because your evil clone time-traveled, and you got The Sword back, and and Monty was a weird mask person, and you drugged yourself, and Madrigal was turning into a snake, and the Crown got stolen, and Monty strangled you, and Madrigal got kidnapped, and your evil gooplicate has been running around poisoning people. Just those other trivialities. So excuse you if the only time you've had to sit and think long enough is right around now—

«There are so many inaccuracies I hardly know where to begin. You received no confirmation of a 'snake conspiracy.' You are not 'doomed'; that is a insidious lie. The Wyrm is not a 'big snake'. 'God blood' is strictly figurative—»

Can he at least acknowledge that it's not trivial! It's actually very impactful!

«Okay. It is not 'trivial.' It is merely 'unimportant,' or if you prefer 'irrelevant,' or perhaps 'actively distracting from the task at hand.'»
«What has happened has happened.»
«Now continue to keep watch, unless you would prefer me to keep watch for you.»

He doesn't mean that he'll keep an eye out while you brood. He means shunting you into some dusty corner of your mind while he rides you around with bit and bridle.

«Yes. I'm glad we can understand each other so comprehensively.»
«If you would prefer this not to happen, focus.»

You would prefer that not to happen. You focus...


File: the gooplicate.jpg (72 KB, 564x751)
72 KB
...And remain focused when you spy a slight figure stealing towards the lean-to. It isn't the woman from earlier, who vanished long ago and hasn't turned up since. It's someone else clad in... white. A white peacoat. With six black buttons, a bow, and a sliced-open forearm.

You're falling before you know you're falling: did you slip or launch yourself? You're screaming but not screaming real words because you're too busy thinking 'this is going to hurt when I land' and then you remember the painkillers and then you land directly on top of the gooplicate, who collapses like cardboard. Scrambling up, you stomp on one of its twitching hands, pin the other hand behind its back, and put The Sword to its blood-encrusted throat. Only then do you realize that you didn't prepare any witty remarks. "...Ha! Got you!"

For a long moment, the gooplicate doesn't react. You don't recognize the new face it has on, though you feel like you should: it's caked in makeup (or at least goo in the shape of makeup), and its hair is bobbed and garish pink. You've seen dyed hair before, of course, though you thought it exclusive to lowborn modders. Does a gooplicate count as a body-modifier? Depends on how literal you take it, you suppose... you'll have to ask BK. You mean Earl.

"You're dead," it says finally.

"No I'm not," you say, and regret your lack of pre-planning even more. "Um, you're my gooplicate."

"You *bit* me."

"You deserved it... you're my gooplicate!" You push The Sword down. "You've been killing people!"

The gooplicate stares up at you with blue-stained eyes. "I'm your *what?* Do you mean goo dupe? 'Gooplicate' isn't a public-facing-"

"You're my... goo dupe, then!" Right? Surely. "You're going to steal my sword, time-travel back three years, spy on the Wind Court, and seduce Jesse! But you haven't yet. You've just been going around killing people."

"Sweetheart," your gooplicate says politely, "please get your toy off my neck, and kindly keep those teeth in your mouth. What the *shit* are you talking about?"

>[1] You've got your gooplicate(?) captured, at least for the time being. What information do you try to extract from it? What do you do with it? (Write-in.)
Thanks, pal, but I meant that I was rolling dice! I'd prompt you with >Please roll me... if I needed your input. I appreciate the effort, though.
>Ask her what happened to Jesse and where he is.
>Then cut her into parts and drag her to the Court representatives.
>Point out that we only bit after it swung a sword at our neck
>Ask what its goals are - why it's going around impersonating and killing people
>then choppy choppy
>>Point out that we only bit after it swung a sword at our neck
>>Ask what its goals are - why it's going around impersonating and killing people
>>then choppy choppy


Welp. Looks like I'm a grade A retard.

But that doesn't matter-- what matters is that gooplicate is toast!
>Slice and dice
Cool. Called and writing.
Pls no dise we're very bad at those.
>Exert some authority

"You," you say loudly and slowly, as if speaking to a child, "are going to steal my sword... time-travel back three years... spy on the Wind Court... and seduce Jesse... but you haven't yet, because you've been busy. Killing people."

"Heard it the first time, sweetheart, just don't understand a word out of your mouth." The gooplicate's accent is a little like Madrigal's. "You've got the wrong person, I'd imagine."

"Lies!" You stomp on its curled fingers. It doesn't flinch.

"Wish I could help you out, believe me. But, well— I can't! What would I want with a lousy sword? Why in the name of heaven and earth would I /subject/ myself to those moralizing freaks? /Time travel?/ Wrong person, believe me. Now, if you'd like to let me up—"

It's lying. It's lying, probably, but that's fine, because you don't need its confirmation. You know you're right. "Well— okay, but you also killed people! You definitely killed people! You tried to kill /me,/ before I—"

"Before you bit me," the gooplicate says sardonically.

"Yeah? So what?" You definitely should've prepared witty rejoinders before this. Damnit. "You tried to *kill* me, you—!"

"Obviously. There can't be /two/ of us, sweetie, that would just be confusing." It bucks against your grasp, for a second, and when it settles back down it looks like you. "I mean, imagine if someone were watching us right now. Awful."

"Um," you say, "I— you're not getting it. You, tried, to, KILL, me."

The gooplicate makes a very un-you expression. "Yes, and? Oh, I'm sorry. 'Yeah? So what?' That's business. You kill, you get killed. What, are you angling for an apology?"

Are you? "Yes!"

"Okay, well, I'm sorry your cute little panties got in a twist. You'd be less upset about it if I did manage to kill you, I'd imagine."

«It was a mistake to tamp the swelling.»
«This is going precisely nowhere. Kill it already.»

Well, you *will,* you just— "Okay, but you've murdered other people, not just me. What for?"

It shrugs insouciantly. "They got in the way."

"In the way!" And Madrigal calls /you/ a psychopath? "'In the way' is when you shove someone aside, not when you go and poison—"

"What's the difference? My shove's a little more permanent than yours. Really, I can't believe I wasted my whole emergency stock on them... should've saved it for you, sweetie, would've gone much tidier if I did. At least I got—" It is the witness, now. "—this one out of the deal. I like her face."

"Who *is* that?"

"Who's any of them? Feckless fortune-hunters, blown by the currents. They claim cynicism, but they trust quick. Anyone to cling onto in this dreadful empty place. Like you and your boy toy."

File: anatomy of the neck.gif (138 KB, 600x647)
138 KB
138 KB GIF
"Jesse isn't my—" Breathe. "He's *your* boyfriend. *Yours.* Because you, I repeat, time traveled back to seduce him—"

"To seduce /him?/" It is Jesse now. "As I believe I mentioned, he's a little... plain. Not awful-looking, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't go out of my way. Though there's a lot you could do if you were bothered... not a lot of backbone, him. Very pliable. Very... trusting."

Very... you look down at the gooplicate's smirking face before it clicks and you stomp its hand and stomp it and stomp it until it crunches and oozes out of place. Its smirk doesn't budge. "What did you do with him?" you ask calmly, and tense your shaking sword hand.

"Do with him? I killed him. He was a nuisance." It widens Jesse's eyes. "If you want the full story, it's as simple as this. He followed me deep into the woods, and I stopped him, kissed him, and slipped a needle into his neck. His lips were already sticky when I pulled away, and his legs already couldn't support his weight, so he collapsed where he stood. At that moment, every bit of him was melting together into a thick semi-conscious gelatinous substance, free of mineral substances and impurities, and therefore markedly superior to the kind in the ground. This is the high-quality material I, and any sensible person, uses for my face. Now, he lost structural integrity within 15 seconds, but don't worry, sweetheart! I made sure the last thing he saw was y—"

You are stabbing before you can think, before you can breathe (your breath has stuck in your throat), and the heaving motion of your arms is so rote and mechanical that some detached part of you wonders if Richard is controlling them. But Richard is watching disinterestedly from a overhanging branch, and it's you who stabs, it is your bruised shoulderblades aching every time you raise The Sword up over your head, it is the tendons in your wrists flexing every time you bring it down, and it is the gooplicate's tinged-blue blood that sprays forth from its ragged and gaping veins. The gooplicate cannot and should not have blood, but the blood clouds the water around you, and as you gasp for breath you suck a mouthful of it in, and you ((are sickly-sweet, saccharine, like lead, like rat poison, and you)) cough it out immediately— real blood! But you can't stop the motion of your arms and it'd be too late if you wanted to, except you don't want to, how *could* you want to? It killed Jesse. It killed him and didn't care and killed four other people and didn't care either, and you like it kicking and writhing in pain under you. It feels good to mete out justice, even if it is spraying your coat with blood, and your slacks with blood, and your face with blood, and you are quite sure you've cut the windpipe, from the whistling noises it's making, and (some detached part of you wonders if this is how Monty felt when he strangled you, like he wanted it, and you deserved it, and he couldn't stop) you hit something hard. The spine.
File: red ocean.jpg (125 KB, 564x867)
125 KB
125 KB JPG
The spine. The-e-e spine, which, which, ahaha, ha, goo does not have, either. It doesn't have windpipes, or lungs, or veins, or blood, or flesh, or skin, and you have killed (it is lying very still) a person. An actual person. Like Pat, or Lester, or someone with— with goo plastered on them. Ha. Aha. And it still looks like Jesse. She still looks like Jesse.

You drop The Sword, stagger away from the drifting blood, and vomit a little bit.

>[-2 ID: 3/(9)]

Hahaha. Damn. Damn damn damn damn. Damn! You— that— you just— (don't look at it.) And now you're covered in blood— drenched in it— even the parts of you not sprayed with droplets are tinted red from blood vapor. Damn! God-damn! That—

It occurs to you that if the gooplicate dies here it could have never done anything it did. Or will do. Would've done. It never stole The Sword. It never went back and seduced Jesse or spied on the Wind Court or anything. Meaning... meaning what?


Have you caused a— you pause to remember the right term— a paradox? Has the past as you knew it been swapped out for a new one? Has The Sword always been in your possession? Will that wanted poster of you never have existed? If Jesse—

Not Jesse. Damn damn triple-damn. He died for someone he didn't know. Someone he's never even met. Or so it must be. You're not remembering anything different.

«Charlie, that was speculation.»
«The 'time travel.' Pure speculation. A hypothesis to fit the facts.»
«And clearly the facts have changed.»

You don't— you didn't— but you were right. You knew that was true.

«It's hardly my fault you latched onto the thing like a barnacle. I qualified it as soon as I proposed it.»
«As it stands, it appears the most likely scenario is that this 'woman' has nothing to do with you, or with the Courtier. This entire situation is an unhappy coincidence.»

But that would mean that *you* were in Lucky's creased photograph. That was *you* on the wanted poster. *You* deserted the Wind Court. Jesse was *your*— no! No! Impossible!


No, it is impossible, because you would never behave like that, not in a thousand years, and you certainly wouldn't forget an— an— an entire, how long, a year? A year and a half? An entire year and a half of your life, and don't you *dare* say anything, Richard, you still remember your childhood. You just remember it wrong. And you don't— hahaha! The fact is that if it wasn't impossible you would splinter right here. You would. So it is impossible, and you will not hear a word otherwise until you are somewhere quiet and maybe very drunk.


So! So that's sorted. Yup. You killed your evil murder doppelgänger very, very, dead. Now what?

(Choices next.)
(Pick as many [A]s as desired. You are assumed to be taking the gooplicate's documents and Jesse's clothing by default.)

>[A1] Cut something off the gooplicate for proof. (What? Write-in. If it requires any gory sawing, -1 ID.)
>[A2] Drag the entire corpse with you. (Incompatible with [A1].)
>[A3] Clean yourself, somehow. (How? Write-in.)
>[A4] Strip your coat, slacks, and boots off the gooplicate. (Do you wear any of them?)
>[A5] Cry.
>[A6] Write-in.

(Pick one [B].)

>[B1] Make a beeline for those Courtiers at the trailhead, give them the news and your proof, and head straight back home. Your patience is approximately nil at the moment.
>[B2] Make a beeline for Wind Court HQ and give Lucky the full story. If you're prompt and candid, his inevitable suspicions might be eased.
>[B3] You need to calm yourself down and straighten yourself up before diving into the jaws of the shark. Head back home directly.
>[B4] No! You might be running on fumes, but you can't just leave it at this. Search for Jesse. At worst, all you'll receive is... confirmation. [Roll.]
>[B5] Write-in.
Wait, so right now it's looking like Jesse.
We'll want to make it REALLY and IMMEDIATELY clear we didn't kill the real Jesse.

>[A5] Cry.
>[A6]Strip our boots and wear them, leave the rest of the clothes. "Jesse" being in our clothing will at least give the Courtiers a stop before they try to execute us.
>[A3] Clean yourself, somehow. (With the tail of our ruined coat. Rip.)
>[A2] Drag the entire corpse with you.

>[B1] Make a beeline for those Courtiers at the trailhead, give them the news and your proof, and head straight back home. Your patience is approximately nil at the moment.
can we like scoop up all the goo parts
or collect the blue blood
if not A2



dang, Jesse was cool and Duncan is a knob
>can we like scoop up all the goo parts
or collect the blue blood
Blood: no. It hasn't congealed like regular blood does, presumably because of whatever processes the "gooplicate" underwent. It's just liquid.
Goo parts: Yes, but you'd have to manually scrape them off the woman's face or hands or whatnot, which would be gross enough to warrant -1 ID.

>[A5] Cry.
>[A6]Strip our boots and wear them, leave the rest of the clothes. "Jesse" being in our clothing will at least give the Courtiers a stop before they try to execute us.
>[A3] Clean yourself, somehow. (With the tail of our ruined coat. Rip.)
>[A2] Drag the entire corpse with you.

>[B1] Make a beeline for those Courtiers at the trailhead, give them the news and your proof, and head straight back home. Your patience is approximately nil at the moment
Definitely don't wanna lose ID at 3
Whole body it is
Vote will remain open for the next 8 hours or so: I have an early morning flight, which means I have to go to sleep early, but I hope to write on the plane and publish before noon tomorrow.
Called for [A2], [A3], [A5], [A6], and [B1]. Update today sometime, I didn't get a ton of sleep so I may or may not nap on the plane.
Fun update: I left my laptop charger at my house a few states away, so unless I want to write 1000+ words on my phone keyboard I'm a bit screwed. Nothing today and possibly nothing for a while longer (anywhere from a couple days to a week), depending on if I can scrounge up a compatible charger before one is shipped up to me. Sorry, folks.

rip to the charger

see ya space cowboy
Attach your laptop to a kite and fly it in a storm
I'm pretty sure that's how Ben Franklin charged his laptop before cords were invented.
File: 32tisj14j6r61.png (151 KB, 674x537)
151 KB
151 KB PNG

no no no you got it all wrong. Modern problems require modern solutions, and this is the real way to go if you don't want become toast.

>t. genius

Well, you'd be fine with doing nothing, you think. You could sit right down here and put your head on your knees and never move again. Grass could grow over you.

«I don't understand the issue.»
«You performed admirably.»

Oh, you— oh, gee, thanks, Richard. You performed admirably.

«I was not utilizing irony.»
«Despite minor digressions, you carried out the task with minimal fuss and no mortal wounds. My intervention was not required, which is rare.»
«I am not getting my hopes up, but perhaps this bodes well for you.»
«Now stop that.»

You're crying. You didn't use to cry every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, but you didn't use to learn terrible things every single day, either. You didn't stab people through the neck. You had no reason to. Things were normal.

«Things of this order have been the norm for years.»

Have they? Have they really? Because for the past six months all you've been doing is drinking and eavesdropping and loitering around camp, with maybe a side order of poking around in promising caves and ruins-type places. You don't remember getting into fights or getting stabbed or watching people get shot— multiple different people!

«You don't remember.»

Yes, you don't— no! Shut up! You told him you don't want to hear it and you don't want to hear it, you want to sit here and let your gross tears wash away the gross blood spatter and let the grass grow over you, even if you are shaking. You told him that, too. If you cry you'll feel better, and that's why it happens so often.

«You'll feel better if you wipe the blood off your face.»
«Get up, Charlie.»

You don't want to, but he says it in a way impossible to ignore. You rise painfully.

«Yes, well, I couldn't drug you forever.»
«Clean your face.»

You have nothing to clean it with. Your hands are bloody. You're not certain the dress is absorbent, seeing how it's made of nothing. There's your coat, but you won't— you couldn't—

Oh, what the hell! What difference does it make? You've tried your damndest to keep the thing clean for years and years and after all that it comes to nothing. Dirt comes out with scrubbing, but blood doesn't, really, and if that isn't a metaphor— God. You go to the person you killed and wipe your face and hands on your coattails. You pick up The Sword and wipe it too.

«Take your clothing off it.»

No. You can't. You can't, because her face still looks like Jesse, and either her body will look like Jesse's or it won't, and you don't think you'll be able to cope either way. You take your boots and toss Richard's boots into the brush.

«Now cut the—»

File: forest.jpg (84 KB, 828x512)
84 KB
No. You're not cutting off body parts and he can't make you. You'll drag the whole corpse back if you have to, you swear on God. You swear on your mother.

«That's ridiculous. You're an indeterminate distance from the camp, you are tired and injured, and the terrain is uneven.»
«Additionally, bodies are heavy. You may take this from me.»
«Simply finish cutting off the head. You have already mostly completed the job. If that is too much, take a—»

You are stuffing Jesse's discarded clothes under the corpse's coat, for easier carrying. You offer the folders for Richard to carry. Your hands will be full.

«I am not your beast of burden.»

He is, actually. If he's ruined your whole entire life the least he can do is carry something.


Richard, looped around your neck, takes the folders gingerly between his teeth. You pause— you hadn't expected that to work— then return to hoisting the corpse by its legs. It is heavy. Damn.

«You may attempt this until you grow weary of it, and then you will cut off a part of it, like a sensible person.»

Just for that, you won't.

«I'll prepare my 'I told you so.'»


You are no longer crying when you make it out of the Fen, but you are sweaty and leaden and pricked by brambles and your boots are covered in shell shards and snail guts. You were stalked by something gator-sized and horse-toothed for at least an hour, only losing it when you ducked into a saline pool. (Richard helpfully kept the documents above water. Er, well— well, you know.) If your coat was not already ruined, its back is likely shredded to pieces. To say nothing of your slacks.

«Fortunately, you have come into wealth.»

Okay, but you rather liked that coat, actually, and you're uncertain how much shopping you can do with town packed to the gills. Though, you did slay the murderer... can you leverage that into a discount? Maybe free merchandise?

«Not impossible.»
«Alternately, you could improve your sewing skills. The mirror man may know how to remove bloodstains from garments.»

...Ellery? You'd need to spin it in a way where you weren't 'asking' him for 'help.' That would just be embarrassing. Especially after the entire Madrigal situation—


File: molina and hatch.png (1.15 MB, 892x594)
1.15 MB
1.15 MB PNG
Oh, good, it's the two clowns— Hatch and Molina, or Molina and Hatch, whichever is which. The man's the one jogging towards you now, though the woman isn't close behind. "WE ARE EQUIPPED TO ENFORCE THE PEACE, SAFETY, AND NORMALCY OF—"

Several things go through your mind: you are bloody. There is a sword on your hip, also bloody (you could only wipe it so well). You are dragging a corpse. Which looks like Jesse. Damn. Damn damn damn. "Yes!" you yelp, and raise your hands over your head. "Yes, I— I mean no harm! Uh, I killed the—"

"MA'AM, PLEASE STEP ONTO THE— wait." The man surveys you with wide eyes. "Wait, you're the—!" "That's Lai!" the woman breaks in. "On the ground! That's—"

«Talk fast.»

"It really isn't," you say. "I'm the real— I'm Charlotte Fawkins, and, um, I hath vanquished— have slayed— slewn— I killed it. Okay? I killed the gooplicate. With my sword. That's it on the ground right now. It attempted to kill me, and, I— it was self defense. Not that it matters. Because it did kill 5 or 6 people. And I'm bleeding— look at my arm." You raise your wounded forearm. "Blood, right? So I can't be—"

"Jesse's bleeding," the man says dubiously.

"...Um..." God-damnit. "...Yes. But that's... it's a complicated situation. Let me—" You reach for The Sword: the Courtiers reach for theirs. "Um— I'm going to cut the gooplicate. On the cheek."

"Stay your hand, vagrant," the woman says, and draws her own sword. "This is a job for the trained. Molina—"

"On it." The man sidles closer to you, while the woman, Hatch, crouches and nicks the corpse's cheek. It doesn't bleed. It oozes. "Oh, shit."

"I told you," you say.

"Well, I guess that's..." The woman wipes her forehead. "We'll dispose of it. Thank you for coming to the right people."

No thank you for 'stopping the murders,' but that was to be expected from these people. Not an ounce of class in the lot of them, for all their fancy words. "Well, of course, it was only natural for a— a heroine of my caliber to— to be putting a stop to evil."

"It would've been nice to take it alive, but... sure, whatever." The woman's lip is curled. The man is stooping, now. "Hey, what the hell is this? These are his clothes."

Your heart stops. "Uh..."

"They are his clothes. Ma'am—" "Ms. Fawkins—" Their hands are near the swords again.

The truth is all you have, even if it sticks in your throat. "Uh... it got him. It killed him. And it... took his clothes, before it stole mine. I don't know where his body is. I don't know if he... left a body. He was trying to follow a lead... I wasn't with him, so I, um, I didn't see it happen. But it told me. Before I killed it."

File: management.png (312 KB, 416x626)
312 KB
312 KB PNG
"Oh." They stare at you. The woman looks down. "...Two in a month. Schwab bit it, too. This fucking backwater." The man kicks her. "Be more— we'll take his clothes, ma'am. Thank you for informing us."

"Yeah," you say, and then before you can stop yourself: "What are you gonna do with his clothes?"

"Burn them," the man says grimly.

You knew that. You are choosing not to think about how. "Okay. Um, I guess I'll—"

"Ma'am, what are you holding? Real quick. Are those papers?"

What are you holding? Richard had the— but the folders are in your hands, now. The woman is taking them from you. "Are these evidence?" (You don't answer.) "Let me just—"

She flips open the first folder to reveal papers. And that's about all you can say about them: they are papers, with some kind of unreadable text on them: you can see the shapes of the letters, but they're blurred and curved towards the wax seals adhered to each. Every seal is engraved with a spiral.

"Evidence," the woman says firmly, and tucks the folders under her arms. "Thank you. We'll take care of it from here."

You consider fighting. And then you consider going back to your tent and laying down. You leave.


You aren't sure what you were expecting, considering that you did ask him to check in. But somehow, you just weren't picturing Fake Ellery in your tent, cross-legged on your cot, clutching... branches? And Madrigal with— that isn't Madrigal, that's Gil, and he has leaves in his mouth, and— "GET OUT!!" you scream. Ellery drops the branches and hurtles past you; Gil, your blanket bunched between his hands, freezes stiff. "I—" he says, around the leaves.

"Did he touch anything!" you demand.

"...Did he..." His eyes dart.

"Did he touch any of my stuff. I told you to stop him."

"...Oh." (He unstiffens.) "...No, um, he just, um... we talked. Um. I-I-I-I didn't think you were... coming back."

"Why wouldn't I? It's my damn... tent." You pause. He's all hunched and shrunken back against the wall. "...What? Like I died or something?"

Gil doesn't say anything.

"Well, that's just... I wouldn't die. That's stupid." You brush the hair out of your eyes. "You were worried about me dying?"

>[+2 ID: 5/(9)]

"No," he says unconvincingly, "I-I-I just... I mean... it's been a while, and you—"

"Good. Because, I mean, there's nothing to worry about. I'm fine, like usual, and—"

He looks at you. "You're bloody."

"I'm not—" You are bloody. "Okay, well, it's n-"

File: drawquests.png (682 KB, 1055x567)
682 KB
682 KB PNG
None of your business, you meant to say, but the words didn't come out properly. Maybe this is the mild concussion Richard mentioned. Yes, that'd explain it: you are concussed, and that is why you feel the inadvisable urge to tell Gil what happened, and worse, how you feel about it, about how in under a month your whole life has been smashed into little pieces— or into more pieces than it already was. But that's stupid. That's a stupid, self-destructive impulse, and you know it for a fact, because it is none of his business. You hardly even know him, really.

>[1] What do you tell Gil? How much? (Write-in.)
>Vent about everything to Gil. You've heard it's therapeutic to vent.

we should definitely maybe probably have told the wind court that the gooplicate corpse was bleeding because they now have fake blood sacs to fool our tests. oh well, I'm sure they'll figure it out when they autopsy the corpse

also suprise update! good job on the charger location
>>Vent about everything to Gil. You've heard it's therapeutic to vent.
>we should definitely maybe probably have told the wind court that the gooplicate corpse was bleeding because they now have fake blood sacs to fool our tests. oh well, I'm sure they'll figure it out when they autopsy the corpse
To be clear, would you wanted to have mislead them about this? Because

>The spine. The-e-e spine, which, which, ahaha, ha, goo does not have, either. It doesn't have windpipes, or lungs, or veins, or blood, or flesh, or skin, and you have killed (it is lying very still) a person. An actual person. Like Pat, or Lester, or someone with— with goo plastered on them.

It seems to have been a real person, not a gooplicate with blood sacs.

>also suprise update! good job on the charger location
Yeah! My charger is still shipping, but I did find a replacement for the time being. I should be good to update (unless I have to skip a day for unrelated reasons).
>Spill the beans
Called and writing shortly.
File: beetle eaten leaf.jpg (247 KB, 1100x618)
247 KB
247 KB JPG
>Emotional vulnerability???

Yes. What were you thinking? You feel better for being sensible. "It's none of your business," you complete. "What's with the leaves?"

"..." Gil extracts the leaves from his mouth and shoves them out of reach. "I-I-It's just a stupid... it doesn't matter. Sorry."

You stab The Sword into the ground and fold your arms. Your forearm stings. "I was asking, though."

There's a long pause. "...Yeah. Um, i-it really isn't— I-I-I know it's not normal to— to— I just— I wanted them. But not even like I wanted them, like I— I— I don't have any control over... I-I'll stop it. Sorry."

He looks like you're about to slap him, or something. Is it the blood? Are you scowling? You didn't mean to be scowling. "Gee, I was just asking. I don't care unless you... vomit leaves everywhere, or something."

"I-I can digest—" He touches his throat. "Uh, nevermind. I-i-i-ignore me— you should just ignore me in general, i-it'd be better for— for all of us. You and me."

«This is a riveting conversation.»

"And Richard," you say. "But I'm not ignoring you, I'm asking you. You're eating those? Also, what kind of stomach does Madrigal have? She doesn't eat leaves. I think. I wouldn't know, I guess."

"I-it's not her eating them, though," Gil says, and blanches. (You raise your eyebrows encouragingly.) "Aw, look, I-I just... here."

He snatches the leaves back up and stiltedly, as if by gunpoint, pushes them into his open mouth. You expect him to start gnawing away, but he never does: he just keeps pushing them by the stem, past his uvula and down his throat. He doesn't gag. After the leaves have vanished, he avoids your gaze and assumes a look of deep concentration.

"If you have to vomit," you say, "do it outs—"

Rather suddenly, he begins to gasp and hack, and you waver between helping (but how?) and not helping (cruel?) up until he extracts the stem of the leaves and sets it on the cot. A webbing of sad green leaf-shreds still clings to it.

«Cute party trick.»
«Now may we move along to—»

"Richard says that'd be a cute— a fun party trick," you say suddenly. "Um... you ate that."

"Yes," Gil says miserably.

"What does it taste like?" What's gotten into you? By all rights you should be kicking him out of your tent and collapsing into dizzy sleep. But maybe you've hit that fabled second wind, or—

"Leaves. I-I-It doesn't taste any different— I-I mean, I assume, I didn't eat a lot of leaves. It just," (he's practically spitting his words) "feels good. Because I'm fucked in the head now."

You walk over to the foot of the cot and collapse onto it. "At least it's just leaves. Lots of things eat leaves."

"People don't." He's talking in his real voice, not Madrigal's. You just noticed.

"Well, it could be garbage— I thought that was what beetles were supposed to eat, garbage. I feel like garbage, or I... felt, anyhow. But it'll probably come back."

"What?" Gil says. (And you're with him. Why can't you think before you speak?) "Um... I-I mean, you are beat up. I-I'd feel like shit too. No offense."

"Well, I'm not—"

You're not beat up, you were going to say, but that's a lie: you're beat up by any objective measure and every subjective measure you can think of. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's living proof of your— your battles with evil, or whatever. So why deny it? What's the point, except as reflex? And also, you were thinking: Gil is your retainer, isn't he? You swore him in and everything. So isn't it sort of his job to sit there and listen to you? To be your loyal confidante and witness and secret-keeper? You're almost certain that's how it worked in the novels. (Though sometimes the hero confided instead to his horse, an idea that always puzzled you. Wouldn't the horse be more likely to bite his head off? Gil is considerably safer.)

«That is nonsensical. As you mentioned, you have known this 'man' for under a week.»
«If you have the inexplicable need to verbally express your thoughts, I am available, and unlike the beetles I am legitimately and literally bound to you.»

Okay, that's nonsensical. Talk to Richard? You may as well chat with a firing squad. Gil is nonthreatening: he'd rather chew his own fingers off than insult you, you think. Not that there's anything to insult you for. But just in case.

«You are not to talk to him, Charlotte.»
«Tell him to leave and go to sleep. I need to fix these bruises.»

But why? Not the bruises part. Why can't you talk to Gil? It's not like he's going to leak any secrets— he doesn't even know anyone to leak to. And he can't afford to get pissed at you, either: you're all he has. He was worried about you dying. Nobody is ever worried about you.

«I'm always worried about you.»

He's annoyed about you, not worried about you. That's different. And he's not a real person, he's a snake, while Gil is... beetles, but he's a real person made of beetles, and that's different. You may as well talk to him. Why not?

«You will not.»

That's not an answer. "Richard doesn't want me to tell you why I'm beat up," you say loudly.

«What. No.»

"You can't see him, probably, but he's right with us, and he's telling me not to talk to you. Which is stupid, because you haven't even done anything. If I start convulsing or foaming at the mouth or I don't recognize you suddenly, he probably did something to me so I'd stop talking."


Gil is pressed back against the wall. "...You mean the guy i-in the suit?"

"Yes, but he's not actually a guy. Did he tell you that?"

"...I-it was kind of implied..."

File: gil - @cal1us.png (65 KB, 700x878)
65 KB
"Okay, well, he isn't." You sit up. "And he said he wouldn't relieve my pain earlier because it'd teach me a lesson. Can you believe that? This was after I fell down a hole and got a 'mild concussion.' And I hallucinated about a lot of people wearing red. Also after I got my whole tooth knocked out. Did I show you that?"

"No," Gil is forced to admit, so you show him your missing tooth. "I'll have a new one soon, soon as Richard bothers to fix it—"

«Stop this immediately.»

Gil rubs his eye. "Is that him?"


"There." He points directly to Richard, who flinches. "There's... um, I-I-I feel like something's there. I-I don't know what, except it's... small, because I can look everywhere else, but I-I-I can't look right at it, and I've been trying... um. But if it's not, then—"

«See. This is the trouble you have gotten yourself into.»

"That's him!" you say gleefully, because— because you're not crazy, not that you honestly thought you were, it's just one of those nasty thoughts that comes by now and again: what if Richard didn't exist? What if you were doing all this to yourself? But he exists and Gil can (not) see him, and you're mentally as stable as a 5-legged chair.

«I have never implied differently.»

That's the clever part of the delusion, see? But it's besides the point. "That's him," you repeat, "that's my— what did he tell you he was?"

Gil hesitates. "Your advisor."

"Okay, um, I guess that's... correct, factually, but... okay, that's all besides the point. I'm beat up because— well, see, a week or two ago I found this facility—"


It takes a good half hour to get through the whole story, including the necessary context. It's impossible to tell if Gil was genuinely riveted or just too anxious to interject, but you'll assume it's the former. Especially when you reenacted both fight scenes, which— who wouldn't be riveted? You wouldn't want to know them.

>[+2 ID: 7/(9)]

"So," Gil says finally. "...You lost your memory?"

Your heart drops. "What? I never said that."

"You said— you said you thought that guy claimed to know you because he actually knew your... clone. But it wasn't your clone, you said. I-it was some woman. So that was you, then, right?"

"No," you say, "No, that's— I mean— there's probably another explanation, I just haven't found it yet. If I do more detectiving, then I'll—"

"I was just gonna say that... that's a real shit hand to be dealt, Lottie. Not that I-I-I wouldn't want to forget..." He looks away. "But you probably weren't... in a house. You were probably out having a life, and stuff, and now you just can't— yeah. I-I'm sorry."

You want desperately to say other things, like 'stop talking about this,' and 'didn't you just hear me say there's clearly another explanation,' but all you can manage is a small "Oh."

«Okay. I have tolerated this for long enough. I have expressed extraordinary patience and strength of will in not intervening.»
«So here I am. Stop talking. Stop wasting time. Either sleep, or—»

Hold on. Don't you have to fix Gil? (The other Gil?) Like, soon? Like, today?

«I did not consent to this.»

He definitely consented to this, it just wasn't the boring mean killjoy version of him, so it still counts. Maybe you should go do that, and save the day (again), and also avoid hearing anybody talk about anything you don't want to know.

«There are things that need to be discussed. You're right.»
«That is a tolerable alternative to sleep.»
«Make a decision.»

>For options [1], [2], and [3], please indicate if you're dragging (current) Gil with you to the manse.

>[1] Discuss the Thing That Should Not Be Discussed. Sober.
>[2] Discuss the Thing That Should Not Be Discussed. Intoxicated.
>[3] Rescue Gil! What are you waiting for! (Except that you don't know how you're going to, or if you can, and you're probably going to be crying again in 20 minutes. But that's a problem for 20-minutes-later you.)
>[4] It's still only early evening— you can sneak in a catnap and still have time to deal with Gil, you're sure of it. And, frankly, this emotional high is going to wear off any minute, and if you're asleep you can avoid the inevitable and tragic crash.
>[4] Write-in.
>You stab The Sword into the ground
This ruins the edge
You barbarian
>[3] Rescue Gil! What are you waiting for! (Except that you don't know how you're going to, or if you can, and you're probably going to be crying again in 20 minutes. But that's a problem for 20-minutes-later you.)
>>For options [1], [2], and [3], please indicate if you're dragging (current) Gil with you to the manse.

When I gave the trait "Good With A Sword," it meant "Good At Swinging A Sword Around," not "good at sword care" or "good at common sense." The Sword will be fine... probably... it's already perpetually on fire, which I'm sure can't be good for it. also vote bls
>Drag Gil to the manse
Dammit, my IP changed.
>>5071319 is me, even though I have no way to prove it.
Are you also >>5071370? Because otherwise you haven't properly voted yet.
Yep, that's me as well.
Oh damn, I thought those were more advanced faking techniques along with the blood sac. Guess we're accidently a murderer.


Praying that being at 7 ID means we won't mess Gil up even worse
>>[3] Rescue Gil! What are you waiting for! (Except that you don't know how you're going to, or if you can, and you're probably going to be crying again in 20 minutes. But that's a problem for 20-minutes-later you.)
No update, busy day. I'll be back tomorrow.

Gotcha. Dynamic IPs are a bitch.

>Oh damn, I thought those were more advanced faking techniques along with the blood sac. Guess we're accidently a murderer.
I'd normally be more ambiguous, but I've already strung you guys along with the "gooplicate" thing for nearly a year, so... yes, it's a person, no faking. She's also dropped hints about who she was... maybe check the "Mysteries" section of the to-do list :^)

>For options [1], [2], and [3], please indicate if you're dragging (current) Gil with you to the manse.

a charlotte-clone?also someone nominated monty for the husbando tourn. Personally I'd have nominated Richard, but then there's that corporeality thing he's got going on.

Drag Gil to the manse
>first spoiler
A Charlotte clone (ie a gooplicate) is what you've assumed it's been this whole time. Having stabbed it and discovered it has squidgy human bits, it's becoming apparent that it wasn't actually your clone: it was someone human or human-ish shapeshifting limitedly (neck not included, doesn't change height, it can't mimic your "empty" eye socket) to look like you. It remains unclear who, why, or how, though I have in fact dropped hints, one of which is under the "Mysteries" section.

>second spoiler
Technically, nobody's been officially nominated yet: that was a hypothetical list. I'd be flattered if Monty or Richard (or Ellery or Gil or whoever) was nominated when the real thing comes around, though, so maybe keep an eye out if you want me to post Husbando Lore in the tourney thread :^) I don't think corporeality should be a concern... I'd be more worried about the fact that Richard's a fairly loathsome and thoroughly undatable individual. Don't actually let this stop you, though, I think it'd be funny.
I thought the "gooplicate" was Pat, but she didn't seem to hate us enough to be her
If it were Pat, it almost certainly would've referenced Madrigal's kidnapping, seeing as how that happened just a few hours previous. Pat probably would've also mentioned something about all the murders back then, if only to rub it in your face.

What you said is correct, too.
Whoops, forgot to indicate yes I would like to drag Gil everywhere regardless of his feelings on the matter
This plox
We saved Gil against everyone else's express instructions. He's ours as much as we're his, and we are straight up all he's got. It's disappointing he trusted "Serial murder for secret reasons" Ellery against our wishes, but we believe he can do better next time.
>Drag Gil everywhere regardless of his feelings on the matter
Seems unanimous. Writing.

>It's disappointing he trusted "Serial murder for secret reasons" Ellery
In fairness, that was a different Ellery and this is a different Gil.
And we saved him because it seemed horrible to be beetles, and not so he could serve us. It's just, we kinda did a lot for him, sort of expected he should be our first retainer. But if he wants to spit on all our efforts, he's free to leave at any time. So follow us and let's go.

Is Gil our emotional support animal?
Nothing can ameliorate our disappointment. Gil, come on dude. What the hell we specifically requested you not do this.
>Is Gil our emotional support animal?
I think you're Gil's emotional support animal.

Technically, you only asked Gil to make sure Ellery didn't touch anything, you didn't say anything about not talking to him. It's totally in character for Charlotte to ignore/conveniently forget what she actually said, though, I'm just nitpicking.
File: beetles.jpg (123 KB, 427x640)
123 KB
123 KB JPG
>Save the day

(You just need the good Richard back. The one it's actually possible to reason with. The one that'll— okay, maybe he won't leap at helping you rescue Gil, but he'll acquiesce.) DECISION MADE. You will DISCUSS THINGS. ...INSIDE THE MANSE.

«Why are you thinking like that.»

Because you are just THAT ENTHUSIASTIC to ENTER THE MANSE. Also you think that GIL SHOULD COME WITH YOU.

«Why. It's none of his concern.»

Well, because— because God knows what he could get up to, unsupervised. He could invite Ellery back in. He could vomit leaves all over your furniture. He could tell Ellery about Richard and about how Richard tells you what to do and say all the time and punishes you if you don't go along with it.

«I don't issue 'punishments.' That's melodramatic. It is corrective encouragements.»

Okay, maybe Gil will just have to go into detail about what he does to you, and then—

«It is a simple matter to sedate the beetles, or to remove ourselves to a private location. That will be done.»
«You will convince him to leave this body. Forcing him is outside my capabilities.»

Easy enough. "Um, Gil— Gil. How do you feel about going back..." You wave a hand at your forehead. "Not forever, just for a few hours. And, um, you could be back in your... you wouldn't have to be a woman."

Gil doesn't look at you, but he nods.

"Okay. Cool." You are unreasonably pleased about how that was easy, actually. "So if you could just, um, leave her, and come on over, then..."

He nods again, digs his fingers into your cot, and assumes a look of concentration. A minute of silence passes, until he screws up his face, opens his mouth, and pulls a squirming green beetle off his tongue.

Where's the rest, you almost say, then beetles begin to flood out of him like rats off a sinking ship. Not knowing what else to do, you scoop them off him, and they vanish in your hands— but Richard doesn't say something like 'look at that, you've killed him,' so you keep scooping until there's no beetles left and Madrigal's body folds in on itself limply.

«Now for you.»

It's almost routine at this point: shove Madrigal off the cot, lie back, feel yourself grow stolid and heavy as lead. Richard has dispensed with the formality of coaxing you and instead reels you into yourself bit by bit, piece by piece. It's like sleep if sleep came in jerks and starts. It is less terrifying than it sounds: you know Richard won't let go of you. If there's one thing he's good for, it's that.


You're not sure what's more abhorrent: Richard swanning around in a dressing gown, or Gil steadfastly refusing to use his body. The one you built for him, with your own blood, sweat, and suspicious drug usage. "Why! What's the— how is that better. Tell me. Explain it to me."

If you had to assign a shape to Gil, you'd say his back's arched like a cat's. But only if. Frankly, it's hard to see much of anything in an undifferentiated swarm of beetles, which is maybe why you hate it so much. You don't like talking to something without a face. "Um," Gil says, "um, i-i-i-it's not that it's better, I just..."

"You're just— do you know how long that took me?" You point accusingly to the Gil-body propped on the nearby settee. "You realize I made that because you begged me? You were all 'oh, Lottie, it's so awful and terrible to be beetles, I'd do anything to not be beetles,' and then I graciously—"

He's clumped himself together. "Yes! Yes, I-I-I-I... yes, and it's not that I'm not, um— I-I am grateful, I just— I think I was wrong."

"Wrong," you say.

"Yeah. I-I-I thought I hated the beetles, but I think I just hated being... stuck in there, and stuck like this, um, forever. But now I-I have a choice, and—"

"So you prefer not being a normal person."

"..." Gil sounds wounded when he finally speaks. "I-I'm just... I'm used to this. That's all. When I-I-I need thumbs, I'll—"

"Okay, girls, break it up." Richard claps his hands on your shoulders. "Charlie, it's just a body, they're much the same regardless. Beetles, if you don't want to live in hell, I recommend making Charlie happy. Yes?"

You shove him off you: he turns his stumble into a graceful collapse onto Gil's settee. "Like you follow your own advice," you snap. "What's with the outfit? It looks stupid."

No more stupid than anything else he wears, really, but that doesn't sound as good. Richard is unruffled regardless. "I seem to recall you suggesting something about new articles of clothing?"

"For— for me!"

"Yes, well, I don't care about clothing for you. Until I am you, and then— well, where did you think that dress came from? There's a simple solution here."

Possessing you. "Very funny. Where's Gil? Not—" You wave away the beetle swarm. "The other one, the..."

"The one who, under your negligent watch, was fatally shot? Quite."

Your heart plummets. "Fatally?"

"Or near enough. Apologies for not checking recently, I've been a bit occupied. 'He' is in a shoebox with air holes. Why do you ask?"

"Um..." He'll acquiesce. You know it. "...I was going to save him. Remember? You drew that whole diagram, and you said the issue was that the connect-y bits of Gil were broken, and you said it was too hard for you to fix... so I said I'd fix him. And you said that was dumb and dangerous but you still let me, cause you knew I'd do it anyhow."

You were expecting a lot of expressions from Richard, but not bafflement. "I let you do what?"

"Uh... I mean, I haven't saved him yet, actually. So you're going to let me do it. Do..." The expression hasn't changed. "...do you not remember this?"

"Er—" Richard wipes his face. "The diagram, yes. Everything else, ah— listen, Charlie, it's hardly my fault my chronology isn't bound at the hip with yours. Some finagling is bound to occur. I'll take care of it later. But... I suppose I must've agreed for good reason, yes."

"Maybe you knew it'd work," you say brightly.

"Or perhaps I wished to avoid breaking about 50 regulations, Charlie, I wouldn't read into it. Regardless—" He laces his fingers. "—I can hardly dissent at this late stage. Or early, as it were. How exactly do you propose to 'save' the thing?"

"Um, I-I-I'd like to know that too." Gil's voice comes from the settee: he is human and uncomfortable-looking. He rubs his nose. "And please don't call me a thing..."

"I didn't call you a thing— you're fully sapient, unlike Charlie here." (You bare your teeth. He smirks.) "Sorry, I meant unlike... let's call it Gil #2, shall we. At best, it's you shredded into such tiny, uncommunicative pieces that it's hardly a person. At worst, it's sixteen beetles devoid of consciousness. In both cases it's an 'it' and a thing, at least until Charlotte fixes everything instantly and without further trial."

"I didn't say that," you mumble. "I know it's gonna be difficult, or whatever."

"Then your proposal is...?"

That's a good question. "Um, I guess I'll have to go into his mind, or whatever, and... symbolically fix it— I mean, that'd work, right? That's how all of it works."

"Whether that would work is irrelevant, it's—"

"My mind?" Gil breaks in. "You can't— no. Shit no. That's, I-I-I-I mean— that's—"

"Extraordinarily difficult, yes. Manses are one thing. Manses are designed from the ground up to be accessible and comprehensible to others. To reach into an entire mind—"

"You do it," you say. "To me."

Richard cups his head with his hands. "Yes, but I have... equipment, and moreover I'm highly experienced and rather above-average in skill, and moreover you are human. These are two entirely different—"

"But I must do it," you say. "Or you wouldn't've—"

"Don't pretend you know what you're talking about, Charlotte, it's a poor look on you. There's no such thing as a 'must.' And unless you can think of a legitimate method—" He pauses dead.

"What?" you say, to no response. "...What?"

"Oh, you won't like this." He smiles crookedly. "But it'll hardly matter. If you want so badly to 'rescue' a handful of insects, it's hardly my prerogative to stop you... only to supervise. And rest assured I will be quite intently supervising. So if you'd like to—"

"Excuse me," Gil breaks in again. He's standing. "Excuse me, um, I-I-I-I don't want anybody in my goddamn head. It's my head, not some— some shit zero-security drag-and-drop, okay? I-I-It's not for— for shitty tours, it's not for browsing, it— that's me! How do I know you're not gonna fuck me up? How do I know you're not gonna go look at all my, my, my shit? How would you like it if I went in your head—"

"You'd have to share space with Richard," you say acidly. "And he's territorial."

"I am." Richard splays his arms over the back of the settee. "But really, Charlie, answer his questions. This is your little game. Then we'll get on with it."

>[A] How do you assuage some of Gil's concerns? Or at least browbeat him into not voicing them any longer? (Write-in.)

>[B1] Go with Richard's idea. Whatever it is. (-2 ID.)
>[B2] You don't need *Richard.* You can come up with something yourself. Honestly. (Write-in for your idea OPTIONAL— if no write-in is provided, this will take a [Roll.])
>[A] and [B2] What if we have Gil to enter the beetles' mind and fix it? There won't be concerns about strangers, and he has some degree of expertise in mind... stuff.

"Okay," you say, "if you're so worried, why don't you do it? That way I won't know any of your stupid dumb dark secrets, and I can sit back and relax while you toil away at--"

Gil opens his mouth.

"That would be suicide," Richard says flatly. "He'd be incorporated into it into a heartbeat and then he'd be degenerating like the rest. And we'd have no method of keeping track of him, much less fishing him out if things got too hot."

Gil closes his mouth.

"Oh." You cross your arms. "But you could fish me out, right?"

"Yes, Charlie, if you maintain appropriate precautions. I'm bound to you. I'm not bound to him, and before you suggest anything, I can't be."

(Gil mumbles something like 'that's good.')

"I didn't suggest anything," you grouse. "But okay, whatever, it was just an idea. I guess I'll have to do it, out of the goodness of my heart, as usual."
>[B2] You don't need *Richard.* You can come up with something yourself. Honestly. (Write-in for your idea OPTIONAL— if no write-in is provided, this will take a [Roll.])

People are just a type of narrative they tell themselves they identify with, anyways so we just gotta figure out how the beetles don't fit together and then reference real Gil to make up the gaps.

Like in Jurassic park with the frog dna, except we're using stories and "In this situation, Gil, how would you X" and then telling the beetles the same story of who they were until they are similar enough to be squooshed together.

Like, beetle A is song fro 0:20 - 0:45, B is 1:17 - 1:¥₩÷€'hfh corrupt file, etc, we just fill in the parts they're all missing with Gil's interptetation of the events we remember for them and whappow swish bang we have a Gil-ish identity.

And Gil doesn't get a choice, because these beetles are also Gil and he can't abandon himself and especially not the self that followed us into danger and got hurt for us and we are saving him or burning this whole fucking world to the ground.
>>[A] and [B2] What if we have Gil to enter the beetles' mind and fix it? There won't be concerns about strangers, and he has some degree of expertise in mind... stuff.
Please refer to >>5073668 (hint: it's a veto of that vote).
This is me, sorry.
Wait, can we "cover" Gil like how Richard takes over us, so that he doesn't get assimilated? Like, it would be Gil but actually US sneaking in wearing a Gil-ly suit?
Uh... are you asking if you can possess Gil? I'm not gonna outright say that you can't, but I don't think he'd be comfortable with that. Also, if it's you going in either way, what would be the purpose?
I dunno. I guess we'll do our best to not look at anything we don't need to, and maybe Richard can amnesia us after we come out?

Go in and look for stuff that looks torn apart and try to pull it together? I dunno, >>5073863
sounds pretty good too.
No, Gil would be going in. But we would be piloting him. Lile how when Richard pilots Charlie he "is Charlie" for certain given magnitudes of attitude.
And we would act as an insulator so that Gil doesn't get merge dead with the beetle fragments.

Or we can try >>5073863 first.
Resistor. I meam resistor. Merge the fragments slpwly, or filtered throigh Charlie's perception so Gil gets memories but not direct experiences.
These are the only valid votes, as I'm vetoing >>5073330 and >>5073886, so called for all of the above. May throw in some guilt tripping per >>5073148 >>5073192 >>5073194 because I didn't have the chance to last update (Gil was too accepting).


Oh, okay, so you mean the other way around: Gil possessing or "wearing" you. (Some of your wording was a little confusing.) This is more feasible logistically, but I still think Gil would be pretty freaked out by the prospect-- it might need a roll to convince him. Because you offered a very good alternative here >>5073863 which wouldn't need a roll, I'm gonna go with that.

As a side note:
>Lile how when Richard pilots Charlie he "is Charlie" for certain given magnitudes of attitude.
You're nearly there with this analogy, but it isn't 1:1-- I'd argue that Richard isn't Charlotte when he's in her body, any more than he's her father (Martin) while in her head. There's influence, yes, but he works very hard to preserve a distinct identity: if he ever gets to the point where he "is Charlotte" or "is Martin," that's a dangerous thing and a sign he needs to get out of that situation.

No, what I think you're actually referencing is the concept of a "mindset," the kind of all-encompassing point of view Charlotte's mainly experienced via the Yellow-Eyed Thing (RIP). In Threads 12 and 14, she "wears" it around her (like the 'insulator' you're mentioning), gets her whole worldview filtered through it, and consequently "becomes" it, even though nothing externally changes. Having Charlotte do this for Gil (or vice versa) is a very cool concept, and I'd love to write it, so please keep it in your back pocket and write it in another time-- I just think there's better options at this moment.
File: handy diagram.png (852 KB, 2314x1064)
852 KB
852 KB PNG
jk when I said "writing" I really meant "drawing a visual of various possession-like phenomena in Drowned Quest Redux"

Making a valid vote to support this like a boss
File: gil - @hugaduck.jpg (639 KB, 957x1500)
639 KB
639 KB JPG
>I won't look at your dark secrets Gil (crosses fingers behind back)
>Continued from >>5073668

"The goodness of your heart," Gil says neutrally— but it isn't really neutral, is it? It's a pointed judgement sheathed inside a statement.

You wheel upon him. "Yes! The goodness of my heart! I'm sorry, is that— is that implausible to you? That I'd want to do things for the sake of righteousness, and, and justice? Have I been cruel to you, Gil?"

"...I-I-It's not that—"

You grip The Sword. "Have I been cruel to you."


"Okay! I didn't think so. In fact, I kind of thought I've been overwhelmingly generous to you, considering that I personally rescued you from a burning-down house, when I was told not to, and I swore you into my service, which is a very high honor, and I made that entire body for you, and I strangled Ellery for you, and I let you have Madrigal's—"

"Yes! I-I-I-I know!" Gil balls his fists. "And i-i-i-it's weird! Nobody sane does that much for a perfect goddamn stranger, not for— there's no such thing as a 'goodness of your heart.' Or a goodness of anyone's heart! Either you're not sane, which, you know, I'd believe, or you have a motive."

"A... motive," you say.

"Yes! You and—" He gestures broadly at Richard. "I-I-I-I don't know what the shit you want me for— no. That's a lie. You want to study me."

Meaning Richard, who crosses one leg over the other. "And?" he drawls. "Consider yourself fortunate you're interesting. Most of you lot—"

You shoot him a look. Gil straightens his shoulders. "See? But you, Lottie, I-I-I-I can't wrap my head around... what's the point? Where's the motive? Unless you just want somebody to own."

>[-1 ID: 6/(9)]

"That's wrong," you say stiffly.

"Then what?"

Then what? "Out of the goodness of my heart. I said."


"It's not... GS. You were suffering. It seemed awful."

Gil locks his fingers together. "I-i-it was, but— that's why you did it in the first place. I-I-I get that. But i-it doesn't explain the other... you strangled a guy for someone you don't know! If you're not goddamn psychotic, then you want something in return. From me. That's how i-i-it works."

You glance at Richard, who offers no advice. "...Why do you think I want to own you? Gil. What have I done that—"

"The moment I-I-I-I got here, you swore me into fucking slavery!"

"Slavery? I didn't—" You've never seen Gil like this, all wild-eyed and bristling. To tell the truth, it frightens you a little. "You can leave, when you— when you got a real body. I can't stop you. You think retainership is slavery?"

"I-I'd say it was servitude, but you're not fucking paying me, are you?"

Richard makes a noise, which you process after a few seconds as a laugh. You fold your arms. "Payment's got nothing to do with it. You're just— you're wrong. You're totally wrong, and— and stupid. If I wanted a servant, I would've said a servant, okay? Do you even know what a retainer is?"

Gil closes his eyes. "...No."

"It's not a servant. Servants are people who do the dishes. A retainer is a devoted follower, a... companion, who, yes, does serve the hero, but not by force or for vulgar profit, but out of— of deep, unswerving loyalty and admiration. And the hero earns this loyalty by being noble, and just, and... self-sacrificing, and she always looks out for his safety and well-being. And this bond sustains the two of them through every trial that lies ahead, which they face boldly and gladly."

"..." Something comes across Gil: his face collapses in on itself like an ill-leavened cake, not that you have experience, and he collapses with it. (Richard, at this point covering most of the settee, twitches away only a little.) He covers his mouth but still manages to stammer through his hand. "I-I-I-I-I-I-I... I, um... sorry."

"Well, now you know," you say. He doesn't need to know how much of that was directly quoted.

"Sorry. Sorry." It's a worry stone for him, not a word. "Sorry. I-I—I— sorry."

"Um, it's okay." You're not sure how much of this was a result of you and how much was just the natural and inevitable fizzling of his bravado: you knew it couldn't be a sustainable state. Maybe he knew, too, and that's why he had to get it all out at once. "But... that's why I have to save you. You went into danger for me, and you tried your best, even if you don't normally do, um, danger. You held up your end of the bargain. And I failed you. So I have to... un-fail you. It's not about looking at your mind, or whatever, I don't even care about that. It's just what I have to do."

"Sorry," Gil says more plaintively.

"Damnit, stop— are you even listening to me? Look me in the eyes. Eye." You wait: he lifts his head. "Good! So hear me. I don't care about your stupid dark secrets or your stupid dark past or whatever the hell you're all worried about. I'm not gonna go looking for them. I'm doing this to save you, because those beetles are you, and— and Richard can make me forget about all the stuff I see if I do see it, okay? Right? Richard?"

Richard is momentarily stunned. "Er... er, uh, yes. Though you'll have to sign a consent form in triplicate so I don't... yes. That's feasible."

"See?" You put your hands on your hips. "So there. Look me in the eyes and tell me you don't want to be rescued from the horrible agony you're probably in."

"I— I just—" He's breathing like he ran the 100-yard dash. "I-I-I just—"

"Richard—" you say, but Richard has already stood and is already pushing a shoebox into your hands. Air holes are poked in the top. He tilts his head and retreats: you carry the shoebox gently over to Gil. "Gil."
"Please," he says.

"Gil, it's you." You open the shoebox: inside are beetles, ordinary beetles, perhaps a tad more lethargic than usual. If you didn't know about them, you wouldn't pay them another glance. Since you do know, they're unsettling, but they don't provoke in you what they provoke in Gil: he cries out wordlessly and shoves himself back, wedging himself as deeply as the corner of the settee will allow. "St-" he tries, and closes his mouth. "Stop."

"Close the box, Charlie, don't kill the man." Richard.

You close the box. Gil remains in his corner. "I-I-I-I-I— shit! Shit. That's me."


"That's me. I could..." He draws in a shuddering breath. "You have to fix it. I-I-I-I-I don't give a shit how, just— that's me. You have to."

"I will," you say decisively. "It'll be easy."

"Well, I wouldn't go that far." Still Richard. "But I suppose there's worse things than optimism. Come over here, Charlie, and let's exercise my little idea."


"No? I'm not going to bite you. I haven't the teeth for it." He bares his human smile.

"No, because I have a better idea." Do you strictly have a better idea? No, but if you say it, it's bound to come. "So sit there and... witness."

Dragging an empty armchair away from the settee, you sit down in it and open the shoebox. The beetles remain beetles, circumspect and shiny. Does anything Gilish about them remain? You place your hand in the box: indifferently, they clamber over it. You pick one up: it waggles helplessly. You put it down.

You wouldn't be able to manage if they weren't Gil, so you decide they must be. These are Gil, the Gil you spoke to and fought with and let get shot, exactly as alive and real and Gil as the Gil on the settee, only he doesn't know it. That's the actual issue, here, not whatever GS Richard spouted: these beetles don't know they're Gil anymore, so there's nothing keeping them together. There's no cohering narrative. No... story.

"Gil?" you say. "Come over here."

A moment later, Gil is there. "...Yeah?"

"Tell me about yourself. But not like a boring list of facts, like a— I mean, if someone was writing a book about you. Like that."

"Um..." Gil crimps up his lips. "I-I-I-I-I don't know if I'm a good... storyteller."

"GS. You told a whole fake story to Monty, didn't you? So tell me a real story." You pause. "Um, it's important, it's not just for fun."

"...Right. Um." He straightens. "Give me a— a minute."

>Gil tells you about...

>[1] His first big sale, back on the Pillar.
>[2] His drowning.
>[3] The early weeks of being beetles. Before he knew how.
>[4] Playing cards with Richard.
>[5] Write-in. (Subject to veto.)
>[1] His first big sale, back on the Pillar.
May as well start happy
>[1] His first big sale, back on the Pillar.
> these options

My write in has turned out way better than I ever could have expected.

All the options. In order. I *crave* Gil backstory
Also it's great how committed and genuinely motivated by being good, heroic, noble etc like in fairytales Charlotte is. It's ridiculous, but she has totally ended up like one of the classic heroic archetypes. Lots if blood and being a shitty human and terrible mistakes mixed up with everything heroic.

I think this is now my favourite quest since Moloch's Forbidden Gods or something, the one where the MC loses an eye.
>>[1] His first big sale, back on the Pillar.

Called and writing.

>My write in has turned out way better than I ever could have expected.
Hearing this kind of stuff makes my day. I'm glad to hear it.

>All the options. In order. I *crave* Gil backstory
All in due time, anon, I just need something to start off with.

>Charlotte and heroism
Yeah! I think the key thing about Charlotte is that... well, it basically got summed up in this Thread 14 exchange.

>"I try my level best to be a proper hero, a- a heroine, and— what was the point!"
>}}}You are not a very good heroine.}}}
>}}}…But you are not supposed to be a heroine at all. You even making an attempt, no matter how foolhardy or ineffectual, is… impressive.}}}

She's a terrible, insufferable person, which makes sense, because just about every factor in her life has conspired to make her terrible and insufferable. But despite that, and despite the only positive role models in her life that she can remember being shlocky overwrought fantasy protagonists, she's still clawing up that insurmountable hill towards "heroism" or "goodness." Is she succeeding? Unclear. Is she frequently backsliding? Yes. But nobody can say she doesn't put in the effort.

>I think this is now my favourite quest since Moloch's Forbidden Gods or something, the one where the MC loses an eye.
>the one where the MC loses an eye
I sense a pattern :^) No, but seriously, thank you. I'm extremely flattered, and I hope I can sustain that high esteem!
Ugh, sorry guys-- maybe it's because I pulled a 4 AM bedtime last night, or maybe it's because there's a lot of moving parts to the update, but it's not working out for me. Will return tomorrow with greater motivation and an improved sleep schedule and see how it goes.
>the one where the MC loses an eye

This was actually also a joke because Moloch's quests had characters get wounded and lose an eye more than once.

Although it did also happen in BCQ. Hrm. Maybe I do have a type. Those quests also dealt with the MC experiencing character growth where they struggled with what supernatural abilities did to them and what they were willing to sacrifice for their goals.
> they do it for free

Man, the quest is fun when the QM enjoys and wants to run it. Don't feel obligated to push something out just to get it out.
I wonder where Moloch is now. I miss his quests.
>This was actually also a joke because Moloch's quests had characters get wounded and lose an eye more than once.
Kek, shows what I know. I've never actually read a Moloch quest, though I think I opened up the first thread of Heavenly Child and bounced off it who knows how long ago.

>Those quests also dealt with the MC experiencing character growth where they struggled with what supernatural abilities did to them and what they were willing to sacrifice for their goals.
Based. BCQ is definitely an influence on Drowned, and not just its dice system.

>Man, the quest is fun when the QM enjoys and wants to run it.
I do, trust me (and I've been looking forward to this segment in particular). Sometimes the words just don't come, yeah?

>Don't feel obligated to push something out just to get it out.
Gonna have to politely disagree with you here, though. Taking a day off every now and again is one thing, but I'm of the firm belief that I am in fact obligated to you guys to see Redux through, or at least to put a hard stop to things if I genuinely can't continue. (No danger of that so far.) Quests that update once a week don't finish, quests that have threads twice a year don't finish, and if I sat around waiting for "divine inspiration to strike" or whatever for every update then that's the schedule we'd have.

Please don't take this to mean that I'm gritting my teeth and forcing myself through every update: I have a real love and passion for this quest (and for writing in general, when I can actually do it). But because I have such a passion, and because I want to see it through, I do have to "push something out just to get it out" on occasion. That's just how the medium works.
>Deep lore?

A long pause. You can't see him, but you assume Gil's fidgeting: pulling at his collar, or twisting and untwisting his hands, or some such. "...Um, anything about myself? Because I-I'm not very interesting— I didn't use to be, um, very interesting. But you already know about... all that."

"If you're not very interesting, tell an uninteresting story, then. Doesn't matter. I just need—" You wave your hands in a circle. "—you know, you."

"...I-I-I-I'm just a guy, though, I haven't..." Gil takes a deep breath. "Could you please be more specific?"

God, he's ruining the mood. "It doesn't matter, but okay, sure. Tell me about you before you got here, then. Before you drowned."

"Before I—" His voice seizes up. "Um, that really i-i-i-isn't— I didn't do anything. I-I-I was normal. A normal kid."

God! "You jumped off or got thrown off. Which?"

"...Um, thrown."


"...I-i-it's not like I shot a guy... um, bribery, but i-i-it was trumped-up gullshit, really, not an actual—"

The boxed-up beetles seem more active than they used to be. "Really! And who did you bribe, Gil?"

"Nobody! I-i-i-it doesn't... can we talk about something else? Let's talk about something else. I-I-I sold shit, you know."

You attempt to picture Gil selling something, and it kind of works until you imagine him opening his mouth. "You?"

"Well, um, i-it was more of a family... a family business. Um, and I-I had a big family— three brothers and a sister. You know."

You attempt to picture having siblings and fail completely. "Isn't having more than one child illegal? How do you feed them?"

"Um... hydroponics? I-i-i-it's not illegal where I'm from... was from. Um, anyway, I-I-I actually didn't do much of the selling. Um, personally. I-I swept the floor a lot, and I fixed things..."

The beetles are definitely more active: they're attempting to clamber up the sides of the shoebox. (You flick them back down.) Can they hear Gil speaking? Is something resonating inside them? "Keep going," you say. "Why'd you say you sold stuff, then?"

"Well... i-i-it's kind of complicated. It wasn't a— we didn't own a store, exactly, i-i-it was a salvage yard. For flotsam, it used to be, then there... stopped being flotsam, so now we just take broken things. Shit nobody wants. And we strip it for parts, and... resell it. When I got a little older, I-I did most of the stripping, me and Alfie... my brother," he finishes lamely. "The middle one. I-I-I liked that a lot better than sweeping, because I could steal parts easier... um."

"Uh-huh." You're paying more attention to the beetles, or at least to their shoebox: is it a trick of the light, or is it sagging? Was it always sagging? It's sturdy card-board, a handful of beetles aren't heavy enough to— no, they are. In your palm they feel like ballast. When did that happen?

File: richard (more evil).png (736 KB, 1020x966)
736 KB
736 KB PNG
"I-I-I mean, it wasn't stealing... they belonged to the salvage yard, and I worked for the salvage yard, so... yeah. I-I-I-I'd take them— that's what I meant to say— I-I'd take the spare parts and build little things with them. Nothing i-impressive, or worth the... I-I-I-I don't know why I thought it was cool, really, I just..."

Yes, it's definitely sagging, but the stranger thing is that it isn't even sagging like card-board: it looks more like stretched rubber, all thin and translucent at the bottom. Like you could pop it and it'd burst.

"...Um, anyway, my pops died when I-I-I was 16, so the finances kind of went to us... not me, I was the youngest, but, um, that's when I found out we were in the red. Pretty deep. Turns out people don't want real parts anymore, not when they're pumping out the fake shit for cut-rate prices... they don't give a damn if it's not made of anything. Or i-i-i-i-if it vanishes in six months. Because they can just buy another."

If you were listening, you might've detected the obvious bitterness in Gil's voice. You weren't— you were prodding at the bottom of the box. A finger won't bend it. The Sword doesn't even break the surface. "What the hell," you mumble. "Why won't you..."


>[+1 ID: 7/(9)]


The box tears in two, and the beetles slide through it; your skin splits in two, and you slip out of it, and you and they are falling through darkness, wet and slimy and thick, and you form the hasty conclusion that you will be falling forever, that there is no end to this, and you begin to make your peace with that before you are caught by the collar of your coat.

Something is standing on the wall. Richard is standing on the wall, you would say, but it resembles Richard only superficially: it is lankier and pointier and its eyes are a charmless yellow. The Thing! you think, and wriggle, but it doesn't let you go.

"You thought you could get away with this without a safety lecture, Charlie?" it says tetchily.

"Uh..." you say, because it sounds like Richard in voice and inflection.

"Consider yourself unfortunate I'm quick on the draw, then. Before you ask, yes, you are out there with your face in a shoebox, and Beetles is highly concerned. You're such an inconsiderate person, Charlie, really."


"I'm sorry, were you expecting someone else?" Richard swings you onto the wall, where you stand easily. "Now, as I mentioned, this will be—"

"You look different," you interject. "Um... eviller."

"Do I? Hm." Richard prods his face. "I suppose this is how he visualizes me, then. How flattering. I do like the coat, actually, I may—"


"Beetles. Your stray." You stare balefully; Richard snorts. "Gil, then. This is his mind, or very near to it... you're still in the interim. Take this and don't lose it."

He's offering you a key. It's small, iron, and unadorned except for a weird groove around the bow. It seems familiar. "What for?" you say.

"It hardly matters what for. Just take it." He forces it into your palm and closes your fingers around it. "Now take this cord, and I'll tie it around you."

"As a leash?" you mutter, but Richard is already tying it around your waist.

"Not a leash, a precaution. Listen carefully, Charlotte: this isn't a manse. A manse, at least in its purest form, is a place. It is tidy, bounded, static, and navigable. It has geography and landmarks; it exists in space and time, and the emphasis there is on 'exists'. It is not real, but it exists. Just like me. Yes?"

"Just like those knots you're using," you say. (You're almost certain you saw the cord pass through itself.)

Richard's eyes crinkle. "Possibly. In any case, contrast that with a mind, which is not a place in the slightest. It isn't even a thing. At best, it's the vaporous, ineffable product of the interplay of a billion laws, woven so tightly and so intricately that it'd take millennia to begin to unpick them unassisted. You cannot see a mind, you cannot walk around in a mind, you cannot navigate a mind because a mind does not exist."

"Are you tying me up so I won't run away from your stupid lectures? Don't answer that." You brush your hair from your eyes. "If it doesn't exist, where the hell am I going?"

"Strictly speaking, nowhere: if I used prepositions of movement, that was for your convenience. More accurate terminology would be... I'm not sure how to translate, frankly. You're mingling. You're becoming interwoven. It doesn't matter. The point of all this is that you cannot go in there and hope to be a passive observer— it's impossible. If you hope to comprehend anything, you must interpret it into a..." He grasps for the word.

"A story," you say.

"...A kind of narrative, yes. A chain of patterns. You must impose sense on it, or you'll drown in it. Alternately, you can concede defeat, and I'll drag you out." He yanks on the cord for emphasis. "I may drag you out regardless if you concede defeat. I know you'd let your pride kill you."

You scoff. "You won't need to, but thanks, Richard. Remind me why you're letting me do this?"

"Because you'd do it without my permission and never make it back. Don't argue." He tightens the final knot. "You'll be able to hear me like usual, but I'd expect interference. Don't lose that key. That's all I have to tell you."

"...Bye, then?"

"Not goodbye, as, again, you're not going anywhere. But..." He hesitates. "...good fortune to you. Don't make this difficult for me."

Cord in hand, Richard pushes you lightly off the wall. You teeter and sink, bodiless, back into the darkness.


It's less that you land somewhere, or emerge from something, and more that you are made slowly aware that it Is Not Dark. Which isn't to say that it's bright, or that there's a light source: your senses are disconnected entirely from the Not Darkness. It is simply known.

In a similar fashion, you are made aware that BOX·¥¸©BOXB¥¥OFACEX® 1BOX §.¶FACE>?¸¥NOTD¥RK3¯FwAC©©E¥aBEET¦LE BEETLE¨ME¨BEE¨ME¨ TLEBEET¬NOTDA®K¸LE±ME©ME §ME¡?, and that D3A§RKDªRKDA©RK DARK¥¥21k¡¡¨GODPL£¤¥¡PLEGqODASE GOD FU1¡¯CkK HELP¡! HEL©¥P1PLEAseSEGODIS IS ISAN¥¥Y1ONE¡©©ISIS±FUCISKiaasISANYON¬DARK©¥E¶¶¶ THERE©¯¯¯©E«INTERPRET, CHARLOTTE FAWKINS, IF I WENT TO ALL THAT TROUBLE FOR THIS—»»»» and you you you are not expressing these things. They are being imparted on you. They are not yours. You are—

You are Charlotte Fawkins, and you are— you are somewhere with a box, and beetles. A box with beetles in. Somewhere NOT¯D©¥ARK not dark, because there is light from something. Not the sun. (You hate the sun.) The moon? The stars? It is night, it is dark and not dark, and Gil is here. He couldn't be screaming at you if he wasn't.

And thus it is thus, if only barely: everything's disquietingly indistinct, unless you focus hard on it, and you have to amend the imagery to add a ground and your body. But the point— the point is Gil, who lies crumpled a ways before you. You tuck the box under your arm (ignore the fact that it passes through the arm) and run (as if through treacle) toward him: when you get there he is rotting. Beetles clamber around his exposed ribcage, nibble at his deadened flesh, burrow in and out of the grotesque wound on his forehead. His eyes are open, green, and stare directly at you.

They blink.

>[-1 ID: 6/(9)]

Meaning he's alive, and meaning he's alive. Oh God! You show him the beetle box. "It's— it's— I brought you— you! You can—"

«««Don't be ridiculous. Neither the beetles or that body are him. All of this is.»»»
«««You need to track the damage to its source before dreaming of patching it all back up.»»»


«««It's almost like I told you this would be difficult.»»»
«««I also tend to prefer avoiding the 'being shot in the head' in the first place, rather than attempting to fix the enormous damage caused.»»»
«««...But memories tend to be stabler. They come with more visual information, too.»»»

Oh, thanks, Richard! Because you know so many of Gil's mem...ories. Hmm.

>[1] (OPTIONAL) If you have any kind of plan or ideas about how to proceed, put them here! (Write-in.) If you don't, no big deal, this is in lieu of a [TBC] because it's 3 AM and I'm getting up at 9— will continue regardless tomorrow
You did good, write-in anon. You did good.

>Find something out of the memories of Gil's childhood in the shop. Probably his tinkering, he seemed to really like it. Or the moment he found out they were in the red - that should've been traumatic and thus well-remembered.
Best plan would be to try locating the memories he just told us about and start from there, right?

Maybe if we stick to happy memories when putting him back together he'll be a little happier overall when we're done.
These are both good. We can look at the items he was proud of building, experience some trauma which I'm sure will be horrible then run back to making stuff. Did he ever make a self insert Super Gil?

Also instead of finding out they were in the red, maybe we can examine the death of his father and his relationship with his dad. Seems a little repressed from the story.
Good stuff. Probably not gonna fit all this into the next update, but I'll certainly keep it in mind going forward.


late vote to support all these.
Still writing, just a side note that the actual Husbando Tourney nomination call is up in the QTG and I'll be delivering sweet character lore and/or illustrations if someone from Redux gets in. You know... coincidentally.

Okay, it's possible you know one thing. (You were just testing yourself.) Easy! Easy. Um. How does Richard look at your memories? You know he does— don't say he doesn't.

«««Firstly, it isn't a matter of 'looking.' Memories are not 'displayed in a theater' or 'hung in a gallery.' That is an offensively human outlook.»»»
«««On the deepest level, they are a tactile thing. Above that, they are neither seen nor felt. They are information. Much of that information is visual, but you would not call a description of a photograph a photograph, Charlotte.»»»

On one hand, it's sort of reassuring to have Richard here, exactly the same as ever, if a bit more crackly. On the other hand, this is actively unhelpful. Anti-helpful. Would Richard like to explain how he 'accesses' this 'information'?

«««I have equipment that aids in the processing. But much of it is instinctual. It requires no special effort.»»»
«««I have spent... a long time in your mind.»»»

Great! Thanks for the practical advice— though you're not sure what you were expecting, really, from a stupid snake. 'Offensively human outlook.' 'A kind of narrative. A chain of patterns.' It's a story, damnit, you are telling a story, and so's Gil! He is too. Maybe everyone is. The problem with him isn't some stupid metaphysics thing, it's that getting shot blew his lie of coherency into little bits, and it is a lie: a load of beetles is not a real Gil any more than a stupid mouthy snake is your real father, the only difference is that one tells himself he is and one does not. The beetles tell themselves that they are Gil, that they are 25 years old and not 6 months, that they really were alive and real and had a mother and a dead father and an unholy number of siblings and a failing business, and as long as they tell this story (this lie) the universe believes them...

«««This is baseless conjecture. In contrast, my hypothesis is empirically supported, which I would gladly demonstrate were you not too small-minded to understand.»»»
«««Moreover, you have lost the plot. I do intend the pun. Look.»»»

You cannot look, because you have no eyes, because your imaginary body and the imaginary Gil and the imaginary nighttime have dissolved, and you are nowhere and knowing ¬¨WH©i0 IO¥SThHe¡?RE WHO±WH¤FUC5K¡O¦WH0 ªM¨I-I-_I¯iI¿YOU¿i? Y©UtF'UC>¸K¥WH® W£O±WHO¡¡ARE¨ME¨I-I-I¸¸I ,I i ..¤i .1. ..¤HEL¶¤ and knowing that Y©UyY O¥¶ you are— you ar¸e— you, God, focus! Are Charlotte Fawkins. You are Charlotte Fawkins, that's your story and you're sticking to it, and if Gil can't remember who he is enough to be it surely you can remember it for him. You know he spent time tinkering around with parts, and if you reach a little you can guess at why: it provided solace from a hectic home life, a semblance of power and control and accomplishment (to make something from nothing), a distraction from the fact he had nobody else to do things with, or who wanted to do things with him. Perhaps you're just picturing yourself picking away at a model. Perhaps. But it's a good enough basis, anyhow, to be a small teen-ager and lonely and sunk in a petty hobby, and if you make some slight substitutions it's like you're remembering a different life from your own.

«««You are walking a dangerous line.»»»

And Richard can shut right up, because he didn't exist back then, back... now, in this room knocked together from siding and plywood. You are shoved into the corner, back to the wall, knees to your chest, and all the choice bits you've pinched are laid in front of you, screws and sprockets and dongles and springs, and you know how to put them together. You knew. You did know, until the bugs came from the walls and the floor, and now you don't know a damn—


God! You're— you're not in the corner at all, you can't be, you haven't got a body. Yes. Gil's the one in the corner, or a Gil, at least, mop-headed and scrawny and perched despondently over a jumble of parts and a scattering of fist-sized beetles. He seems paralyzed, which— which isn't right. You didn't add that in. That isn't right at all.

>[1] But you could be in that corner, couldn't you? This is your memory. And if you tried, if you let yourself know which side of a wrench was up, and what the actual hell a 'sprocket' is, you could unstick this situation easy. Richard wouldn't like it, but—
>[2] But you can be a part of this, can't you? Not assuming the guise of Gil, but of someone else who makes sense: his only sister, maybe. Maybe you'd scare him less.
>[3] But you can intervene, can't you? You can picture your own body and step in and talk to him. He can't be older than 16, really, just a big kid, and you... you don't know. You like kids, you think.
>[4] Observe.
>[5] Write-in. (Anything in particular you'd like to actually do?)
>[4] Observe.

We gotta pick the right time to intervene.

Maybe it's like the tree falling in the forest, it needs an observer to make a sound otherwise it's just a bunch of stuff being stuff in a slightly different configuration. OOC, since I dunno if Charlie knows this, but sound after all is just a type of movement of molecules and if we were all deaf it wouldn't exist as sound even with the movement occurring.

Yes, if a tree falls in the woods and no-one hears it there is no "sound".
>[5] Weave the story further. The bugs came to remind Gil how to do things. They've got his memories right here, he only needs to make them his own again.
>[4] Observe.
Haste makes waste!
>>[4] Observe.
Bad news, folks: 1) I have a fever and 2) I have finals starting on Saturday. In light of these two obstacles, I'm going to postpone this update until at least next Tuesday (when finals are over) and possibly longer, depending on how sick I continue to feel. While we're certainly in a fever dream-ish portion of the quest, I would prefer this not to be literal.

This is subject to change if I have to go into quarantine and get really bored. Apologies for all the delays this thread. And before you ask, yes, I am vaxxed :^(

Feel better. And good luck with your finals!
get well soon!!
time to traumatize kid Gil

good luck with exams!
ask bill gates to beam the right answers into your head through the vaccine microchips
>Have Charlotte grow a longer clitoral hood causing her to have difficulty cumming during sex

dumb bitch deserves it
File: a45.jpg (58 KB, 1000x1024)
58 KB
>1 post by this ID
Someone's positively fuming about Gil being selected over PrInCe. You have to be some next-level asshurt to directly go into the contestant's quest and do this. But seethe harder, you rotten faggot. Your salty tears are delicious.

based Gil. based beetles. may the best husbando win
no i just hate women
Thanks, guys. Good news: my powerful immune system immediately defeated whatever the hell I came down with, so I'm feeling much better. Bad news: finals are still barreling towards me, so update remains postponed. I may or may not start it up in a new thread, since we're closing in on 30 days and I like to keep things relatively self-contained.

I don't particularly expect Gil to make it past Round 1, but I appreciate your fighting spirit! My thanks to whoever nominated him.
No problem. Sadly shitposting resulted in a fucking namefag re-doing the vote.

Fffffffucking namefags (Although IndonesianGentleman (least rapey SE Asian) is pretty okay as far as namefags go)
File: a1c.jpg (61 KB, 625x625)
61 KB

9/10 I'm guessing the tipping point for TournamentMaster was due to the stink (avjCLFT8) and their merry band of VPN-wielding, discord trannies put up over Prince (literally who?) and some self-insert fanfic MCs not getting the vote. Haven't read any of IG's stuff myself but he's hella based for picking up the tournament.

Moreover, I really hope it's the contestants duking it out with dice rolls and fisticuffs instead of votes--let Gil have the limelight and beat the crap out of muh-oldfag-quest MCs.

But what are you supposed to do about it? You don't know anything about building things, at least things that aren't made of clay and artfully balanced toothpicks. You aren't supposed to be in this time or this place. What if interfering makes everything worse? What if you break him for good? Or burn yourself into his memory permanently, so he knows exactly what you've seen and done?

No. Better to watch and... be careful, or whatever. Wait until opportunity knocks. ('Opportunity knocks.' You like the sound of that. You should use it more.)

«««Pardon me.»»»
«««Am I dreaming.»»»
«««Are you dreaming.»»»
«««Did we get terribly mixed-up, and the real Charlotte Fawkins was the one repeatedly stabbed through the throat.»»»

No, what? No, you're— you're fine, except for the whole thing about being presently disembod...ied. He's joking. Ha ha. Funny. You know, if he wants you to be more cautious, he should really be praising you for this.

«For what, for not taking the first available chance to barrel into the unknown.»
«You are a pinnacle of wisdom and good sense, Charlotte. I awaken every day considering myself fortunate to be in your vicinity.»

Thank you. Now, you are here, you are watching, you are being cautious (as you often are: Richard is grossly exaggerating)... yes. Young Gil, Gil-in-miniature, crouches over the jumble of parts. He is working his face ritualistically, as if the right sort of grimace will resummon what he's missing. It can't. Nothing he does can. But he doesn't know that he's been shot, does he?

Well, he comes to some kind of conclusion, because he finally moves, grabbing his wrench and hesitating before beginning to bash it into his forehead, over and over, maybe hoping force will do what concentration can't— but all he's getting for his trouble is a stone-sized welt, and eventually he lurches to his feet and issues a muted yell and flings the wrench across the room. And the wood of the wall must be rotten, because it cracks and splinters and the wrench sails right out into— into— you can't see through the hole.

«««There is nothing to see.»»»

Ah. Of course. There is nothing to see through the hole, and doubly so when fat shining beetles are coming clawing through it: the wall is bulging. Meanwhile Gil's welt is beginning to bleed. Or it is the wall that is bleeding, and the welt is bulging, or the beetles are, or you are— you are cracked and rotten, you are fat and shining, YOU¿ are bulging and bleeding and if you aren't¸ broken open right if a sh£ll isn't put right in your forehead or a ..¤knife in your chest now you'll bust, you're certain, watch you pinch your taut wrist to check— or—> or yoY©Uu are checking if you're dr¯£amin¨Ng? y¥ES. You're trying to¦tott©o— to check— ¡¡R1©hARD_!!!!¯to check if you're dreaming. Are ¥ou? Pinch. . YiOUYOU¿ you

««««««ARE D—»«EAM—IN—»»»»
««««CHAr—charl»»ie W—»» » WAKE UP»»»

wake up.

File: your house.jpg (35 KB, 360x480)
35 KB
You wake up perspiring, which is never an auspicious start to the day, but that's summer for you. You've heard there's been 'tricity used to make fans go on their own. Cools the whole house. But you couldn't afford that, not when half the back rooms still run on whalefat, and Aunt Ruby prob'ly wouldn't let you have it if you could. She'd say paper fans are more ladylike, or build the wrist muscles, or something.

In any case, laying here with the sheets on isn't making it any cooler, so you slide gracefully out of bed, catch a toe on a wobbly floorboard, and tumble facefirst to the ground. "Hell!" you say, mainly because you're not supposed to. Also because it hurts. Something has spilled out of your hand, though until you bring it to your eye you can't think what: a key? A little metal key. You don't remember going to bed with a key, but you don't remember going to bed, either, so you must've passed out cold— maybe on the settee, and someone carried you back? That'd be upsetting: you're too old to be carried. So maybe it wasn't that.

You bring the key with you down the old stairs, looping past the fireplace and The Sword above it, through the long way to the kitchen— set all the way in the back of the house, since servants were supposed to be using it, but nowadays it's just inconvenient. You could use the short way there, but you're not supposed to use the tunnels anymore, says— says someone. Too dangerous.

But you make it there anyhow, navigating mainly by the smell of hot breakfast. The kitchen, once state-of-the-art, has been reduced by years of scrimping to a long table, a cabinet with one door off, an icebox, a water basin, and a great gas potbelly stove affectionately called "Agnes" for reasons you've never been able to determine. It's fired up right now, raising the temperature in the kitchen to something like— you aren't stating it as a curse, you're stating it as a fact— hell. You wipe your brow.

The heat doesn't seem to be bothering the man inside, who you— you— who you?— um, the man inside, who— the heat doesn't seem to be bothering— your father. The heat doesn't seem to be bothering your father, who hunches busily over a skillet, the sleeves of his dressing gown rolled up past his forearms. You clear your throat and, when that fails to get his attention, speak up. "Aunt Ruby says frying things in the summer is a sin."

He startles, but recovers quickly. "Your aunt is a sensible woman, Charlie, but there is a reason I didn't marry her. Did she also tell you not to sneak up on people holding hot lard?"

"Not specifically— oh." You lace your fingers. "Sorry."

"No harm, no foul, primrose, just keep it in mind. I'll be with you in a minute. You know, I was hoping to make this a surprise?"

"Still is," you say, and sit on the long table's rickety stool. A minute later, your father thunks the skillet onto the tabletop and comes around to ruffle your hair. "How's my Charlie this morning?"

File: blackboard.jpg (55 KB, 474x579)
55 KB
"I don't know," you say. Something's buzzing in the back of your head: hunger, probably. "Regular. Whaddya make?"

"That's 'what did you make,' and the answer is codfish— yes," (you had opened your mouth), "the genuine article, not rehydrated oyster meal, not sawdust pap, fish, Charlotte, and there is enough for you, me, and your darling mother."

"Mother's on a medical diet," you say, instead of 'where did you get this,' 'how could you afford this,' or 'Aunt Ruby will have an apoplectic fit if she finds out about this.'

"Yes, a medical diet, wherein quacks feed her powders and gutter scrapings. And what a load of good it's done for us all, hasn't it? Fish will be an improvement. What's this?"

He's prodding at the key. "I don't know," you say, and hand it up to him. "Some key, I guess... not even a fancy one. What's the matter?"

Your father has taken the key and staggered backwards, nearly colliding with the water basin. His face is contorting in all sorts of unusual ways. Have you invoked an apoplectic fit by thinking of one? Or worse: "Oh my God! Is it cursed?"

"Is it—" He forces a laugh. "Depends on your perspective, Charlotte Fawkins. Excuse me, I just— this won't be pleasant." And he turns and retches something black into the basin. "There. I hope you're satisfied with yourself."

You recoil. The man before you is not your father any longer, any idiot could see it: he looks the same, but his tone, his mannerisms, his contemptuous tone, all of this marks him out as a foreign entity. "You-" you stammer, "you- you- what are you? Are you the key? I'll have you know, you'll be sorry you ever— I have a sword in the other room, and it's mine, practically, and I'm completely prepared to—"

"For fuck's sake," the entity (which has crossed over to the cabinet) mutters, and returns, and scoops its mug into the water basin, and tosses the water in your face. You sputter. "Show's over, Charlotte, the curtains are closed, the script's been mulched, and the critics have panned it. We're in your head."

"My... head." Everything's gone bleary, though that might be from the water in your eyes. "Oh, God."

>[-1 ID: 5/(9)]

"Yes, yes, woe is you. At least you were you. But with this little debacle behind us both... I think we should conduct a postmortem, shouldn't we? Not of this. There's nothing to say. A postmortem of— oh, wait there." Richard leaves and comes back with a wheeled blackboard. "REASONS WHY YOU FAILED MISERABLY," he scrawls along the top.

"Is this necessary? Can't I just..." You wave your hands fruitlessly. "...eat breakfast?"

"You may eat your imaginary breakfast while I review. 'REASON ONE: YOU DIDN'T LISTEN.' This one comes as a surprise to us all."

"Where's Gil?" you say.

"Where's Gil? He is on the couch and in the shoebox. If, unbelievably, you were imprecise with your language, he remains entangled with you and vice versa. He merely cannot penetrate here. Now, reason one—"

"Where's here? Don't say my house, you know I don't mean—"

"It's a bomb shelter. Reason one, you didn't listen. What did I tell you about minds, Charlotte?"

"What?" You're searching for the cutlery. "They don't exist, or whatever."

"Yes. And as they don't exist, they must be vigorously and actively interpreted to make them exist in your perception. You cannot stand idly by and hope to glean an understanding: that way lies madness. And what did you do?"

"You said I was a pillar of good sense."

"I said you were a pinnacle, Charlotte, and clearly I was not being serious. You stood idly by. You watched. And that led you..."

"I'm not saying 'to madness,'" you mumble, and fork a slab of fish onto your plate. "I just got jumbled up. Briefly. I would've been—"

"You would not have been, which is why you were pulled here to recuperate, at— I will emphasize— my considerable expense. But that is not the point. The point is that you were lulled into complacency. You took your hand off the wheel, and the ship ran aground. Do you understand how this is untenable?"

"It's not my fault you're the worst at explaining things," you say unintelligibly (there is fish in your mouth). "Just tell me what to do already."

"Don't talk with your mouth full. And you must..." Richard waves his chalk in a circle. "...participate. Involve yourself. There are other ways to maintain active interpretation, but I realize now they are, shall we put it, some ways above your skill level. Stick to putting a body on and reading your lines. Speaking of, 'REASON TWO: YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THIS IS FACILE'— really, Charlie? The story thing?"

It made a lot more sense to you earlier, in the throes of it, but you'd rather not tell Richard that. "Um... yeah."

"What makes it so pathetic is not just that it's grounded in superstition, not to mention a complete lack of knowledge of the underpinning metaphysics. No, Charlie, it's the fact that you didn't even bother taking it to its logical conclusions— or any conclusions, frankly. You thought you could throw some superficial bullshit out there and in your arrogance make it true. Is it any wonder you blundered so haplessly? With such a worthless lodestar?"

"Uhhh." You're not sure why he's so worked up about this. "No?"

"No. Exactly. But I cannot teach you the legitimate nature of things, because you are incapable of learning, so instead we shall—" He taps the chalk thrice on the word 'FACILE.' "—improve this bizarre perspective slightly. You say that the problem of Gil is that his 'story' or his 'lie' or civilized people would say his 'self-conceptualization' was blown to pieces. Yes? Yes. So what are these pieces, in your terms? Has he been split into plot-lines? Into arcs? Into chapters? Or is a story indivisible, and he is merely multiple shorter stories?"

"Well— I don't—" You wish he wouldn't phrase it like that. "I guess maybe it's like... like the whole Gil is one of those puzzley-type books, where it's a lot of little stories, but they're not proper stories, they don't make sense alone— you have to read all of them and know what happens in all of them before it makes sense? You know that kind?"

"Pretend I do."

"Well... okay. So that's the whole Gil. But when you blow him up, the puzzle-book comes loose and all the little stories come out, and you can pick one up and read one and you can kind of follow it until the end. And the end makes no sense, because you need to solve it with a different story, right? Does this—?"

Richard is eyeing you oddly. "...Yes. That would follow."

"Really? Oh." You were making things up. "Oh, well, um... normally the end of the little story is a mystery or a riddle or something, and, um— I think the end of Gil's thing was beetles coming out of the walls, so I'm not sure how that correlates?"

"It doesn't— in a strained metaphor, the dissolution at the end there would be the, ah, befuddlement of the reader? No. Think more broadly, Charlie. Loose ends. Things left unfulfilled."

"He couldn't remember how to make anything," you volunteer.


"So... I should help him? Or make him remember? Or—"

"And what good would that do? That'd be you scribbling a new ending down in pencil. You're trying to put him back as he was, yes? All the little stories completing each other?"

You set your fork down with a clatter. "I have to make him help him? How does that even work?"

"You'll work out the logistics, I'm certain, but see? That wasn't so hard. Squeezing intelligence from you is less like blood from a stone and more like blood from a, let's see, a small mammal? A rat? It scratches and bites and you have to squeeze awfully hard, but it is possible." Richard smiles with all his teeth. "Next question: how do you intend to envision this all? I'd say to be flexible, usually, but that has failed. I suggest you go in with a clear idea of a— to use your silly argot, a 'framing device'?"

(Choices next.)
>[1] How do you intend on accessing Gil's memories the second time? What is your 'framing device?' (Write-in.) This may be something like "flipping through the pages of a book" or "walk through the Halls of Memory" or "force Gil #1 to narrate to you more," or something else entirely, even if it doesn't correlate to how memory literally works. You just need something to trick yourself into it.

>[2] Write-in. (Include any additional questions for Richard here: he'll still be around afterwards, probably, but you may have bigger fish to fry.)

This update may seem like a nasty lecture and/or punishment for picking a 'trap option.' It isn't intended to be! [4] wasn't actually a 'trap' when I offered it, but during my break I rejiggered how I wanted to handle this segment and decided to use it as a means of starting over. It's not personal, it's a backend thing, plz understand
>[1] A book. A picture book.
>>[1] A book. A picture book.
>[1] A book. A picture book!
A picture worth 1000 words, after all
Imma dissent from popular opinion here and say rubix cube, since we're trying to organize everything and I think it would be easier to visualize.
File: gaol gil.png (37 KB, 232x467)
37 KB
>fucking namefag
I'll cut him some slack, as he does run a quest. Also, he voted earlier >>5064530 :^)

>Prince (literally who?)
>not reading Black Company Quest
baka anon

>Moreover, I really hope it's the contestants duking it out with dice rolls and fisticuffs instead of votes--let Gil have the limelight and beat the crap out of muh-oldfag-quest MCs.
This does seem like it'll be the case, but I fear for Gil's safety in hand-to-hand combat...

Noted, but I'm not gonna call it quite yet. Here's the deal: no update today, update in new thread Thursday. I'll be archiving everything shortly. Sorry about how spotty this thread was update-wise, I hope to be much more consistent in #22.

Have a nice day, guys!
Thanks for running!
>update in new thread Thursday.
Just kidding, I think I overestimated how much energy I'd have after a flight and microchip #3. Thread probably tomorrow, but I'm gonna give myself some wiggle room and say Sunday AKA Monday at 2 AM at the absolute latest.

In better news, we're archived here: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned%20quest%20redux


Delete Post: [File Only] Style:
[Disable Mobile View / Use Desktop Site]

[Enable Mobile View / Use Mobile Site]

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective parties. Images uploaded are the responsibility of the Poster. Comments are owned by the Poster.