You are Charlotte Fawkins, dashing heroine, detective, adventuress, heiress, sorceress, etcetera. Three years ago, you drowned yourself in a quest to find a long-lost family heirloom; nowadays, you're just nobly c̶a̶u̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ solving problems with the help of trusty retainer Gil and un-trusty mind-snake Richard. Inexplicably, many people tend to "dislike" you, though you've never done anything wrong in your life.Right now, you have finally escaped the ruins of the Namway facility (plus your murderous alter ego, the explosion of your worm, etc.)... only to run face-to-face into two women, one of whom looks awfully like your kidnapped frenemy Madrigal.Which makes no damn sense. Not only was she kidnapped, at gunpoint, before your very eyes— she was a tiny snake back then. Her real body, last you checked, is back at camp gaunt and catatonic. This "Madrigal" looks healthy, is running around with some woman you don't recognize at all, and is wearing leather pants.In other words, you're up to your second Madrigal gooplicate today. Incredible. You draw The Sword with a flourish (thank God it's back on your hip, or this would've been embarrassing) and thrust it into Not Madrigal's face. "Yield, foul imposter! Your tricksy guise cannot fool mine—""What the fuck is she doing here," the other woman hisses. "Let me guess. This was the plan all along. You soften me up, bait me here—""Holy shit, shut up!" Not Madrigal jabs her spear in the other woman's direction, and it's a proper spear, glossy and gilded and jet-black— maybe you can put down this foul imposter and steal it? Or gift it to the real Madrigal in return for her undying devotion, etcetera? That'd be more heroic, probably. "I don't know what the fuck she's doing here. What the fuck are you doing here, Charlotte?"It knows your name. Impressive. But Guppy did say she was being influenced somehow, so not at all impossible. "Um, obviously rescuing the fair damsel Madrigal Fitzpa—""Rescuing me?" Not Madrigal's brow furrows. "By yourself? Fucking why?""Um," you say, "not you, and not by myself— I'll have you know that I had a complete adventuring party, who disbanded recently for their own—""Because you drove them all off?" "No?" Not Madrigal is not only foul but rude, apparently. "One of them exploded, if you have to know, but it doesn't matter. My only objective is rescuing the damsel Madrigal, blah blah blah. Now yield, foul—!""Fucking hell." Not Madrigal attempts to pry the tip of The Sword away with her spear, but your heroic strength keeps it in place. "I'm fucking Madrigal, okay? You fucking— you found me. Somehow. Good job. Where's Ellery?""What?" you say."Did he explode? Don't tell me he— he would, but—""No? I didn't bring him? Why would I—" You squint. "Stop trying to distract me! I am filledeth with heroic fervor, and am therefore undistractable—"(1/5)
"Did she talk like this before?" the other woman mutters. Not Madrigal makes a face in response, then turns her attention back to you. "I don't know, I just thought he might force his way along, or...""I didn't tell him I was going.""Ohhh, shit. Makes sense." Not Madrigal pauses. "Probably for the best. So are you going to take the sword out of my face, or— and why the fuck is it on fire, by the way? Is that new? Did you get Eloise to do that?""No? And it's not new? You were just all crazy for a while?" You blink. "I mean Madrigal— the actual Madrigal was, before she was viciously and evilly snakenapped! And it was on fire during that whole thing, which is further proof of your imposterhood—""It was a snake borrowing, you bitch." The other woman's arms are tightly folded. "Sorry you decided to flaunt your—""I wasn't really focused on your sword, holy shit. How much convincing do you fucking need? It's not like we set up a password— is there something only I'd know? Can we just do that?"Richard, is your first instinct. She's the only person who knows about— the only person from real life who knows about— and you're trying to say that, but your throat's constricting badly, and more than that your head's throbbing really really hard. Like she's bashing her awesome spear into it. "N- no," you say. "Nothing. You could be contaminated with her memories, after all, and—"Not Madrigal stares at the woman. "Is that a real fucking thing?""Ehm... if you use untreated goo, or a lot of blood, you can get...""See?" You square your shoulders. "There is only one way to prove it, fool, and if you were the real Madrigal you would've said it first. 'Tis simple! I shalt henceforth taketh a sample of your blood, and— and— yeah. Gooplicates don't have it. So hold still and I'll—"Not Madrigal predictably doesn't hold still: despite her best attempt to twist away, you deftly nick her cheek. Also predictably, the wound is shiny and bloodless— though the black smoke wafting from it is new. Are gooplicates wielding magyck now? (That's kind of exciting. You hope so.) "Ha!" you say. "Ha! Your true nature has been exposed! Prepare to be stricken down by the power of—"Your dramatic overhead swing is intercepted by the other woman, who leans out in front of Not Madrigal and, with a squelch, grabs The Sword with her bare hand. While forcing its point to the ground, she raises her other hand— raises her pistol, and points it at your forehead. "Get the hell out of our way," she snarls."Hey! Hey, hey, hey, hold the fuck up— fuck you, Pat! Put that away! I'm all nightmare, and shit, it wouldn't have— give me that." Not Madrigal grabs the other woman's gun hand away. "We are not shooting Charlotte. Holy fuck.""Pat?" you say.(2/5)
"I hired her. Uhhhh... fuck. Wait. We got the— shit, where'd I— here." Not Madrigal releases Pat(??)'s hand (it slumps to her side) and bends to retrieve a small box. "It's Matches, okay? Matches? The snake? Check it."You reluctantly check inside the box. There's a tiny black-and-white snake inside. "...Uh-huh.""I was in it, then she got me out and stuck me in some stupid goo... I mean, it's not stupid, I guess. It beats the snake. But that's the goo thing, alright? Then I busted out of there after a couple days, hired an assistant, problem solved. No need to go out of your way to— if you call me a 'damsel' again, by the way, I'm kicking your lily ass so hard it—""You're... Madrigal," you say. You're still side-eying the snake."Yes.""You... escaped.""Do I look kidnapped? I've got the snake right here, I—""Your kidnapper is right there." You jerk your chin toward Pat, who glowers at you. "How do I know this isn't some kind of—""Because I kicked her ass too? Pat, did I kick your—""I wouldn't describe it as..." Pat stares down the spear at her chest. "I was countered by absolute gullshit, sure.""Kicked her ass hard. She was gonna shoot herself, I kicked her ass so hard, but we got that all cleared up— hell, you could say I unhanded her. Heh. Anyhow—"Madrigal's in a good mood. How great for her. How great. Anybody would be in a good mood, having rescued themselves from a vicious and evil kidnapping without any help at all. No heroine necessary. None of it necessary— your research, your hand-selected team, the delve, the horrible trouble that followed, Annie, Richard, Richard. Your head pounds. You could've accomplished the same thing if you'd woken up this morning and gone straight back to bed. People would still be alive if you'd gone back to— if you'd— and there's nothing waiting for you that'd make it all worth it, no accolades, no adoration, no free drinks or marriage proposals. Maybe a "good job" from Monty or somebody, the "for trying" unvoiced. While Madrigal gets the handshakes and backslaps and gets to parade her fancy spear and pants around wherever she goes (seriously, where in the God-damned hell did she get those?!).(3/5?)
(Current ID: 1/13)(Current SV: 4/???)It's the kind of thing that drives a person to murder. Or at least to vividly imagining it: you grabbing Madrigal, shaking her, throwing her to the ground, kicking her teeth out, her eyeballs in, her nose bent and bloody, kicking all over until she didn't make noise anymore and only then stabbing, in and out, over and over— you're real good at this, got a lot of experience— stopping long after she was dead, only after the blood stopped spurting. And then you'd turn to Pat and do the same. Or not, maybe. Maybe you'd just make her watch, make her think she gets the same thing, but really you grab her gun and press it to her temple. Like she did with Gil. And then you'd make her beg her throat raw, make her cough blood, and only after that you'd shoot her. You know how to work a gun, in this fantasy, but you don't go for the head. You shoot her wrists, her legs, her shoulderblades. You shoot her ears off. You read somewhere that getting shot in the gut was slow and painful, so maybe you get that a couple times. Only when you get tired of the screaming do you shoot the top of her skull off. You hope it's not instant. You hope she can still think, all scared and scrambled, like Gil could. Only nobody's coming to fix her.And then you'd gather up both bodies and lug them back to camp, and you'd point at Madrigal and say Pat did this to her. And then you'd point to Pat and say you did this to avenge her. Somebody would hug you. Somebody would rub your shoulder. You would speak at Madrigal's funeral. There wouldn't be any raucous parties or marriage proposals, but you'd gain a level of quiet respect. Maybe the people Madrigal was close with would grow closer with you, instead. Maybe you'd be appointed deputy. Maybe you'd have a cool, scary nickname. Like "The Avenger" or something. You'd need to workshop it. You'd have plenty of time.In the present day, in some stupid sewer, with very-much-alive Madrigal and Pat facing you, you feel sick. You couldn't do any of that, but you're scared about why: that it wouldn't make sense. Neither of them have blood, you're pretty sure, and you're not sure you can overpower two at once. Not without Richard. (God, your head.) And it wouldn't be practical to drag two corpses back over God knows how much distance, and nobody would believe your terrible lying, and probably Lucky would drag you off and torture you. Or if he's busy, you'd just be exiled, and Gil doesn't have a body yet so you'd be completely alone. And then you'd die, because that's what happens when you're alone in the middle of nowhere underwater. You'd vanish into thin air.(4/5?)
All very sensible. Good job, Charlotte, your father would be proud of you. Entirely missing from any of that is any feelings: that it'd be wrong to kill them, uncivilized, unheroic, inhumane, inhuman. You're thinking these things. You're upsetting your own stomach. You know— loud and clear, no interference— that Madrigal doesn't deserve to die like that, or at all. She hasn't even been mean to you yet. And you know, more quietly, that Pat doesn't deserve— you might be okay shooting her, honestly, but she hasn't tortured anybody. The only reason you'd torture her back would be your own sick, perverted, unGodly—You don't actually know if God would disapprove. You are actually worried that God has spared your head and wrapped Its weird growths around your heart. Some part of you is pleading to do it, do it, damn all the consequences— that you'd relieve all the pain that way. And you can't even disagree. Murdering the people in front of you in the most brutal ways you can think of would, for some indiscernible period of time, make you feel much better.There's no way to pick between screaming and crying so you settle on the middle ground of retching. For a moment you think too-sour lemonade is going to come out, but nothing happens. Pat and Madrigal's stares are hot on your neck. "...Fucking hell," Madrigal says. "Are you ill?"Showing weakness to Madrigal? She'll mock you forever. But you are ill, that's the only word for it, mentally and emotionally and maybe metaphysically. Your second wind was all saved up to rescue Madrigal, and now that that's done you've got nothing. You can't muster much regular thinking, much less the positive type. If you weren't sure it'd lead to mockery, you'd lay down exactly where you were and die: saying something is the lesser option. "I... don't feel great.""No shit! Were you hurt? In, uh, wherever the fuck you came from? You're real pale..."She needs to mock you as soon as possible. This is terrible. You're not imagining it anymore so much as remembering yourself imagine it, and the longer she goes without mocking you the more curdled you feel. "I'm fine," you say weakly. "Geez. You're hysterical. I just need a... a nap, and then I'll be ready to engage in heroic— heroic-type— my usual stuff. Obviously.""Well, damn. I woke up real fucking early today—" (Pat sighs.) "—so I gotcha. I gotcha. We can do a quick little hike back to camp, easy peasy, I can say hi to Monty, you can take a nap. Bam. Done. So—"(5/6)
"Where's your camp?" Pat says.Madrigal hesitates. "...Near Fenpelok?""Yeah, we're a day out. This—" She jabs a thumb upward. "—is Hell. Sorry.""Son of a bitch, Hell? Can we just drag her back through—?""She's not going in my manse," Pat snaps, but shifts under Madrigal's look. "...We're not far from Hellsbells. I can get there from here, you can find a place to crash, you can leave tomorrow morning and get back before dark. Fine?""Fine, whatever. Haven't been to Hellsbells in yonks." She glances your way. "Charlotte?""...It's fine, I guess." You wanted to go there eventually for something, you think. You can't remember right now. "Cool.""Cool!" Good-mood Madrigal disgusts you. "So which way is it?"> Zone out. [-1 ID] This will put you at 0 ID. Richard is not present, so you won't be possessed. Think of it as a "timeskip until Charlotte is less depressive" button; I'm not planning any surprises here.> Power through. Try to convince Madrigal to tell everybody that you personally rescued her— you can attempt this later, but the sooner you get the idea in her head the better, in your opinion.>>[A] Just, like, convince her. You know. *Convince* her. And Pat, you guess, since she's here too. (Advanced Gaslighting.) [Roll.]>>[B] Play to her apparent sympathies. Tell her about your horrible travails just getting here, and that you were completely prepared to endure even more just to save her. You *basically* rescued her. In spirit. So... [Roll.]>>[C] Attempt to play to her sympathies but just kinda break down instead. Tell her that nobody likes you and you don't know why and this was supposed to be your *big break* but now it's all ruined. And you'll never ever have another chance. Possibly start crying. [No roll but extremely embarrassing, ???? reaction]>>[D] Write-in.> Power through. Make small talk. Or... you guess it's not really small talk when you have actual pressing questions? You can ask these later, but they'll be less pressing then. (Pick up to 2.) [You, as readers, already know the answers to these. Please only pick the options you want to read Charlotte's reaction to— you can assume she'll be filled in on anything else in summary or offscreen.>>[A] So, seriously, what is up with the pants? And the spear? And the mystery smoke?>>[B] Why would she bring her **kidnapper** along? She knows Pat shot Gil almost to death, right?>>[C] So, uh... a goo body, huh? How's that working? You've got somebody who might be interested in one of those.>>[D] Did she at least learn anything useful about Namway? Or "Management"? >>[E] Write-in.> Write-in.
>AnnouncementsWelcome back to Drowned Quest Redux! I didn't finish any of the projects-- I kept procrastinating, then worrying about procrastinating, then finally figured it wasn't much of a break if I was thinking about the quest all the time. We'll see what happens. Also, sorry for being a day late.>ScheduleOne a day, occasionally 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.>DiceWe 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 = Failure1 Pass = Mitigated Success2 Passes = Success3 Passes = Enhanced Success0/100 = Critical Failure / Critical Success [regardless of other rolls]>MechanicsThe MC has a pool of 13 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 rolls, as well as on more elaborate metaphysical effects. Dropping to 0 ID is bad.>Archivehttps://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned%20quest%20redux>Twitterhttps://twitter.com/BathicQM>Pastebinshttps://pastebin.com/u/BathicQM>Ask the characters (or the QM), get a drawn response eventuallyhttps://curiouscat.live/BathicQM>"Redux"?This quest is a loose sequel to the original Drowned Quest, which ran for eight short threads in 2019. Reading the original may help with context in very early Redux threads, but ultimately is not required.>I have a question/comment/concern?Tell me!--->LAST TIME ON DROWNED QUEST REDUXAs Madrigal, you wake up in the middle of the night and decide to go adventuring. You slip under the door to the storage room and discover it covered with... flesh tendrils, which seem to be attempting to get into the Lester Food. You rip a sack open and feed them, causing all the tendrils to merge and break open a hole in the floor. Noisily. Pat wakes up and starts to search for you, so you dive into the hole to escape. Landing in a dark room, you come face-to-face with a tentacled flesh... blob... thing, which describes itself as "Lester One." You strike a deal with it to escape.As Charlotte, you decide that the best thing to do with a cursed, bloody pool of water is to drink it, then resurrect Annie in it. You are filled with a whole bunch of red stuff, and Annie absorbs all the water and swells to twice her usual size. This causes some concern among the locals, so you warp the manse to smooth it all over... and find yourself as Claudia, off in the woods, plotting something.
As *Gil,* Charlotte (and her worm) have vanished. You nervously watch Lucky and Arledge hatch a plot to "put down" Charlotte (and her worm) for the greater good. Lucky tells you that Charlotte's a wanted criminal, known to be involved in the deaths of at least 5 people, but you don't really care. You intervene, channelling... reality... or something... to change their minds. Then you have a conversation with Us, calming it down, briefing it on the situation, and convincing it to pitch in. As Madrigal, you poke around in the basement briefly before running into Pat by accident. You opt to catch her by surprise, tackling her to the floor. The two of you tussle. Pissed, Pat prepares to enter her final form(??), and you retreat into the shadows. Stressed and desperate, you do something crazy: absorbing the darkness through your skin. You become Nightmare Madrigal (exactly the same as normal, but with an awesome spear and cool pants) and confront an entirely untransformed Pat, who can do nothing to stop you. She pleads with you to either go and leave the snake or to take the snake and kill her: she doesn't want to risk Management taking her. You opt for neither, convince her that coming with you is her best option, and take Pat *and* the snake with you as you escape. You leave behind the Lester blob, though.As Gil, you and your newly helpful squad mates confront the possessed Charlotte... who murders her accomplice and resurrects a gigantic worm. Who immediately swallows Lucky whole. Arledge transforms into a (less giant) worm of his own and tackles Charlotte's worm, while you release Teddy from your grip and fly up to Charlotte. You attempt to magic her, which does nothing, then attempt to shove some of your beetles down her throat. As the beetles, you wind up in an enormous chamber of red stuff, with Charlotte unconscious inside a pustule. You bite her out, but she's swept away in a rush of red water, so you abuse your unrealness to safely drag her up and out, both of you flopping onto a... mind beach?You realize that you haven't purged the red stuff from her, and that doing so would require your death. You try to convince Charlotte that it's the optimal thing to do, but she tells you you're stupid. You wake up.As Charlotte, you wake up to discover that Lucky has exploded your worm. You are unhappy about this. Arledge and Lucky leave, you have an awkward conversation with Us, and you finally escape the manse.
>TO-DO (Completed goals and solved mysteries: https://pastebin.com/3Q3nPDis)Short-term goals:- Use, extract, or otherwise deal with the Wyrm stuff you got going on- Break into Ellery's manse (with Gil's help?); extract answersLong-term goals:- Procure permanent, non-melting body for Gil- Cure your [SUNSTROKE]- Resurrect Annie from the dead- Regain your missing memories (...if possible)- Find the Gold-Masked Person and their snake; reclaim the Crown- In the meantime, continue collecting and storing Law (4/16)- Make friends??? More friends? You don't know if Gil counts nowMysteries:- Who or what drove Ellery into self-imposed exile?- Who or what is Namway Co. and Headspace Corp.'s “Management”? What did they want with the clone of a snake?- What kind of company(?) did Richard work for? What is its endgame? What does it want with you?- What was Richard actually like, behind the whole... dad thing?- What is the meaning of Jesse's spiral tattoo?- Who is Horse Face investigating, and why?- Who is the Gold-Masked Person? Why did they want your Crown? Where are they now?- Why is Ellery going around assassinating people?- Why was Henry going on like you knew the all the cult GS already?- Okay, seriously, why is everybody talking about the apocalypse now?- Is Richard actually dead?Ongoing assignments:- Inform Eloise (and the Wind Court?) about anything you discover about Namway Co--Don't forget to scroll up and vote!
>>5527513Heavens, what a shitshow it's been.>[C] So, uh... a goo body, huh? How's that working? You've got somebody who might be interested in one of those.>[D] Did she at least learn anything useful about Namway? Or "Management"? I propose that Charlotte concentrates on achieving at least something out of this snafu, to then be able to pretend it wasn't all completely for nothing.This something being a body for Gil and info on Namway. Yes, even over asking why the heck is Pat here.
>>5527513> Power through. Make small talk. Or... you guess it's not really small talk when you have actual pressing questions? You can ask these later, but they'll be less pressing then. (Pick up to 2.)>>[B] Why would she bring her **kidnapper** along? She knows Pat shot Gil almost to death, right?>>[D] Did she at least learn anything useful about Namway? Or "Management"? 2 would work if we had more ID and Richard around to juice up the gaslighting. But we don't, and he isn't. So we're not picking that.
>>5527513>>>[B] Why would she bring her **kidnapper** along? She knows Pat shot Gil almost to death, right?>>>[C] So, uh... a goo body, huh? How's that working? You've got somebody who might be interested in one of those.>>>[D] Did she at least learn anything useful about Namway? Or "Management"?
>>5527860>Pick up to 2Or at least two you want Charlotte to learn about right now. As mentioned, she'll get automatically filled in on the rest later (since you guys already saw this from Madrigal's POV).
>>5527579>>5527676>>5527860>[3D]>>5527579>>5527890>[3C]>>5527676>[3B]Called for [3D] + [3C] and writing.
>>5527513>3B, CIf Pat brings it up, we always intended to honor our snake promise. It's just that finding a snake was way harder than we thought it would be. Then one seemed to fall in our laps with the Matches and Madrigal situation, but then we discovered Mads was in it so we couldn't hand it over just yet, and then Pat shot our friend and robbed us which was totally unjustified.
>>5528216I can't count this vote, for obvious reasons, but your input has been noted. (I don't expect it to come up in the current update, but it probably will in the future.)
>Detective modeYou don't particularly trust Pat, known repeat-snakenapper/murderer, to navigate you anywhere— but it's not as if you know where you wound up, and you lack the verve to argue. Madrigal's got it handled, you guess, just like she's got everything else handled. She doesn't need you. Nobody does. Richard needed you, and he's gone; Gil needed you, and now he's gotten all dumb and independent and mouthy. How dare he say nasty things about your father? You bet he was just trying to show off, rescuing you. You bet that the minute he gets a real, proper body he'll be out of here. After all, he doesn't know you— he's just stuck with you. You're his ride and his roof. If he's ever indicated otherwise, you've seen firsthand how much of a big, fat liar he can be. That's been his whole life, practically... and you'd probably be way too stupid to notice."Charlotte?" Madrigal says. "Can you— can you walk okay?"They've started to walk, you guess. You haven't. You've been digging your fingers into your thighs. "Yes," you snap. "I can walk fine.""Holy shit, Mrs. Pissy, I just thought maybe you got hurt? You're acting like you got hurt? Fucking shoot me for caring—""Maybe I should." Don't say that. You're thinking about it again. But it's not like you have a choice."What did I say?" Pat says, not even quietly. Madrigal shoots her a foul look and steps out in front of her, arms folded. "Okay, did you get hit over the head? Did your fucking dog die? Because—""My worm," you mutter."What? Because you've always been a bitch, but not— you have been a smug little bitch, right? Smug. Not whatever the fuck— are you even Charlotte? Charlotte was going on about her dumbshit hero stuff a couple minutes ago, and now..." Madrigal's eyes narrow. "Is this Richard again? You fucking hijacked her? Middle of a conversation, real fucking classy—"No! God, why— "NO!" your mouth says. "NO! SHUT UP! I'm— I'm— I'm fine. Let's just go. I'm fine. Let's go.""O-kay," Madrigal says, and half-shrugs at Pat. Pat sighs deeply and leans off the wall. You go. You are in the back. You keep a white-knuckled grip on The Sword's hilt, partially in case Pat tries anything and mostly because it's the only thing you can rely on. The Sword always works like it's supposed to. The Sword can't die, or lie, or leave you. The Sword can't do much of anything, granted— can't tell you everything's going to be okay— but it's at least keeping you kind of stable. You don't think you're about to do anything crazy.(1/4?)
Stable doesn't mean good, though. You are, probably, ill— but even that doesn't cover it, implies too hard that this is all some gross invader's fault. The red stuff isn't helping, but it's wrong to assign it blame: this is you. This is what's wrong with you. This is what's always been wrong with you: you have never not been broken and stupid and worthless inside, and none of your desperate attempts to plaster it over can fix that. Everybody can sense it. Your aunt did. Your mother did, occasionally. (She said there were demons inside of you.) Enid and her stupid little gang did. That was all Richard did, though he had it way worse— he had to live in it. You're sorry about that. You wish somebody normal opened that stupid box. You don't know if he knew that whenever he called you useless or slow or dumb or whatever, you were protesting just for show— that way down inside you were nodding along.Anyhow. Lucky can sense it, and so can Monty, and Anthea, and clearly Pat. Probably also the Elleries. You're not sure if Eloise has caught the drift, but it's a matter of time. If Gil didn't know after today, he definitely does now. And Madrigal has sensed it from the very start, since the moment she laid eyes on you, practically, but you've been good at keeping her off the scent. If she knew, knew-knew, she'd be crowing it all over the place. She'd win.And you might be drifting off the edge of the world about now, but there's nothing that makes you madder than letting somebody else win. God-damn her! It's one thing to be all broken and stupid and worthless on your own time, but Madrigal realizing destroys everything. You'd be packed out of town. God-damn her to hell: there's only one thing to do. You don't care how you really are, or how you really feel. You only care about that involuntarily, when the plastering caves in under repeated blows. That's fine. You've gotten real good at putting it all back up.(2/4? 5?)
Positive thinking, Lottie. No sweat. Just follow the worn-in groove. Positive thinking. Madrigal hasn't realized anything yet— she blamed it on Richard. (Your head is just throbbing by default now.) And Pat's opinion doesn't matter. Positive thinking. Gil does need you, at least for now. And his impertinence was under awful pagan influence. He'll probably apologize if you ask him to. And if he tries to leave, you can... bribe him, probably. Yeah. The whole relationship might be hollow inside, but at least you'd have somebody. (You ran out of chit again, though. Maybe Horse Face will hire you to rob another museum? You should ask him.) Um... positive thinking. It's a good thing that Madrigal isn't dead, or you really would be packed out of town. Maybe she heard some things about Namway? Things relevant to your sort-of investigation? Nobody's left to complain about that— that's positive, sort of. And even though you're dumber than Madrigal, you're still way better at detectiving than her. That's why she hired you. So you'd probably connect all the evidence way better, too.That's the plan, then. You like it: it's safe, productive, positive. The kind of thing you're supposed to do automatically— Charlotte Fawkins-copyright. You quicken your trudging pace and pull up next to Madrigal, who looks over. "...Yeah?"Just say the things you always say. You clear your throat. "Ahem. I was wondering, in the depths of my, um, prodigious mind, if you have ascertained in your travails anything regarding the inner functioning of the sinister company Namway, and/or the sinister groupage Management...?""I'm right here," Pat says. Madrigal furrows her eyebrows. "You want to know if I dug up any shit about Namway?""Y— yes. Yeah.""Not really? It's not like Pat was all 'hey, here's the dirt'... uh, she told me a little about Management? They're real scary fuckers, sounds like it— kidnapped her side piece— uh, not human? Pat? You said not—?""I don't know for sure," she mumbles."...Not human?" You hadn't considered this. "Like what, like fish, or—?"Pat folds her arms. "Not fish. They look human, but they just... they're wrong. They move funny. Lester was the one that dealt with them, so I haven't interacted that much, but... if you saw it, you'd know. I'm not a crackpot."That's really interesting. Isn't that interesting? Isn't this a— a thing, a hand you can cling to? Don't get ahead of yourself. "I didn't say you were. Um, is your Management the same as Headspace's Management?""Headspace?" Madrigal says, as Pat exhales. "Why am I telling you this?""Because I want to know too, and I kicked your ass? Fucking Headspace? That's the creeps Ellery—"Pat's fingers tighten. She says nothing."Wait," you say. "You knew about him and Headspace?"(2/4 or 5?)
"I'm not a complete fucking incompetent? It's not like he had a lot of options for a gig around here. But he signed some shit, so he couldn't talk, and the secretary bitch doesn't tell anybody shit, so it's not like I— we didn't stop fucking because of Headspace, Charlotte. Come on. I was cool about it.""...Uh-huh," you say. "You had a tour scheduled with them?""They wanted to market their shit in camp, and Monty was busy— I think they were trying to grease me up? I... fuck. Did I miss it? Did they send their guy over, or something, and—?""Uhhhh," you say. "Uh, Pat, do you know anything about Headspace?"She snorts. "Bunch of cunts.""You don't need to, um..." You blink hard. "Wow, that's... anything else?""It's accurate. They get all the funding and all the help while we're stuck with impossible godsdamn deadlines and pittances. Management's perfect, golden— and their main guy is weird, too.""Casey?" you say."Of course you know him. Oh, yeah. He's all—" Pat waggles her hands sarcastically. "—and it doesn't feel like an act, yeah? Comes from his weird little heart. But someone displeases him, and it's like snap, like he— I mean, he loses it. Brutalizes the guy. Then goes right back to usual. It's creepy! I think he's got one of those split personality things, maybe. Or Management's messed with his head.">[+1 ID: 2/13]Also... really interesting. Damn. You guess you are good at the whole detectiving thing? (Or not. She's clearly been pent-up about this stuff. But you're positive thinking, God-damnit, and it's going well.) "They do that?""I'm guessing. I don't know how else to explain some of the Headspace— by the way, say what you will about me and Lester, but at least we ran a normal workplace. Admit that. We didn't dope anybody, trap anybody, send anybody to any reeducation—""Sorry—" Madrigal cuts in. "—what the fuck are you talking about? Who's doping—""You just cut people's faces off," you say.Pat throws her hands up. "Okay, you bitch, it's in the contract. It's for security purposes, it's safe, it's essentially painless, it's not a cut— that's barbaric— it takes one subcutaneous injection. What do you want from me, a kiss on the booboo? I don't operate on the nonconsenting. Ask Madrigal."(3/4)
"Oh, yeah. She just goes nuts, tries to blow their heads off. But she didn't scalpel me, if that was the question.""You're made of goo," you say suspiciously. "Well... yeah..." Madrigal flexes her fingers. "Don't get me wrong, I want my body back, but I guess it's not terrible. I look just like me, right?""...Ye-es, but you're wearing, um—""And I feel... mostly normal. There's some freaky shit, but I guess there's freaky shit with regular bodies too, if you think about it really—"You hate how casual she's being about the whole disgusting topic. (And you're glad for it: it means you're sufficiently focused on the topic at hand, not...) On the other hand, though, this is great news for Gil— so his abandonment will be nice and frictionless— great news for Gil! You knew goo bodies existed, but never what they were like, really, and if they're mostly normal to be in? That's it. That's the solution. (It can't be worse than beetles.) And you have an entire expert right in front of you.You hate Pat, though. And she hates you back, whether she answers your questions or not. You don't think she's just going to... help out.> Appeal to her skientific sensibilities. She's probably never tried using goo on beetles, right? Wouldn't that be interesting? (You don't want her to *experiment* on Gil, but that's a later problem.) [Roll.]> Appeal to her morals, if they exist. She *shot* Gil. She would've *killed* him if you hadn't intervened. She owes him a big one, basically. (Just leave out the fact that there was a spare Gil.) [Roll.]> Appeal to the fact that Madrigal has her whipped, apparently. In other words, appeal to *Madrigal,* then get her to get Pat to do it. [Roll.]> Just tell her you'll owe her a favor later. Done. > Write-in.
>>5528360> Appeal to the fact that Madrigal has her whipped, apparently. In other words, appeal to *Madrigal,* then get her to get Pat to do it. [Roll.]
>>5528360>> Appeal to the fact that Madrigal has her whipped, apparently. In other words, appeal to *Madrigal,* then get her to get Pat to do it. [Roll.]
>>5528360>4how can we turn down another sidequest opportunity?
>>5528365>>5528609>>>5529064>Called for . Need dice.>Please roll me 3 1d100s - 5 (-5 Acting Weird) vs. DC 40 (-10 Chipper, -5 Enjoys Bossing, +0 Who?, +5 Working Relationship) to get Madrigal to get Pat to chip in!>>5529064I'm so sorry, anon. I know this is really hard for you.
Rolled 26 - 5 (1d100 - 5)>>5529585Watch THIS
Rolled 54 - 5 (1d100 - 5)>>5529585AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Rolled 25 - 5 (1d100 - 5)>>5529585
>>5529604>>5529611>>5529640>21, 49, 20 vs. DC 40 -- Mitigated SuccessDrowned dice return to haunt us all. Writing.
>Delegation>21, 49, 20 vs. DC 40 — Mitigated SuccessSo you don't ask Pat. Duh. "Um, that's good. So you— was it easy for her to make you that? How long did it take? Did it hurt?"Madrigal side-eyes you. "Richard gave up, huh?"Your footsteps echo against the walls of the sewer."Uh-huh. Well, it didn't seem that hard, it didn't take that long... well, not that long to be functional. Took a couple days to look spiffy. And it didn't hurt, but it was a— a shock to the ol' senses, I'll put it like that. Being stuck in a snake was..." She takes a deep breath. "I can't remember it that well. Think that's probably good."You don't care about the snake thing, or more accurately can't— if you start thinking about more than one thing, you're going to think about all sorts of things. "That is good. I guess. Um, that all sounds like... er... you know, I know someone who might need a body, actually. So that's funny.""How convenient," Pat says. Madrigal side-eyes you harder. "Like a... ghost someone?""No! No, I just— um, he got stuck in a manse, basically, for a long time, and he can't get back to his real body, so he's been, um, hanging out... in my, um...""What the fuck? How many men do you have in there?"One. "...Two. Though he's not really a— a man, uh, per se— he's a lot of beetles? Not on purpose, it just—""Bug guy! Oh, shit! I remember bug guy! Sorry, I— you know, it's all blocked off— he used to be a normal guy?" "Yes."Madrigal whistles. "That's some shit. No, yeah, I think this'd be an improvement over bugs. Pat, would it be that hard to—?""Piss off," she says flatly. "Oh, come on, don't start shit. Why? You got something against bugs? Charlotte says he wasn't bugs on purpose—""Does he have blood?"Madrigal looks at you. You look down. Richard said... "No.""Then it's unreliable. Too much trouble."It'd be more plausible if her voice wasn't so hard. You look pleadingly at Madrigal, who cocks her head. "Don't think I had blood.""You were easy to extract, champ..""So fucking what? Come on, it's not like you don't have materials— I saw all the shit you had pumping through there— don't you want to do something decent for somebody, since you're such a decent fucking person?"Pat's fists clench."I'm just saying, as your new boss, it'd be a good look to— you know— show some fucking initiative—""Okay," she snaps. "I'll do a basic treatment. I've never done it on bugs, so I can't guarantee anything. If there's complications, that's your problem. I wash my hands of it."If there's complications, he'll have to stick around long enough to get them treated— or forever, if they're really, really bad. Madrigal looks about to protest, but you cut in. "That's fine.""Great." Pat jerks her head. "Take a left."(1/2?)
The sewer tunnel has, up until now, fallen under the header of "things you can't think about"— helped by the fact that it looks mainly like every other sewer tunnel you've seen, including the one you briefly ventured into before the destroyed facility. It is definitely very round. You suppose it must've smelled sulfurous before, but here, near the juncture of the sewer and a smaller offshoot, it reeks. It doesn't stop reeking when you step into the smaller tunnel, but it does feel like the temperature raises a good five degrees. You would like to lay down very badly.Thank God it really is a short walk from there. The smaller tunnel yawns into a small, dim cavern— natural once, maybe, but visibly hand-enlarged. The ceiling's painted bright blue, with glorbs installed into drilled holes in the stone. Like stars, you realize. They're laid out like stars. Somebody's little project.>[+1 ID: 3/13]Nobody's in the cavern, but a wooden sign— really a couple planks of wood— reads: "WELCOME TO HELLSBELLS / POP: 1̶7 1̶8 19" Four tunnels snake off in different directions, each labeled by their own plank. Pat strolls into the leftmost one without stopping, and after a moment's hesitation you follow. The new tunnel is even dimmer (not that it affects you much), but a rope's been tacked against the right-side wall. You brush against it and it jingles— it's strung with little bells.Did the name come first, or the rope? You don't have the energy to ask. Pat stops in front of a door (of sorts) embedded into the left-side rock. It's brightly painted, too, with crudely-rendered animals on it. That's probably a shark, there, but you have no idea what the thing with all the legs is. For the first time, Pat seems doubtful. "...Not sure if he knows what happened.""Who?""BK."Ah. Not that you'd be upset about Pat getting chewed out, but you're desperate for a place to sit down. "...Do you want me to knock?"She inclines her head and backs a little ways down the tunnel. You knock. "BE RIGHT THERE!" a man calls back, and shortly afterwards the door flies open. "Wow!" Earl says. "Charlotte? Is that you?""Hi," you say."I wasn't expecting an in-person visit! And you brought your lady friend? That's—""Wait." Madrigal stares. "You're fucking— you're Polasky. You're Bran's buddy, aren't you? I've seen you—""I am! Earl's fine, though, or BK, or— whatever you like, ladies. Come in! I— no. Nettie?"You're in the hallway with Madrigal and a woman you recognize. A woman you last saw holding Gil at gunpoint. "Hi Earl," Pat says. "There was a little snafu. Can we stay overnight?"(2/3)
Yes, is the answer. Earl doesn't even blink. Yes, of course, he loves having friends (and friends of friends) over, it's small in here and he doesn't have much to sleep on but whatever you need he'll— mind the step. Did you avoid the vents okay? It's been a hot week. Is anyone scalded? He has medical— oh, that's just Buster, he's harmless, eats garbage. "Buster," presently meandering about on the wall, is a plate-sized pill bug. Earl's "house" is bigger than your tent, by dint of having multiple fingerlike "rooms," but it's still cramped— and worsened by the amount of stuff Earl keeps around everywhere. The walls are packed with stained prints, torn paintings, and hand-cut newspaper photographs, not to mention the shelf of chipped vases. The settee is mercifully empty, if weathered, but the low table holds, among other things, an empty gilt candlestick, another vase, and a bowl of colorful rocks. "Sorry for the mess, ladies!" Earl doesn't sound all that sorry. "I don't get friends over too often... make yourself comfortable wherever you can. All I can say is I find something new every time I head past the junk field... would any of you like something? Roger in B makes his own brew, it's not bad—"You claim the settee before anybody else thinks to. It feels good to sit.> You're not in good shape (to put it politely), but Earl is so aggressively friendly you'd feel antsy begging off. And he appears to be offering some sort of alcohol. Stay and... chat?> Damn Earl: you need to lay down. You promised Gil you'd check on him, and you have good news to deliver on the body front— say hello. > Damn Gil: you need to sleep. Now. Find somewhere quieter and pass out.> Write-in.
>>5529955> Damn Earl: you need to lay down. You promised Gil you'd check on him, and you have good news to deliver on the body front— say hello.The mechanism of bodily travel through manses interests me extremely
>>5529955>1Earl seems like he has ID to spare, maybe we can absorb some of what he's radiating.
>>5529955> You're not in good shape (to put it politely), but Earl is so aggressively friendly you'd feel antsy begging off. And he appears to be offering some sort of alcohol. Stay and... chat?I was about to pick 2 but this seems more fun.
Rolled 2 (1d2)>>5530293>>5530691>>>5529975>>5530141>Flipping for it and writing. I've been working on this AMA question for a long time and finally got it "done"-- not completely happy with it, but it's good enough.
>>5531100 takes it, but if it's any consolation to the  voters this won't be your last chance to hang out.Writing.
>Beg off...But lying down would feel better, and drinking some stranger's untrustworthy moonshine— with how bad your headache is already— is what Richard would've deemed "a poor life decision." If he were here, and you hadn't committed a different poor life decision. If your life wasn't one big poor decision, essentially.There's no staying in this cramped room with these people: the atmosphere is sweaty and oppressive already, and they haven't even begun to talk loudly and touch one another and spill drinks on the settee; haven't even begun to celebrate the grand success you had nothing to do with. Hell, they don't seem to have realized that you don't belong at all— that you're a passing acquaintance at best, a hated enemy at worst, here at the wrong place at the wrong time with nothing of value to offer them. You're not intelligent. You're not charismatic— anti-charismatic, says Richard, said Richard. You're not witty, except on accident. You're a waste of space in the most literal possible sense— there is one settee and you are taking up all of it. You are worried that if you drink anything you are going to cry. You are worried that if you drink anything you are going to kill somebody.You stand up and mumble something about it being a long day and Earl doesn't bat an eye at that, either, just waves you off into the warren. You hate him for not being saddened and even more for not being angry: why is nobody angry at you? There's always been somebody angry when you did nothing wrong (for your whole life, nothing wrong) and when you do the wrongest thing imaginable, things imaginable— Gil's supportive, Lucky smug, Arledge resigned. Madrigal and Pat and Earl oblivious. Maybe you could rip the bandage off and tell them direct that you're not supposed to be here, that the right and good action here would be to scream at you and call you names. That you'd actually really appreciate it if they did that, because you're going crazy. There's God in you, and you're going crazy.You can't do that. That really would be crazy. Your headache is so bad. You fumble into and out of rooms you don't care enough to recollect until you find one with an unmade makeshift bed and lay atop that. You lay there for what feels like a long time until the thought comes into your head that maybe Gil would be willing to yell at you, if you asked nicely enough, and then you plunge your hand into your pocket and come out with the model of your manse. It's pristine.(Two things, then. The Sword and it.)You wrap your fingers around it and think about opening — about [OPEN]ing — about Richard holding it in his palm and doing something with it, and your chest pangs and your head twists around and you sit up inside of your manse. Red light streams through the windows.(1/2)
"Lottie!" There's a cluster of beetles on the lip of the font. "Geez, I-I-I-I wasn't expecting you so soon! I-is everything alright? I—"You squint against the light. "Where's the rest of you?""...My, uh, manse... um, I-I'm really sorry, I just— i-i-it's kind of gone all creepy in here, no offense, and I, um— well— I thought I-I could make more progress on—""I don't care." You wet your lips. "Can we go there instead?""Oh! Um, sure, I— i-i-it's probably nicer in there— not that i-it's not nice in here, but, um—" You stare at him. "Okay, um, I-I'll just lead you..."He does, though he pauses frequently to make sure you're following. You're not sure why, since your footsteps boom against the empty ceiling. One of the inexplicable doors in the back wall is propped slightly open, and Gil waits for you to enter before darting in over your shoulder.Gil's manse is not red. Gil's manse is a hill and a large leafy tree and the sky at dusk. And Gil, of course, up the hill, against the tree, sledgehammer propped up next to him. There's nothing left but a few chunks of concrete and a lot of dust to indicate there ever was a house.You want him to know you're here without having to yell up at him, and somehow, miraculously, he does: gets up and cracks his shoulders and ambles a little ways down the hill. Behind him, beetles rain from the tree and gather up and zip past him. "Hold on," your Gil says, his voice going a little smeary— then he darts past you to join them. The beetles bunch. Gil, singular, walks through them.He's wearing a sweater, for some reason. "Hey, Lottie," he says. "...I-Is everything alright?""You already said that," you say. "Why are you... why are your beetles out?""Huh? Uh..." He rubs his nose. "...I-I-I always thought it'd be too tough to split my attention, um, but I... but it works, actually. I-I-If you think it's weird I can, um—""It doesn't matter." "Oh. Uh... alright. Are you alright? Did something happen?" He's trying to study your face. "...Did something happen to Madrigal?"Yes. Something happened to Madrigal.(Choices next.)
>[A1] Tell him the truth: that Madrigal escaped just fine without you, and that the whole nightmare was essentially for nothing.>[A2] Tell him what you'd like to be the truth: that you swept in and rescued Madrigal real quick just now. You're coming to tell him it was a success.>[A3] Dodge the question: you don't know. You just found somewhere to rest real quick before you do the whole rescuing bit.>[A4] Write-in. (The [B]s are OPTIONAL. Pick as many as desired. There may not be room for all of them in the next update, but they'll be included when it makes sense.)>[B1] Ask about his new sweater.>[B2] Ask if he still has magyckal powers.>[B3] Ask if he's angry at you. (Hope he's angry at you.)>[B4] Ask what happened while you were... out.>[B5] Tell him about the goo body offer.>[B6] Demand an apology for his rude impugning of Richard's honor!>[B7] Ask if you can take a nap under his tree or somewhere.>[B8] Write-in.
>>5531473>[A1] Tell him the truth: that Madrigal escaped just fine without you, and that the whole nightmare was essentially for nothing.>[B1] Ask about his new sweater.>[B2] Ask if he still has magyckal powers.>[B3] Ask if he's angry at you. (Hope he's angry at you.)>[B4] Ask what happened while you were... out.>[B5] Tell him about the goo body offer.>[B7] Ask if you can take a nap under his tree or somewhere.
>>5531473>[A1] Tell him the truth: that Madrigal escaped just fine without you, and that the whole nightmare was essentially for nothing.>[B1] Ask about his new sweater.>[B2] Ask if he still has magyckal powers.>[B4] Ask what happened while you were... out.>[B5] Tell him about the goo body offer.I don't want to gaslight Gil anymore.
>>5531472>>[A1] Tell him the truth: that Madrigal escaped just fine without you, and that the whole nightmare was essentially for nothing.>>[B1] Ask about his new sweater.>>[B2] Ask if he still has magyckal powers.>>[B4] Ask what happened while you were... out.>>[B5] Tell him about the goo body offer.>>[B7] Ask if you can take a nap under his tree or somewhere.>>5531100Heh... I got a good kek out of this lore tidbit...
>>5532055>>5531473Oh shit it's back and I'm supporting this one.Also A2, congratulate Gil on finding new stuff with his beetle powers.
Heads up everybody: I'm heading out tonight, so the vote will be called on Sunday. Have a great day.>>5532327>Also A2, congratulate Gil on finding new stuff with his beetle powers.Would you mind clarifying this a tad? What "new stuff"?
>>5531473>A1we're depressed enough to be honest>B1, 4, 5, 7
>>5532356Didn't he just learn to split himself?> "Huh? Uh..." He rubs his nose. "...I-I-I always thought it'd be too tough to split my attention, um, but I... but it works, actually. I-I-If you think it's weird I can, um—"
>>5532622>>5532356You gotta feed, walk, AND praise your pets or else they leave you.
>>5532622Ah, yeah, I figured it was that after I thought about it some more, but I wasn't sure what [A2] had to do with it. Technically speaking he didn't really "learn" it-- the implication is that he was always capable of this, but only realized that after manipulating Teddy+Teddy's beetles without difficulty. Charlotte wouldn't know or care about that, though.
>>5531536>>5532019>>5532055>>5532327>>5532368Looks like we have majorities for>B1, B2, B4, B5, B7Called. Might try and do some writing on the airplane, update tonight.
>>5533800Uh, and [A1], obviously. Same deal.
Unpacking and cleaning took several hours, didn't eat dinner until midnight, complex update. It'll be tomorrow, sorry folks. Possibly midday.
>>5534272 Meme related.
>>5534594I just had a stress dream about not being able to update for a third day in a row and I'm going to assume it's your fault. Thanks, saved
>Best policy, etc.You look down at the ground. "She's fine.""Oh. Well, um, I-I-I guess that's... wait, how do you know?" Gil's eyes widen. "Did you get her out already? I-I knew we had to be close, but not that—""Please shut up," you say dully. He does. "She got herself out. And the snake, and... Pat, somehow. That's who shot you. They're best friends now, and she's not hurt or messed up at all, and she didn't need me for anything. Us for anything."You're uncertain if the reedy whine of Gil's wings has grown louder or if the silence just makes it feel that way. His face has dropped. "I'd like to sit down," you say, after a moment.He gestures wordlessly up the hill. You nod and wrap your arms around you and walk; he follows at a small distance, still whirring. You sit against the tree where he was before (because what can you do but take up space), and he moves in two directions, flitting into the tree and squatting into the grass. The horizon is yellow."The only thing different is that she was wearing different clothes. Whoreish ones." You pull at a blade of grass. "I don't know. I guess that part's not different. What are you wearing?"Gil flushes slightly. The tree rustles with beetles. "...Um," you say, "you can... talk.""Ah." He looks down. "I-I-It's not really— I-I-I just— if you want me to change it, I'll—""I didn't ask you to change it. I just asked what it was.""...A sweater...""Why?"He flushes harder, and opens and closes his mouth. "I-I-I just— does it matter? I-I really don't think I... look, I-I just liked it, and—"He's lying to you, and not even trying that hard to hide it. You don't have to be smart to figure that out. He's lying to you because he doesn't trust you, and because he probably doesn't like you, after today— but realistically not from the start, either. He's been plotting his escape from the start, and who could blame him? You don't. You just wish, frivolously, that he'd be a little more subtle about it. So it wouldn't be so much like torture.Gil sees your face and wrongly assumes you're about to cry. You're not. You're past that. But he goes all live and panicky anyways, nearly falling back onto his hands. "Shit! Lottie! I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I— I-I-I-I-I— I-I-I— please, I just— it's not— I— goddammit— Teddy had one, and I-I thought it was— cool, alright? I-I-I knew I couldn't pull off the slicker or the boots but I-I thought I could— I-I-I-I think I was wrong, though, I'll just— I'll go change, forget about it, it's not a problem, just give me a—"He's standing up. You stare. "...It looks fine.""Huh?""It looks fine. The color's good with your complexion. The material's..." You rise to your knees and grab ahold of his wrist, then rub the fabric between your fingers. "...high-quality. It's thick. There's nothing wrong with it."(1/3)
Gil is ruddier than usual, but mercifully silent. The hand you're grasping is glowing bright blue, which lingers even after you drop it and retreat against the tree. "What?" you say. "Trying to magyck me?""No! No, I—" He yanks his hand to his chest. "I-I-I can't control it, it just—""Maybe if you went on a vision quest you could control it," you mutter."Sorry... I mean, I-I wasn't trying not to go on one! I-I-I was trying to get rid of it, and then the tent guy went and goddamn fucked with my— I mean, I was fucked up, Lottie. Thinking and doing all sorts of stupid shit..."Hah. "Like hugging me.""Yeah! I-I-I mean, I— I think it drugged me, basically, and now I can't get rid of it— i-it just activates— and I-I think it's still got its goddamn hooks in my brain, because—"Hah. "Shut up. What did it do? Did it make you hug me, or did it let you?"He stops. "Gilbert?"The beetles have stopped, too. There's no noise from the tree. The breeze knocks your hair around. "That's not my name," Gil says under his breath."Gilbert.""What does it matter? I-I-I don't—"You dig your fingers into the soil. "GIL!""What do you want me to say?! I-I-I-I hadn't been touched in— and you hugged me! Just now! So I-I don't know—""Stop LYING to me!" There. Now he knows something's wrong with you— he can see it in your eyes. He's disgusted with you. "I have done NO such thing!""Yes you did? After I-I rescued you, you... and then I-I-I... is that why you're mad at me? Because I-I-I-I didn't goddamn kill myself? Because you told me not to! You can't tell me not to and then lose your shit, that's not fair— I-I know I should've, but—"Frightened and disgusted, as he should be, and spouting more lies, as he always does— you haven't done anything like that, haven't done anything but wander dazed out of the smoking crater of your best friend— better than him— Annie wouldn't have left you. She didn't get a choice. Your head hurts like a shotgun blast. "Shut UP! Why did you— who gave you the RIGHT to rescue me!?"He's gotten up, at this point, and has backed away. He's glowing all over. "What are you talking about?! You were—""I was HAPPY! And GOOD at things, and nobody was DEAD—""You killed two people?! I-I-I think you're delirious, Lottie, you're not—" He's blinking rapidly. "You've still got that stuff in you, alright? I-I was too much of a pussy to get it out, and I'm sorry, but we've got to deal with it still, and you've... but this isn't my fault, okay? You made some real boneheaded goddamn moves, objectively, and we can talk about those when you're not— you're not—" He takes a shaky breath. "Could you please hold still?"(2/3)
"I'll do what I want," you snap."I-I-I'm just trying to help you. Please, I— and then we can talk? I-I'd really like you to promise not to do stupid shit like this, but that's— one step at a time— I-I-I don't think this'll hurt, okay? I-I know you're mad at me, for some reason, but you've got to trust—"For some reason? He's going to leave and not even say goodbye.>[A1] Trust him, somehow.>[A2] Don't trust him, obviously.>[A3] Fail to have a choice in the matter.>You can't, or won't, make promises like this. While you're like this. Tell him...>[B1] That there's no point in making promises to somebody who's going to be *gone* tomorrow.>[B2] That there's no point in it, because everything you do qualifies as stupid.>[B3] That there's no point in it, because it's impossible to rely on you.>[B4] Write-in. Pls take into account Charlotte's current dogshit mental state
>>5535443>[A2] Don't trust him, obviously.>[B1] That there's no point in making promises to somebody who's going to be *gone* tomorrow.
>>5535437I really like the palette you used for this painting— and the shading on the leaves/sunset. Very nice work! :-)>>5535443>[A1] Trust him, somehow.>[B1] That there's no point in making promises to somebody who's going to be *gone* tomorrow.
>>5535465Yeah the art there is very nice
>>5535443>[A3] Fail to have a choice in the matter.>[B2] That there's no point in it, because everything you do qualifies as stupid.
>>5535443>A1he's right, we've still got red stuff in us>B2we've been thinking all depressed, it fits
>>5535465>>5535897>[A1]>>5535459>[A2]>>5535507>[A3]Called for [A1]...>>5535459>>5535465>>5535507>>5535897And there's nothing stopping [B1] and [B2] from being combined. Writing*.*Or at least starting to write, no guarantees it'll be out sooner than "today sometime." Attentive anons might notice I've called this vote way earlier than normal, and the simple explanation is that I've begun my spring semester and I can no longer stay up late to write. I'm sticking to 1x update per day, but it's likely to be posted at different times than usual-- try and get your vote in as early as you can to make sure it gets counted.>>5535465>>5535467Thanks, folks-- if I can't update properly, it's the least I can do to draw something up. I've attached a full-size version, since I think my crop came out too small this time.
>>5535921Gil's hair is so much lighter than I always imagine it to be
>>5536033Yeah, he's a dirty blond.
>>5536051A dirty, dirty blonde ;)
>SurrenderHe's edging toward you, fingers curled unsubtly at his side. He thinks he can fix you, or something. Thinks he can plunge his stupid hand into the blackened wound at your center and sew it right back up. Maybe he hasn't realized how deep it goes, or how long it's been rotting. Your plaster was too good. He's going to touch you and find termites. Maybe he's just stupid. That's the other explanation: he has realized, and he's stupid. He thinks he alone is immune. Surely he won't catch diseases. Or he thinks that you'll yourself refuse to touch him— that you've never done anything wrong in your life (until now), so you must be good and safe way down. You don't think he understands the facts about that. That "doing" isn't "being." That you can do and do and do all you want, but unless you were born in a buck novel under a lucky star it amounts to real life nothing— and you were born with something wrong inside, so for you doing everything right amounts to humiliation and death. Monty was right: you are like him, completely. He's wrong inside, too. He's just better at hiding it, enough so most people don't even notice, right up until it claws on out of him. You understand this now. You could strangle Gil if he comes closer, can envision it so freely and clearly it may well as be true— your bleached-out nails, his zipping, buzzing heart, his tiny noises, his grip leaving yellow dapple-bruises on your wrist. You'd have to explain them to Pat and Madrigal and Earl, maybe. Or maybe not. Would Madrigal care if you extinguished the man who stole her body? Would Pat and Earl shed a tear over the felling of an unrepentant jacker?Would you? Can you cry? Is there something red in your tear ducts? You don't think you actually know. All the parts of you seem to be moving independently— your mouth, for instance, has taken to emitting a high-pitched whimper. And your stomach is churning again. Gil is almost within arm's reach, but there's still time to duck out of the way and take off sprinting, or to draw The Sword and send his head rolling off his— off his— you curl your neck to vomit onto your boots, but are halted by a hand against your cheek. The hand is calloused and clammy and as it brushes a lock of hair behind your ear it leaves behind snail-trails of flopsweat. Gil has stooped down before you. His expression is stupid."Okay..." he says, and wipes his hand on his pants. "Um... like I-I-I said, just hold still... sorry..."You might be wrong, but you've been brought up properly enough to know you shouldn't vomit on another person— even under duress. You don't dare move. Gil rubs his hands together, as if to start a fire, and they flare up brilliant blue—(1/4)
You hear ocean. You taste ocean. Gil's expression would be stupid if his eyes weren't rolled up into his head, and if you were not being scoured through with fast, frigid water— lifting the grime and the blood and the sweat out of you, killing the termites, sterilizing the wound. It is not a cure. It is not making you right inside. (Maybe nothing can.) But you feel rawer, by the end, and wider awake, even as Gil collapses limply onto you. Beetles rain from the tree around him.You check to make sure he's breathing (he is, shallowly) before beginning to weep. It is a long minute before the beetles flicker with motion and Gil rouses himself to a shaky sitting position. He surveys you. "Shit... did it hurt?"It didn't. It did. "I don't know," you say wetly. "I— I— I'm sorry for—""You weren't in your right mind." He squeezes his hands together. "I-I'm sorry I didn't fix it. I shouldn't have listened to you."You sniffle. "What are you talking about?"The wind whistles. Gil dips his head."You were talking about... killing yourself? Earlier?" "I-I wasn't going to die," he mumbles, "and I-I-I'd call it more of a sacrifice than a—""A sacrifice?" Your lip wobbles. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever— if you die I'll be alone! I'll just have— I'll just have— you're the best retainer I have, and— leaving's one thing, but dying—""I-I wasn't going to die! Geez!" He doesn't look as mad as he's trying to sound. "I-I-It was just the practical move! And speaking of practical moves, we need to talk about—"You stiffen. "I can't make promises.""I-I-It doesn't have to be a promise, per se, but we need to—""No." You wrap your arms around your knees."Lottie... I-I-I know it's been a lot, today, and I'm not saying you deserve— I'm not saying you deserve all the awful shit— I-I mean, the worm was just excessive. That was cruel. But we can't go on like—""But we're not going on!" Gil looks on in bewilderment as you begin to sob into your slacks. "What?""We're not— we're not— there's no 'we'! You're—" You swallow down some mucus. "—you're leaving! Pat's going to get you a real body, then you're going to go back to your life, and I'll just be—""No! What? Aw, geez, Lottie, I— who's going to get me a real body?""Pat! She— she shot you! It's a long story...""Uh-huh." He blinks. "I mean, I-I-I-I'm not leaving?"Maybe he is stupid after all. "Gil. It's a real body. I mean, it's... it's goo, but it's in real life, and—""I-I got that, I just— where would I go? Back west?" He flexes his fingers. "I-I-I'd be a freak just with the beetle thing, and now with the god shit... geez, I'd be a goddamn laughingstock. And that's if they even remember me.""Oh," you say."See? And I-I've already kind of been meeting people around here... i-i-it's still sort of a shithole, but I'd rather be together in a shithole than alone in a city... you know?" He's not making eye contact.
"Oh." You furrow your eyebrows. "But you hate— you don't like any of the heroing. You're not cut out for—""I-I-I never said I hated it, I just— I think you overcomplicate things, Lottie, that's all. I-I-I think that if we just go about things in a logical way, and stop doing random stupid shit, then it'll run a whole lot— oh, come on, what?"You've begun to sob again. (It's not your fault. It's been all pent up.) "It won't work! Everything I do is— is—""Is stupid? What?" Gil squints. "Geez, is that what Richard tells you all the time? That fucking guy. I mean, raised by him, anybody would—""He's dead! And he's right, anyways, I—" You tip your head backwards to rest against the tree. It doesn't relieve the throbbing much. "—she rescued herself, Gil. This was all one big dumb idea from the start.""Okay, and did you know she would? Because if you knew she would, and you just thought you could beat her to it, that would be dumb. But if you thought she was trapped—""I thought she was trapped," you mutter. "But I should've—""Fuck 'should've.' You did what you could do, didn't you? Did more than I would've done, which is goddamn nothing— I would've sat on my ass and let her rot. But you got out there, and you put yourself through a lot of shit, and if that lady can't appreciate that—""She's kind of a bitch.""Then let her be a bitch! Who gives a shit?" Gil's getting sort of heated. "You would've rescued her if you could've, so she can go shove her thumb up her ass. You can tell her you objectively did the heroic thing—"He thinks that's why you did it? The heroic thing? Heroes are born, not made, and if they are made they're made from results. If they set out to save somebody, they save them, and that's what gets them the drinks and the friends and the courteously declined marriage proposals. Success. Not good intentions....Maybe. To be totally fair, you've never properly met a hero(ine) in real life, so you don't have a lot to go off of. It's possible the requirements are less stringent than they appear to be— maybe all it takes is enough people agreeing? Or a couple people really, wholeheartedly believing it? Gil seems to, for some reason. You don't think he was like this before. You hope you didn't hit him over the head while you were out. But you don't have a lot of choice but to take it. "...Okay.""Okay?""I guess it was good I went in the first place..." You sigh. "But I still bungled it! It all went horrible! So I don't know what—"(3/4)
"It didn't all go... it started okay, and then it started going, um..." Gil scratches his nose. "The point was, it wasn't all stupid. Nothing you do is all stupid. It kind of looks that way, sure, but then it usually works out, so— you've got some method going on, right? It's just that some things really are stupid, and that's what we're gonna weed out. Okay?"You don't know why he's so confident about this. Or in general. "I guess?""Yeah! See? We don't need Richard. You and me, together—" He gestures broadly. "—we can do some shit, okay? And we'll get your problem under control...""Yeah," you say wanly. "Yeah, that... sounds good. Can we do that after I take a nap?""Huh? Uh... here?"You look around. "Yeah?""Oh. Um, I-I-I don't have anywhere to— to sleep—""The ground? I'm not... I have a really bad headache, Gil, I...""I-I-It's fine! You can go ahead and— I-I don't have a problem with— um, I-I-I finished with the sledgehammering, so that's not a—" He wrings his hands. "Just go ahead.""Okay." You slump further against the tree. The beetles chirr above you. "...Oh yeah. Did I really hug you? Earlier?""...Yeah," Gil says."Was it prompted? Did you ask me to, or—?""No," Gil says.You contemplate this. "...Did you reciprocate?"His face contorts— in regret? Embarrassment? Did he do something he shouldn't have, or not do something he should've? You're not even sure what you want to hear from him, or what you're asking in the first place. It's untoward. He's unmarried, and your age. But you're finding yourself more concerned with something else— with him drugged on pagan nonsense and you perplexed; with you drugged on who-knows-what and him terrified. Two half-hugs does not a whole one make. It makes things strange.Gil thumbs at his sweater. You look at him.>[A1] Hug.>[A2] Do not.>[B] Say something? (Write-in. Optional.)
>>5536449>>5536551Oh my shit I forgot that I voted... my bad.
>>5536546>>5536551>Rigging the hug voteI see how it is. just kidding I'm gonna assume lag-->>5536553That works too, kek.>>5536086I don't know what you're talking about, anon, Gil would never have heterosexual impulses...
>>5536449>[A1] Indulge in tactile human contact long denied to us.
>>5536449A1We will have the most awkward of hugs.
>>5536449>A1give him the rib breaker
>>5536546>>5536655 (checked)>>5536657>>5537014Writing shortly.
>Human(?) contactMaybe you're not thinking about this right. Maybe the half-hugs— they're actually worth negative. (That's why they're so strange.) Therefore two negative halves together makes one negative whole... right? Are you remembering your unwilling mathematics tutoring properly? And to cancel that out, you need one, er, positive whole. Yeah. Which means, in this case, one regular non-pagan hug.You're a little proud of figuring this out, given how you rank mathematics somewhere around sewing in terms of pleasure and usefulness. It's all very objective, which you think Gil will approve of. You doubt he wants things to be strange either, so you ought to be partners-in-crime here. Jolly cooperators. You're glad you didn't tell him you were thinking of strangling him, because...(Oh, God, you were thinking of strangling him. Oh, God. Oh, God.)...because that would've made things way more difficult! And also very strange. But all you have to do now is clear your throat and explain all the positives and negatives, and get Gil's approval, and it will be fixed. He'll agree, and it'll be fixed, and you won't want to strangle him or anybody. Nothing will be the matter. Positive thinking."Ahem," you say, and wipe your eyes on your sleeve for good measure. "So, I was thinking—"You explain the positives and the negatives. Gil doesn't seem to follow until you get to the 'canceling it out' bit, but after that he looks sideways and starts to fiddle with his suspenders. "Well, i-i-it's logical...""Yes!" you say, and straighten up. "I thought so!""I-I-I-I guess we don't really have any choice, the way you put it..."He really is your best retainer. He understands perfectly. "Absolutely no choice. It's actually sort of a— a dire—""It is, actually." His tone was more serious than you were expecting, and you flinch as he lifts himself to his feet. You don't notice him approaching until his hand's already in your face. "So come on. Who knows how long we have, Lottie? Can't waste time.""That..." Your lips quirk. "...That is logical..."He waves his hand, and you take it and grip it. Even as he pulls you to your feet he loses his nerve— his arm goes limp and his eyes very white— but by then you've gained yours, launching yourself into him hard enough to bang your forehead against his chin. "Ow," you say. "Oof," he says, and stumbles back a bit. It's a couple of seconds before he places his hands delicately over your shoulderblades— no, your upper back— no, one and the other? He's figuring that part out. You suppose he has it harder, being slightly (but not enormously) taller than you are: your hands just went straight around, and your head sort of over his shoulder. This is good, in your opinion. Less looking at each other. (1/4)
The problem, you quickly discover, is that other things filter in to replace the looking. Facts, you mean. Fun facts. For instance, Gil isn't that warm. (Not like Richard is, or was.) He's room-temperatureish, which after some thinking you chalk up to the beetles. He's also kind of rubbery feeling, way up close— like his skin isn't quite skin, like you can dig your fingers into his neck and find a seam. Both of these are true, of course. You made this body. (Don't think about how you made this body.) This also explains why his chest is so rigid, underneath the sweater, and why when you press your ear to him there's no heartbeat. There is a faint humming like a motor and a deeper buzzing like several dozen frantic beetles, or possibly vice versa. (You are thinking about how you made this body.) Gil's grip on you has firmed. He does breathe.>[+1 ID : 4/13]Surely he doesn't have to breathe, and you think about querying before deciding it's unlikely to be a choice. More likely, he doesn't know what else there is to do. You don't know what else there is to do, either. You're also breathing. His not-skin is beaded with sweat, you guess from the sledgehammering. You wonder if he's choosing his beetles to flit down on top of you, your shoulderblades and upper back and his solid hands cradling them, or if it's more like breathing. They tickle your neck. You can't remember what it was like in his head, with the you and the beetles, so you can't know for sure. Something about stars.>[+2 ID: 6/13]The sweat is odd, though. Surely that doesn't happen automatically? It's getting your cheek all sticky, not that you'd say anything. Gil hasn't said anything, and you think it's best to follow his lead. (You wish you hadn't wanted to strangle him.) You won't tell him how he smells, either, primarily because you can't pin it down: do beetles smell like anything? No, right? But he doesn't smell much like a person, either, not even a sweaty person. It's grassy and musty and dusky, you suppose, but mostly... oily. He smells strongly like lamp oil.>[+3 ID: 9/13]But you can't tell him that, right? You have to keep it bundled up with the other facts, all the ones you vaguely feel you shouldn't know about a person. They never describe this hard in the novels, or you skip over it when they do. (Maybe you can tell him later.) He's squeezing you slightly. It's entirely possible that his body is the one heating up. Is he sweating oil? Is that it? That has to be it— you're sure that if you looked carefully it'd be yellowish. It's viscid enough. But you can't look, because you're locked out onto the unchanging sky, and if you asked he'd get all dumb and stuttery. But you can't just not confirm it, either. You need something to be correct about today. Fortunately, you know exactly how lamp oil ta...(2/3)
Gil doesn't just stiffen: he goes corpselike. Gravelike. His fingertips dig painfully into your back— "Ouwh," you say, tongue out— and he ceases to breathe, which would worry you if not for the continued hum of the motor and/or chest beetles. "Lottie," he forces out.Geez. You're kind of in the middle of something. "Mm-hm?""You're not... licking me...?""Ouh tah lih lah oil," you inform him."...What?..."You retract your tongue. "You taste like lamp oil. Or maybe not lamp oil exactly, but some kind of—"Gil releases you. He's gone an actively concerning shade of red, something like a third-degree sunburn, and has begun to scrub at his neck with his sleeve.You find this somewhat offensive. "Um, okay. Good regular hug. Good job. Are you sure you don't need to lie down? By the way, I'm thinking it might be flammable— your sweat— so you might want to incorporate that into the flamethrower design. Just saying. Also, do you actively control your beetles all the time? Also— ow."That wasn't a question. That was your head panging brutally. Gil won't look at you at first, having sunken back onto the ground, but when you switch from "ow"s to "AUGH"s he does. When you sink to your own knees, he cups his face in his hands. "What i-i-i-is it?">[-3 ID: 6/13]You don't know. How are you supposed to know? It just got worse, way way way worse, like he took a chisel to your skull. There's something happening around your chest, too, weirder than pain. There's no explaining that. "I think you have poison sweat..." you say semi-coherently."What?" He's grimacing. He hasn't gone much less red. "What the fuck are you— how do you live like this? How are you an actual—""How do we live like this..." The headache is excruciating, but you're more concerned about the chest thing, which is building all too fast. "Gil..."He laughs sharply and ducks his head and when he looks back his expression changes. "Oh, fuck. What the fuck.""...Gil...?""Don't look down. Please."You look down. There is a hand sticking straight out of you, a pale one, with manicured fingernails. Your chest is sunken in a little bit around it. "Ah," you say. "Ah. That doesn't... that doesn't usually...""Okay, cool. Cool goddamn fucking shit. I-I-I-I'm glad you don't— shit!" The hand lurches toward him. There's a whole arm, now, with wristwatch and shirtsleeve— with brass wristwatch, with white shirtsleeve, with fine blond hairs striping it. Gil is red and paralyzed until you grip the grass and yell "GRAB IT!" into his face, and then he bolts and grabs the hand and strains. It takes a second arm forcing itself out of your chest, and him grabbing that one too, before there's a suction noise and all-of-a-sudden two different men flying backwards past you.(3/4)
The pain has ceased entirely. Your chest is fine. One of the men is Gil, and the other is limp and sopping wet. When Gil stands— he's acquired a tight-jawed kind of look— the other doesn't. He's wearing a crumpled wet shirt and crumpled black pants and black dress shoes, and a tie. It's wet. It's yellow. It has a tiny scale print on it.You make a noise. A puddle has formed around the other man, and he splashes a little when he twitches. He also makes a noise, though not a particularly human one. Gil goes off to sulk against the tree.The other man attempts and fails to rise, and makes a definitely inhuman noise; he tries again and manages at least to flip onto his back. Richard, wet, stares up at the sky. His fingers tap the grass. His throat bobs."You're dead," you say, and his head flops over to look at you. "You're dead," you say, and his eyebrows go down. He gargles something, to no result. He tries again. "Kharr-he—?"That isn't Richard's voice— you'd be hard-pressed to even call it a snake sort of voice, though you suppose you wouldn't know. It's gutteral. He sounds like he just crawled out of the mud somewhere. Then again, he just crawled out of you. And that is Richard, unambiguously. You glance on Gil, who's laid himself out on his back, and swallow. "I'm Charlie. Yeah.""Kharrrr-he." He's smiling as best he can, but there's way too many teeth. His hand grasps in your direction. You feel bad for him, or something, feel— you don't know. You might've run out of good, describable emotions for the day. But you pick yourself up and crouch back down in front of him, in any case, and don't flinch when he cradles your temples. You do when he punches six fingers into the skin of your face, but fall blank immediately: the next thing you know he's pushing the holes closed. Your head is full of colors. You feel rifled-through.Richard is still sopping, but his lips are pulled back over a regular amount of teeth. "Charlie," he says softly.You are definitely out of feelings.> He's dead.> He's wet.> He sounded like a lizard or something.> He came out of your chest???> He gave you a headache.> You were doing just fine without him.> You **and Gil** were doing just fine without him.> You were going to take a nap.> You think you need a doctor. Like, a god doctor.> You killed him.> Write-in.
>>5537793I like that Charlotte's reaction to strangling impulses is "Oh God oh no" and not "He deserves it but I will control myself". This is the sort of thing many "better" people would fail to do in her circumstances, I suspect.>>5537798Goddammit Charlie.>>5537799Goddammit Richard.> He's dead.> You killed him.> He came out of your chest???> You think you need a doctor. Like, a god doctor.> You were going to take a nap.
>>5537799>11> "Richard." Just a statement. This is happening and you are here and while it's unexpected, you aren't really surprised.Should you kill him again, now while he is weak? Do you really need him?
>>5537799>> He's dead.> You killed him.> He came out of your chest???> You **and Gil** were doing just fine without him.> You think you need a doctor. Like, a god doctor.> You were going to take a nap.>>5537798Great amounts of spaghetti were dropped in this update...
>>5537799>1>10>4>7 if he starts getting all uppity
>>5537802>>5538061>>5538095>>5538151Majorities for , , , , and , plus I'll take >>5538061's write-in and  if Richard gets uppity.Writing...ish: will be sporadic, update likely to come out sometime in the evening.>>5537802>>5538095Aren't you glad we're getting back to normal? :^)
>Welcome back!"Richard," you say back to him. Your mouth still tastes like Gil's sweat.Like you, Richard might've run out of feelings: he's not discernably angry or self-satisfied or anything else you'd imagine, unless he's hiding it. He might be cleverly hiding it. Or it might be an imposter— a Richard gooplicate. (Except he came out of your chest.) Or, more reasonably, he's just not all there yet. Hasn't realized you killed him yet. That'd explain the doe-eyes.He hasn't responded to you (not that you said much of anything)— he's just struggling to sit up right now, dripping all over himself, leaving a square of crushed grass under him. Grass litters the back of his shirt. You don't know if you've ever seen Richard dirty before, unless the blood counts. You are going to say it doesn't.It occurs to you that you could try to kill him again. Your sword's at your hip, after all, and he's barely formed. There can't possibly be much resistance. Gil said you didn't need him, and he's— you— he's right, of course. You don't need Richard. Richard is mean to you, is obsessed with some stupid secret plan, has shocked you a couple times. He wears stupid clothes. He chain-smokes gross cigarettes. By all those standards, his redeeming traits are pretty thin on the ground. Maybe that means he deserves to die. You don't know. You just wish he weren't so wet and so dirty. You wish his first words weren't "Charlie" three times. He's sat up finally, and has taken your wrist. He's not doing anything with it. He just holds it in his cold damp hand and looks at you.You should kill him. More importantly, you should hate him— his reappearance should be inspiring revulsion and fury. You ought to be screaming in his face, and maybe waving your sword around. But he's moved his grip up a little, to make your hand all wet, and it's probably a deliberate ploy and you're probably a fool. But you can do nothing but think about how he's saved you, over and over, long past the point of reason— when surely it'd be easier to throw you out and get some other girl. And yes, he's an ass about it. And yes, Gil can replace him. (If he isn't too mad about the licking thing.) That doesn't change how sick you'd feel— how sick you felt. You killed him once, and it wasn't on purpose, and it created one of the worst days of your life. Killing him twice wouldn't just be evil; it'd be suicidal.Also, you don't know if it'd stick, and then it'd just be embarrassing if he showed up again. You don't technically know if he died, even. He vanished. You feel like you should clear this up."You're dead," you say."Yes," he says. "Well. I was."Okay, you don't miss the portentous statements. "Fine. You died, and now you're, what, not-dead—""Yes."Or the unhelpfulness. You bet he already knows— he's just trying to get you to admit it. Fine. "I killed you.""No, Charlie, you really didn't."Or the self-contradictions. "But—"
"I've told you I can't be killed." He strokes his thumb against the back of your hand. "And I wasn't. There was nothing to worry about."This is so evidently wrong that you struggle for a response. "But I stabbed—""Yes. What exactly did you stab?" (You sigh out your nose.) "I'll levy a guess. Was it this body?"Leading questions. You should've killed him. You narrow your eyes at him, to make sure he knows it."There's your problem, then. Remember that this body isn't real? You created it, primrose. If you destroy it, you simply create it again. No trouble." He pats your shoulder. "Well, a little trouble for me, I suppose, but nothing drastic. Just a swim." "...Uh-huh." This bit's GS. Richard died. Even if he's concealing every ounce of smugness, he shouldn't be passing up the opportunity to pass the blame your way. "I didn't create anything, though, I was just— I was going to take a nap, actually, and then—""Ah, that's life, isn't it. Full of interruptions to naps." He cracks a smile. "And I'm not saying it was conscious, Charlie, but I am— I am a creature of your mind. Yes? Were you thinking of me frequently?"God-damnit. "N...o.""Really? I'm hurt." (He should be hurt. But he sounds like he's joking.) "Nevertheless, I'm sure I take up a lot of passive space... family tends to, as a rule. So—"You freeze. "You're not my family.""No? Does your father not count as—?"Okay, so Richard is probably-certainly-definitely your long-dead father, except a snake and mean. You've got that. You thought you both moved past that, thought he did especially, given how he seemed to hate the whole concept— hate your father in particular, even. That's why it was always a "theory." A "possibility." He left room for error, and what a colossal, terrifying error it would've been. To be wrong about it all.He didn't just go and say it. Especially not lightly. You rise to your feet and step backwards. "...Richard?""What is it, Charlie?"So he responds to the name. That's weird. "What's the last thing you remember? Before this?""Before this?" He hooks his arm over his knee. "You wanted help with a... ritual, I believe."So essentially everything, short of the murdering and the being-dead. That's really weird. "...Okay. Just for fun, can you do something Richard-y? Like make something appear out of thin air, or—"He tilts his head and brandishes a soggy cigarette. Then he frowns. "Oh, that's no good.""No," you say. "...That's not good.""One moment." He closes his hand around it, then reopens it to reveal a soggy book of matches. "Hm. Might need to dry off."(2/4?)
"Y-es." You're fairly sure your real father couldn't make things appear, soggy or not. And Richard sounds like Richard— his voice isn't deeper. And yet. "Are you feeling okay?""Could be better, Charlie, could be better. Could be much worse, too, given the circumstances— I believe I'll be able to stand up fairly soon! Thanks for asking," says Nice Richard.He's not supposed to thank you for anything, unless that anything is "lying to his boss for him." It's A), a trick, or B), an impostor for real. Albeit a God-awful one. Or it's C), something has gone terribly wrong in Richard's brain, but you'd rather... you're going to go with A), for the time being, and keep an eye out for slip-ups. "Sure thing," you say, and clear your throat. "So where does the— um— so why did you come out of... me? ...Physically?""I'm inside of you," Nice Richard says matter-of-factly. (There is a strangled sound from the tree.) "Meta-physically. But this space is unreal, so there's a conflation of the two.""Okay," you say. "Great."Nice Richard smiles beatifically up at you and rises shakily to his feet. "Indeed. Thanks for your service, primrose."On your to-do list: get him to stop calling you that. Also, more thanking. This has to be his twisted revenge. "Sure thing."A period of silence follows. Richard adjusts his tie, which doesn't do much to help it. "Well, I suppose I ought to go shake Beetles' hand. Or legs, as it were. Seems as though he did quite a lot to—"You envision Gil being offered a handshake. "Um, I— I don't think that'll be necessary— I'm sure he can—" He's on the move. "Richard! Just hold on a—"You catch up quickly (he's moving at a shamble), but have the ill foresight to blink, after which he's already at the tree. The conversation is ongoing by the time you hustle over: Gil, unlit cigarette in hand, makes eye contact with you. "I-i-it's alright, really," he says pleadingly. "I-I-I-I didn't do much of—""Nonsense! I have it on excellent authority that—""What?" you say. "I can't remember him doing stuff either. Um, not that you didn't— I know you did stuff, Gil, it's just all blanked out." A cleaned and bandaged wound. "But I'm not an excellent authority, and you were dead, Richard, so—""Alright, alright," says Nice Richard. "So I may have over-exaggerated! But you're clearly in good health, Charlie, after quite an ordeal— or so it seems— and I think that's worthy of—"Gil hasn't broken eye contact once. You swallow. "I don't know about... um, I still have god stuff, Richard. I think.""Sorry?""I got it from... you. The ritual."A shadow passes over him. "I see.""Yeah," you say. "So—""Well, I did inform you that 'rituals' weren't exactly in my— I don't dabble in religion, Charlie, it's not really my—" He's blinking a lot. "Excuse me."(3/4)
He turns and walks a few paces away. Gil raises his eyebrows meaningfully at you, and all you can do is shrug back. No. You don't know what's wrong with him. (It could still be nothing.) When a minute passes and Richard doesn't come back, you plop down in front of Gil. The cigarette is clenched in his teeth; he's striking it up. "Doesn't that knock you out?" you say.He shoves it into the corner of his mouth. "I-I-I-I really need something. This is the weirdest day of my goddamn— are you sure that's Richard?""Not really." You cross your legs. "Maybe he'll get better.""You mean worse?" he mumbles."...You know what I mean. You're honestly going to knock yourself out? Doesn't it hurt?""I-I just go numb." That actually sounds kind of nice, not that you'd tell him that. "Oh.""Yeah." He inhales, and his eyes go a tad glassy. "Need something?"> Yeah! Richard is either EVILLY TRICKING you, or he's gone INSANE, and either way you need to fix it as fast as possible. You'd like backup.>>[A] Whenever Richard's acted suspiciously nice before, he's resolved it by getting very drunk. Also, you wouldn't mind getting very drunk. Coincidentally. Enlist Gil's help in procuring alcoholic beverages.>>[B] Having been distracted by much nastier and less fun magyckal powers, you haven't recently had a chance to utilize your bloodline-granted Magyckal Powers. Correct this by communing with Richard to ascertain his inmost turmoil, or whatnot. [Communion. Spend 1 ID.] >>[C] Something something, hair of the dog: so you killed Richard for god powers, right, and now he's acting weird when you bring up god powers. So possibly god powers will fix him right up, and Gil can defibrillate you if it goes south? [-1 SV]>>[D] Write-in.> No. You guess not. Just take a nap on the grass near him. Richard can wake you up if he has something to say— God knows he's done that plenty of times. (And maybe it's okay if he's nice for a little while. Or a long while.)> Write-in.
>>5538885> No. You guess not. Just take a nap on the grass near him. Richard can wake you up if he has something to say— God knows he's done that plenty of times. (And maybe it's okay if he's nice for a little while. Or a long while.)
>>5538885>2this is awesomemaybe we killed the evil snake part and now only the nice dad part is left
>>5538885> Write inFix the three of you some drinks. Clearly alcohol is needed.Also it looks like Richard is having trouble figuring out who he is. Fair is fair, see how he likes it. Maybe we should ask him if he wants us to try and turn him back, or finish the process. Maybe let him know that being the snake means we're gonna kill him for good sooner or later so he can either be Richard the metaphorical but not actual snake or our dad-figment.Had enough of his shit though and I for one don't regret murdering his sense of self and would do it again in a heartbeat.
>>5539193There's the snake, then there's the semi-independent "Richard" identity overlay, and then there is our Dad software that we overwrote the Richard identity with.Kill the snake, fuck Richard, cry because our dad is fake and we know it.I personally could tolerate the Richard identity becoming the real one instead of the snake, but he has to shit or get off the pot regardless of policy or what his superiors want. Either he wants to be real with all the mess that entails, or we're gonna pick a less powerful but more helpful and non-memory erasing option of our Dad.
>>5538916>>5539193>>5539223>>>5539343>Called for  and writing.>>5539343>>5539349You won't be able to use any of this this update, for obvious reasons, but keep it in your back pocket.
>Naptime"No." You pause. "Can I lie down?"Gil loosely pats the grass. You locate a spot at a decorous distance, pick a few rocks out of the way, and lay yourself down. There's a handful of stars out, but it's still awfully bright outside. You rest your arm over your eyes."Oh," Gil says sludgily. "Sorry. Give me a..."The breeze turns a little cooler, and you lift your arm to discover the night sky. Richard, silhouetted against it, hasn't moved. Gil's hand slumps into his lap. The cigarette glows."...Thanks," you say, and wrap your arms around yourself. You close your eyes. "Gil?""Mmm.""I just thought you should know, um, that you weren't stuttering earlier. For a while there, I mean.""Mm.""Okay," you say. "...Good night."Gil doesn't make any more noise after that. Shallow sleep comes fast for you, and, with the dark and the smoke, deep sleep follows.You dream.-You are kneeling on the sand of a white beach. All around you are footprints and disturbances, but you have swept away an area for yourself. You are cradling a tortoiseshell-handled knife.Some things can't be forgiven.There is something red inside you still. You have to get it out of you.Some things can't be forgotten.You wrap your hands around the slick handle. You stare out at the yellow horizon, and it stares back. The red water froths.It's okay. I love you, Charlie. I forgive you. It's not your fault. It's okay.You breathe deeply and plunge the blade down into your stomach. It bounces off....You, er, you plunge your blade into your— it bounces off again. You slash your shirt open and prod your stomach desperately, only to find it riddled with fine white scales. You poke them with the tip of the knife. They make a 'tink' noise.Do you expect me to stand idly by while you get stabbed in all your soft fleshy body parts. Charlotte.You don't own armor. Now you won't need to.Damnit. Damnit! You try again for good measure, to no success, and throw the knife to the ground. It lays there. You haul yourself up furiously and brush the sand off and look out at the water.Hey. It's not time yet.(1/2)
Something lays a hand on your shoulder, and before you even register that it's scaled you whip around. Something is behind you, a... lizard thing, white all over, crowned with spines. One yellow eye, one blank one. Twice your height, but most of it is neck.(Even dreaming, this registers as highly unusual. In your sleep you mumble and roll over.)And you shouldn't be doing that, either. The lizard-thing's voice is vaguely feminine, but it's hard to discern more. It sounds as though it's coming from very far away. It wasn't your fault. You can't blame yourself."What?" you say.You claw yourself up inside, even if you don't know it. You make yourself bleed. No wonder you're prone to infection."Richard's back," you say. "He's normal." You don't like to tell the truth to lizard-things.He's dead. He was killed brutally, in cold blood, by his only daughter. A murder-suicide.And I have come to tell you that you have to forgive yourself for it."I don't know what you're talking about," you say. "He's back. As of literally just now." He is never coming back. He will always be missing from you....But I might have misjudged my timing.The lizard-thing, grand high poobah of reading your mind (apparently), drags its tail around itself. It leaves a sweeping circle in the sand. I will offer you a gift instead....I know you like gifts.You don't know if you like gifts. You don't get a lot of gifts. You like the idea of gifts, maybe.It's the same thing.What would you like?> Its name.> Its absence.> A pink paper umbrella.> Can it get rid of your red stuff?> You have these... fangs. And you think Richard was supposed to hook them up to something, to make them worth the trouble, but he's gone all weird. (Not dead. Just weird.) It seems like a fang expert, being a lizard and all that. Could it... er... help?> A good night's sleep. No interruptions. No snake on your neck. No horrible disaster to discover in the morning. Just rest.> Write-in.
>>5540094> Can it get rid of your red stuff?
>>5540094>> Can it get rid of your red stuff?>> You have these... fangs. And you think Richard was supposed to hook them up to something, to make them worth the trouble, but he's gone all weird. (Not dead. Just weird.) It seems like a fang expert, being a lizard and all that. Could it... er... help?Can we pick more than one?
>>5540094OH SHIT that's Charlotte's final form from the future, isn't it?
>>5540306You can pick as many as you want, but you probably shouldn't be tacky about it.>>5540319I dunno!
>>5540094> To be fixed. Get our eye back, be able to see again, to have mental clarity and our lost memories returned to us.
>>5540094> You have these... fangs. And you think Richard was supposed to hook them up to something, to make them worth the trouble, but he's gone all weird. (Not dead. Just weird.) It seems like a fang expert, being a lizard and all that. Could it... er... help?> If it could get rid of the guilt, that would be swell.
>>5540094I'll also support this >>5540366
>>5540094>5ah yes, the grand high poobah of our mind, excellent
>>5540207>>5540306>>5540366>>5540531>>5540589>>5540613I can combine these. Writing, likely to be a quick update as long as I don't get distracted.
>PresentsThe lizard-thing sounds earnest. You don't have a lot of people to turn to."I— I need help. I, uh—" The knife. You scoop it back up and offer it out. "I— I can't get it through my skin. Please. Could you—"...Sure.It leans its neck all the way down, unhinges its jaw, and unfurls a slender forked tongue, which spirals around the knife's handle and draws it back into the thing's mouth. It grips the handle carefully between its teeth for a second, makes eye contact, and crunches down. The metal warps. The tortoiseshell shatters.Your lip wobbles. "I needed that!"Like hell you did. The thing spits the remnants onto the ground. That thing is tainted. It's evil."You're evil!" You step back. The sand crunches beneath your feet. "I— I— you don't understand. Please, you don't— I'm SICK! I'm sick, and I need to— I- don't know how else to fix it. Please. I need to get it out of me. Please give me my—"You're not fixing anything. You're just hurting yourself. Please.I just want to give you a gift."My knife," you say.Lottie."Get the red stuff out of me."You're the one keeping it inside. It's feeding off you."Fix me."You're not broken.The unseen sun beats down on you. You can do nothing but scoff. Or wrong. Or diseased. Or defective. I know what goes on in there.You've just... differed. You've changed, and you'll change more. You will have to change more.But nothing can take you back to what was. What's been stolen is lost. Forgive yourself it and move on....I hate to see you suffer."Then take that," you say, "if you hate it so much. Cut it out."It'd kill you."Good," you say, before you know what's out of your mouth, and then you ball your hands and stare at the ground. The lizard-thing drops onto its haunches, swinging its ridged head all the way down to eye level. It makes a soft hissing noise....I should've known it'd go like this. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come.You don't even know what I'm talking about."I don't actually want it to kill me," you mumble.I know."I was just saying that."I know.I'm sorry I can't be of use. I'm not that much more than you are, no matter how much they'd like me to be."You're..." You tighten your lips. "You're a... big lizard? You've got, um, claws, and a big tail, and scales— I mean, I only have scales in a couple of places—"Er. Yes."—and big fangs— I guess I've got fangs, or whatever, but they're not good for anything. I can't chew knives—"...Have you tried?"Um, no." You pause. "Maybe I will. But I bet you've got lizard venom, and I don't— Richard never got that wired up— so mine are just worthless—"The thing straightens its neck. Well, that's a problem, isn't it?"Yes?" you say. "Yes."(1/2)
I have picked up a few tricks. I think I can do this much.You really want this? It can be a real pain."I already have the teeth," you say.Okay. I owe you this one.Open up.>What kind of venom do you get? You will be mildly immunized to its effects, but can still dose yourself with it if you really make an effort.> Paralytic. Like a proper snake.> Sedative.> Hallucinogenic.> Hypnotic. Induces suggestibility, not mind control.> Write-in.
>>5540953> HypnoticFinally, no more spending ID!
>>5540965I mean, you still have to bite and/or surreptitiously inject somebody with venom, so it's not a freebie-- Richard or Advanced Gaslighting are typically going to be easier, less potentially violent options, even if they cost ID. (Not trying to warn you off the vote, but want to give complete context here.)
>>5540953>> Paralytic. Like a proper snake.
>>5540953> Paralytic. Like a proper snake.we are proper!3 is tempting though
I am not actually going to call the vote yet, since 2:1 could be swung pretty easily, but since the content of the update is largely noncontingent on what venom wins I *am* going to get started on writing. Update most likely in the morning.
>>5540953> Hypnotic.We can always hypnotize ourselves.
> Paralytic. Like a proper snake.Sedative is a personal favorite but I'd rather have the funny haha paralysis shenanigans then let the hypnochud win *~*
>>5540979>>5541091>>5541811>>>5540965>>5541393>Called for  and posting the update.
>Dental workYou open your mouth.No, sorry.I meant [OPEN] up.There's no choice in the matter. Your neck cracks backward at a 90 degree angle. Your jaw flips open like a book. You feel nothing at all as the lizard-thing cranes its head over you.That should work.I won't need that long.It hardly matters how long it takes, since you may as well be carved of stone: it's impossible for you to move, speak, or react. You can only assume that the lizard-thing is mucking around in your mouth, and that it hasn't just vanished. All you can see is sand. If there's one consolation, it's that your neck isn't sore— but you're still relieved when your jaw snaps shut and your head swings forward. Your tongue, dry and swollen, fits oddly against the roof of your mouth. There's something soft on either side of your palate.Glands.Assuming it went well, at least. I think it went well.You wish the thing operating on your body had a little more confidence, but it's too late to quibble. Your saliva is strangely astringent, and when you spit into your palm it's tinted yellowish. You suppose this is a good sign, though you don't feel very good looking at it. Of course it went well! Yes. Careful with that. It doesn't take a lot.Except for you. You'll need a lot. Just keep pumping until you're woozy, got it? If you... if you wanted to do it on yourself.Not sure if I'd recommend that."Noted," you say thickly. "...Thanks. I guess."No need to thank me. The lizard-thing coils its neck up. Something to remember me by. Forgive yourself, that's all I ask.For my sake, if not yours.Good luck in the coming months, Lottie."...You too."I don't have any time left. I have something to finish. But thank you.You might've responded if the lizard-thing hadn't vanished just then. Instead your ears start to ring, and you—-—sit upright. You are in a strange dark room, and you cycle through several probabilities— kidnapped? different manse?— before it dawns on you that you're in Hell. In Earl's hovel, or house, or whatever it is. In... you didn't spare much time to consider who's bed this was, but it must be his. (No way there's any room in here for guests.)It's nighttime, if it wasn't before, judging from the lack of glorb-light from the other rooms. (And from the ricocheting snoring.) Nobody's kicked you out of here, meaning you have tacit permission to stay. Also, you don't want to move.Your spit still tastes funny. You try to ignore this and succeed. You sleep.(1/3)
->[ID: 13/13]Daylight's filtering in from somewhere, and after you roll out of bed you discover there's a few small holes bored into the ceiling. Clever! you think. Ingenious! You feel indescribably better than previous, refilled with heroic spirit and vigor and verve and pep and everything else you can think of. Today is going to be a good day. You can feel it. Mainly, there's no possible way it can go any worse than yesterday, and that's something you're holding close to your heart. Also, you can hound Pat about Gil's new body, and Gil can actually get a body, and that's— that's a big deal, isn't it? That's enormous. You feel awful about being so crabby about that....You mean, you feel fine! You feel great. You're already squeezing down the barely-even-a-hallway with a pep (zest, zing, brio) in your step, flouncing into the room you first—"Oh, hey, Charlotte." Madrigal's seated at a tiny yellow table, picking at a tin of... something. "Hello, Charlie." Richard is— Richard, a person, is sitting directly across from her. He's got a dressing gown on, and he's sipping at a mug of... something.Your eyes dart between them. "Hi?""Have a good rest? You must've been laid out like a sack of shit, since we got fucking loud. And speaking of—" She points her bent fork at you. "—better keep it down, because Pat and Earl are still sacked out. If you catch my drift.""...How much did you all drink?" you say. Richard's mug smells bitter."Ha!" You wait to see if a real response follows, but Madrigal just goes back to her tin. You narrow your eyes. "You don't seem hungover.""Oh, yeah, that's the best fucking— I feel fine. I think the nightmare shit sopped it all up for me. Do you want some pears?""Huh? ...Real pears?""Yeah! I mean, canned, and god-fucking-knows how long they've been— they're salvage, is what I mean. From the trash fields. But if you can live your whole chest gored open, you can live bad fruit, huh?" Madrigal shakes the tin. "You can at least sit down. Claim the primo real estate while it's open. By the way, I admire your colossal swinging balls, sniping Earl's bed like that—"There are two tiny chairs at the tiny table. Madrigal is in one. Richard is in the other. "...There?" you say, and point square at Richard."Uh... yes? Do you fucking see anywhere else? If you don't want the pears, just—""I haven't decided about the pears," you say, and glare at Richard. He sips back.(2/3)
"Okay, geez. They're going fast, is all I'm saying. Uh, other news... too late to leave for camp, sorry. Stuck here for another day. We can see the fucking sights, hang with Earl, whatever. Oh— oh, shit, and—" She bangs the table with her palm and sits back, looking proud of herself. "—we're going to go see Ellery today. That fucker.""Um," you say. "What?""Oh, yeah. Got it all decided last night. Get this— you'll never believe it— Earl knows the guy, too. I mean the real one. And I have heard some shit. So the way I see it, it's just about my sworn duty to mosey over and sock him in the fucking eye."You don't disagree with the socking, necessarily. It's just everything else. "I— but— it's my case?""And you did a great job! Never would've found out he was a sniveling piece of shit without you, seriously. The whole double thing..." She waves her fork in a circle. "Fucking figures. But I've got the rest from here, I think."Ah... hah.>[A1] Convince Madrigal that you deserve to be taking point here. Since you do. What has *she* done for the investigation, exactly? (Optional: write-in arguments for bonuses.) [Roll.]>[A2] "Convince" Madrigal that you deserve to be taking point here. (Optional: write-in rationale for bonuses. Advanced Gaslighting.) [Roll.]>[A3] If she wants to be in charge to sate her filthy, bloated ego, fine— but you insist on coming along to watch, since you did all the work. She can't turn that down without looking like an ass, right?>[A4] You... you already committed to this being a better day. So you're not going to let this affect you! In any way! It's better for your health to never see Ellery again, quite frankly, so if Madrigal wants to catch diseases that's her business. (You'll take Madrigal POV when the confrontation happens.)>[A5] Write-in.>[B1] Consume pears.>[B2] Engage in power struggle over pears.>[B3] Decline pears.>[C1] Kick Richard out of the chair.>[C2] Inform Madrigal that Richard's already in the chair. (She knows about him, so it's not weird. That weird.)>[C3] Stand.
>>5541829>[A3] If she wants to be in charge to sate her filthy, bloated ego, fine— but you insist on coming along to watch, since you did all the work. She can't turn that down without looking like an ass, right?>[A5] By the way, we DID do all the work. Isn't this how plucky heroines usually happen upon plot-critical stuff? Serendipitously? Madrigal probably doesn't even know what "serendipitous" means. She can't even pronounce it, we bet.>[B1] Consume pears.>[C1] Kick Richard out of the chair.
>>5541829>A3>B1good thing gil isnt here to hear about these pears>C2richard is now too nice to kick out, and maddy does know about himi wonder what would happen if we sat in the chair anyway, he's not solid
>>5541829>[A3] If she wants to be in charge to sate her filthy, bloated ego, fine— but you insist on coming along to watch, since you did all the work. She can't turn that down without looking like an ass, right?Charlotte likes to watch>[B1] Consume pears.Something something pair of deez nuts.>[C2] Inform Madrigal that Richard's already in the chair. (She knows about him, so it's not weird. That weird.)Maybe mention that he's back.
>>5541858>>5541974>>5542152Calling for [A3]+write-in, [B1], and [C2]. Writing soon.>>5542152>Maybe mention that he's back.Madrigal has no idea he was gone in the first place, so there's no need to do this.
>CapitulateYou exhibit an impressive degree of restraint, in your opinion, in that all you do is scowl viciously. Madrigal leans back. "So I'm thinking that's a 'no' on the pears?""I didn't say that," you hiss. "I want the damn—""Wow. Language." She's smirking. "Well, I'm not gonna throw them at you, so if you'll sit like a regular person—"You bare your teeth at her and at Richard, who rests his elbow against the back of the chair. "Manners, Charlie.""Holy fuck. It's not fucking booby-trapped, Charlotte." The smirk has dropped. "I go out of my fucking way to be polite—"And here's where you get into the petty insults, the raised voices, somebody punching somebody else in the nose— you hope she'd know you'd win a fight, but you don't think that'd stop her. And then hungover Earl kicks you both out, and you slog back to camp without Pat, and Gil doesn't get a body, and Madrigal tells everybody she broke herself out, and that she won the fight she didn't win. And then they all believe her, and not you, and maybe you're kicked out of camp for good measure. This is how it goes with you and Madrigal. If she thinks Ellery's done with, then the truce is over. It's inevitable. You lose.And you know it's inevitable, because you can feel your hackles raising— it's not what she says so much as how she says it, some aspect of her voice precisely tuned to piss you off. You can't help it. These are the sacrifices one makes when facing down a sworn rival, a—"You could just use your words, primrose. All this brooding's going to give you an aneurysm."Your eyes fix on Richard. "Huh?""Your blood pressure's spiking," he says, and drains the last of his coffee. "I worry about you, that's all. I think it'd be healthier if you learned to let go of—"Just a stupid trick. You blink hard. Madrigal stands. "Okay, what the fuck. This is a whole new—""Richard's there," you say tightly."What?""I can't sit down. Richard's in that chair." Richard, in your peripheral vision, is flashing you a thumbs-up. "He's drinking... kaffee?""Coffee?" Madrigal squints across the table. "Are you yanking my chain?""No.""What the fuck..." She leans across the table and waves her hand in Richard's face. He cranes himself away decorously. "Here?""Um, yes.""Why didn't you just say so? Tell him to get the fuck out of your chair. What does a ghost need a fucking chair for—""...He's not a ghost..." You look at Richard.He's already lifting himself out, and pats you on the shoulder as he goes. "You could've just asked, Charlie."(1/3)
You press your lips together and sit quickly. You cross your legs. The chair is still warm, and Madrigal pushes the tin across the table. "He's standing," you say by explanation, and examine the pears. They're pale, like skin, and shellacked-looking. Madrigal's gaze is hot on you, so you pick one up between two fingers and bite in.The tension dissipates nearly as fast as the pear: you don't know if it was the canning or the seawater or its unknown age, or your saliva, but you end up swallowing a sweet particulate mush. It might or might not taste of pear. Madrigal, relaxed, leans back in her chair. "Well, it's still some shit. I'd tell you to get it operated on, but I don't think— I don't think Ellery was all that pleased with his results, honestly. So maybe lesser evils. I dunno."Lesser evils. "Yeah," you say, and wish you had a mug or a fork of your own. Something to twiddle. "Well, anyways. I figure I'll go kick the shit out of Ellery a little later, since I think I— think Pat's gotta wake up for that. Or Earl, I can't remember. Or both? Someone's been in his head before, so they've got the— the combo, or whatever it—""I've been in there," you say defensively."What? Really? ...When?"Did you tell her about it? You can't remember, so you guess you're glad she can't either. "Back at the start. After you first contracted me to—""Sheesh." Madrigal taps on the edge of the table. You swallow another pear, your stomach tightening. "Your words, Charlie," Richard says.You hate him. "So I should— I should go. See Ellery. Since I've been there, and I did all the work, and before you say I didn't do any work I'll have you know that serendipity is a, a, a time-honored skill of heroines everywhere, and I masterfully utilized it to uncover—""Okay. Slow your fucking roll." Madrigal places her hands flat on the table. "It's my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend.""I don't want to court him," you mutter. "I just want to see you punch him in the eyeball.""Oh." She frowns. "You're not going to fuck with it?"With what? "No.""...If you're not going to fuck with it, I guess you can watch. Serves him fucking right, having an audience." She folds her arms. "But I call the shots, got it? It's my boy... ex-boyfriend."This means that you have to talk to Ellery less, so according to Richard it's probably good for your blood pressure. "Fine. Sure.""...Great! Well, I guess we—"(2/3)
"Ladies!" Earl has appeared in the hallway, awfully jovial for being hungover— though his face is redder and puffier than usual, and he's holding the top of his head with one hand. He is not wearing a shirt. You avert your eyes. "How are we doing on this fine morning? I see you've found the tins— wonderful— and how was the bed? I was told you've been sleeping on cots this whole time—""Where'd you wind up?" Madrigal says."Oh—" He waves his free hand. "—found a rug, found a rug. Enough meat on your bones, drink in your system, anywhere's cozy. Have you seen Buster?""On the wall.""Phew. Ow." He clutches his head a little tighter. "Always hope I don't step on him. Same color as the ground... what's going on with you ladies?"> Engage in frivolous ""social interaction."">>[A] Show Earl your teeth. He was highly impressed the first time, so you're sure he'll be pleased with the upgrade.>>[B] Ask why he keeps a bug in his house.>>[C] Ask how the "night jobs" are going.>>[D] Thank him for the tip about Ellery's private meeting.>>[E] Ask what he thinks of "Nettie"— since his opinion is untainted by the kidnapping.>>[F] Ask how much they actually drank last night. (You need to scope out your competition.)>>[G] "Ask" that Earl put a shirt on, immediately, so he ceases to assault the eyes of young women. Is he even married?>>[H] Hey, where did Matches go?>>[I] Madrigal keeps mentioning stuff about nightmares. What is she talking about?>>[J] Write-in. > Let Madrigal talk while you hunt down Pat— you're not going to make Gil wait a second longer than he needs to!> Write-in.
>>5542392> Engage in frivolous ""social interaction."">>[A] Show Earl your teeth. He was highly impressed the first time, so you're sure he'll be pleased with the upgrade.>>[B] Ask why he keeps a bug in his house.>>[E] Ask what he thinks of "Nettie"— since his opinion is untainted by the kidnapping.>>[F] Ask how much they actually drank last night. (You need to scope out your competition.)>>[H] Hey, where did Matches go?>>[I] Madrigal keeps mentioning stuff about nightmares. What is she talking about?
>>5542392>1A, C, E, H, I, JApologize to Earl for commandeering his bed, we were too tired to realize
>>55423921a, b, d> Ask Richdad what he knows about EarlYes in front of Earl. See his reaction to Richdad being in our snake soul.Honestly it hasn't been long but this new Richard/Dad is an improvement.
>>5542392>A, b, e, h, i, j
Wew. Let's count.>>5542407>>5542733>>5542795>>5543394>[A]>>5542407>>5542795>>5543394>[B]>>5542733>[C]>>5542795>[D]>>5542407>>5542733>>5543394>[E]>>5542407>[F]>>5542407>>5542733>>5543394>[H]>>5542407>>5542733>>5543394>[I]>>5542733>>5543394>[J]Called for A, B, E, H, I, and J. Like the vote earlier with Gil, these topics may or may not be split up over multiple updates. Writing. >>5542795>Ask Richdad what he knows about EarlCharlotte might not be all that socially adept, but she's spent a long time covering up Richard's existence-- I don't think she'd be comfortable holding a full verbal conversation with him in front of other people! (Yes, Earl does know about the "Dread and Terrible Beast," but only vaguely-- plus Charlotte doesn't know him that well.) If you can provide more IC rationale for this, I would be more willing to accept this as a write-in. Alternately, you can ask Richard what he thinks in private a little later, or try to sneak in some mental conversation if/when Earl gets distracted.
>>5543418Well, what better way to introduce the great and terrible beast AND regaining control of the situation by unveiling knowledge esoteric and strange about Earl that only our Dad would know.Also it would suss out if we could trust him, and if Richdad is actually an independent entity or the mental manifestation of our maddened self loathing and insecurities.
>>5543450Not bad, but I think I'll put this up to a vote, since "regaining control of the situation" is fairly separate from "engage in normal social interaction." I'll try to work it in as an option at the end of the upcoming one, how about that?
>Normal conversation"Got her up to speed on Ellery," Madrigal says, and forks a pear out from across the table. "Not much else... I think she just woke up, too. How are you—""Why do you keep a bug in your house?" you say. "A bug? Hahaha! Ow." Earl winces briefly. "Buster's pretty big to be called a bug— what wall was he on?" Madrigal points, and he shuffles off, returning shortly after with "Buster" cradled in his arms. It looks undoubtedly like a bug. "See?" says Earl, holding it out to you. "He's a big guy! Don't know what he is, exactly— I've been thinking a sort of lobster?""Dunno about that. No claws." Madrigal swallows the pear. "Too fat, too, I think.""But he's got the shell, doesn't he? I keep meaning to ask Morris about him, but she's not really a... talker. Great lady, very reliable, not a talker. Would you like to touch him?" He's registered your gaze. "He's a sweetie! Doesn't bite, or sting, or—"Do you want to touch Earl's bug? It's a stupid ugly bug— nothing at all like Annie, God rest her. There's no love in those beady little..."I didn't raise you to be squeamish, Charlie." Richard rests his forearms on the back of your chair. "It doesn't seem likely to hurt you, and if it does it's easily repairable. Besides, think of what message you're sending to your friend Gil? He's 'bugs,' surely?"He didn't raise you. And he doesn't call Gil 'Gil,' and he doesn't call him your friend, which— you— well— he's your retainer, which takes precedent over all states of friendship or non-friendship, and doesn't make any embarrassing assumptions about anything. But you're splitting hairs. More important than Richard's stupid trick are Madrigal and Earl's reactions, and right now they're staring you down. Patiently.You touch the bug. It's smooth. Its feelers and legs wave about aimlessly."Easy to take care of?" Madrigal comments."Oh, yeah! He takes care of himself. Eats scum off the walls, whatever I throw him— hardy bugger. Guess you'd have to be, to come from Hell. Huh, buddy?" Earl coos at the bug. "Who's a tough—"Something occurs to you. "Where'd the snake go? Madrigal, your—""Matches? In the alcove. Thing's in a tank, it's not going anywhere." "Oh," you say. "Put it up there before we started drinking, not to worry." She smirks. "Sorry you missed all that. His neighbor's shit is— I mean, it's some shit. Though with how you were feeling last night, I dunno, maybe Earl's bed—"Richard leans in near your ear. "Charlie, you should apologize."Apologize? (You definitely hate him.) He said he was fine with it, and nobody kicked you out, and it's not like there was a sign on the stupid—"Just because people say they're fine doesn't mean they are. People lie, primrose." He's touching your hair. "And even if he is fine, it's still the proper thing to do."(1/3)
What is he doing? Pulling the Aunt Ruby card on you? Fine. "Sorry about that," you mutter. "I wasn't really concentrating on whose bed it was."Madrigal arches her eyebrows. "Geez. Is Hell freezing over?""Shut up," you mutter quieter, as Earl plops Buster on the table and pounds you on the back. "Aw! It's no big deal! I've heard it's good for the spine, sleeping on flat surfaces. Guests come first, that's what I think—""He was basically asleep on the ground as-is, Charlotte. Not sure he could've found bed." She props her chin on her hand. "Still not as bad as Pa— as Nettie, though. Fucking lightweight. Basically turned to sludge.""Really?" Maybe you are a little sorry you missed this. "Um, literally?""Kinda literally. She bowed out early, put it like that. Didn't even see the teeth necklace."You blink. "The teeth...?""Do you wanna see? It's what it sounds like. Man lost all his fucking teeth—" She points at Earl. "—decided to string 'em all up— how did we even get on that fucking topic?""Body parts," Earl says."Body parts falling out! Shit, yeah. Like my eyeballs. Crazy stuff, crazy—"She's probably tricking you here, just like Richard. It'll all turn out to make you look foolish. But you can't not ask. "Um... your eyeballs fell out?""Oh! Yeah! Fuck! I never told you about—" Madrigal beams, digs her fingernails into the corners of her eyes, and pops her eyeballs out. Her eye sockets are inky pits. "Watch the blood pressure," Richard says soothingly.Gee. Thanks. If he weren't so committed to the bit, he could administer you calming drugs like a normal snake, but instead you get useless platitudes while Madrigal rolls her literal eyeballs around on the table. They are presumably smearing eyeball gunk everywhere, and you're trying not to look, but if you look into her lack-of-eyes instead your throat starts to tighten. So there's that.>[-1 ID: 12/13]"Pretty fucking great, huh?" She is unaware of what she's inflicting on you, or she's reveling in it. One or the other. "I don't even know what the point is. Same with the digs. Best I can tell, it just comes free with all the rest of the nightmare—""You keep saying that," you mumble."Oh! Sorry. Yeah, long story short, I sucked up some spooky... some nightmare shit, basically, some darkness, please don't ask how, and then I kicked Pat's ass with it. And now I can do this! At least for now." She waves the eyeballs between her fingers. "Not sure if it'll stick once I'm back to the real deal, but I'll—"(2/3)
She what? She absorbed something? And then she got spooky powers, enabling her to kick Pat's ass without needing your help at all? Madrigal? That's not— who the hell decided that was okay? Madrigal doesn't get powers, and she doesn't get cool, scary, thematically coherent powers, and she doesn't get to enjoy them. You just— you're sorry, does she have a noble bloodline you don't know about? Does she have a grand destiny? Or even a budget one? You didn't think so. You were kind of thinking that that's what gave you the edge in the rivalship, that if she got to be the bitch-in-a-cool-way and you were just a bitch, at least you could punch her in the face harder? At least you had an awesome sword? Except she— God-damnit. She had an awesome spear, back in the sewer. Way better than her old one."It's not that bad, Charlie. The eyeballs aren't real." Richard's still toying with your hair. Is he putting it up? "You could do the same thing, if you had that body and enough detachment— she won't be able to replicate it when human. She'll hurt herself if she tries."No! That isn't good enough! She has taken her eyeballs out right now, right in front of you, and Earl in your peripheral vision is loving it, and his stupid bug is loving it, and— no way you can let this stand righteously unchallenged. No way. It's against your nature.>You will always show off your awesome teeth. Please vote for any additional things you'd like to attempt to do in order to own Madrigal epically. (Rolls and ID loss stack.) > Demonstrate your *venom.* You assume that it actually works. (How do you plan on doing this?)> Convince Richard to help you unhinge your jaw. You know for a fact that Earl's a fan of this. [-1 ID.]> "Commune" with your Dread and Terrible Beast, drawing from its horrible power strange... um... wisdom? Secrets about Earl? Madrigal will know what's up, but she's not the one you're trying to impress, and if you do it right you can keep her quiet. [Roll.]> Actually commune with somebody. From your experience with Guppy, it's got to be pretty intimidating on the receiving end— and you bet *Madrigal* can't do it. (Do you commune with Madrigal or Earl?) [-1 ID.]> Cut the knot and Advanced Gaslight them both. Done. (What do you try to convince them of?) [Roll.]> Just the teeth, ma'am.> Write-in.
>>5543544> Convince Richard to help you unhinge your jaw. You know for a fact that Earl's a fan of this. [-1 ID.]
>>5543544> Convince Richard to help you unhinge your jaw. You know for a fact that Earl's a fan of this. [-1 ID.]Inb4 Maddy replicates that and we lose more ID
>>5543544>4MaddyMaybe we can pick up exactly how she rescued herself, and convince ourselves we could have made it go better if we rescued her
>>55435442. Communing can wait until after he loses a dick measuring contest with a woman
>>5543547>>5543552>>5544259>>>5543794>Called for . Unfortunately, I'm weirdly exhausted right now, to the point where I don't see myself physically making to the end of this update; I think I'm going to make myself some tea and see if that improves matters, but if it doesn't I'll have to push this to tomorrow. Consider the update a "maybe," and my apologies.
>I am feel uncomfortable when we are not about me?You feel bad for Madrigal, really. You laugh at her. Ha! She might be all disgusting and smug now, but she hasn't realized that you have a trick up your sleeve— a definite, proven way to establish your superiority. Taking out eyeballs is all well and good, but there's only one path to "Toothless" Earl's heart, and that's by having giant, awesome teeth.Or so you're hoping. But he did respond well to you showing off the teeth back when you first met him properly, and you have gotten them... upgraded, so you— yes. It's foolproof! But you, being enfilled with heroic vigor, refuse to settle for mere foolproofery. There is no glory in foolproofery. No: you must dash Madrigal's ego into little pieces, and grind the pieces under your heel, and this requires something bigger and better than merely opening your mouth....Primarily bigger. As big as it can go, really. Er. Richard?"What can I do for you?"Why doesn't he talk to you in your mind anymore? Is it spite? Um. Ahem. Could he unhinge your jaw real quick?"Your jaw?" He touches your chin. "I think it's beautiful just the way it is, Charlie, but if you really—"Beautiful? God-damned— (You exhale.) You don't want it permanently unhinged, thanks, it's for— it's for righteous purposes, and does he know he used to leap at these opportunities? The day before yesterday, he would've leapt—"I know I haven't always treated you the best, primrose. I'm sorry." He sounds sorry. "But if you feel strongly about it, of course I'd be happy to help. It might feel funny—""I know," you say. "Huh?" says Madrigal, who's pushing one of her eyes back in. "I'm just making sure. Let me know when, and I'll take care of it."Great. (He could've just agreed. You don't know why he had to be so weird about it.) You swivel your shoulders, then stand up out of your chair. "Ahem! Attention! While removing eyeballs and suchwith is a— a intriguing party trick, I fail to see its practical usages. So sad. I must query of you, Madrigal Fitzpatrick, did you receive anything of practical purpose?"She's looking up at you strangely. "Uh... I mean, there's the hangover thing, and I got shot a couple times and—""So sad! Nothing remotely useful. Pure glitz, and frippery, and—" You don't know what you're waving your hands for. "Nothing like this!"Richard! Richard, Richard, Richard— Richard slips his hands around your face, pressing his pointer fingers into the skin just under your ears. Something thins. Something slackens. You attempt to look like you're in control of the situation as your lower jaw slip-slides off the top of your skull, exposing two hypodermic fangs and a whole thornbush of teeth. (1/TBC)
Richard tucks the skin of your cheeks back to expose your gums. Your tongue lolls midair. And bafflingly, nothing hurts. It hurt last time. Shouldn't it? Pure instinct aside, pain's a sign that something's gone twisted— that whatever's happening to your body is wrong. Your jaw is unhinged. But here you are, drooling onto the table, and Richard has convinced your nerves that everything's according to plan.>[-1 ID: 11/13]You did ask for it. You're not denying that. And Earl and Madrigal are reacting: "What the fuck?" she says, and he's chuckling. This is good, you guess. You're a little lightheaded.> Write-in? (Optional.) > Continue.
>>5544545> Whaaa 'o 'ou think (ow) of this? Check out what our daddy taught us how to do.
>>5544545>Make sure to show off the new and improved Fangs™
>>5544545>> Continue.> Whaaa 'o 'ou think (ow) of this? >Make sure to show off the new and improved Fangs™Be the smug. Embrace the smug.
>ContinuedGod, you— you need to focus! You're squandering the attention on you. Say something clever, or at least interesting, or— don't set the bar too high. Say something.You make eye contact with Earl and try to get out something like "What do you think of this?", but it doesn't work: all you make is a long, wet, thin noise, somewhere in the vicinity of a gargle. Or a hiss. Your lower jaw hangs there, dead and dripping. Madrigal grimaces; Earl's chuckle dies somewhat.'Do not be concerned, I am merely demonstrating my noteworthy teeth, which you should be suitably impressed and amazed by' also doesn't pass muster, though you do make Madrigal shift her stance. Oh well. Your teeth are being demonstrated, whether you explain it or not, and you're fairly sure the venom is too— all the drooling can't just be spit. "Okay, Charlie, I think that's plenty. You don't want to frighten them, do you?" Richard slides his fingers under your jaw and presses, hitching it back into place. "There we go."Still no pain— hell, barely even a twinge. You work your jaw in the vague hope it'll clench or spasm or anything, but it's exactly as if nothing ever happened. If it weren't for Pat and Earl still looking at you, you'd be convinced nothing did."Ta-da," you say.Earl claps vigorously until Madrigal kicks his ankle. "Don't encourage her."(She's just jealous. Ha! Ha-ha! Positive thinking.) "Aw, come on, it's not something you see every day! I enjoyed it! Now I'm feeling like I don't have any special talent to show you ladies—""We don't need a third freakshow member. It's okay." Madrigal pushes her tongue around her cheek. "I mean, your tattoos are pretty killer."You haven't noted the presence of any tattoos, as you've been studiously averting your eyes from any region below Earl's neck, but you'll take her word for it. "Thank you!" Earl says. "Some of 'em are old, but some of 'em I got done custom down here! And by the way, I don't like that word in my house— 'freak'— I don't think there's any need for that here, if you don't mind. Even if you're using it about you ladies—""Yeah!" you say. "I'm not a freak, I'm a—" (You squint.) "—a— an upstanding member of society, unlike yourself and Nettie. I mean, if you want to talk freaks, she's right—""You're not wrong," Madrigal drawls, but Earl looks affronted. "Hey! I said not in this house!"(1/2)
"Do you not consider her a fucking f-word, Earl?""No?" He folds his arms. "Nettie is a... we all have our quirks, but she's always very reliable. Admittedly got a bit of a stick up her—""I'll shove a stick up through your rectum, BK, if you don't lower your voice. Thanks."You startle: Pat sounds awful, and her voice is coming from right behind you. When you spin, she's craning her head out from a doorway. "We're talking at a normal volume," Madrigal says. "It's a small fucking place, if you haven't checked. Need another drink?"Pat makes a rude gesture and vanishes back inside. "Well," Madrigal says. "Problem solved? I wouldn't mind a little something to start the—""Because you're nervous about Ellery?" (She might be horribly jealous of you, which you'll accept, but you would've liked more of a reaction to the unhinging nonetheless.) "No?" She jabs her fork into the last pear. "But that reminds me. Get the fuck back here, Pat."No response. "GET THE FUCK BACK—"Pat reappears, looking slightly worse. "Fuck you.""Will do, but we need to talk Ellery first. Gameplan. Yada yada. You can take a little snoozer after—"You scootch sideways as Pat sidles in next to you, arms folded. "I want it quick and quiet.""Sure! Whatever." Madrigal leans back in her chair. "So—">[A1] Demand that Pat get Gil's body sorted out before any shenanigans with Ellery. She *owes* him.>[A2] She's not... feeling too hot, clearly. Hold off until afterward. [Fair OOC warning: this could push it to next thread, depending on how long everything else goes. It'll definitely happen still.]>[B] You and Madrigal are going to go see Ellery. That's settled. The major question at hand right now is who *else* is going— if anybody. You're voting for... (Pick as many as you like, but Ellery will react differently to different party sizes and compositions.)>> Gil. Not that he knows anything about Ellery, but you're going to want his jacking knowledge to help break down the manse defenses— plus you'd like him around if things go south. >> Earl. You don't think he's too close to Ellery, but he does know him, and he's a hard person to hate or avoid. Plus, he knows his way around a manse, and he has horrible blood drugs... just in case?>> Pat. Unfortunately, she was one of the only people in on Ellery's secret assassination mission(?), so she clearly knows *things* about him. You might hate her, but you really need to know things.>> Anthea. You left on a bad note, so she might take convincing, but from what it sounds like she's been around Real Ellery more than anybody. She clearly cares about him, too, *and* she was on the secret mission. You need her. >> Nobody else. Just you and Madrigal.>[C] Write-in.
>>5545636>[A2] She's not... feeling too hot, clearly. Hold off until afterward.We cannot allow her to work on our retainer's body with anything but her peak performance.>[B2] EarlPat is not feeling well, Gil will stammer something that'll make the situation worse, and Anthea won't let Madrigal just punch Ellery.
>>5545636A1 but with room to negotiate A2 after making sure Pat understands his suffering longer is her fault.B1 through to B4. We can get info to ask Earl about from Richard and use his responses to figure out if he really is our Dad ghost or a product of our mind. Ask Richard then Earl about hijinks they used to get up, etc.
>>5546296A-ha. I was a little confused about the plan earlier, but this has cleared it up for me: you're mixing up Earl and Henry. Earl (aka BK or "Toothless" Earl) is the friendly bodymodder guy you met in Thread 10 and explored the beetle manse with, then met again in Thread 15 and realized he was also one of your heist buddies (albeit on a lot of magic blood steroids at the time). He told you about Real Ellery's meet-up and told you you could visit him in Hellsbells anytime; you haven't seen him since. *Henry* (aka the Man In Red) first showed up sporadically in your dreams in the early threads, then revealed himself to be your father's friend when you "met" a facsimile of him in Thread 8; you saw him again in real life in Thread 27, when Horse Face's "meeting" with his "contacts" turned out to be you getting buried alive by Henry's suspiciously Wyrm-culty "support group." You yelled at him a bunch, he told you to stop by anytime.As far as you know, the two of them have no connection outside both being nice to you, and you're fairly sure that Richard (or "Richard") has no reason to know secrets about Earl. He's just a guy. If or when you see Henry again (and with the red stuff, that's more of a "when" than an "if"), you're welcome to ask Richard about him, but there's nothing to do about it right now.
>>5545636>A1maybe not demand, but politely request?>B4needs more screentime, and will hopefully de escalate the situation if it gets too heated
>A1>B2We need to give good ol Earl some love and affection
>>5546296>>5546467>>5546671>>5546471>Polite [A1]>>5545666 (checked)>[A2]>>5546671>>5545666>[B2]>>5546467>[B4]>>5546471>>5546296>All of the aboveCalled for [A1] (polite). Because [B] is multifaceted, I'm going to treat it like this: we have 3 votes for bringing one person and 2 for bringing the whole party, so bringing one person wins. At some point before the Ellery thing happens, I'll hold a runoff between Anthea and Earl, so everybody gets a say on which of the two they want. Sound good?Writing.
>Body building"—how the fuck am I getting in to see him? That's what I don't get. I know you said he was in some dream thing—""Not a dream thing," Pat says."Whatever. Some dream thing, and it's in his skull? But he's not here right now, so I don't see how— unless it can be done remote? But..." She folds her hands in front of her face. "...that's not him? The little bitch one, that's a fucking copy— so does he have this dream thing? Or does his actual body? Where is his actual body? Do you know, Charlotte?""Er... no." It feels like an oversight, but you're pretty sure you've never seen anything about where his actual body went. "Maybe it got taken? By somebody? Or it went into the manse with him—""What the fuck? Can that happen?" She pauses. "I mean, I guess I just stepped outta... whatever. Point is, we don't have him or the fake, so I'm not sure...""You can get between manses if you have the trick for it. We've stopped by his plenty. It's a dump." Pat folds her arms. "Earl can get you in, if he wants. I'm not getting involved.""Wow," you say. "Really helping your—""Helping?" She sneers. "I'm not stopping this. That's your help, you bitch. I'd stop you if I were loyal to the cause, but I think that guy needs a good decking, so do what you want. Just keep me out of it."Earl raises his hands placatingly. "I'd be happy to pitch in, ladies, that's no problem at all. I'm glad that Ellery has so many women who care about him. Wouldn't take him for a chick magnet, but—" (Madrigal's giving him the stinkeye.) "Kidding! Kidding. Whatever you need.""Can you get in?" you say."Sorry?"When you tried it, even Richard couldn't manage it. He said he'd need hours. "His manse is all barred up. I mean really barred up. Finding it's one thing, but we've got to—""Huh. Shit." Earl rubs his chin. "I could try a couple things, but—"Thank goodness. "That's okay! Gil can help. ...Bug guy."Madrigal clucks her tongue. "Bug guy? What the fuck does he have to—""He's good at that kind of stuff! It's his whole job, practically, or it used to be! He—"In your peripheral vision, Earl stiffens. "You're still in touch with that fucking jacker?"You stiffen back. "Don't be rude. He's my sworn retainer, I'll have you know, and—""Jacker, hah. Well, beggars can't be choosy, BK." Unlike the two of you, Pat slouches against the wall. "Unless you want to gentleman your way into cracking that thing open solo."(1/3)
Earl makes a face. You seize your opportunity. "Ahem! Indeed, my intelligent and beneficent retainer, Gil, would be thrilled to help with the breakage and entering into the manse. There's just a teensy problem! At this current moment, he is thoroughly unbodied. If a certain someone would only help him out, then this could be solved immediately. If not, I am afraid that—""Fucking look at me if you're going to talk at me," Pat snaps."Charlie, she's right. Passive-aggressiveness only brings things to a boil later on."Richard's taken up a post nearish to Pat, leading you to conclude that there's way too many people for this one little room. Also, words of wisdom from the uncontested king of passive-aggressiveness. You roll your eyes and swivel around to look at Pat. "I'm just saying, it's really something that has to be done sooner versus later, and—""What does a jacker need a body for to open up a manse? Don't gullshit me." She narrows her eyes at you. "I'm not really in the mood.""You owe him. And who says he'll be in the mood to pitch in if he knows he's being deprived of a body? Maybe he'll just refuse. And then it'll be all your fault if we can't get in, and Madrigal can't punch Ellery in the face, and that's really not good employee behavior, I think—""Don't drag me into your shit," Madrigal says. "But also, yeah. It didn't fucking take that long for me, so I don't get the holdup. Are you custom-modeling him a dick?""That's not how it works. The goo models itself after the C.O.S.. But okay." She spits out the word. "I am taking a damn aspirin, and I am getting 45 more minutes of sleep, and then I will look at it. Again, I've never done it on bugs, so don't expect a perfect outcome. Everything settled?"45 minutes is longer than "right now," but you're not rolling in options for new bodies. "...Fine.""Great." And she leaves.-You spend the next 45 minutes forced into further conversation, by dint of having nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. Fortunately, you've all moved out to the settee. Double-fortunately, Madrigal and Earl carry on most of it: you make occasional comments and throw glances at Richard, who has yet to crack.When Pat emerges, she looks marginally less sour. "BK. Can we co-opt the bed?""Haha! Together?" You dislike his tone there, and apparently Pat does too: "Shut up. We're sacking out for this, and I don't want knots when I get up."Earl throws his arm across the back of the settee. "Sure! Why not? I'm not using it."She nods curtly and beckons you to the bedroom, where she remains standing as you plop onto the bed. "Charlotte.""Pat," you say."I'd firstly like to make it clear what an enormous favor I am doing. I really should shoot you on sight. Secondly, this business requires you and your jacker buddy to enter my manse.""Yuck."(2/3)
"I feel the same. I'm telling you this so you don't stab me, because the little process for this is stupid. I've been meaning to try and take the mess out of it, but I haven't had the time, for some reason."You stare up at Richard, who's standing in the doorway. "I don't think she's lying," he says. "As far as I know, the current methods are still primitive. Skin contact, eye contact, symbolic objects, mixing blood... some combination of those.""Hm," you say."So if you want this done, you're going to have to tolerate your way through this. I'm not going to try anything funny. If you screamed, I'd have the whole neighborhood on top of me." "Uh-huh.""That's all I have to say. Are you not gonna stab me?"> Fine. Unless she stabs you first, in which case it's completely fair game, and you'll win. (Enter Pat's manse. You'll have to cough up beetles once you're there. Gil will be disoriented.)> Not fine. You don't care what the hell she says: you are *not* getting sucked into the manse of a kidnapper/murderer. Make her enter yours instead, so you can warn Gil in advance... though she might notice the red lighting. [Roll.]> As A2, but assert your dominance— trick Pat into thinking you're entering her manse, but suck her into yours instead. Muahahaha! [Harder roll.]> Write-in.
>>5546841> Fine. Unless she stabs you first, in which case it's completely fair game, and you'll win. (Enter Pat's manse. You'll have to cough up beetles once you're there. Gil will be disoriented.)I want to achieve something without dumb self-defeating shenanigans for once.
>>5546841>1we are surrounded by ... friends?
>>5546841> Not fine. You don't care what the hell she says: you are *not* getting sucked into the manse of a kidnapper/murderer. Make her enter yours instead, so you can warn Gil in advance... though she might notice the red lighting. [Roll.]
>>5546841A1,Does Pat know about Richard?
>>5546841>> Not fine. You don't care what the hell she says: you are *not* getting sucked into the manse of a kidnapper/murderer. Make her enter yours instead, so you can warn Gil in advance... though she might notice the red lighting. [Roll.]
>>5546859>>5547151>>5547426>[A1]>>5547432>>5547320>[A2]For once, we're not going for pic related. Called and writing sporadically.>>5547426>Does Pat know about Richard?Nope. She might recognize him if she saw him (as Martin from the goo snake cocktail party), but I don't think she ever actually has. He doesn't have to be visible unless he feels like it, so it shouldn't affect things. For what it's worth, she also doesn't know that he was possessing you when "you" wrecked her facility.
>>5547567Aw man, I just realized we ain't gonna do shit just to spite Richard any more.Man, this murder was really good for the soul.Like, even if new Richard is just old snake learning that being an asshole to us all the time was a bad plan it's still a huge improvement.
>No stabbyYou can't rule it out. What if she does it first? Lures you in close, then stabs you in the heart? Or shoots you, you guess. Then it'd be completely justified to stab her back, and you'd definitely be able to, owing to your heroic vigor and/or Richard's re-existence. You'd get her right in the gut, then slash her open from navel to sternum— or no, you'd have to get the throat first, so she didn't scream. You're not stupid. Just the throat real quick, then—"Charlie?"No. No. No. You can rule it out. No matter what creepy things Pat does to you, you are not laying a single finger on The Sword, and that's the end of the story. If she shoots you, Richard can do whatever he wants in revenge. Or Madrigal can use her stupid fancy spear to gut Pat, if she wants. But you can't be trusted, and you really wish Richard would stop making that expression at you, all fake-worried, like he wouldn't throw you a big party if you up and murdered Pat. Or like he doesn't want to invade you and parade you around, if you were the one getting murdered. This whole thing's a win-win for him, frankly, so if he'd like to give up and start gloating in your face, that'd be—"This is a yes-or-no question," Pat snaps. "And I'm not lifting a finger until you—""I'm not going to stab you," you say. "Wow. Okay. Don't know what took you so long, since it's your buddy, but maybe you don't like the guy too much. Give me your hand." What if she doesn't stab you, but she drugs you instead? Or uses this to get inside your head? No. Richard's there. You stretch an arm out, and Pat seizes your wrist, sticking your palm with something pointy. "Ow!" you say. "Hey! I thought we said—""We said you wouldn't stab me. It's just a scratch." She pockets a scalpel and swipes a bead of blood off with her finger, then sticks it in her mouth experimentally. "Holy gods, that's weak. What's wrong with you?"You're dumbfounded. "What? Nothing! I—""Whatever. It's not totally inert. Here." She takes your palm, presses it against her forehead, and holds it there. Her eyes are closed. Richard is nodding reassuringly at you, which is the only reason you don't scream for Earl or Madrigal in the space it takes for Pat to open her eyes again. When she does, her pupils are dilated. You look into them and rapidly away: they were pulling at you. Pat lowers your palm and shifts her grip forward, into more of a tight handshake. "Look at me.""Uh..." You're looking just to the left of her. "Are you sure that's part of the process? Maybe it's some dumb fluff you've got to—" She's stepped to the left, directly into your field of view. Her pupils are dilated, eyes are more black than white. You look at your boots.Next thing you know, her face is right in yours, and she's forcing your chin up with her fist. "Look at me, you bitch, so we can get this over with."(1/3)
There's really nowhere else to look, so you do. You make contact with Pat's creepy tar-pit eyes and feel yourself stuck in them, exactly like you thought, and the only reason you don't scream then or maybe hit her (not a stab) is Richard's hand on your back. Still, you resist sinking in as long as you can manage, but you know when your limbs grow heavy that you've lost. Even as you collapse backwards, you fall forwards toward the pit: vertigo claims you.-You're upright. It's beige all around you, and the settees— those are settees— you are standing right next to a whole parlor-set of scrawny, varnished settees. They make your tailbone hurt just looking at them. "This is your manse?" you say.Pat's pupils are normal. She crosses her arms. "Yes?""It's..." You can't think of anything nice to say, but no half-decent insults are coming to you, either. "Don't you decorate?""There's a plant?"So there is, in a pot near the wall. It's dying. You press your lips together. "...Did you pick this wall color yourself?""Shut up about my wall color. Where's your guy?"Richard? Gil? Gil. (Though "where is Richard" is still a pertinent—)«I'm with you, Charlie.»Oh. So he can still talk in your mind, and he just wasn't doing it to be annoying. You got it. You guess it's a good thing he's around, though, in case Pat tries to melt Gil into a horrible goo monster or whatnot. Anyhow. "He's, um... he's in my manse..."Pat's fingers tighten. "I see.""...I can get him?" You don't want her to do any more scary eye things. "Uh, just give me a..." Richard? Riii-chard.«What's the magic word?»Oh, damn. Why would he ask that? There's no one consistent magyck word— usually there's not even one at all. If sorcerers do shout things while flinging magycks, it's either a sign of terrible quality or a legitimate classic, no in-betweens. But again, nothing consistent, so if he wants you to try and compile a list—?«Please.»«It's please.»«But that's okay, Charlie. This isn't as complicated as you're making it out to be. Gil is already inside of you.»Does he have to put it like that?«Like what? He isn't real. He currently exists, in a literal sense, inside of your head.»«It should be relatively simple to expel him. You've done it before on multiple occasions.»«Would it be helpful if I stimulated it?»Sure? As long as—You are beset with a powerful urge to sneeze, sniff twice, and expel several hundred beetles into the nearby wall: they smack against it and largely drop to the floor, though a couple stay clinging."Ow," Gil says. "Wha—"«See? Relatively simple.»Pat's mouth is open. You hasten over. "Gil! Hi! So if you remember the whole thing about the goo body, um, we're— that's happening, so—""Lottie—?" A few beetles take flight. "Where... what the fuck's... I-I-I was just in the—""That's Bug Man?" Pat says. "What the hell?"(2/3)
You scoop up a palmful of beetles gently and shoot her a look. "Yes? What did you expect when you heard—""More man? I'm sorry, was I supposed to get this? Last I checked, you made me execute a thing, not line up an adorable little row of fifty bugs and shoot a bullet through—" "That's her!" Gil's on a little bit of a delay, you guess, because he's just now plastered himself between your back and the wall. "Lottie! Holy shit! I-I-I swear to— did she kidnap you? Are we kidnapped? I-I-I-Is that what's happening? I-I-I was just in the manse, I swear to god, but—"You sigh. "Nobody's kidnapped. She's helping.""She killed me!""She did, really," Pat says dryly. You see her face kind of ripple before looking hastily away, and when you look back she's not Nettie anymore. "This help?"Beetles claw into your neck. "No?! I-I-I don't know what— are you one of those goo people? What the hell? That—""You're slated to be one too, champ. Don't get too excited."This manages to quieten Gil, and you go and sit on the horrible settee. "...Um, you might have to walk him through it.""Can't. Not sure how to do it on bugs yet. I'd need to do an examination." Pat adjusts her mask. "Which is not happening on fifty billion squirming insects, so you know... I need a sedative, or you need to calm this guy down. If it is a guy. Not convinced this isn't some shitty practical joke."Fifty billion squirming insects are, at the moment, biting compulsively into your clothing. You sigh.>[A1] Recommend a sedative. For Gil's sake. (What? Write-in.)>[A2] Try to calm him down manually. (How? Write-in. Possible roll.)>[B1] Insist on watching the examination. For Gil's safety. Not because you're curious. [Pat disapproves.]>[B2] Twiddle your thumbs until it's over. [Pat approves.]>[B3] Twiddle your thumbs... but make Richard go spy on the whole thing, just in case. [I will roll to see if he's noticed.]>[C] Write-in.
>>5548108>[A2]Gil, she can't do shit to you when you're bugs. Nothing that you don't agree to. You're safe. And we're here too.>[B3] Twiddle your thumbs... but make Richard go spy on the whole thing, just in case. [I will roll to see if he's noticed.]
>>5548108>[A2] Try to calm him down manually. (How? Write-in. Possible roll.)We've all made mistakes, Pat was in a bad place because of her bosses and now it's her chance to make things right. Everyone deserves a second chance, it's part and parcel of being GOO(D) GUYS even if she's being unreasonably unpleasant about it.We're sorry he has to deal with someone being an unlikeable spiteful bitch seemingly on purpose despite peoples good intentions.>B1 and immediately be an unlikeable spiteful bitch about it.
>>5548108Also point out Gil is a person who happens to be in bug shape. As well maybe Pat can help sell the goo thing. I mean she did it to herself and there must be some benefit besides evil plots to replace people like they tried to do to us with a goo clone. Did Pat make that one by the way?
>>5548389Don't mention the gooplicate! Apparently she was well-liked in Namway.Also she wasn' a full goo person
>>5548108>>[A2] Try to calm him down manually. (How? Write-in. Possible roll.)Supporting this calming method >>5548387
>>5548394 (not sure if this is >>5548117, disregard if you are)>>5548511You guys got a [B] vote? >>5548387>GOO(D) GUYSkek
>>5548108>>5548545>[B1] Insist on watching the examination. For Gil's safety. Not because you're curious. [Pat disapproves.]
>>5548108>[A2] Try to calm him down manually. (How? Write-in. Possible roll.)Madrigal kicked her ass and dragged out the sliver of empathy that remained in her black soul so now she's making amends for shooting you. Also we'll be here watching every step of the way EAGLE EYED to make sure she doesn't try anything fishy.>[B1] Insist on watching the examination. For Gil's safety. Not because you're curious. [Pat disapproves.]see above, sorry pat
>>5548545>not sure if this isConfirming, that's me phoneposting.
>>5548117>>5548387>>5548389>>5548394>>5548511>>5548655>[A2]These can be combined. No roll necessary.>>5548565>>5548655>>5548387>[B1]>>5548117>[B3]Called for [A2] and [B1] and writing.
>>5548662Oh, forgot to say: no worries. I don't have any problems with phoneposting, just wanted to make sure that you weren't a lurker coming out of the woodwork or anything.
>You're safe with me!"I'll calm him down! Geez. But you can't be— you've got to go over there." You point imperiously. "No eavesdropping!""...Fine. I need to prep my stuff, anyhow. Have it ready when I come back." She walks off. You sigh and slide sideways, revealing the mass of beetles clinging to the cushion behind you. Then, thinking better of it, you kneel down in front of the settee and attempt to make eye contact. It's a difficult prospect."Gil?" you say.There's no response. Most of the beetles are clustered together on the seat, but they mill about on the back and the top of the settee, too. "...She's gone. She's not going to hurt you.""I-I-I know. Sorry. I-I-I just... I..." Beetles are attempting to burrow into the crack between the cushions. "I-I-I-I can't control... it. Sorry. I-I thought I'd convinced myself...""Are you just anxious?" you say."I-I don't... I-I'm not trying to...""That's not so bad, then. At least you're not thinking about strangling people, or, um..." You trail off. "I didn't mean to just dump you into this. I just didn't want to mess up the chance to get you a real body. A... a real goo body, but still. Are you worried about that part?""...I-I-I'm sure it'll be fine, um, I just..."He was right: he is unconvincing. "It can't be harder to get used to than beetles," you say. "And I've talked to Madrigal, and she seems, um, basically normal. Happy with it, even. You'd have to look really close to tell that anything's the matter. And Pat— I mean, you saw her. Did she seem weird?"The beetles stop moving."Um, I know she shot you." You curl your tongue around your fangs. "She's not going to do it again. I promise."Gil's voice is muffled. (Maybe he's shoved enough of himself between the cushions.) "That's what you thought the first time...""Hey! I mean... yeah, but... it's different! I told you Madrigal kicked her ass, didn't I? And escaped? And reverse-kidnapped her? Meaning she has thus been converted—" You flourish. "—to the side of goodness! And she won't shoot people anymore, especially not you. Madrigal told me that she didn't want to shoot you in the first place, that she was pressured into it by the dastardly Management—""...And you believe that?"Do you believe it? You got the story from Madrigal when Earl stepped away for a minute, and she seemed to believe it. Do you believe her? Pat could've lied, but presumably if Madrigal kicked her ass she would've been forced to tell the truth, so— "I don't know," you answer honestly. "Um, I know she's still a bitch, but she didn't try and mess with my head getting in here, or anything. And she didn't shoot me as soon as I got in. And I think she has dumb problems with me, not with you, so I don't know why she'd wait? If that makes any sense?""I-I guess."(1/5?)
"I think it's more likely she secretly feels bad about shooting you! It twas the direst mistake of her life! She's wracked by the wicked throes of conscience, and..." Granted, you have yet to witness any throes of conscience, but you ought to be charitable. "And she has to help, so she isn't torn apart. Inside of her. She just doesn't show any of that, because she's a complete bitch, okay? Does that make sense?"A few beetles are emerging from the cushions. "Yeah.""And if I'm wrong," you say, "and she does mean you ill will, then I'll be there! Right there! Watching intently! And if she lays an untoward finger on you, I shall righteously slay her, Gil. I mean it. With my sword of... of justice. And then I'll go in and fix you, just like before." You pause. "But I don't think I'll need to do that, since you're, um... beetles? I think you're probably really hard to mess up... if that makes sense?""...Yeah," Gil says. "That makes sense. Sorry.""It'll be fine! Positive thinking, Gil, positive thinking." He has no shoulders or hands or anything, which makes reassuring patting difficult. You do it to the arm of the settee. "You've just got to stay still and do what she wants, okay? So she doesn't get dumb and mad and quit on us. Can you do that?""Yeah. I-If you're there. ...Thanks, Lottie.""I'm just doing my noble duty," you say airily, and stand right in time to look an emerging Pat in the face.She's wheeling a metal cart in from the hallway, and parks it right next to you and Gil. "Got everything settled?"You nod. Gil rustles. "Yes. Sorry.""Good. I'm not taking you on a tour, so we'll be doing it right here." She lifts a tank of blue stuff off the cart and sets it on the ground in the center, right next to the low-slung table. A plastick tablecloth follows (this one draped onto the table), then a platter of shiny metal implements. Gil rustles harder, and you creep your hand into the thick of him. "I intend for things to go quick. I just need to know its underlying structure.""His," Gil says snippily. "I'm a person.""Well, that's the goal." Pat picks up a pair of goggles off the cart and snaps them on. "Can we get started?"You do. Well, they do: you sit on the settee and watch, as promised. (Pat glares when you get too close, but doesn't seem to have the energy to kick you out.) This doesn't help you know what's going on. (2/5?)
Some things that Pat does: she asks Gil whether he's inside the bugs, or if he's controlling them remotely. (Um, he says. Both?) She takes a glove off and sticks her bare hand into the beetle mound. She puts her glove on and scoops up a handful of beetles. She lifts them above her head, and as far sideways as her arm can go. She scoops up a different handful and moves them closer together and farther apart. She asks Gil if he's experiencing anything. (Yes, he says. He's dizzy.) She releases the beetles and takes a pot of something and smears a sparkling ointment onto the surface of her goggles. Then she looks at Gil. "Hello.""What?" says you, and says Gil, but she doesn't respond: she keeps waggling her head back and forth, as if trying to catch a rainbow in a spray of mist. Eventually she fixes her neck at an odd angle and reaches blindly for the implements on the platter, cycling through a couple before landing on an odd pair of flat-edged tweezers. They're all metal except for the very tips, which are trimmed in shiny clear material. «Crystal.»...Crystal. Pat plunges her crystal-tipped tweezers into Gil and seizes on empty air. "Can you feel that?"Gil's voice is high. "Yes? What are you doing to me? Lottie—"You bolt to your feet. "Cease your interference immediately, murderer, or I shall—!""I'm not damaging anything. I'm just touching the C.O.S.. What if I do this?" She tugs the empty air upward, and five or six beetles rise up underneath it. "How does that make you feel?""Bad! Weird! Please—"Pat lets go. "Thanks. I think I'm on the right track, but I'd like to run some fluids tests."Meaning: taking the tank of goo and dipping unhappy beetles into it. At one point she asks if individual beetles can feel pain ("...sort of..."), then asks how Gil feels about needles. "Uhh," Gil says. Eventually she obtains reluctant permission to take a single bug and do needle-related things to it, provided that it happens away from the rest, and you soothe the rest of Gil until she returns with an empty syringe and a fat-looking beetle. "They're hollow," she reports. This explains nothing for you. Pat sets down the beetle and the syringe, raises her goggles, and sits back down onto the settee. "Which is what I expected. I think that about settles it, actually. The C.O.S. is externalized.""The koss.""The self. The self-concept. It's between the bugs, not inside of them. Imagine if all your blood were, instead of safely in your veins, floating in a big bubble around you.""Ew," you say. "I-I-I don't have a blood bubble," Gil protests.«She's a bright one, Charlie. Inferior tools and knowledge, still reached nearly the correct conclusion. Nearly.»(3/5?)
"No, but it's functionally the same thing. I assume yours survives unsuspended because it's bonded to the bugs, or... the larger mysteries will probably escape us." She tosses her goggles onto the low-slung table. "The point is, this is good— we don't need any pain-in-the-ass extractions. The goo should just feed off it directly.""Oh?" you say suspiciously. "Feed off it?""That's what it does, Charlotte. It reacts to the blood's suspended C.O.S. and tries to mimic it. But it's the C.O.S. that does it, not the rest of the liquid, other than lending to absorption— but that's not relevant here."You scratch at the settee. "Could you say all that with normal person words?""I am going to take Bug Man," says Pat, "and dunk all of him in a vat of goo, and he is going to come out of that vat of goo with a body that fits his ko— his sense of self. I don't know what the hell that is, so I take no responsibility there. That's it.""I-I-It's that easy?" Gil sounds offended. "You stuck me with needles just for that?"You're with him, but Pat just raises her eyebrows. "Uh, you're damn lucky I did? It was this or more needles, champ, and more needles would've been my first instinct."«Charlie.»"I-I-If you say so..." Gil rises from the table and retreats back toward you. "So... when is the next part happening? I-is it now, or in a little while, or—""I don't see why not now? The sooner this wraps up, the better." Pat stands, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. "The vats are down the hall."And so they are. You follow her down the hallway— if possible, it's even more poorly decorated— and emerge through a bland door into a room full of pipes and open vats and a strong smell of ammonia. That's absolutely all you can say about it. You're beginning to think that Pat, for all her good traits(??), was not gifted with a powerful imagination.You have no idea what differs one vat from another, but Pat leads you and a clouding Gil over to one in the second row. It's unmistakably full of goo. "Okay," she says.«Charlie, primrose. There's something—»"Okay?" Gil says. "I-I-Is there anything else—""No. Just head on in." She pauses. "Maybe visualize the body. It couldn't hurt.""...Um, sure." Gil flits above the vat. "I-I-I can do that. Couldn't hurt.""You can do it," you say helpfully. "Positive thinking! You can't drown, I'm pretty sure, you already— I mean, you did that once, and it didn't stick, so—"«Charlie, his self-image is beetles. Remember? It was altered as part of the process.»«I'm not certain this'll work out completely how you—»Damnit! "No!" you say. "No! Nevermind! Wait!" But Gil's already geared himself up, and he's already plunging, and as you dash to the edge of the vat Pat's muttering something about a crazy bitch. Beetles run through your open fingers and vanish into the sucking goo. (4/5)
And then it's quiet, and the surface of the goo is still. You watch it for a full minute of nothing at all. "It might take a little bit," Pat says, unconcerned. "It's a living thing, you know. It has to interface properly."It takes four more minutes. (Richard says that he'd be happy to count the time, if that's what you'd like him to do. He says also that the thing about the non-human C.O.S. just occurred to him then, and that he's sorry for his ill timing. You're unsure whether to believe him with either.) After the fourth minute, the surface of the vat roils and breaks, and a lumpen figure flails over its edge.It doesn't look much like Gil, or any Gil you've seen: the figure is humanoid, but only barely, and is composed completely of— you thought boils, on first glance, but on second glance it's beetles. False-beetles, goo beetles, rounded and immobile and soft to the touch, and all glued together, end to end, to form some grotesque goo-beetle-golem-thing."A-ha," Pat says. "That's a Bug Man."And it's Gil. It got the green eyes right. "Say something," you say, and the thing opens a slit in it and makes beetle noises. Chitters, and things. But the eyes are trained right on you.To get out ahead of you guys: this is a narrative moment, not a punishment. (I would've had to break established setting rules if I wanted to not write this outcome.) All of these options will fix Gil, so pick your favorite or write-in something cooler.> Well. You built his body once already. Sculpt him back into his proper shape.> It's an internal problem, not an external one, however it might look. Commune with him. [Spend 1 ID.]> This is what the blessing is *for,* isn't it? Helping through transitions? And you have a reliable way of making it flare up, no matter what condition Gil's in. Do that. [-1 SV]> Write-in.
>>5549472> It's an internal problem, not an external one, however it might look. Commune with him. [Spend 1 ID.]
>>5549472I am sorry for harassing you to the point you've felt the spoiler was needed. That being said, I don't think the spoiler was necessary. Richard could've just remembered about COS earlier. Or he or Pat could've said something about it being theoretically fixable.
>>5549472>> Well. You built his body once already. Sculpt him back into his proper shape.
>>5549472Why can't we do 1 through 3 at the same time? Comnune with him then modify his body while he uses his magyckal powers to relax his koss.
>>5549489No offense, anon, but I exploded the worm, had Charlotte go "never fear! I shall get the worm back!", put getting the worm back on the to-do list, and still had people pissed at me for exploding the worm. I would rather not depend on the (generally shaky) reading comprehension of voters to avoid getting grief for things, and I'll probably keep putting this kind of warning up at least until the memory of #30 fades into the background. I appreciate your apology, though.>>5549735Because communing is an out-of-body kind of thing, so you can't mix it with doing something with your body (sculpting). You could do it afterwards, I guess, but it'd be fairly redundant.  and  are combinable.
>>5549472>3I might be misunderstanding, but this seems to kill 2 birds 1 stone, spend some of the red stuff tainting us and draw out the blessing.If that's incorrect, let's go with 2. We built him some weird ass mechanical body. Cool to have in a manse but not outside one.
>>5549867Never ever had using the red stuff ended in anything good for us. Please reconsider.
>>5549796To be fair, half of Charlotte's to-do list feels like unsubstantiated dreams.
>>5549892The red stuff was successful at getting you in contact with Us w/o further complications there! You're at high ID, so you're better able to resist the effects right now: the intended trade-off is that you fix Gil and burn some SV but weird Pat out severely in the process, moreso than the other options.>>5549899Everything on the to-do list is intended to be accomplishable before the end of the quest. I have never put impossible or out-of-reach tasks on there, and never will.
>>5549892please reread - acquiring more red stuff has always been awful, and keeping it inside is making us homicidal. I want to expend some so we're no longer as homicidal.
>>5549472> This is what the blessing is *for,* isn't it? Helping through transitions? And you have a reliable way of making it flare up, no matter what condition Gil's in. Do that. [-1 SV]>>5550075Good point, I was going to vote for  but we should spend red stuff. We need someone else to keep red stuff in.
>>5549472>>5549682switching to >3
>>5550157>>5550162(Just a note that you're welcome to combine  and  or  and , if you guys like the vibes of the first two but still want to expend SV.)
>>5550170Combining 1 and 3 works!
>>5549735>>55501701 and 3 for me then.
Hi folks. With the wide variety of votes/split votes/vote swapping and whatnot, I think the best compromise here is to go ahead with  (which has majority) and combine it with either  or . >>5550174>>5550497>Prefers >>5549867>>5549487>>5550157>Prefers You will be communing with Gil and expending some red stuff in the process. Writing shortly.
Well... I have about a post's worth of material, but it's a complex subject, slow going, and I have morning classes. I'm going to get some decent sleep and continue writing during the day, with the hopes that I'll crank it out before the usual time (emphasis on hopes...). Have a good night!
...So I was going to write today, but I was like "oh, well, I should knock out some homework first!" And it is 10 PM and I am still not done with the homework due first thing tomorrow. Going to have to delay again, sorry folks ;___;
>>5551635have you considered not sleeping
>>5552056I have, but I regret to inform you that "no sleep" and "good writing" don't mix very well.
>Fix him"Pat?" you say, to distract yourself from the eyes. "Aren't you going to help?""With what?" Pat's posture is maddeningly relaxed. "So Bug Man's C.O.S. is a bug man. Were you not expecting that? Everything else appears standard." You glare. "Besides," she says. "I said I wasn't available to help with side effects."Wracked by the throes of conscience. "Go to hell," you inform her, and hunch back over the bug thing. "Gil? It's me. We're going to fix this, alright? Just like I said earlier, we— I don't know if I can slay Pat yet, but I'm just going to skip ahead to the fixing. Just like last time. I think it'll be even quicker than last time, um— I don't think I'll have to muck around in there." The eyes are widened. "I'm going to commune with you a little bit, is all. Don't be worried."A string of clicking leaks from the slit. "You're going to what?" Pat says."Shut up." You press your fingers against the bug thing's— you guess its forehead, since it's above the eyes. "Don't be worried," you say again, for somebody's benefit. "It'll be fine."It must be fine, is what you're doing your best to project into the world. You will make it be fine. It can't not be fine, with you around. You'll merely use your pure heart, plus your keen and perceptive vision, to look at Gil— look at him, God-damnit, you have to— to fix him in your noble gaze, lumps and all, and feel a pity feel a contempt a disgust an urge to put him out of his misery have to feel horrible things, and channel them to a knifepoint, and thrust— and see through. >[-1 ID: 10/13]Horse Face was bone-dry. Guppy was wet and dim. Both of them were still. Gil, one long blare of static, is a loosed current, a random sprint, a hailstorm. If you had ears and gums they'd ring and throb. If you had a skull he'd be beating himself against it, but you're all empty space so he's just slamming himself against himself, over and over, blindly and bullishly, and you can't bear it a moment longer (you pity him you despise him) so you wrench existence into him and see again. Inside Gil is beetles. Wall-to-wall beetles. Slick, green, squirming, mute.Inside the beetles is you. You're buried alive again, which fails to bother you: you've seen the swarm before, and known it, and got out of it just fine. And that was before something coiled in you. Imagine how easy would it be to escape now? You wouldn't even have to dissolve yourself first, or claw your way back up to safety after. You wouldn't have to entwine yourself with any disgusting pagan thoughtforms. None of that. You order the beetles gone, and they're gone; you order Gil here and he is. That's what power is, Lottie.(1/4)
[And yeah, okay. You know the stuff is thinking through you. You know it's been coiling in your heart, cowed by your heroic vigor, but nonetheless biding its time. You're not stupid. But it's not wrong: you have little interest in being re-beetled, and little time to waste. And this is barely a body you're in. If it can help...]>[-1 SV: 3/???]The only one who can help you is you: everybody else is flawed irreparably. But of course you can help! And you don't even have to go about the messy business of the bones and the blood and the swelling, because this is barely a body you're in, and all of it's up to you. So why settle? Experiment. Try on something your own size. Hell, incorporate some swelling, for nostalgia's sake: feel your neck widen, your wrists, your tongue, feel your ribcage shift, feel your force of presence engorge. Lift your head and see beetles rise off you. (Lift your head.) Come to your feet and see them flee. (Come to your feet, Lottie. Your stance is widened too.) You're worried at seeing them flee? Filthy pests? Let them! Laugh at them. Swing The Sword, if it's in this place— or a facsimile is close enough, good, yes. The beetles have fled you and your fire, and it is black.And there is a man, kind of. He is hunched over, his arms wrapped around his legs, his face in his knees, and if you turn your head funny he goes see-through. It's not hard to turn your head funny, with your neck like this."Gil?" you say.The man doesn't react. You stretch your legs until you're directly in front of him and bend down at the hip. "Gil!"He's like a lump of glass, and you despise him for it. You feel contempt for his frailties. For his weakness and doubt and bitter tongue and lack of force or presence. He isn't even real. What is he for?[He's your retainer.]A made-up role for a made-up man? Ridiculous. He drags you down. He leeches off your time and attention. He is needy. And he ruins your positive energy, not to mention your focus. What have you accomplished since he got here? The Crown got stolen. Anything else?[You wanted to spend that time. He doesn't need to do anything back. And sure, he isn't—]Perfect? He isn't perfect? He hasn't even heard of perfect. You could be perfect, one day— hadn't even done anything wrong in your life— but him? Anybody with eyes could tell he's going nowhere, him and his pagan rot. Heroines are supposed to surround themselves with greatness. Not freaks and losers.[You're not any better.]You're—[You're not. You're exactly the same as him, except for the beetle thing. And even after he found you out he still said he wasn't leaving.][He isn't perfect. But all you needed was somebody decent. And all you care about is that he's whole.]That's—[Shut up, you stupid lizard thing.][Give me that.](2/4)
You twitch. You blink hard. Your neck feels weird, and there's a half-solid flaming sword in your hand. In front of you, Gil doesn't exist. To vanish the sword you close your fist. For Gil, you pace around him, swivel your shoulders, and crouch down. You still feel swollen— you don't want to touch him, or kill him. You really don't want to kill him. You try your hardest to remember something that isn't you killing him.The Wyrm begat reality from chaos, created the earth, and bears it now on Its coils. It is the reason anything exists.Richard? Seriously? And it's one of his stupid lectures, too? Convenient how he didn't mention anything about the murder, by the way. The betrayal. The hatred. You were not expecting him to step forth, crouch down, and mumble. "…And may our…" (unintelligible) "…bless this Thing-Which-Has-Yet-To-Be…"Unless he didn't know? Or didn't care, more likely. But surely he didn't want you to murder him, on the other hand, so— you don't know. When do you ever know, with Richard? Maybe, like with everything, he saw in the Wyrm what he wanted to see.The WYRM knows that humanity is inherently flawed; consequently it asks for us to build ourselves up, piece by piece, into superior beings. Only by the doctrine of ADDITION may we approach perfection.It's hard to blame him, considering. Does Henry really buy into this stuff? He was so happy to see you. Too happy, but— has he killed people? A lot of people? Has he torn out people's hearts and eaten them raw?Did your father?It is after all a force of CREATION, not destruction.He can't have. You need to believe that he can't have— that whatever he saw in this, it was better than what you've got. Surely God in all Its enormous red power wasn't just... evil. It couldn't be just evil. There was a reason behind this, and a good and decent purpose, and a use that went beyond killing. An act of creation. A construction of law. An imposing of realness.Way down inside of him, the Gil you want doesn't exist, and you can fix that. You unfold your fist and take The Not-Sword in it and blow on it to ignite the flames. You stand. You reach out, and your arm grows powerfully heavy.You tap him on his shoulder, and something curls down your hand and across the sword. You lift your arm with a grunt and reel it all the way above your head, and when you bring the sword down on Gil's other shoulder there's a rush and a sudden lightness. Gil raises his head. His brow is furrowed. Something is moving under the skin of his face.Then he explodes with blue light— you fling your forearm up to guard your eyes, and when you finally lower it the room smells of ammonia and the light is gone. Gil is there. He looks like Gil, except he's wearing a sweater.You look. He looks back, then down at his hands, then back. (3/4)
"Hey!" he says, and laughs.>[TO-DO COMPLETE: Procure permanent, non-melting body for Gil]> How do you respond? What do you say or ask? Wat do?!? (Write-in.)
>>5552924> Thumbs upAight let's get out of Pat's head. She did the absolute barest minimum and for that I suppose we shouldn't kill her, but she's like all the worst parts of Charlotte without any of the redeeming features like being a heroine or at least heroic.She just tries to make deadlines for her obviously evil with a capital E employers and pretends to be good but isn't above stealing snakes and shooting faces instead of, ya know, NOT being evil and getting a new job.Doubt she's ever actually paid the price for her "ideals" before, seems like the kind of person to make everyone else pay the price for them instead.Bitch.
>>5552924>Be insufferably smug. Maybe even let out a noblewoman laugh.
>>5552924>Give him a high five, and then a fist bump>Ask how it feels to be goo
>>5552964>>5553005>>5553967Writing.>>5552964>Aight let's get out of Pat's head.This'll be an option in a little bit.>>5553967>Give him a high five, and then a fist bumpBoth of these are a little anachronistic for Charlotte (particularly the fist bump), but I'll see what I can do.
>Sidequest Complete!You guess you've heard Gil laugh before, briefly or bitterly, but you'd never really paid attention. It's high and raspy, and his shoulders are up, and his head is ducked in such a way that you can't quite see his expression. It's probably nothing. He's probably fine. But he just exploded, and you just— you just put red stuff in him (why did you do that?!), and... "Gil?" you say.He looks up at you, still grinning. You raise a questioning thumbs up. His brows furrow a smidgen, but he raises a thumb back, fixes his gaze on it, and begins again to laugh.So he is okay? You waver, feeling out of the loop, then settle on joining in— but in a dignified fashion, so you have an escape in case something goes wrong. You attempt to picture a noble laugh. (This is one thing your Aunt Ruby never instructed you on.) Then you cover your mouth with your hand, to maximize plausible deniability, and take your best stab at it. "Ohohohohoho—!"Did that sound good? You thought it sounded good, but as soon as you started Gil began to wheeze, and by now he's practically hyperventilating. Great, you think, you've botched it— except that you've unexpectedly begun to giggle, and he's going red, and now you're laughing, loud, hard, from the stomach. For what feels like forever and ever.>[+3 ID: 13/13]Pat's voice is a douse of cold water. "What is wrong with you people?"Gil gasps for breath. You hiccup. "W— what? Shut up. You didn't even—""What's wrong with us?" Gil manages. "You shot—""Yes! We've been over this! I shot you because of her—" She points straight at you. "—and for entirely comprehensible reasons, and in an entirely reasonable fashion. I didn't pull some hacky nonsense out of my ass like you and every single one of your associates—""Ellery isn't my associate," you say, and hiccup."He dragged you in to ruin our club? But fine. I guess Ellery's infected every single one of his associates with his gullshit— is that what you want to hear? Or do you have a reason for—" She gestures at Gil. "—that? That's not how it works, Charlotte. It doesn't work that way.""Well, it did?" You clamber to your feet, and Gil follows. "So what do you care? It's not like you helped.""Only gave him the whole damn body? But sure, go ahead and get one of these without me. I'll wait."You glare at Pat. She glares at you. "And he still needs to be cured, by the way, so get off the soapbox. You're lucky I'm doing that.""Cured? I already—""I-I feel fine," Gil says defensively. "I'm good.""Not that kind of cured, champ. It's high heat, toughens you up. Means you're not dripping everywhere." She crosses her arms. "Not that I care whether you drip, but I have professional standards.""How high of a heat?" you say.(1/2)
"High. There's no harm done. He doesn't have pain receptors." Pat narrows her eyes. "I have professional standards."You look to Gil, but he's already got his hand in his pants pocket— is pulling out a matchbox and a match and is striking it up. He holds the lit match up, screws up his face, and hovers his thumb right near it. Then on it. "Yeah," he says after a second. "Um. There isn't anything. And I-I-I feel... good... so as long as Lottie gets to watch, that's—?""There's nothing to watch. We'll be in a room.""And then we'll leave?" you say. "Once it's over?"Her eyelids flare up. "As soon as humanly possible.""Great.""Great."And she turns and stalks off toward a door. Gil raises his eyebrows and sticks his palm out at you.When he doesn't put it away, you realize that it must mean something. A City custom? Or something foreign, tracked in all the way from his Pillar? After some hesitation, you stick your own palm out flat."Uh..." He grins lopsidedly. "Do you not...?""What?"He shakes his palm. "Slap it."Really foreign. Possibly barbaric. You screw up your face. "Why?""...I-I-It's a good thing. It's for, um... it's when you..." The grin's fading. "Please?"His palm's still there. He's really serious about this. Maybe you did scramble his brains? In which case it's your fault he wants to be slapped, so this'd be your punishment, then? Having to slap your own retainer? God. Well, here's hoping it's a temporary thing— one good slap, and he'll be back to his senses.You wind up. You slap. Gil's palm is freezing cold, and when you tear your stinging hand away it's coated in a layer of goop. Gil flexes his fingers. "Shit. That didn't hurt.""Speak for yourself," you mumble, and begin to follow after Pat.>You'll be stuck in the curing room with Pat for a little bit. You should probably talk about things.> Inform her that you're definitely not Ellery's associate.> Tell her that she's just jealous of your and Gil's epic magyckal powers.> Ask if there's any tips she has for maintaining a goo body.> Ask if this whole thing could possibly have any side effects. > This is getting silly. You have a *fantastic* reason to hate her, but her reasoning? You destroyed the facility? You betrayed her about the snake? It was accidents and misunderstandings, all of it, but you have no idea how to get her to believe that. (Write-in arguments? Ways to convince her?) [Difficult roll.]> Write-in.
>>5554064> Inform her that you're definitely not Ellery's associate.We're his disassociate, even. That's tne reverse, right?> Ask if there's any tips she has for maintaining a goo body.> Ask if this whole thing could possibly have any side effects.
>>5554064> 5 Fuck, they stole they snake anyways and I'm pretty sure Lester tried to kill Charlie. Charlie on the other hand was gracious enough not to return the favor, and as for keeping her word like would you be honest with thieves?Besides everything we learn about Namway makes them more evil, almost comically so. How the heck does Pat even begin to rationalize working for them, with their horrible fates for Lester and her and presumably everyone else being standard company policy and procedure,m
>>5554104Also she shot Gil. What the fuck, that's not a good person thing.And now on top of that she gets to make up for *murder* by turning beetles into a goo person. Like, where would she get another opportunity for a unique situation like that as a researcher but instead she's bitching about it like she wouldn't have shot someone for the chance to do this prior to her adventures in snake theft.
>>5554104>>5554107While these write-ins aren't inaccurate, they're more of a  than a : the purpose of  (and the roll) is to convince Pat that it wasn't your fault that you destroyed her facility, failed to give her a replacement snake, and consequently got Lester vanished. Telling her she's a bad person who deserves what she got, while fun and satisfying, is not going to convince her that it's not your fault. As a result, I'm just going to take this as a pure write-in unless you'd rather change it up.>>5554104>Besides everything we learn about Namway makes them more evil, almost comically so. (Not to be persnickety, but Namway is the name of the goo-clone-making company itself, run formerly by Lester. While super shady, to the best of your knowledge they weren't doing anything inherently evil-- and Guppy, at least, claimed that it was a pretty average working environment. What you're referring to here is their Upper Management [or just Management], which is the group that commissioned the goo snake, vanished Lester, and seem to have their fingers in Headspace's goings-on, too.)
>>5554385Well then I would lean on us retrieving Branwens snake being OUR job, and that we also have professional and personal standards.Really, someone was going to get screwed over and so can she blame us for picking a friend and neighbour over some stranger who had stolen the snake? She's acting like it was all personal, and really would she have tried to cut the deal in the first place if she didn't know on some level that they were in the wrong?> Engage gaslightingShe keeps talking about how she's a good person, and she clearly wants to be one which means on some level she is, but actions and intent are two different things.It was a rough go, but hey now she's free from the threat of Management and she's able to do direct, actual good. She just got Gil a body, and it was a unique experience turning beetles into goo. Isn't this sort of way better than being forced into morally compromising positions? She's basically her own boss now, under Margarets supervision, and the sky is the limit.Besides, we might actually have more snakes for her. 3 days was a ridiculous limit, but there's a snake out there who ALSO stole from us and is our mortal enemy so we would have zero problem giving her that one. Also we have our own snake that she could look at with his consent, and maybe Madrigal has her snake Pat could look at we don't know the dynamic there really.Honestly, us wrecking her workplace was the best thing for her, now she's free with all her knowledge and unlimited opportunities. Gotta think positive.
>>5554484Like, I don't expect Pat to THANK us but at the time we were on opposing sides but now we aren't and life goes on so she could look at things more optimistically.If it helps we DO genuinely feel bad about what happened and if we've been a bitch lately it's because she shot Gil which is honestly a bit worse than losing a job that sucked anyways.
>>5554064> Inform her that you're definitely not Ellery's associate.> Ask if there's any tips she has for maintaining a goo body.> Ask if this whole thing could possibly have any side effects. >>5554513>If it helps we DO genuinely feel bad about what happened and if we've been a bitch lately it's because she shot Gil which is honestly a bit worse than losing a job that sucked anyways.Is there a way to add this in? I want to see Pat's reaction.
>>5554064> This is getting silly. You have a *fantastic* reason to hate her, but her reasoning? You destroyed the facility? You betrayed her about the snake? It was accidents and misunderstandings, all of it, but you have no idea how to get her to believe that. (Write-in arguments? Ways to convince her?) [Difficult roll.]dang I had a big list of fake excuses all written up but i forgot themuuuuhsomething like we meant to get her a snake, they were surprisingly tough to find, and then one fell into our lap being hatched from maddy, and we were gonna give it to her, but then we found out it had maddy in it, and we were working on fixing that but then she shot gil and snakenapped maddy because she's a bad person and it's all her fault and really she should just hand herself over to management because she deserves it
>>5554101>>5554405>>5555235>1, 3, 4>>5554484>>5555431>5>>5554513>>5555235>Forgive Pat?>>5555431>>5554107>Tell Pat she sucks?Called for , , . I'm getting some mixed messaging from the write-ins, so I think I'm going to expand them into their own full set of options so everybody gets a say. >if we've been a bitch lately it's because she shot Gil which is honestly a bit worse than losing a job that sucked anyways.You can say this, though, since it's fairly neutral.Writing.
>Post-op careWhen Gil chases you down and begins to stutter out apologies, you narrow your eyes at him. "It's fine. As long as you don't make me do that again.""What? But..." He looks down at his palms."I mean, really, slapping one's own retainer? That's just not— that's wrong, Gil. That's just wrong." You shake your head. "There's better ways to discipline than slapping. And besides, you'd done nothing worthy of— I mean, yes, you did cause me some alarm, but I daren't say it was your fault— it was Pat's, really. Or Richard's." «I don't believe it was anybody's fault, Charlie. It was a wholly unfortunate—»That's exactly what somebody at fault would say. (And of course Richard turns up now.) "But even then, you're all better, so it's not really— you are all better, right? Gil? Your brain isn't—""I-I-I think so? I feel normal." He beams. "Normal, Lottie. No beetles, no—""I mean, you're goo, though." A little giddiness is one thing, but you don't want him to get uppity. "And you're dripping everywhere.""Huh? I'm not..."You cross through the open doorway and into a much smaller room, made even tinier by the imposing machine swallowing half the floorspace. Pat is checking some dials on it, but turns as you enter. She says nothing to you, but strides forward as Gil enters, stopping right in front of him. Gil flinches as she wordlessly begins to examine him, pulling businesslike at his fingers, his earlobes, and his chin, twanging his suspenders, swiveling his head back and forth. Then she pulls back. "That took well.""Thanks?" Gil says, flustered."You'd expect a weaker fit from a non-haemic interjection. Whatever gullshit was done to you worked. I'd still do a curing, so it stays put, but it won't need much." She strides back to the scary machine and finds a hatch, which she reaches inside of to retrieve a sliding platform. "You'll want to get on this.""...And then?""And then I'll shut you inside and turn it on." She sighs out her nose. "If I wanted to torture you, you'd be tortured. It's safe. It should feel like a summer day to you."You make a throat-slicing gesture at her, and she rolls her eyes back. "Ace," Gil says, weakly, and comes up to the platform. "In there?""For a couple minutes, yes. This is just the small-scale version. We used to have a bigger one, but someone..." The platform clangs as Gil clambers on. "Excellent. Lie straight back."You don't get any last words with Gil before Pat shoulders the platform back in and slams the hatch shut. The machine begins to groan. You scowl at her, but she just goes back to checking the dials.«She's a wealth of information, Charlie.»Shut up.«You wouldn't squander that on a petty grudge, would you? She hasn't caused you any lasting harm.»«Do it for your friend, at least. He's taken a big step.»(1/2)
Your retainer, he means, and fine. You will pump Pat for every last drop of relevant information. You'll use her, if that's what Richard wants so bad. It won't even be hard. "So, um... what makes a goo body special?""It's made of goo."See, Richard? There's his wealth of information. "Don't be a bitch. It's a normal question."Pat hits a button stiffly. "That's it. It's goo. It's virtually indestructible, barring certain solvents or a dedicated effort to chop it up. It doesn't feel pain. Feels temperature and pressure weakly. No organs. It's absorbent, but it self-regulates when submerged, so you shouldn't have to concern yourself with hydration cycles. Keep him away from blood. Uh, it's extremely flexible, even when cured. It's sentient."...Us. "I know."She casts a look over her shoulder. "That was a treatment vat, so that shouldn't be a concern. It should be sedated. If not, I can take care of it— just let me know if he gets any funny dreams. Or hears screaming.""...Uh-huh," you say. "Blood?""It wants blood. Any blood. Preferably human, but it isn't picky." She tugs her glove up. "If it absorbs blood, it'll try to morph to fit. This is useful if you know what you're doing, and traditionally frightening if you don't. You don't. I wouldn't bother.""Okay," you say. "And that's the only scary thing? There's no other side-effects?""He could struggle with poor emotional regulation, with the lack of biofeedback. It takes getting used to— that's most of it, really, getting used to it. It's incredibly close to human in a lot of ways, which makes the deficiencies more jarring." She pauses. "In my experience. With your gullshit, I have no idea how it'll turn out.""It's not GS," you mutter. "And, by the way, getting back to this, I'm not Ellery's associate either. Just so you know. I don't want to associate with him, he just invades my life with his— his stupid Elleryness, alright? He just Ellerys all over the place, and there's nothing I can do about it. I'd disassociate with him if I... I'm his disassociate, is what I am." "Heh," says Pat. "I feel the same way."...She does? Is that even possible? She's supposed to be your sworn enemy, and all that. Perhaps she's lying? «Perhaps you're not <so> different?»Or perhaps Richard's lying. Yeah. ...Probably lying. Definitely— probably—(Choices next.)
>[A1] Definitely lying. Pat is clearly an evil bitch, no matter how much she protests otherwise, and you're glad you wrecked her stupid facility and stole her stupid snake. You don't feel sorry for her one bit, and you never will. >[A2] Probably lying. Maybe Pat shouldn't be your sworn enemy, per se— that designation ought to belong to Horse Face. Maybe she should just be a regular enemy. Or a *rival,* like Madrigal. Yeah. So you don't have to like her, but you will conserve your hatred for more worthy targets.>[A3] Not lying? It's a key element of a heroic spirit that you display munificence, and clemency, and so on and so forth, and if you and Pat can see eye to eye about Ellery there may be more common ground elsewhere. And you are kind of sorry you got her boyfriend stolen.(Only pick a [B] if you chose [A2] or [A3]. You may combine these within reason.)>[B1] Attempt to apologize for not getting her a snake like you promised. You meant to, but you would've had to extract it out of Madrigal's leg, and then a billion other things happened. You didn't mean any harm by it.>[B2] Tell her that *Richard* was responsible for the facility's destruction, not you, and that Madrigal can confirm that. Normally you'd be shocked into submission long before you could reveal his existence, but he's been weirdly... nice. Maybe he'll let you explain?>[B3] Tell her that she's not really taking into consideration the fact that she shot your retainer in the head. Like, seriously, what the hell? How is that not way worse than anything you did?>[B4] Tell her you're all on the same side now, so there's no use in bearing a grudge any longer. (A useless grudge, at least. A rivallish grudge could be okay.)>[B5] Tell her that you've sort of upgraded her life, indirectly, since now she can do good people things and doesn't have to work for scary people. She's welcome.>[B6] Offer her Dickface the snake once you hunt him and the Gold-Masked Person down. >[B7] Write-in. >>5555444Okay, so you didn't end up saying this... but it's an option for this update. Sorry! Also, checked.
>>5555635A3,B1, B5, B6, following the theme of "Hey, we know we kind of fucked you but it wasn't personal. We can help you continue your snake goo thing without your old job anyways."> Can we ask Richard to walk us through explaining how we fixed Gil to Pat?It's only Gullshit if she doesn't understand it. Imagine how the Goo looks to an uninformed person. It's magyck of course, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have rules.
>>5555634>He just Ellerys all over the placeMy favorite scene in Drowned is when Ellery said it's Ellery time and Elleryed all over the place. >[A2] Probably lying. Maybe Pat shouldn't be your sworn enemy, per se— that designation ought to belong to Horse Face. Maybe she should just be a regular enemy. Or a *rival,* like Madrigal. Yeah. So you don't have to like her, but you will conserve your hatred for more worthy targets.>[B3] Tell her that she's not really taking into consideration the fact that she shot your retainer in the head. Like, seriously, what the hell? How is that not way worse than anything you did?>[B4] Tell her you're all on the same side now, so there's no use in bearing a grudge any longer. (A useless grudge, at least. A rivallish grudge could be okay.)
>>5555635>[A2] Probably lying. Maybe Pat shouldn't be your sworn enemy, per se— that designation ought to belong to Horse Face. Maybe she should just be a regular enemy. Or a *rival,* like Madrigal. Yeah. So you don't have to like her, but you will conserve your hatred for more worthy targets.>[B1] Attempt to apologize for not getting her a snake like you promised. You meant to, but you would've had to extract it out of Madrigal's leg, and then a billion other things happened. You didn't mean any harm by it.>[B3] Tell her that she's not really taking into consideration the fact that she shot your retainer in the head. Like, seriously, what the hell? How is that not way worse than anything you did?>[B5] Tell her that you've sort of upgraded her life, indirectly, since now she can do good people things and doesn't have to work for scary people. She's welcome.>[B6] Offer her Dickface the snake once you hunt him and the Gold-Masked Person down. >>5555943>My favorite scene in Drowned is when Ellery said it's Ellery time and Elleryed all over the place.I prefer the scene where Madrigal said "It's goopin' time," and gooped all over the place, but that comes a close second.>>5546838Also anyone realize we could've literally C.O.S'd Gil into anything we (Charlotte) wanted? While I doubt Charlotte would've broken character by giving into such base, barbarous, and unladylike urges, imagine the possibilities!But alas! Hindsight is 20/20! The time for Gil's apotheosis will come again!
>>5556019Gil's malleability has been a running theme. Did he always stutter?And we straight up COS'd Richard into Snek Daddy effectively killing Richard as an indepenent entity.But hey, fuck him and the snake he crawled in on. Oh man.Speaking of, what happened to the Snake?
>>5556201Not 100% sure of this but it might've been caused by whatever fuckery happened in the manse he became beetle in.Take that with a grain of salt cause my memory of that thread's spotty.
>>5556019I did something unholy.Had to meme what could've been.
>>5555635>A2we can A3 if she ever admits what she did to Gil was wrong and unjustifiedhopefully she does that in the B3 option>B1>B3>B5not voting for B6 since she doesn't need a snake anymore, and getting one might enable her to run back to her old bosses but:do we think of him as dickface because richard doesn't like him or because he helped gold mask? on that note, how does new richard feel about him? still hated enemy?
>>5555943>>5556019>>5556317>[A2]>>5555733>[A3]Called for A2...>>5555733>>5556019>>5556317>[B1]>>5555943>>5556019>>5556317>[B3]>>5555943>[B4]>>5555733>>5556019>>5556317>[B5]>>5555733>>5556019>[B6]...and [B1], [B3], [B5]. Writing. >>5555733>Can we ask Richard to walk us through explaining how we fixed Gil to Pat?You can, but nobody else supported this. Maybe later.>>5555943>My favorite scene in Drowned is when Ellery said it's Ellery time and Elleryed all over the place.Mine too!>>5556019>Also anyone realize we could've literally C.O.S'd Gil into anything we (Charlotte) wanted?Maybe, but you weren't turning him into anything here-- you were attempting to make his previous non-beetle self-concept (COS) real again. It's unclear if you were actually successful, or if the blessing interrupted and solved the problem for you.>>5556201>Did he always stutter?I strongly suspect this is a rhetorical question, but on the off-chance it's not the answer is no, it started post-beetling.>Speaking of, what happened to the Snake?You should ask him!>>5556201>>5556254>Gil's malleability>Not 100% sure of this but it might've been caused by whatever fuckery happened in the manse he became beetle in.Gil certainly isn't the same person he used to be, but it's ambiguous what the leading factor was. As you suggested, it could be from 6 months read: 9 RL months of beetle-y solitary confinement leaving him a more-or-less blank slate. As Richard suggested, it could be because he's been made literally "unreal" and therefore susceptible to outside influences. As the blessing suggested, it could result from a subconscious desire to change, and/or the "sacred transformation" he went through. Or it could be because he was always kind of passive and complaisant, and any or all of the above just exacerbated it. Pick your favorite explanation.>>5556284LOLThanks, anon!>>5556317>do we think of him as dickface because richard doesn't like him or because he helped gold mask?That's Richard's nickname for him. >how does new richard feel about him?You should also ask him! (I'm going to let you guys vote on who you want to talk to next update.)
>Rival acquired—Probably lying. Even if you and Pat agree on obvious things, like disassociating with Ellery, that doesn't make you the same at all. You didn't shoot her retainer, did you? Of course not. You're driven by heroic fervor, and she's driven by... what... bitter grudges? Cowardly self-preservation? «Not everybody is so unabashed about risking their necks, Charlie.»«It is human to cling to life.»And Richard's the authority on humanity, now? And, sorry, why is he defending Pat? He doesn't get to do that— she's your sworn enemy! She murdered Gil!«I'm not defending her. I just worry about how prone you are to sorting people into boxes. The world's a complicated place, primrose, and everybody's just trying their best.»«If you stepped back to acknowledge that, you might find yourself forming relationships with people you'd otherwise discount. I think that'd be healthy for you.»...You're sorry, what? This joke's gone way too far— it's not funny, it's not mean, it's just scary. He's starting to scare you. If you talk to Pat more, will he stop?«My intent wasn't to frighten you, Charlie. I apologize.»«But, yes, I believe you may as well. If you—»Great. "What do you mean, you feel the same way? You're part of his stupid secret—""Our goals are mutually aligned. He's useful to me, and vice versa. That's the extent of it." Pat snorts. "Since we're out of earshot of his girlfriends, the guy's a piece of work. 90% of the time he's just a self-obsessed ass, then the other 10%— it's bad, Charlotte. The man has mental issues, and not in a funny way. The stuff I've seen Anthea deal with... and he broke up with her, can you believe it? They're friends. Girl's a damn doormat, if you ask me."You hadn't asked her, but okay. Wow. You'll set aside the hatred for now, for the sake of detectiving. "She definitely seemed... agreeable... mental issues?""I mean, it's not like his grip on reality is ever that strong, but sometimes he just..." Pat shakes her head and flips a switch. "He loses what he has, I'll put it like that. There's delusions. Calls everybody 'Maddie.'"Wait a second. "I saw— I saw that! He did that to me! And then he turned into a giant beetle monster...""Sounds like him. So, you know, there's kind of a thing— who is Maddie. Anthea's never met her either. He won't talk about her lucid. So I figured there had to be something special, right? Maybe they had a kid? Maybe she was his kid? Nope." She slaps the side of the machine. "Ordinary woman. His ex-girlfriend. Men."Men? What about them? And more to the point— "The only reason you know that is cause you kidnapped her."Her posture hardens.(1/3?)
"After shooting my retainer in the head. You shot him in the head." You point at the scary machine. "The only reason he didn't die is because he's beetles, and even then I had to put him back together. He still would've died if I hadn't put him back together, but it would've been slow and awful. He would've eaten himself.""I offered you the chance to not get him shot," she says to the dials. "Up front.""By giving you Madrigal? I tried to tell you that the snake was Madrigal, but you wouldn't listen to me! You ignored me! And you shot my— he's a person, you realize? He's not fake. He was born, and he had a family, and he drowned and you shot him. You took him and you handcuffed him and gagged him and you shot him. He never did anything to you. He didn't know you, and he—""If he's such a person, why was he a demon? Why did you summon him out of—""Because he got turned into beetles! And manses do funny things to him now, I guess, but that doesn't— he is a person. If you took him and cut his head open you'd know. if you even bothered to talk to him you'd know! He has a life. He's the youngest one of five siblings, four boys and one girl, and he grew up with the family scrapyard, and he got hassled at school, and his father shot—""Stop listing things," she snaps. "What did you want me to do? Read his damn mind?""You could've not gagged him? He would've told you— I would've told you! But I was too busy trying to tell you that the snake was a person, too! But you thought I wasn't trustworthy, because—""You're not.""I am!" You stamp your foot. "I wanted to get you a snake, okay, but then I found out there weren't any snakes. There was Madrigal, who got infected by your snake, and a baby snake was supposed to come out of her in weeks or months or something. And there was Branwen's snake, which you stole, and which was keeping her whole business afloat! If I'd given that back all her animals would've ate each other! So I had no options, and I didn't have a good way of contacting you, and then I blacked out for five days—""What?""I blacked out for five days, and a snake hatched out of Madrigal's leg after that. So I didn't even have that by the deadline. And I could've told you this if you just asked me about it, instead of sneaking around and making mean comments and shooting my retainer in the head." You fold your arms to your chest. "Do you get it now?"Pat is silent for a long time. The machine rumbles the ground under your feet. "What do you want from me? I'm sorry, I can't go back in time and unshoot—"(2/3?)
"He doesn't need to be unshot! He's fine. But you didn't even have to shoot him, Pat, you— from what I heard you needed the snake. That's it. No shooting; the snake. You could've snuck it from me. You could've fake-shot him to spook me. You could've knocked him unconscious. You could've shot me. If you hate me so damn much, why didn't you just shoot me? Instead you killed an innocent. I didn't even know Gil when I made that—"She wheels around, eyes blazing. The machine rattles. "Tell me what you want from me!" You gape. "What? Admit you did something wrong! And terrible! I know you're not going to apologize, because you're a bitch, but at least admit it?"It's some time before she responds, but you can spot the sudden heat going out of her long before that. Her shoulders sink. She draws herself up and back and cups her temples in her gloved hands. "It didn't go how I wanted it to.""That's it? You shot a man in cold blood and all you've got to say is—""I didn't walk into there wanting to shoot anybody. I never want to shoot anybody, Charlotte. But then you waltzed in with a gods-damned snake around your little finger— waltzed into a private meeting—" She raises her eyebrows incredulously. "And then it was settled, and I was going to shoot you. I had to. Do you want to know why I waited until the end?""Yeah," you say, "for the hostage. You don't have to rub it—""No. I didn't know you had a bug man yet. I was going to shoot you." She tugs at her gloves. "I waited because I had to hype myself up for it. That's all. I spent that whole time working myself up to put you at gunpoint and take the snake, or shoot you dead and take the snake. Really working myself up. Running through all the paces. What I'd say, where I'd put the muzzle. I was so nervous."Her voice is dry as sandpaper. You bare your teeth. "And so what.""Do you think I shot your buddy and took the snake and went home to have a cup of tea?" "Yes?""I did. And then I dry-heaved off and on for maybe twenty minutes, and more whenever I thought about it." She pivots on her heel, back to face the machine. "I don't need your help to feel guilty, you bitch. Those were my friends.""You don't like Ellery," you say."You can be friends with somebody you don't like, Charlotte. Try it." Something hisses, and she grabs the hatch open, pulling the red-hot platform out into the air. Gil sits up dazedly. He looks normal. You cast a glance at Pat and lace your fingers. "Feel okay?""Oh... yeah?" He squints. "Um, sorry, I-I-I think I was falling asleep in there. It was pretty dark, and warm, and, um...""It happens," Pat says all businesslike. "You look good to me, so I think that's it. You can go. You guys can wake up on your own, can't you? I don't have to babysit...""Yeah," you say on principle. (Richard can help?) (3/4)
"Great." And she leans back against the stilled machine and watches you. Gil looks at you. You watch Pat back, daring her to look away— or better yet walk away, so Richard can actually help— but she doesn't. She leans there stubbornly.«Charlie, I do actually think that you have a lot in—»God-damnit. "You know," you say irritably. "I don't know why you're being so pissy. Your life's all better. You don't have creepy bosses, you don't have deadlines, you have all this junk in here to keep making goo people— it's better. You just haven't realized it yet.""Management's still coming.""What?""In three days. My evaluation. They're coming in three days, they're going to find no snake, and I'm going to be vaporized. Whether I hang out or not." She folds her arms. "Let's talk after that, Charlotte.""...We can get them to not...?""Let's talk after that."You scowl at her and turn back to Gil, who waits patiently. "Do you know how to get out of here?" you hiss.> Take care of Ellery next. It's time.>>[A] Bring Earl. He won't be all that useful with Ellery specifically, but he's supportive and nonthreatening and packs a punch if things go wrong.>>[B] Bring Anthea. You're beginning to suspect that nobody knows more about Real Ellery than her, and she seems to have experience in dealing with his States. Also, Madrigal seems to want to meet her. But you're going to have to convince her you mean no harm.> Speak with Gil next. In real life! You don't want to leave him alone so soon after getting an actual body! And you should probably talk about last night, too.> Speak with Richard next. He's scaring you. You need to get him to stop.> Write-in.
>>5556630>He's the youngest one of five siblings, four boys and one girl, and he grew up with the family scrapyardOhohohoho, looks like somebody caaaaaaares!>>5556632> Take care of Ellery next. It's time.>>[A] Bring Earl. He won't be all that useful with Ellery specifically, but he's supportive and nonthreatening and packs a punch if things go wrong.
>>5556632>3Let's get this duck in the row first.
>>5556632>>>[A] Bring Earl. He won't be all that useful with Ellery specifically, but he's supportive and nonthreatening and packs a punch if things go wrong.
>>5556632>>5556894>[1A] I meant to say this
Ugh, sorry. I'm realizing that at the unholy hour I posted the update at, I didn't set up the options how I intended to. The Earl/Anthea thing should be its own vote separate from what you do next, so everybody gets a say even if they want to do something else.>[A1] Take care of Ellery next. It's time.>[A2] Speak with Gil next. In real life! You don't want to leave him alone so soon after getting an actual body! And you should probably talk about last night, too.>[A3] Speak with Richard next. He's scaring you. You need to get him to stop.>[A4] Write-in.>[B1] Bring Earl. He won't be all that useful with Ellery specifically, but he's supportive and nonthreatening and packs a punch if things go wrong.>[B2] Bring Anthea. You're beginning to suspect that nobody knows more about Real Ellery than her, and she seems to have experience in dealing with his States. Also, Madrigal seems to want to meet her. But you're going to have to convince her you mean no harm.>>5556655 (checked) >>5556894These two don't have to change anything, since they already voted for which one, but...>>5556739Could you vote for one of the above [B]s? Your  vote will remain valid.
>>5556958>[A2] Speak with Gil next. In real life! You don't want to leave him alone so soon after getting an actual body! And you should probably talk about last night, too.We need to tackle Ellery but let's finish with Gil first.
>>5557019See >>5556958: if  ends up winning, I need your vote for who you're taking.
>>5556632>A2>B2no love for anthea wow
>>5556958B1 Earl then.I thought about tossing in a vote in case my selection didn't win but thar showed a lack of faith.
>>5557185She's a homewrecker banging friends ex's behind their backs and helping our enemies while acting oh so innocent.She can go rot.
>>5557214this seems like a take so lacking in generosity it barges straight into inaccuracy
Rolled 2 (1d2)>>5556655>>5556914>[A1]>>5557019>>5557185>[A2]>>5556739>[A3]>>5556655>>5556894>>5557210>Earl>>5557185>AntheaCalled for bringing Earl, and flipping between tackling Gil first or tackling Ellery first. Writing in a little bit.
>>5557703I didn't realize that was deadlocked too. I'll include voting for Gil first.
Rolled 1 (1d2)>>5557771Well... I called the vote, but I haven't started writing yet, so you've got me in a little bit of a bind. I want to recognize legitimate votes (when they can be reasonably included), but I don't want to belatedly dick over the Ellery voters, so, uh...1 = Ellery wins (still)2 = Gil wins...I'm going to leave my course of action up to the RNG. Flipping and back to eventually writing.
>>5557779Well I mean you asked me to only vote for one of the above Bs.I had voted for A3 prior, so i didn't think to vote for that again.Whatever I guess.
>>5557802What? You voted for A3 (Richard) originally, then added on a vote for B1 (Earl) after I changed up the structure. I interpreted >>5557771 as a switch from A3 (Richard) to A2 (Gil), which would've broken the tie between A2 (Gil) and A1 (Ellery)... except I already called the vote for Ellery, so I flipped to see if I should count your late vote swap or not. Your vote for B has remained intact the entire time, and Earl won, so I'm not sure where the confusion lies here.If it's helpful, the two dichotomies were >[A] votes: Ellery vs. Gil vs. Richard (who to talk to next)and>[B] votes: Earl vs. Anthea (who to bring along when interrogating Ellery)
>>5557812Yeh I was just saying if I realized there was a tiebreaker I would have changed the A3 vote as well but I didn't realize because you only asked for a B vote to break that tie.
>>5557855Oh! I didn't ask for a [B] vote to break a tie (both existing votes were for Earl already)-- I just wanted to give everybody a say. That's why I didn't mention anything about the [A]s. Also, [A] wasn't tied at the time I posted >>5556958: [A1] was winning.
>ELLERY TIMEGil did know how to get out of there, even if he had to qualify it with a lot of "um"s and "maybe"s and one or two preemptive apologies. He struck a match, was the first thing, and held it up between his eyes, and he looked at the flame like he loved it. Didn't even blink. And when he took it away and snuffed it in his fingers his pupils were swollen up, and when he reached his hand out he was looking right through you. Into the air. He took the open air between you and grasped it, and for a moment you thought you saw something like a bruise there. Then it got hard to look at all: you felt a shift and a tilting and Gil's fingers on your wrist, and saw blackness, and—*You sit up. Beside you, Pat lies still. Richard reclines against the wall, cleaning his sunglasses with a small cloth. Gil stands right in the middle of the room, all of him, broad jaw and patchy skin and gelled-up hair and the green eyes. The green eyes are startled."Gil," you say. "Gilbert.""Huh?" He's staring at his hands."You're real! You're in real life, Gil! This is—" You spring up from the bed, jostling Pat. Your head's full of fizz. "We did it! We— we did it!">[+1 MAX ID: 14/14]Gil can't form a response before you've taken him by the shoulder, dragging him bouyantly down the hallway and into the main room. "Fucking finally," Madrigal says, before you push Gil out in front of you and flourish dramatically. "Oh, shit, who's— uh, hello." She tilts her head. "...Bug guy?"Gil drives his fingers into his palm. You slide back out in front of him. "Madrigal! You can't call somebody bug guy, that's— his name is Gil. G-I-L. So if you'd like to try that again—""Holy shit, don't get your kiddie bloomers in a twist. Hi, Gil. I'm Madrigal."Gil is silent until you kick him, and then he stammers out a "I-I-I-I know.""What?" Madrigal says. "You guys in there talking shit about me? I—""No!" you say, and kick Gil again. He winces. Earl comes out around the corner. "And who's this?""Bug guy." Madrigal cracks her shoulder. "Uh, you know, the thing they were busy doing— Charlotte's buddy?""The jacker," he says flatly. Gil squirms. You fold your arms. "He was just doing his job. And, last I checked, you rob people for a living? And— and kill them?"It was a shot in the dark, but Earl's face goes slack. You toss your head. "So go ahead and get on your high horse, but Gil hasn't hurt anybody. And he's my retainer, so if you're planning on being a jerk, you're just going to have to be one somewhere else.""Kid, it's my fucking house." "So?"He doesn't seem to have an answer to that. Madrigal claps her hands together. "Okay, who gives a shit. Are we doing Ellery?"(1/3)
You are, though the logistics require some negotiation. You want to bring Gil, of course, but Madrigal turns you down: what does he have to do with it? she says. You would've pressed the matter, but Gil signals that he's just fine staying. (He doesn't seem to like to look at Madrigal.) Stymied, you ask if he can at least help with the breaking-in part, and get a grudging "Whatever."Earl politely offers to help with the breaking-in also— he's no genius at it, he says, but he's done some spelunking. This earns a "Sure, whatever," but after a moment's thought Madrigal says he can join the audience too. Since he's met the son-of-a-bitch before, and whatnot. Has he met the other woman, by the way? The ex? When Earl confirms that yes, he's known Anthea for some time, her eyes light up. "Great. You're hired."When Pat comes groggily out of the bedroom, she's met with the four of you filing in. You explain briefly that you're doing the Ellery thing, and she shrugs. "None of my business. Have fun with him."She shuffles off. The bedroom isn't large enough for four people— five, counting the hovering Richard— but you all plop down regardless. Madrigal arches her back. "So how the fuck is this happening? I mean, is there a ticket to his head, or—""Oh!" Earl says, and hauls himself back up. "Yes! Just a second, ladies... and gentleman..."He hastens off, and you hear banging and scraping from an adjoining room. Madrigal tilts her head against the wall. Gil drags his fingers along the rough stone floor. When Earl returns, he's bearing aloft a small brown card. "Found it! Phew!"You raise your eyebrows. Gil shifts. "It's his calling card," Earl adds on. "So you can visit! Just chew it up, take a nap, and—""Chew it up?" "I'd put fair money on blood being impregnated in there," Richard says. "Other aids, too, potentially.""Yeah!" Earl says obliviously. (You narrow your eyes at Richard.) "Trust me on this! You'd have to ask Nettie for the specifics— I'm not the theory guy over here— I think what it does is hijack your whole dream system! Or something like that. Don't ask me how or why. But if I go ahead and rip this into quarters, that should get all of us a ticket, haha—" And he does, and passes them around.You examine your quarter of card. It looks like paper. "-OUTH," it says. You got a business card from Anthea, didn't you? And then you woke up at that S.A. meeting... did Richard eat that card?"Yes, Charlie."Oh. Okay. You eat the card with some difficulty, what with the fangs. It tastes like paper.So does everybody else, and at Earl's urging you lay back on the floor. You can't help but wonder why this wasn't done on the settee and chairs back outside— spite? Revenge for you stealing his bed? It hardly matters, because you're actually managing to feel relaxed.(2/3)
"I believe it contained a mild sedative, Charlie." Richard's crouched over you. "I could metabolize it out of you easily, but if I'm not mistaken this is the intended result.""Mm-hm." Elsewhere, Madrigal's demanding to know what's in this nasty shit. "I mean... as long as it's safe...?""I'd never let you come to harm." He strokes your forehead with his thumb. "I'll see you on the other side, primrose. Sweet dreams."It really is mild— he's not lying about that. (Getting a quarter of the intended dose probably helped.) If you liked, you could get up and shake it off. But you've got places to see, and certain people to yell at, so you lay flat on the stone and wait for it to claim you. It does.-You were somewhere. For an instant, you were somewhere with ash on the wind. Then the light came and blasted you out, back, away. Into the blackness."Ow," you say. It's black all around you. Not a metaphor, or anything. Everybody else is there, too, lying frazzled on the ground. "Fuck!" says Madrigal. "Hot damn," says Earl. Gil groans."Ah," Richard says smoothly, "the interim." He offers you a hand up. "Seems we were unwanted guests, then?""Oh, god," Gil says."Hi Richard. What the fuck are you—""Richard?" Earl clambers to his feet. "Wait, I've seen you. You're the fucking... Beast. The Dread and Terrible—"Richard bobs his head. "Charlie's Dread and Terrible Beast, yes. Richard is shorter, if you like. What's this?"It's a door. It's large and squareish and oak. There's a red ribbon tied around the handle, and about a million chains, bolts, bars, and padlocks keeping it very, very shut. Bright light leaks out from under the bottom. "It's a door, asshole," says Madrigal, and comes up to it. She tries the handle. It rattles. "His door. Look at the stupid little ribbon.""I don't think it's stupid," you say, put out. "I think it's cute. But yeah, I don't know what else this'd... be.""So we open it." Madrigal kicks it. It rattles. "The son-of-a-bitch can't hide forever. It's fine. We just gotta..."> Apply brute force. The door's guarded with a lot of stuff, but it's all just... stuff. With somebody strong enough, or with strong enough tools, it could all be snapped right off.> Work together. You have two people right here with a lot of skill in manse-door-opening, maybe even two-and-a-half. Let Gil and Richard figure this out, and the rest of you can pitch in what you can. (Also, you'd really like to let Gil help before he has to go.)> Think about it the right way. The door's an extension of Ellery's manse, isn't it? Which is an extension of Ellery? Ergo (as Richard would say), the door is Ellery. So you can commune with it, surely? [Spend 1 ID.]> [OPEN] it. It'll open something, won't it? Hopefully the door, but definitely something, and that's... something.> Write-in.
>>5557941>> Work together. You have two people right here with a lot of skill in manse-door-opening, maybe even two-and-a-half. Let Gil and Richard figure this out, and the rest of you can pitch in what you can. (Also, you'd really like to let Gil help before he has to go.)
>>5557941> Write-in.Knock on the door while shouting out to Ellery that there's no point hiding now, everyone knows including Madrigal and he's gonna have to deal with it sometime so it might as well be now.Unless he's in there, *canoodling* with another woman and that's why he's trying to avoid Maddie. We know about Anthea and him, Pat spilled the beans. So yeah, we guess that if that's what he's doing he can try to keep the door locked and us out.I mean. If haranguing him into opening the door doesn't work we can still try more confrontational means after.
>>5557941> Work together. You have two people right here with a lot of skill in manse-door-opening, maybe even two-and-a-half. Let Gil and Richard figure this out, and the rest of you can pitch in what you can. (Also, you'd really like to let Gil help before he has to go.)how can we not give Gil his time to shine after insisting on bringing himgotta keep his jacker skills sharp
Going to pull my once-weekly "I have morning classes every single day" card and get some sleep. I swear we'll get to a decent stopping point (if not a complete resolution) with Ellery before the thread ends, even if I run a little ways over 30 days-- thanks for your patience, and have some art from this summer!
>>5558016>>5558121>>5558223>>>5558144>Called, but you can knock first. Writing.
>>5559987I mean it's just polite to start with haranguing and work up to B&E.
>Make yourselves useful"...I dunno, do whatever your thing is." She waves vaguely at Gil. "Aren't you supposed to be useful?""Uhhh," Gil says. "Uhhhh. I-I-I mean... can't we... try knocking?"Madrigal squints. "I don't know what kind of signals you're getting from this, but—""I-I-I'm going to knock." You sit crosslegged on the ground as Gil edges up to the door and knocks softly. Then he jiggles the handle, which doesn't budge. The door doesn't respond, and the light under it doesn't change. "Oh.""A locked door means a locked door. He played a lot of shitty games, but not that one." She clucks her tongue. "It's fine. You can bust in, can't you? I'm led to understand that's your job description, so...""Former job," Gil mumbles, "and I-I don't have any tools, or—""I'd be perfectly willing to help in that regard," Richard says warmly.You tuck your hands into your lap and stare at the ground. Richard's shiny shoes approach the door. "As a matter of fact, I'd be happy to provide any assistance you needed. This is an area of special interest to me.""Doors?" Madrigal says dubiously."Locks, really, but it's all of one sphere. I won't bother you with the specifics." The shoes stop and pivot. "All I meant to indicate is that I could be of help."When you lift your head, both Gil and Madrigal are glancing in your direction: you shrug hopelessly back at them. "Uh-huh," Madrigal says. "...Okay," Gil says. "I-I-I'll, um... keep that in mind...""Well, ladies... and gents, and Beasts, or however you're supposed—""Gentlemen is adequate," Richard says."Okay! Ladies and gents," says Earl, "I don't know shit about locks, or doors, but let me know if you need anything from me. If you want anything held open, or—""Yeah, sure, whatever— we can all pitch in, how about that." Madrigal places her hands on her hips. "Ellery won't know what fucking hit him, huh?" You are grateful that Madrigal has rescued you from doing your own dumb little speech. You don't see why Gil can't handle it all himself, personally, but as long as he's okay... is he okay? He's looking a little sweaty, standing right in front of the door. (Which can't be oil, right? Not anymore? Note to self: ask Pat about goo sweat.) But he's reaching down into air and grasping his goggles out of it, and fixing them onto his face. He crouches down. "Okay," he says, "I-I-I think it'd be easiest to take this whole thing off its hinges..."(1/3?)
'Easy' is a relative term, as it turns out, as the process still requires a thorough examination, a "tuning," the manual picking of eleven padlocks (Richard takes on this part), an odd-looking pair of scissors, a stethophone, and two different screwdrivers. You find it extraordinarily difficult to focus on the particulars, a fact you chalk up to boredom before Madrigal leans in and asks if you have any idea what's going on. More likely, most of it is going on where you can't see. But the door creaks and leans, its chains pile snakily to the ground, and all at once Gil is straining against it. You rush to help him, but the scalding door-light sends you reeling backward— Earl, in your stead, dashes forward to help. As he props his whole body between the door and its frame, Madrigal passes him her awesome spear to brace with.Between the three of them, the door is half-open, but it's fighting hard to close itself and bound to win eventually. You attempt again to approach, but the light works its way even through your closed eyelids. Damnit! Why did Richard make your eyes so sensitive?«Sorry, Charlie.»No! You weren't asking for a— could he stop apologizing? It's wrong on him. «It's the appropriate thing to do when you have harmed somebody you care about.»«Particularly when it's not easily reversed.»«I'd still like to do what I can for you. Would you allow me?"What? It doesn't matter whether you allow him— he may as well skip the formalities, at this point, and do whatever he wants. As long as he's not planning on grabbing the spear and gutting everybody with it, you'll cope.«That's not a healthy attitude, Charlie. But we can talk about it later.»Your eyes are screwed shut, but you can hear Richard sidle up behind you. You hardly flinch when he slides his hand over your face, blocking the light. «Go ahead.»You hope to God that everybody else is too preoccupied to notice how dumb this looks. With Richard's other hand on your shoulder, you sidle forward and (with Richard's instructions) find the door handle on the opposite side. You pull.Nothing. It doesn't budge. You curse under your breath and dig your heels in, but it may as well be stuck fast. «Charlie,» Richard says.You know what he's going to follow that up with.«Yes, Charlie, your old man's predictable. It's okay.»«Would you like to be stronger?»Sure. Whatever.«Okay.»His hand on your neck grips into your skin— not painfully, but enough to form indents. Something radiates out from there— not painfully. But you feel a little emptier.>[-1 ID: 13/14]Still, your fingers curl and you drag the door with you. With a terrible squeak and a blast of light— you're guessing from everybody else's 'ow's, your eyes are still covered— it wrenches open the wrong way and sticks there.Richard drops his hands. "Phew!" says Earl. "Damn," says Madrigal. "About time." Gil, sidling up to you, doesn't say anything, but he's daubed his sweat(?) away. His shoulders are relaxed.
"Good job," you say offhandedly."Um. Thanks. I-I-It wasn't so... Richard did a lot of it." His tone is still faintly incredulous. "Most of it, really. I-I just...""It's open, isn't it?""I guess." He pauses. "I-I better go, I guess. Good luck with your guy. Please come back soon, and, um, safe. And sane."You scoff. "It's Ellery, he can't— I am undefeatable by the lowly likes of him. Didn't you see the tournament? It'll be fine, and I'll be back in a jiff, so they say, so— go have fun with your real body, okay? Your body!"He nods and breaks eye contact, stepping away rapidly. "Bye," you say, and stride over to the others. The light has dimmed, but you're still forced to squint."Ready?" Madrigal says. "Is Richard coming?""Um..." You look at him. "I mean, he... he comes with me everywhere. I'll tell him not to bother us."«I won't intervene unless you're in danger, Charlie.»"He says he won't bother us. What's in there?" You can't see very far inside the doorframe. It's awfully grey, besides the light. "Are you sure this is the right—?""Card had his name on it!" Earl says, and Madrigal nods. "Had the dumb ribbon on it. Let's go."You go. Madrigal goes first, to your mild irritation, but you don't have good grounds to assert your dominance right now. Inside the door— which slams shut as soon as you're through it— is a grey wasteland. It looks for all the world like Annie's blast crater, a metaphor you immediately regret, but it does— the ground is covered in ash, and underneath that sandy earth, but here and there are crumbled planks or loose nails or shreds of fabric. Past the ash is the ocean, the water stained with soot and inky with nighttime. You are on a tiny island, and the place where the beach used to be is glassed.You're able to make out all this detail not because of the moon or stars, which are clouded over, but because of the light of the beacon. It's impossible for you to snatch more than a glimpse of it, but it's radiant and yellow and crouched at the center of the island. Given how manses are, you'd rather not leap to conclusions, but—"Ellery," Madrigal hisses, and sets off— would set off, if Earl didn't stick a forcible arm in front of her. "Hang on a titch, would you?" he says. "If that's Ellery, then—""Then?""I don't know." He doesn't drop his arm. "But maybe we should think about this one, huh?"> Greet Ellery. (What do you say? Write-in.)> Don't greet Ellery.>>[A] No matter what he's like right now, he's going to recognize Madrigal. That's a given. Send her in alone to scope things out, while you and Earl hover back here.>>[B] There's no way he doesn't know you're here. Let him make the first move. (Hope that it's a good first move.)>>[C] Draw The Sword.>>[D] Write-in.
>>5560108> Don't greet Ellery.>>[A] No matter what he's like right now, he's going to recognize Madrigal. That's a given. Send her in alone to scope things out, while you and Earl hover back here.
>>5560108> Greet Ellery. (What do you say? Write-in.)OY, KNOCK KNOCK LOSERif you think about it both the tournament and the time he beetleborged, we won. We;re 2-0 against Ellery, we're the vegeta to his goku
>>5560143>>5560475>[2A]>>5560491>Called for [2A] and writing. We will be switching temporarily to Madrigal POV, at least until Charlotte is back in the thick of things.
>Solo mission"Think about it? What the fuck do you think he's gonna do, Earl?" Madrigal attempts to side-step Earl, but he moves to block her. "Glow at me? He talks a big game, but when you get right down to it, the guy can't hurt a hair on my head. Couldn't if he wanted to. Trust me, Earl, he's—""Well, I'm sure that's true most of the time, but..." Earl squints toward the light. "Are you sure he's... eh... stable?""Is he ever stable?" you say."Barely. Yeah. So listen— thanks for the well-wishes, and all that, but I've got this handled." She waves her spear. "I'll yell if I start dying. Otherwise, you know, I'll say my piece, and then we can haul him over for a pow-wow? For the sake of inclusivity, and all that. Settled? Good?"Good? You'd really like to be the one going over there, it being your investigation, but this setup has its upsides: if Madrigal goes in there and gets disintegrated, you and Earl will have learned a valuable lesson. And if she goes in there and gets (e.g.) brainwashed, or entrapped in crystal, you can rescue her for real— and then you get to rub that in her and everybody's face. A win-win, ultimately. "Um, I don't mind. He's no match for me, obviously, and you do have that spear, and, uh, the eyeball thing—""Yeah, I do have the fucking eyeball thing. Right?" She raises her eyebrows at Earl, who sighs and lowers his arm. "Holy shit, thank you. I'm only a grown-ass—""I just don't want anybody to get hurt here," says Earl, but she's already crunching her way through the ash. -You are Madrigal Fitzpatrick, and your piece-of-shit ex-boyfriend is currently pulling another of his stupid stunts. Why is he glowing? Why is his dream-mansion burnt to a crisp? Did he explode himself, or some shit? Questions like this could drive a grown-ass woman to madness, and indeed you've made many attempts to swear them off. It's what he wants, see. He wants you to ask the questions, and to puzzle and worry over them and him, because your piece-of-shit ex-boyfriend has a bloated fucking ego and an insatiable craving for attention, and therefore the best possible move with him is to say nothing. Ignore the stunts. Ignore the increasingly long disappearances. Ignore the unexplained breakup and the six months of him ignoring you and his poor sap of a body double and— of course— the girlfriend. Ignore the other girlfriend and move on with your life. That's how you win.You have never won at this. Not even once. Ellery's not as stupid as he makes himself sound, and you're certain he knew you'd be worrying and puzzling over him long after he ditched you in the cold. To, let it be clear, go fuck another woman— for years! And after that, you're still asking questions. You're generating more questions. Why is he moping?(1/3?)
Because he is moping. The terrain is rougher than you thought, so it's not like you're up close to him— all you can see from here is light, and glancing his way leaves spots in your eyes. You're not witnessing him mope, is what you mean. It's just that there's a damp, mildewy scent on the breeze, over and above the char-smell, and the ocean is dull and waveless, and you've seen him mope, alright? You're going off of more gut than anything. And you're mainly hoping that it is gut, that Ellery spawned this place out of his sick head and now he's got himself all over it, and that you're not just projecting horribly.Again, ignoring would be the winning strategy! Fuck him. If he wants to rot in his charcoal dump, why not? If he wants to mope like a child, the bitch with the magic pussy can give him kissies all she wants. But you're here, scrambling up this stupid crumbling hill, nearly stabbing your hand on nails, and clearly you're past the point of strategy. You're onto something like Plan F now, or G, and your best chance is to meet Ellery and slap the shit out of him. Maybe kick him in the teeth. And then move on.Which you're working on, alright? You're nearly there. Up this close, you can see even less than you could down below: the light's thick as a wall and nearly as dense, and you find yourself surprised to move through it easily. That is, until you glance down and spot the darkness skinning around you— absorbing the light? Eating it? Swallowing it whole? Man, you're so fucking awesome. If only you could keep this nightmare bullshit around forever.You'll settle for just now, though, because you'll take any high-ground you can get vs. Ellery. He's here. You guess you're at the top of the hill, but it just looks white around you, and he looks normal. Not 38. Maybe like he combed his hair the wrong way.You feel disgust. He is moping, for the record, with his chin in his arms and his arms on his knees. He's wearing some stupid patterned shirt, maybe from the girlfriend. You didn't know him to wear patterns.And he's glowing. You guess that's not normal, actually, but for Ellery is it that far off? The light's coming from the pores in his skin and the holes of his face. From around his eyeballs, and everything, which completely washes out the eyes. Can't even see them."Is that fucking healthy?" you say.Your piece-of-shit ex-boyfriend turns his head up at you. "You can go, Maddie. It's okay.""Pardon me?""It's not like back then. I know you're not real." Despite the eye contact, he's managing to mumble. "I'm not far enough gone this time. Feels like I really should be. At least I was having a good time, you know, having fun, having...""I'm real," you say. "Dumbass.""You've got no blood, Maddie. No strings, no... it's fine. It's not your fault. I really fucked this one up, Maddie." He's just droning. "Really bad. I'm a fuckup, Maddie, always have been, and I..."(2/3)
The disgust is mutating. "You're glowing like a bitch," you say, in an attempt to find something more concrete."I know, Maddie, I know I am. I fucked up. I swallowed the whole sun, and now I— I mean—"You have never won at this. "You swallowed the fucking sun. The one in the sky?""It's in my head," he says. "Anything makes sense if I want it to. That's my problem, that's the..."You take a deep breath. "Why did you do this?""I don't know. I felt like... like nothing mattered. It wasn't really swallowing," he says. "I just took it and put it... you know. Inside. I don't think it was a great plan.""No shit?""At this point, I think I'm containing it, basically. If I move too much, it's gonna..." He makes an explosion noise with his mouth. There's no point in fighting the questions, at this rate. It was stupid to think you ever could. "Did you not already explode?""I burned it all, Maddie. But then I ran out of things to burn, and now I'm just... Anthea hasn't been by. I told her to fuck out of my life." He taps his fingers against his arm. "I don't think I should've done that. I think I might die here."You start to ask one thing, then finish with another. "...And how do you feel about that?""It'd be for the best, probably. I'm just scared." His eyes roam past you. "I'm scared, Maddie, really."> This is not at all what you wanted! How the fuck are you supposed to yell at somebody who's barely lucid? Convince him that you're the real deal, pronto.>>[A] Slap him.>>[B] Slug him.>>[C] Stab him.>>[D] Kiss him.>>[E] Say something. (Write-in.)>>[F] Write-in.> Goddammit-- this is way outside your pay grade. Leave (he'll hardly notice) and retreat back to the others to talk things through. > Write-in.
>>5561026>Slap him>Kick him>Slug him>Kiss him>Kick him again repeatedly.
>>5561026>>Slap him>>Kick him>>Slug him>>Kiss him>>Kick him again repeatedly.
>>5561026>>Slap him>>Kick him>>Slug him>>Kiss him>>Kick him again repeatedly.this seems appropriate
>>5561026>>[B] Slug him.repeatedly
>>5561058>>5561243>>5561492>Combo meal>>5561521>Just the domestic violence, ma'amWriting.
>Kiss me, kill meHe's scared? How does he want you to react to that? Of course you don't like to see him in a state like this, but it's nothing new: this shit is what he does to himself, over and over, no matter how much you try to help. Does he get off to it? Or to the attention he gets? It has to be something— nobody winds up in these situations normally. Nobody eats the fucking sun by accident. But that's what he's told you, all sincerely: that he doesn't mean it, that things just happen to him. That maybe he's cursed, or something.It's complete gullshit. It's excuses. But while you'd like to dismiss your son-of-a-bitch ex-boyfriend as stupid or cruel or both, you know full well he's neither. If he's not getting off on it (he has loudly denied this), then your most charitable take on his "stunts" is as follows: Ellery's just wired wrong. He's wrong. He's missing some kind of off-switch, or circuit breaker, or warning flag, or whatever it is that makes a normal person stop and think. Maybe he ate the fucking sun because he couldn't not eat it, and that's just how he was born. It's not his fault, see.And maybe it isn't. And maybe you do feel bad, seeing your son-of-a-bitch ex so sad and pathetic. But— and you can't emphasize this enough— holy shit, it's annoying. Five years? Five fucking years on stupid dream vacation, making out with his bimbo girlfriend, and he's exactly the same? You could slap him. You should slap him.You do slap him, which makes your palm sting. Ellery frowns. "Maddie, you know I can't feel that.""Fucking what?" you say politely."Feel the pain. It's been years, you know, I..."He glazes over again, leaving you to clutch your wrist and contemplate this. Can't feel pain. Holy fucking shit. Not even a little bit? No wonder he hasn't learned a thing, then— and no wonder he's off in his own little world. And of course you can't make him feel even a fraction of what he's done to you, because why could you? That'd be too nice.You slug him right where you slapped him. It has the noise and feel of punching a double-layered paper bag, and when you withdraw your fist his cheek is dented. "I wish you wouldn't do that," he says frankly."Because it hurts?""...Maddie, I just told you I can't...""Sure. And can you feel this?" you say, and stomp square on his leg. It collapses flat under your weight, less like a paper bag, more like a cardboard box. Light juts out."You're going to explode it," he says. "Why are you doing this to me?""Why am I—!""You don't usually act like this when you stop by." He touches his cheek. "Usually you're always able to help. I guess I really have fucked this one up."You pause. (Back to the questions.) "When I stop by? Sorry? There's another fucking Madrigal—"(1/3)
"It's just you. I mean..." He rubs his mouth. "...it's not you. I know it isn't. You're off living your life, or you're dead. Or a... snake. But you're the closest I've got, Maddie, and you've gotten me through some tough shit, so I thought you'd be here for that. Doing that."You guffaw. "Are you saying you fucking hallucinate me?""I just imagine you," he mumbles. "But it's... in here, it's different. I can't..."And does your bitch girlfriend know you hallucinate me? you almost ask, but then a better question comes to you. "And what do you imagine me doing, Ellery?"He glows."Ell?""It's not the same thing," he says dismally.It's not? Damn. Maybe he should've thought about that before he jumped ship? Maybe he shouldn't have made you fret for almost a year. Maybe go off to start living your life, and let him rot in the pit he dug for himself. That's how you win, Madrigal. Just leave.And you would, except— how satisfying would that be? You tried whaling on him, and he cold-cocked you. You can't yell at him while he barely knows what day it is. Where's your fucking catharsis? No, what you need to do is snap him out of this, set him straight, make him want you back— then vanish. Leave him with his stupid sun and his half-assed fantasies, all alone, forever. Yeah. That's the ticket. You smirk at him. "I bet, Ell, I bet. Here, I'll take a stab at it. Were you imagining something like... this?"You kissed him. It was supposed to be exactly like that: a lean, a peck, a retreat. Three clean words and a point established. Instead, you dropped to your knees and reached for his shoulders to drag you closer— a rookie mistake, because then you felt his dry skin and his angled shoulderblades, and then you blacked out and woke up with his mouth inside yours. You're clutching onto his neck like his head's about to fall off, and he's clutching your ribs and the small of your back like he means to contrict and eat you. His lips are chapped badly, and you lick them to soothe him. He makes a noise and digs his fingers into your hair. He smells hot. You are hot. Your head is full of sunshine.This is not a good development, firstly because of the catharsis, secondly because you're 80% sure that your moronic ex is spewing actual sunshine directly into your mouth. Which can't be good, can it? It's not doing him any favors, surely. And what of your nightmare shit? Are you spewing that into his mouth? Or is it commingling?Too many questions. You are still kissing him.(Choices next.)
> Maybe you *can* help him. Suck all the sun straight out of Ellery and contain it in you, instead. He'll be normal, and you... the nightmare shit will cancel it out. Right? That's how it works?> Like , but the opposite: relinquish all your nightmare shit to him. Hopefully it'll cancel out, and if not... he has a lot of experience handling weird stuff?> Try to make it exactly 50/50 in both of you. It'll take concentration, but it'll mean that both of you are equally safe. [Roll.]> He just needs to vent it safely, before it burns him up inside. Scoop a nail off the ground and start puncturing him— if he really can't feel pain, he probably won't even notice.> Do nothing special: you're in too deep already. > Write-in.
>>5562081> Maybe you *can* help him. Suck all the sun straight out of Ellery and contain it in you, instead. He'll be normal, and you... the nightmare shit will cancel it out. Right? That's how it works?HAHA IT DEFINITELY ISN'T A POWER SOURCE THAT OUR NIGHTMARE STUFF CAN USE.
>>5562092This may seem like a sub-optimal choice.Actually, wait. Can we call in the experts? All this glowing sun mind manse gullshit isn't our expertise.This is definitely Charlotte level gullshit, and SOMEHOW she makes it all work out more or less fine. Also Earl is there, and he seems like a professional to Charlottes . . . definitely not a professional, whatever it is she is. Gods help us, a reckless and idiotically brave heroine might actually be the closest like she's always going on about.Fuck it. Can't hurt to get some second and third opinions.
>>5562082> Maybe you *can* help him. Suck all the sun straight out of Ellery and contain it in you, instead. He'll be normal, and you... the nightmare shit will cancel it out. Right? That's how it works?I hope we still can kick him repeatedly afterwards
>>5562081>> Maybe you *can* help him. Suck all the sun straight out of Ellery and contain it in you, instead. He'll be normal, and you... the nightmare shit will cancel it out. Right? That's how it works?
>>5562092Ellery has a long history with the sun in his chest and it’s pretty OP. Extremely likely that not only can we not use it, but it burns out all the nightmare and more besides
Rolled 7 (1d10)>>5562100>>5562221>>5562092 (ish, seems to be changed to )>>>5562480>>>5562093>Retreat back to the #squadCalled for . Rolling for result.1-5: Whoops6-9: All good10: Nightmare fuel
>>5562887>All goodMadrigal continues her winning streak. Pic related is now noncanon, but I might as well post it anyhow.Writing in a little while. >>5562100>I hope we still can kick him repeatedly afterwardsThat's the plan. You're just a little preoccupied atm.
>SuccAnd he's still kissing you, like it's the first time he ever has, or the last time he'll ever get to. He is wrapped around you completely, and his hands, like usual, are roaming: one skittering down your thigh, the other stroking the nape of your neck. You make a noise of your own and dig your fingernails into his skin. He used to like that. Now he doesn't react at all.In every other regard, it's the same as it was. You may as well be kissing him on the road or the cot or on Monty's new desk. It could be morning or night, months or years ago, but really years— back when you thought he was an easy mark. Funny-looking, you figured, but tolerable, and if you got your mouth on his he'd probably shut up once in a while. Sure enough, that was that, and you laid back feeling conceited that night. It was long afterwards when he told you casually that he knew perfectly well what was happening, and that your prowling was cute— he used that word, cute. After that, to encourage you not to sock him, he wrapped himself around you and stroked your neck with his thumb.This could be then. If you slackened into your body, it would be then. But make no mistake: you are of sound mind and hardened purpose, and all the history in the world can't erase the reality that you are tongue-fucking a 38-year-old man-child, an unstable lunatic, a hopeless, pathetic coward, an utter fucking incompetent! Five fucking years, a separation of his own making, and he's still mooning over you? Hallucinates you? He hasn't even noticed the thing about the sunlight, hasn't stopped and asked if you're alright, or why you're wearing leather pants now— because he's an incompetent. He's useless. What the fuck has he been doing without you? Why did he ever think he could get anywhere without you dragging him by the nose? He would've exploded if you didn't show up. The smell of sulfur. Charred scraps of Ellery melting in the rain. Think about that.So it's not because of charity that you suck the sunlight out of him. Your prickling skin and shortness of breath isn't noble or daring or heartwarming. The black smoke pouring from your nostrils is not a self-sacrifice. It's not love. It's just your obligation— to come in after your dumbass ex-boyfriend, to sweep up his messes, to put him straight and fix his collar and tamp his cowlick down with your spit. And to take within you some stupid made-up gullshit, and to boil inside as it eats the darkness and the darkness eats it and all of it steams its way out of your skin. Ellery has noticed something, but what can he do now? His muddy eyes are wide open, a few inches from yours, and he grips your shoulders to support them. But you are doing all the work— you're always doing all the work— and you are the one feeling limp and woozy at the end, when the last evaporated tendril escapes your lips, and your own body flexes and shifts under you. You wind up on the floor. You are no longer wearing leather pants.(1/3?)
Far above you, Ellery says: "...Maddie?" You don't offer the satisfaction of a response until you've heaved yourself to your feet, and then you look him square in the eyes and kick him in the groin."Hey!" It's not a squeal of pain, but you'll take it. "Shit! There's no need for—""Feeling better, asshole?" You wipe your lips off. "I see you chopped your balls off.""Maddie, my balls are— they're— I've still got them, just to be clear, I just can't feel pain in general? Including my... balls...""And your girlfriend figured that out, huh?"He has his hands protectively over the groin region. "What are you talking about? I don't have— hey!"You aimed for the shin. "Yeah, you do. Heard all about her. Heard she fucked you pretty hard, Ellery— is that right? Did she fuck you hard? Did she—""If you mean Thea, we're just friends! There's no— and if there was fucking, it wasn't the same as you! It wasn't the same." Well, you did it: he's back to normal. He's got the panic grimace on. "She wasn't as good at—""Uh-huh," you say, and kick his ankle. "Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I see. And that makes it all better, then?""Maddie—""It makes you vanishing and leaving behind some poor guy to take your shit for you— to fucking die for you!— okay? That's okay? Because the whore you fucked wasn't as good as me, Ellery? We were worried about you."His lips are pulled over his gums. "You weren't supposed to be—""Maybe you should've thought about that, huh? That maybe people fucking care about you?" He's been backing away to avoid your kicks: you've been advancing. "Not that they should've. I mean, I sure fucking wish you'd died in a ditch, Ellery, I think that would've been preferable—""I can explain!" Without the light in him, he's just pale and weedy. He's stark against the black sky and ground. "I— I— I can— I have an explanation—""You have an explanation?""Yeah! Yes! I have a complete— I have a script for it, Maddie, I've got a script for this whole— I didn't know if you were ever coming back, but I knew I needed to be prepared if you did, so I wrote— I mean, I've redrafted it, um, a couple times, but I—"A fucking script. "Uh-huh. And is this all following the script?"His eyebrows go up. "Uh... the first part, uh, did, mostly, but now we... we can still get back on track, Maddie. It's all explainable! I just—""What?" you say.His eyebrows go up further."Are you fucking nervous?"It's a stupid question. When isn't he nervous? The wise thing to do would be to sit him down, get him comfortable, hook your ankle around his leg— then let him talk. But you already kissed him, and you're done with the cuddling up. He has answers? You want the fucking answers, now.(2/3)
But you don't get them, because there's a voice from down the hill. "EVERYTHING OKAY UP THERE?"In the sense that nobody's exploded, yes. In the sense that Ellery's ready to spill the whole story: he jitters back, and the panic-grimace has tightened into what you like to deem his 'scared rabbit' face. "Is that fucking Earl?""I brought some moral support," you say. "So what?""So what?" It wasn't in the script, he doesn't say, but it's all over him. He vibrates his leg in place as two heads appear over the side of the hill."Are you evil right now?" says Charlotte, politely."What?" you say."Are you evil? Hath you been presently consumeth by any wretched—"You make a face at her. "No? Do I fucking look— consumeth? Ellery's fine, too, not that you asked.""What the fuck is she doing here?" Ellery says— more frightened than irritated, at least to your ear.Charlotte squares her shoulders. (Great.) "What am I doing here? I have come to— as they say— crack the case! I shall ascertain the final dregs of your mysteriosity, and draw forth the—""She's the one who really caught your ass out," you inform Ellery. "So I think she better hear your fantastic explanation.""And Earl?" "Hello!" Earl says."Who gives a shit about Earl? He's— he's there. Does it fucking matter?" You cross your arms. "You've run out of places to hide, Ellery. So out with it."He looks at you. He twitches. You look back hotly, but you know there's nothing to do: he's past nervous, now, into a kind of vacant defensive crouch. It always made him impossible to argue with, and now you're going to have to pick it apart again. Wonderful."Yes!" says Charlotte. "Out with it, you foul dastard!" Ellery's eyebrows twitch a little at that, and you think: well, you could pick it apart. Or Charlotte could bash it to pieces and set it on fire. You'll just have to see who gets to it first.>[END THREAD]
Okay! Sorry, I know I didn't warn you guys about this being the last update, but since it's Day 29 and there were no complications from the Ellery-fixing I thought this was a solid place to end things. (Getting the full explanation from Ellery will take a little while longer, so I didn't want to begin that and immediately cut things off.) Next thread (ETA 1-2 weeks as usual) will feature:>THE ANSWER TO WTF IS UP WITH (THE) ELLERY(S)>Telling Ellery about your [SUNSTROKE]?>Resolving things with Gil and/or Richard? >Hey, wasn't there that Headspace guy that lived in Hellsbells?Archive and such tomorrow. See you then!
>>5563215Thanks for running!
>>5563215Thanks for running— fun thread!Your art is improving btw :-)
>>5563215Plot progression! Kicking Ellery! Getting Gil a body! What isn't to love.
>>5563215thanks for running!that picture may be definitive proof that heart glasses are all that's needed for a hippy look
Okay! New thread on 1/19 at the earliest and 1/24 at the latest-- I have a big writing assignment coming up, so I need to get that done before I start running again. We are archived here: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned%20quest%20reduxMy Twitter (for new thread updates) is here: https://twitter.com/BathicQMHave a great week or two!>>5563217>>5563410>>5563464You're welcome!>>5563410T...thanks...? I like to think it's always improving!>>5563463Truly! We didn't even get to all the plot progression I intended, so you should be able to knock a couple more things off the to-do list next thread.>>5563464I mean... try and tell me that Ellery wouldn't be into free love and psychedelics :^)
>>5563489Err, that should be 2/19 and 2/24. We're not time traveling.
Hi folks-- not sure if anyone's still looking at this thread (and I'll be reposting this in 32 just in case), but I just got this commission of Charlotte and Gil in. I'm very happy with it, and I hope you guys like it too! Artist is @icarus_cant_fly on Twitter.
>>5569946Great work from the artist-- I really like how expressive Gil and Charlotte are here!! Charlotte looks ready for some violence KEK
>>5569946no matter the artist charlie always ends up looking like some murderous gremlin
>>5570862>>5570997>implying Charlotte isn't some murderous gremlin
>>5571100Lmao>>5570862And yea this looks really nice.
>>5569946>>5571100I see this is a self-insert quest.
>>5573434>self-insert questI assure you, anon, I do not have enormous, heaving fangs.