Preface: My Delirium Alcazar is an ongoing CYOA being written at http://mda.wtf. As such, most of the major decisions and actions taken by the protagonist were voted on by the participating audience; what you're reading here are just the results, posted in sections. This is also why the story's being written in second person. It will, inevitably, be a bit behind the "main" version. The Royal Road upload will NOT be interactive, and I don't take votes from here; this is purely an archival or [read only] version.
Today's the big day!
You have successfully finished moving into your new house.
It's about noon.
What do you do?
You decide to unpack the last two boxes, which are otherwise just taking up space in your living room.
(Wouldn't want anyone to think you own furniture)
The top box is full of your video games; you take it to your bedroom, through the closed door on the far left side.
(Getting the door open with a box in your arms requires some wiggling)
You unpack your games and place them upon your dresser:
• Crush Souls, a fantasy adventure game with a dark, dismal aesthetic and dating sim elements. Has a reputation for its brutal difficulty.
• Magic Mustachio, a platforming game in a long series about doing sports and rescuing princesses. You mostly played this to help you keep up with the story in its spin off, Chateau Handlebar, about Mustachio's brother (who dates ghosts).
• Captemon, a game about capture demons (or captemons) you can collect and train to fight against each other. You have to mod this one if you want there to be any dating sim in it. And finally,
• Magic Mustachio Extreme Beach Volleyball. If anyone else in your internal monologue asks, yes you also bought this one purely for research reasons
You double check everything else in the room. Your bed, dresser, and computer desk with all your computer equipment and gaming paraphernalia are present and accounted for.
You also check to make sure you still have all your personal items, since you could have dropped something while moving in.
You have: a little money, your keys, and your ID card.
Yup, that's definitely you.
Female, Age 21
5'3" and 98 lbs
Blood Type A
Red Hair, Hazel Eyes
The next time you renew your ID card you'll need to get the address changed (since you just moved away from Addersfield). This one won't expire for another four years, though, so there's no real rush.
Before you leave your bedroom, you turn your computer on. That way, by the time you finish unpacking, the computer will be warmed up and ready to use.
You also double check your bathroom. You confirm that you're fully stocked on toothpaste, toilet paper and other essentials.
That only leaves one box to unpack.
The last box is full of instant food products and plasticware.
You carry them to your kitchen through the second/middle door and load the various packages up where they need to go. You now have everything you need for fast meals with minimal effort. You have also already stocked the refrigerator with cheap soda.
You check the tap water, just to make sure it works.
It comes on after a small sputter. The water actually looks cleaner than it did in your old town. You turn the faucet off, grab some cheap sodas and some snacks, and head to your bedroom.
You commence the proceedings with a little Captemon--slightly modded, of course. According to the internet, the dating sim function was in the original game, but translators thought it would make Captemon too hard to market here in The States. All the modders really did was translate and patch the dating mechanics back in. It still drives you crazy, though, that dating the human characters and dating the demons is treated as different systems. If the demons are going to act like people, and have personalities and agendas and identities and be people... then shouldn't dating them just be treated as normal?
After a few hours of that, you switch to Crush Souls. This is your bread and butter--your online videos about the game's lore, the level design and how it's all interconnected, and the symbolism in each dating path is what's allowed you to afford this (admittedly very cheap) house. You've done videos about other games, but none with the depth or inaccessibility of Crush Souls. It's a very difficult game where the player is violently murdered over and over and forced to learn and adapt or never progress. That means there's a lot of content that few will ever see, let alone sit down and really think about and put together. You like it that way, though--it should be tough. You want to be challenged. You want to know there's another height to reach, an obstacle you still can't overcome so you have something to strive for. Going online and seeing others be better at the game than you just drives you to learn more. Even the dating sim parts of Crush Souls are difficult. Starting a relationship with any of the women in the game takes immense patience and skill--many people will try and fail over and over again, or maybe never even really work up the courage to try at all and that's fine. Not everyone gets to have that. Not everyone's ready or able to earn the right to be loved and that's reasonable, it
You play until about 1am, when the exhaustion of having finished moving catches up with you and the text on the screen becomes hard to read. You turn the game off.
It's... going okay.
You double check that all the house's entrances are locked, you brush your teeth
and you go to bed.
You wake up to the sound of splashing on the floor.
You wake up in your bed
but not in your room.
Just as your eyes begin to focus, part of the ceiling breaks with a loud crash. Black-green sludge begins pouring into the room, like water but... thicker. It coats the floor in an instant, reaching about ankle height in seconds.
Aside from you and your bed, the only things you can see in this room are a door and a bookshelf. There are no windows, vents, or other exits, save for a small port with iron bars in the door--and that's far too small to fit through. The whole thing reminds you of a prison cell, one that's uh... poorly equipped to deal with flooding.
You approach the door, expecting the large metal strip across the middle to be a push bar.
However, after a moment of struggling with it, you discover it has a lid that lifts open. Underneath are five numbers with aged, gold dials. Turning each dial changes the numbers; they all start at 00, by default. The door won't budge, despite its worn out appearance; it's thoroughly locked.
You take a closer look at the bookshelf.
They're all books you recognize--either books you had to read in school, or books you've heard spoken of often. Taking a few and thumbing through them quickly before returning them where they were, nothing about the books looks out of the ordinary. The text contained is what it should be for each book, as far as you can tell. There's no additional writing or marking on the pages. The only oddity is the covers themselves--very similar designs, and no authors are listed, just the names of the books.
You take a little bit to examine the bookshelf. You thumb through a few books (especially Me & My .44, which you're certain is big enough to contain a .44), but find nothing especially helpful about or inside the books themselves... or the bookshelf, for that matter. No hidden switches, no keys taped to the underside... just books on a shelf.
The door's locked, and sports a flip-up panel with numerical dials. It requires five numbers, two digits each. With only the books to work with, you begin working through the process of cracking the code.
After a little deduction, you input 91-14-01-60-44.
You try 01-91-44-60-14.
The panic begins to set in as sludge continues to fill the room. You look back at the books, eyeing one in particular--At the Gold End? The atomic number of gold is 79--maybe there's a 79 in there? And there's a book you didn't use at all, Where Did She--
You push through the goop back to your bed, which is already disappearing under the black surface. You reach under the pillow first, praying it's here and not under the bed or you're going to have to dunk your head--
--yes! There's an extra book hidden under your pillow. However
the flood has risen high enough to reach it. The spine and front cover are drenched, and stained; you try to wipe it off, but it just smears more green-black over the title.
You take a deep breath.
The other clues were concealed in the titles and... maybe the colors? But the actual text was normal. Maybe, maaaybe this one extra book had its clue inside rather than outside...
The vast majority of the inside is also sopping wet. You can barely get a grip on a dry corner to peel the pages apart.
As long as it's not on a specific page...
You only need...
a little bit...
You sneak a peek
and every page you can see
just repeats the number 79.
Over and over.
That confirms that number, but why the hint about gold only to just lay the number out like this? Why would two clues suggest the same number...? That's just poor--
You need to focus.
You rush back to the door, the numbers mostly obscured by the rising blackness. It's harder to see what you're doing and harder to turn the dials, but you manage to put in 91-14-79-60-44.
No. You're very confident about these numbers. Those have to be the numbers.
You suspect they may need to be in a different order.
You hear another section of the ceiling burst. You turn, just to make sure nothing came out--but no, only more of that oily sludge. You don't have much time left.
You glance out the barred but otherwise open port in the door; when the water(?) reaches here it'll start to drain, but this opening's too small to keep up with how fast that gunk is coming in.
Outside looks like a hallway in a similar style to this room. A very thin shadow cast on the far wall disappears to the right just as you focus on it.
You think about the numbers you have, and the books you didn't use, and the eccentricities that still feel like clues.
You begin inputting the numbers in a different order. By the time you're halfway through cycling the second part of the sequence, the green-black sludge has risen past the locking mechanism. No longer able to see the numbers you're putting in, you're forced to remember what they were previously and carefully count up or down to the new numbers. It's increasingly difficult, and the substance still filling the room only makes it harder to concentrate as you blindly fumble for the dials.
You input 91-60-14-44-79.
The water muffles any sound the door was supposed to make, but this time it gives when you push on it. You and the sludge go rushing out the door, and you are spilled unceremoniously onto the floor of the hall outside.
The hall appears to stretch on a great distance to your left and your right. There's a lot of doors lining this hallway, all resembling cell doors like the one you just tumbled through.
The only sound you hear is dripping and rushing water, both behind you and farther down the hall in either direction. At the very least, you don't imagine an area this size flooding any time soon; it all just adds a general, uncomfortable dampness to the air.
You grab a green-flamed torch from the wall before creeping cautiously down the left side of the hallway.
You peek through the bars of various cells as you pass them. You don't see much, at first: a bed frame in one cell, a full bed but with tattered, dirty sheets in another, an entirely empty cell, another with a huge leak in it... etc. You check a few of the doors, and they all seem to open with no issue; yours may have been the only one actually locked.
However, the fourth door on your right manages to grab your full attention. Waiting just past another huge crack in the ceiling where sludge continues to pour, beyond its bars--sitting against the back wall of the cell--is a dead body.
At least, you assume it's dead.
You hope they're dead, because something has happened to them and whatever the hell that is, you're not sure you're comfortable with the prospect of living through it. The person's face is so bloated up with... tumors? With bulbous growths that you can't even see a face anymore.
Embedded in their... chest, probably, wedged in between the folds of bloated tissue is a long knife. Its handle is wrapped in what vaguely (from this distance) resembles police tape.
But alas, the cell's rather grotesque occupant does not react. You're pretty confident they're really dead, though that doesn't rule out any possible traps, infectious diseases, or other ways a face-to-face encounter could go wrong.
You decide to leave the corpse and the knife alone for now--you might return here later when you're a little more sure of what's going on and what you might be dealing with. The temptation to just kick in the door and hurl your torch at it is strong, though.
You resist the urge and continue on down the hall. It's more of the same, unimpressive and poorly furnished prison cells and poor upkeep. You soon reach the door at the end of the hallway; it has a barred window like the cell doors, allowing you to see there's nothing dangerous lurking on the other side.
You step into the next room, which is a shorter, curved passage. You can see a shield, two barrels, and a couple of papers pinned to the nearby wall. On the other side of this vaguely L shaped room is another door; through its bars, you can see a long hallway lined on either side by cell doors. It looks a great deal like the hall you just came through, but in a different direction.
Not identical, but very similar.
You give the shield a small kick.
It does not react, except in the way you'd expect a shield to. You pick it up.
You have acquired a small shield.
You also take the papers from the wall. One of them appears to be a map of this floor; the other, if you're reading this right, says that the surface of the sludgy water (and a possible exit?) should be one floor up from here. That means you're currently on the first basement level... and underwater.
Meanwhile, three floors down, there's... something else. A triangle with a circle in it?
The symbols used on both documents are pretty vague; you decide to head back and examine the first hallway, just to make sure it lines up with what the map is showing.
Before that, though, you approach the two barrels in the room. You give each of them a firm kick.
They do not react.
After several seconds of finagling with the lids, you realize that you have no idea how to properly open a barrel. The barrels definitely have something in them; they're so heavy that you can hardly start to lean them, and you definitely couldn't pick one up.
Leaving the barrels behind for the moment, you head back into the previous hall--past the cell with the corpse and the knife, past the ceiling leak, and past the cell you woke up in. Water continues to pour from your starting room and now reaches your ankles out in the hallway.
Near the end of the hall, you confirm the accuracy of the map. All of the doors lining this path look more or less the same; however, peering through the bars of one door on the south wall, you can see a short hallway that leads to a completely different cell block.
If the other page is accurate, as well, then that means you should be able to find a way out of here by continuing in this direction. On the other hand, there should be a path leading farther down in the north west corner of this floor. You're not sure what lies deeper into the prison, but someone felt it was important enough to write it down and pin it on the wall.
Just as you begin to contemplate which direction to head next, however--
You hear something.
You could swear it sounded like
like a voice.
You tilt your head and listen.
You hear it again: a male voice, faint over the sound of rushing water and muffled by the brick walls.
You're not sure which cell it was in
but it wasn't from the knife room.
It was closer.
In fact, you're extremely sure it came from a room you've already looked in and confirmed as empty, one of the normal looking cells left of yours.
but you don't hear any additional vocalizing after that.
Your torch seems to flare up slightly as you turn away from the path to the outside--and instead head back down the hall to search for the source of the sound. You repeat what you did before, peeking in the barred windows, until you find...
something that definitely wasn't here last time.
It's... like... pale bamboo...?
Strung across one of the previously empty rooms.
You're not sure what they are, but there's a lot of it. You lean a bit, trying to see where it's coming from because it seems to just... be there, hanging from one side of the room to the other at various angles. Sometimes the ... sections? Twitch? An odd sort of jerking motion that vaguely reminds you of a stick bug. Without actually walking into the room to take a better look, your best guess is that maybe these things are lodged in all the various cracks and holes. You don't see any mouths (or any other orifices that could have made that noise), but it's possible that whatever talky parts it has are still in the wall, too.
That would explain how it got here, as well, if this thing (or things, plural) can travel
through ... the walls.
Seeing it up close, your understanding of it simultaneously goes up and down. It's made of meat and eyes and a muscle-like fiber. Its segments look like bones, but they're not--cartilage, maybe. You're not a doctor but you know that bones don't pulse. It squeezes... liquid, or air or something through its fibers, and as they inflate or deflate the... uh... meatier segments twitch. At the end of its body, the fibers burst free, writhing through the air like tendrils.
Even its intentional movements are stiff but sudden. It follows you as you back away, jerking around like a jumping spider or an old stop motion animation.
"S-Stay back," you tell it. "I don't wanna have to hurt you but I will. S... Say something if you understand."
It continues to march after you. Its tautest fibers vibrate, creating a... an uncomfortable noise, like someone hissing the off notes of a guitar. The hissing becomes more of a hum and a more cringe inducing tone; it makes your skin crawl.
"SAY SOMETHING!," you shout, your anxiety building as the monster continues to inch toward you.
It falls silent, and then
in a very clear, adult male voice
in a tone that reminds you of a medicine commercial
you hear it say
"I have a right to know."
"E... Ec-fucking-scuse me?!," you blurt out.
"I have a right to know," it repeats,
in the exact same cadence.
Same volume and clarity.
Like a recording, but crystal clear.
"I have a right to know," it says again. This time it's louder, but... it doesn't sound any more strained or emotional, just bigger, as though it simply turned up the volume of the same stock line.
"I have a right to know," adds a voice behind you.
A woman's voice this time. Younger, she speaks it with a more offended tone.
"I have a right to know," repeats the first in his specific way. "I have a right to know," agrees the second in hers. Like two actors rehearsing their lines with entirely different stage directions.
You twist in place, shield one way and torch the other, struggling to keep an eye on both creatures at once.
"I have a right to know," she says louder, almost right in your ear. As you turn to scare her back with the torch, you hear the other, male "I have a right to know" closing in on you from the opposite side. You almost throw yourself into the water whirling back around with the torch.
They're trying to fake you out.
They're using tactics, working like god damn pack hunters.
You can reach one of the cell doors, but these things can squeeze into the cracks of the walls--you'd just be staving off the inevitable. You start trying to put together a plan to break out from between these two and make for one of the exits--
when a muffled "I have a right to know" in the ceiling distracts you.
Just for a moment.
The male lunges, and this time he commits. You swing your torch with everything you have, burning a great slash across several segments and a couple of his eyes. His partner slams one of her limbs into you from the side--not with immense force, but enough to take advantage of you being overextended.
You stumble, dropping your torch in the water as you hit the floor.
You hold up your shield as you fumble, crawling backward through the sludge toward the wall to protect your back, but the monster's reach is very long and their frame is very wide. It looms, one slender limb on either side as it stalks after you.
The male creature flails, flames spreading quickly across its body... but it never screams. No whimpers. Just the exact
"I have a right to know."
"I have a right to know. I have a right to know. I have a right to know. I have a right to know. I have a right to know."
One right after the other. Panicked.
But it sounds no different at all. He doesn't enunciate the words any more rapidly, he just... doesn't stop repeating it.
The female slams down with what you estimate is her face or upper body; you tighten your grip on your shield, meeting it. You try to watch both arms but you can only manage one; the other slinks in, between you and your shield, splashed sludge hitting your face as thin tendrils erupt from an end segment. It comes at you from the side, barely in your peripheral--
going for your ear.
You scream. Sitting waist deep in dark water with your back literally to the wall, all reason and planning gives way to overwhelming fear. You struggle to get up, you kick, you flail. You cover your ears as best you can as more tendrils from more ends of the monster come reaching, its long limbs caging you in as it towers above you.
It settles for one of your nasal cavities.
You scream louder, fighting harder than you've ever fought in your life as you feel the cold fibers pushing at your nostrils.
It doesn't last long;
there's a pop as the burrowing fibers swell too large for the inside of your face
and a sharp pain as they force their way into your skull at high velocity. It takes a decent amount of force to break through the brain casing.
You remember that, from when you were a kid. Reading about how mummies are made. You don't really suspect these things are about to mummify you, that's just the last thought lucky enough to fire off in the chaos.
You die almost as soon as the tendrils get inside your brain.
You wake up with a tremendous headache, but it passes quickly.
It's about 10 am.