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A note from Morgenstern
Page 88 - 93 of My Delirium Alcazar
 
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You shut the heart-marked door.


Despite lacking any visible light sources, the room isn't impossible to see in; it's just really, really dark. You make your way back to the bed and lay down.

 
Lay down on the bed


"This is soft," you remark.

"Right?," replies Kate. "It's not from my head."

"I wonder if it's like..." Hmm. "Someone else's brain dungeon sort of overlapping mine. One of the previous owners, maybe...?"

"It doesn't fit the ren-faire-get-yon-flask look everything else has going," Kate remarks.

"Maybe I should write something back," you suggest. You check the back of the... uh... castle/heart/12 paper. The other side is blank.

"Think it works like that?" Kate asks, before chuckling dryly. "I'd keep it short if you plan to write it in blood." You see her wince, grimace, turn her head momentarily to the side--like she's about to throw up, but she keeps it down.

"Not in blood," you reply. "Definitely not in blood. ...I do have a red pen, though."

You realize that the lights in the room have steadily come on.

Well

there's still no lights to speak of but the room is no longer dark.

You sit up, checking under the pillow again.

You stand, and check under the bed.

You re-examine the walls.

Still nothing out of place, as far as this room goes.

"Yeah," Kate huffs as she slooowly pulls herself to an upright sitting position. "I don't get it."

"I think the room might be like... a checkpoint," you tell her. "Or a save room. Now that it's lit up, it should be activated... so the next time I enter the dungeon, I'll wake up here, instead of downstairs. ...Hopefully. Maybe. I'm basically guessing but it feels right. It fits the sort of video game logic that's gotten me this far, at least."

You feel something else, as well.

Something stirring you can't define; a connection you can't quite place.

The room isn't familiar, but something about it ... might be.

It's weird.

It's a weird room.

Simultaneously comforting and uncomfortably out of place.

Kate wearily walks herself to the edge of the bed. "So," you hear her wheeze slightly as she inhales deeply, "what's the play?"

You look down at the blood written note.

Aside from maybe trying to communicate with whoever wrote this (and you have no clue if they'll ever be back, or if they even exist and this isn't just a product of the dungeon itself), you don't think you can get anymore use out of this room at the moment. You laid in the soft bed, and the room... uh... acknowledged it. If it works or if it fails or if it does something completely unexpected, you probably won't find out until the next time you're here.

 
 
You look up at the room.

"O Queen of Hearts, I beseech thee; grant us your power--"

Kate snorts, then chokes. "There's a queen now?"

You hold up the note indignantly. "A 12 in a heart! Queens have a value of 12. In the Lut├Ęce pattern where all the cards look like historical or mythical figures, she's meant to resemble Judith from--"

"Okay I get that part," Kate interjects, "but why are you praying to her?"

"Oh, fuck if I know," you blurt out, almost laughing, "I just figured... it couldn't hurt to try?"

"I think you've got better odds with the note thing," Kate says with a dry smile.

As you take out the pen and begin writing your note--a combination of words and symbols, just in case there's some particular reason why the original note was in pictograms only--you glance over at Kate. "Are you feeling any better...?"

She inhales deeply, and stares off into space for a moment.

"Nope." She covers her mouth with her hand (?) for another, more brutal sounding series of coughs; as she withdraws her hand, you spy specks of blood on it.

Kate glances at the blood. "Oh. So that's happening. Yeah, I'm dying."

You hurriedly write/draw a message on the back of the blood note, including a small doodle of a salamander with a 7 in it. ...To represent you. Because intentionally giving your name out to unknown entities feels like a bad idea.

 
Leave a note and check the rest of the hall

You put the pen back in your pocket.

You double check that the room hasn't regenerated your house key. No such luck.

You grab your sword and head out of the room, back into the 1F hallway. Kate flutters after you, even slower and less stable in her flight path than before.

You're starting to feel the drain, as well. It's not rushing up on you or anything, but it's sinking in just how long you've been here. It's not... exhausting, just

you feel a little lighter, and not in a good way.

You think you still have time, though.
Maybe if you don't push yourself too hard.

Maybe.

You throw one last glance at the heart room.

"What if we hugged in the weird heart room?"

Kate stops, and stares at you for a very long second. Squinting. Gears turning. "...Is that a meme? Are you fucking memeing me right now?"

"Yeah," you reply. The grin slooowly builds across your face. "Unless...?"

Kate tosses her tiny hands in the air, turning away so you can't see her start to laugh. "God dammit, Plaire, you're such a dork."



You check the normal door on the right side of the hall, between the locked door and the heart door.

Inside is...



something.

In an otherwise empty room, a huge... sigil, glyph, magic symbol thing appears to be burned into the carpet. You don't know nearly enough about the arcane to say what the symbol is for; you're not even entirely sure it IS anything. It looks like it was scrawled by a lunatic; even if you could read the various foreign languages that comprise it (including some you don't recognize), the "handwriting" would likely be illegible. There's also a lot of lines in places you don't... think lines normally go in one of these things.





Sticking out of the carpet, in the middle of the sign, is a single blue candle.

...Green?

Teal-ish. A sort of teal candle.

"Hey," Kate starts, "is that your... uh... eye of provolone or whatever?"

"Eye of providence," you clarify with a faint smile. "It... shouldn't be. The map said it was downstairs."

"Did you read the map upside down?"

"No!," you declare with an enthusiasm that definitely makes it sound like you could have but you know you didn't. "That would put the bridge out of here underwater."

"Plaire," she says, firmly but softly. "Dream logic."

"Yeah, but--" The matter-of-fact expression on her goofy doll face just flusters you further. "Putting the way out of here deeper under the shit would be garbage, symbolically... and there was a 3 on the paper, too. The triangle thing's supposed to be three whole floors down from the map, not just one. I would definitely have noticed a backwards 3."

"Plaire," she says, firmly but softly. "I wanna light that candle."

"We should check the rest of the hall first," you suggest. "Lighting the candle could start a fight or something. ...I'll bet it's related to the triangle thing."

You start to head north, toward where the hall turns. Kate hesitates, giving a last lingering stare at the candle, before following after you.

Beyond the cracked door, the hallway curves to the left... not very far, either, before it reaches a set of huge double doors. To the right, a single normal sized, normal looking door.

You open the normal looking door.

Inside are... barrels. All sealed.

Just a shit ton of barrels.

Like a storage closet, packed with barrels.

"What's with the barrels?," Kate asks.

"I don't know!," you say, louder and more intensely than a random question about barrels should perhaps provoke (and yet). "This is exactly what I needed a crowbar for."

You turn back to the double doors.

"That's probably where the boss is," you state aloud.

"Plaire," Kate says. She gives a small, very deliberate sounding cough. "I have a last request."

"Is it the candle?"

"It's the candle," she says. "I can make fire. It's a candle. Let me solve... cough, hack... one more problem before you have to bury me."

"Bury you?" You try to fight back a smirk. It's really not funny. "You sure I wouldn't just have you cremated? Orrr..."

"Don't say it."

You have to tighten your face to keep it together. "...Stuffed?"

"Ugggghhhh." Kate doesn't just sigh but sinks, slowly coming to rest atop one of the barrels. She flops over, laying face down across its lid. "Next time I'm poisoning you."

"It was an accident!," you huff.

"Carry me," she says in a soft, weak voice. "It's... the least you can do..." She starts to fake another small cough, but accidentally ends up in a chain of very real, almost pukey sounding coughs. She hikes up, a bit like a cat about to choke up a hairball. Her tone does return to normal, though. "Fuck, real talk though--being poisoned sucks major ass."



 
"Okay, okay--" you force a smile. "We'll go light the candle."

Kate does step off the barrel and fly of her own volition, but it's...

Staggered.

Weak.

You can tell, in spite of all the joking, that she doesn't have much time left.

The walk down the hall back to the candle room feels eternal--not just because of Kate's reduced speed, but because you can't stop thinking.

Second guessing.

"Kate--" you blurt out as you finally reach it. "I-- if I kill myself, it should reset everything and we'll both wake up. We'll come back tomorrow night, we can try the candle then. Y... you don't have to die of poison."

Kate turns, giving you a weird look and finally, a shrug. "Dude. I'm just going to wake up anyway, right? What's the diff?" She swallows roughly, drifting downward slightly as she speaks. "Lemme do this. Y-Y..."she almost appears to nod off, eyes briefly shutting; she inhales sharply, snapping herself awake. "You don't... gotta bail early for me. Go fight your boss."

She smiles, and gives a small cough after several seconds of struggling not to cough. "Plus if Cici doesn't get tomorrow night she's gonna be pissed."

You grimace. "Kate, I don't know that it works like that. I mean, it makes sense that it would but--"

"Plaire," says Kate. "H... hold your hands out."

You do so, setting your sword down and holding your hands out, palms up, and--

Kate floats over to stand atop your hands.

She puts one of her tiny hands on your shoulder, staring you in the face.

The act, despite how small it was, seems to have winded her.

She takes a second to catch her breath, and then continues.

"Do you think I'll wake up, or do you think I'm gonna die?"

You stare back at Kate, straining for an answer and how to phrase it. Every second hurts a little more. This is happening right now and you can't just come out and say it--

"Nothing I've seen suggests the system should treat you any differently than it treats me," you shove the words out of your mouth, "except for your appearance, and the brief mention at the start about demonshells--both of which suggest that, if anything, you're actually less "here" than I am, and should be less likely to actually die-die. ...And my odds of not dying to a normal function of the dungeon are so far 100%. Logistically speaking, you SHOULD, JUST wake up. ...But that's a theory. A strong theory, a theory I believe, but--"

"Plaire," Kate says again.

She takes a deep breath. Tries to.

She presses her forehead to your forehead. You're pretty sure it's not to make the point more intimate, she's just using you to keep her standing upright.

"You know more about this shit in like... four days than I could've figured out in a year. Like, you get it." She smiles a tired smile. You can feel her breath on your face. It's really weird to feel coming out of a poorly stitched puppet mouth. "You are THE motherfuckin' expert on this spooky, other world castle house bullshit."

She briefly pauses to cough. A longer series of them this time, a little rougher sounding; she starts by coughing into her hand, but soon just turns her face away from yours entirely to just... let it all out. She wipes the blood from her mouth on her jacket sleeve.

"I don't..." You can see her wince as she breathes. Jesus Christ. "I don't trust anything in this shithole. I don't get all the dumb game logic. ...But you do. I don't trust anything in this shithole but you, and if you say I'm waking up... then I am waking the fuck up."

"I don't want to use you as a guinea pig, Kate. Not when you could actually die."

"You're not," she says. "You're not doing anything. I am going to prove you right. That's what I'm doing."

She turns, and steps off your hand. She falls for a moment before catching herself in the air, more gliding toward the candle than actually flying for it. She stumbles as she lands not far from it, and sort of... painfully toddles the rest of the way.

You stand in the doorway, watching with held breath.

Kate inhales loudly.

Coughs. Chokes. Sputters.

She makes that face you make when you're really, really trying not to throw up.

She inhales loudly--once more--and wipes the blood from her mouth.

Kate holds her hand out... and forms a flame.

Lights the candle.
 
Light the candle

. . .


A tense silence follows. The fire flickers out from Kate's hand.

The candle stays lit, a familiar green glow.

. . .

Nothing else happens. Just a lit candle.

"Cool," mutters Kate, who then laughs an agonizing laugh. "Fucking perfect."

She takes a wide turn, stumbling around to throw you a last glance and a very forced smirk.

"I'll seeya tomorrow, Plaire--"




and she collapses.







"Kate...?"

No response.

Not a joke.

You know she's right.

You know you're right.

She's fine. It's fine.

Everything's fine.



You step into the triangular sigil.

Nothing special occurs.

You walk over and pick up Kate--

or begin to. She's already starting to... crumble, like dust or sand, the pieces blowing away on their own and fading into the ether. You

you scoop up what you can, of what's left, and you start carrying her to the heart room.


You don't even reach the bed before the last hints of Kate spill through your fingers and disappear.

You stare at your empty hands.

Your cold, empty hands.

You feel the throbbing begin in your lower back.


You return to the hallway and pick up your sword so you can scream and hurl it down the god damn hallway. You almost collapse in a bawling heap, but manage to restrain yourself.

She wanted you to keep going.


You should keep going.


You trudge down the hall, and once more pick up your sword.



Everything's fine.


Everything's just

fucking

fine.

 
Fight the boss
 
 
You march your way to the big double doors at the end of the hall.

After a quick check for any obvious traps, you begin to open the door--


it's heavy.


Heavy enough that you have to lean your weight into it, slowly forcing it open. The door creaks loudly, ominously, as you finally shove it open enough for you to slip into the next room.

Naturally, the door slams shut behind you.

You're really beginning to feel the... drain, the encroaching emptiness, but you grit your teeth and tighten the grip on your sword. You're at least going to see this motherfucker before you fade.

The room is... long. Much longer than it is wide, with another set of huge double doors at the very end. The sides are lined with wooden pews, not unlike a church (though a real church would have a pulpit where you're standing, and the floor would be inclined so people could see over each other).

It makes sense--a church sitting atop a toxic, flooded prison.

The pious face on a soul crushing shithole.

The hypocritical judgement by people no better, if not actively worse, than those they deem in need of salvation. It's not even about your feelings on God, or organized religion, or the fucked up brainwashing they put you through in a barely-qualifies-as-a-legal-institution "church school."

It's about masks.

It's about pretending to be a righteous human being when underneath there's nothing but a hate filled monster.

It's about hypocrisy, and an entire town full of stuck up FUCKS spreading and hyperanalyzing every god damn aberrant behavior of everyone but themselves, each sitting atop their respective high horse while refusing to listen to ANYONE, about ANYTHING--

Plaire.

Breathe.

You have every right to be pissed, but details.

There's a seam running across the ceiling not far from where you entered; you imagine that section of the ceiling is going to drop once you're far enough inside, guaranteeing that you're locked in with the boss.

You gather your courage

and begin to walk down the aisle, toward the distant set of doors.

Same moldy carpet. Same stone walls.

There's stained glass windows, now, though--depicting... uh...

you know. Normal church stuff.







There's another featuring you in stocks,

and one depicting you being tossed off a cliff,

and one with you chained up and drowning...

there's rails along the walls, too. Three metal rails running the length of either side of you, with... some sort of hollow section. It looks like something's supposed to run along those rails--


There's a massive, resounding THUD behind you. It shakes the sanctuary.


You turn back, and discover that you were partially right--a section of the ceiling has dropped down behind you, but it wasn't to lock you in with the boss.


It IS the boss.


The words eject themselves from your mouth. "What thE FUCK?!"

In hindsight, you should have had this one figured out, too.

Your greatest adversary in the context of Addersfield wasn't your school or its staff, all of whom acted like thawed relics of the puritan days. It wasn't all the asshole kids that would have told their mouthy parents about you and Lora in an instant, just for the satisfaction of doing so.

...It wasn't Lora.

She was the only person you had back then.

...And it wasn't your mom, who--while obnoxiously scatterbrained and oblivious to the problems of anyone around her, wholly swept up in the rat race and competing with the rest of her church friends and neighbors to see who can be holiest, breaking like a god damn coward the second your dad put on his dad voice

No.



If one giant douche has to sit atop your great tower of old town miseries


it's the wall himself.



Dear old Dad.







The massive wall of meat wearing your dad's grim expression begins to grind toward you at a steady pace. The chains that suspend its skin mask slot neatly into those rails on the wall, but you're not sure how the... the uh... the rest of it is moving. The face doesn't look like it's attached to the musculature all that well, but the meat of the wall (hur hur) is clearly moving independently with the... um, the flesh part.

God damn this is gross and weird.

The wall is moving and fairly quickly, that's the key fucking fact to take away from staring down the giant face of your dad stretched across some sort of fucked up nightmare mechanism. The monster takes up every inch of space it can from floor to ceiling; this is a very long room, but eventually, you're going to be crushed by your gigantic dad.

...The wall's not advancing faster than you can run, though.

You could charge straight for the exit at the other end of the room.

Easily.

Way too easily.

Dad-wall's not attacking yet, just... moving toward you,

and staring blankly like a narcissistic, homophobic GIANT PIECE OF SHITADLK;JF


He slams into the first set of pews and doesn't even slow down, just pushes them along. Then a second, the pews sort of... starting to pile up on either side of his face.

 
 
You have, in your limited experience handling actual swords, a pretty good sword.

...Unless it gives +5 to Anime Shit, though, you don't have the physical strength to slice through a chain with it.

You should be able to cut through skin with it, and if you slice through the flesh right before where chain meets face, it should effectively sever the chain. The pews are stacking up quickly, covering the lowest chains--but building a nice pile up toward the middle and highest chains as the wall pushes onward. Cutting all of those off, physics should do... well, maybe not the rest of the work but it should cause that face to start peeling off.

Probably.

Fuck it.

You rush forward and start climbing the pews to the left of Dad's face.

They're not... handling each others' weight very well, wood breaking and splintering as more gets shoved into the mess. It's just a giant pile of wooden chunks, at this point, and their constant shifting as the wall pushes them forward makes for unsteady ground.

...But you manage it. Reaching the top of the left pile, you hold your sword high, and bring it down as hard as you possibly can.
 
Sever the flesh from the chains

There's resistance, but

the sword cleaves through the skin.

The middle left chain breaks free with a chunk of flesh; it continues to slide with the wall-mounted rail, but now it's just hanging to the floor instead of helping to keep the face to the wall. One down, three or five to go (depending on how crucial those now buried bottom chains are).

The wall continues forward; the pile climbs higher, and so do you, with some awkward footwork to adjust as more pews crash into the stack.

You can juuust about reach the top chain, when--


you are blinded by a flash of light


and paralyzed by maybe the worst pain you've ever felt.


Every muscle in your body tightens, flexes, burns.

Everything burns. Inside and out.

You can't even move. You choke on the scream trying to force its way out.


And then


with a thunderous explosion beneath you, you are launched about three and a half rows away from the wall; your spine bounces hard off one of the intact pews before you flop helplessly to the floor.


It takes several seconds to even move, never mind find footing.

Pieces of wooden shrapnel are buried in your torso, and legs, and arm, and...

you dropped the sword somewhere.

You vomit a large quantity of blood before dragging yourself to, at least, your knees.

The wall's still coming but its pile of broken pews is noticeably smaller.

There's chunks of the previously stacked pews all over the room now.


Alright.


You sort of, almost stand, frantically stumbling and rolling to put distance between you and the oncoming wall. Your original instinct was that it wouldn't have any attacks--that the boss's purpose is just to crush you. Apparently, it has some sort of... counter attack, or--

you collapse halfway down the aisle. You drag yourself another foot or two before pulling yourself to sit in one of the remaining pews, glancing back. You need to at least see what it did.


The wall keeps moving forward. Same pace. Steady. Consistent.

Pews pile up and break on either side of the face as the wall rams into them.

The debris pile gets high enough...


A flash of light runs down the chains--at least, the five chains you haven't severed yet.

Electricity.

You hateful fucking monster son of a bitch, god damn. Fuck almighty.

The severed chain flashes, as well, but it doesn't feed its electricity directly to the skin mask, which then lights up in a huge burst of collected energy. That's what blinded you, and what caused most of the damage--the rails feed voltage through the chains to the face, who then creates a sort of... field around itself. Just a brief aura, one second or so at the most, but at the flash's completion the two piles of gathered pews at either side of the wall explode.

You duck into your currently uncollected pew to shield you from the wave of wooden debris that goes soaring in all directions.


Alright.

So.

Wall moves, pews stack up, face explodes them with electricity. It's still part of your brain, of course it's an unnecessarily complex process.

The height of the stack it needs to reach before it blows up seems fairly consistent--just high enough to reach the top chains. It still takes the face a moment to "charge up" before the blast.


Ugh, you would kill for dodge rolls and/or Mustachio jumps right about now. ...Or Kate. The timing on getting in and out to slash the chains off between electrical bursts is going to be tight, and you're--

barely

barely able to stand.




You pull yourself to your feet.

Breathing hurts. Everything hurts.

You're fading rapidly. It probably costs mana just to keep the organ failure at bay.

You spy your sword on the floor, across the aisle. If you hurry, you can grab it before it gets dragged under the latest pile of pews.

You could just let yourself fade.

If the wall kills you, you'll have to deal with a Shadow Plaire and this fucker.

If you just... give up, and let the dream take you, though...



Kate wouldn't give up.


Kate would keep fighting.






You're not Kate, though.
 
 
Bust out the volleyball powers
 
 
You're not Kate.


Kate didn't play Magic Mustachio Extreme Beach Volleyball last night.


You take a breath--

not a breath, but it's ... like holding your breath?

You wait for the next explosion to go off and you make a run for the sword, concentrating the entire time on trying to keep your body from leaking out of existence. You've been looking for opportunities to volleyball spike something--but you should have way more in your arsenal than just that.

You dive between the pews in the opposite row.

...Not as far as you expected, but it was an alright dive.

You grab the sword but set it in the seat next to you; you need both hands for a moment.

You pull yourself to your feet. You pick up a random piece of wooden debris. You toss it straight into the air, and as it comes back down--


you miss.


You mutter a curse word under your breath and pick it back up.

You toss the fragment, you swing--and this time you hit it

...but the wood chunk travels about as far as it probably would in real life, and not at all in the direction you wanted.

You're trying to spike it at the stupid wall and

you quickly grab your sword and rush back out into the open aisle as the wall approaches. Running is... a task; your back hurts from your hard landing, you're bleeding and dissipating all over the place, and there's still several decent sized pieces of shrapnel just kinda... sticking out of your legs. It's really more of a power limp than a run, but you still manage to mostly outpace the dad face.

Why are volleyball powers not activating

It may be your lack of mana. Doing a bunch of crazy jumps and butt stomps lead to you fading out on Night 2; it might cost more to do things your body isn't normally capable of doing, and if that's the case, your current 'holding your breath' maneuver may be restricting your ability to spend mana.

You stop

...exhale?

And grab another piece of wood.

You toss it in the air and as it tumbles back downward, you spike it as hard as you fucking can

right into the floor.

"God DAMMIT"

Fuck it didn't work (though you DID manage to blow more mana just trying it with way too much effort and now you're even less here than you were before) fuuuuck

fuck it

FUCK. IT.

"I am LEARNING something whether you let me VOLLEYBALL OR NOT!" you scream at the stupid wall, which is still coming, and still an expressionless caricature of your piece of shit dad,

and you grab your sword's handle with both hands,

and you swing that fucker as hard as you can at the nearest stained glass window.


It goes spiraling through the air


and bounces off the iron framework that keeps the glass in place, rather than shooting square through the glass part like you'd planned.

You yell the loudest expletive this place has probably ever heard, and you scramble frantically to recover your sword ONE MORE FUCKING TIME.

You have barely anything left.

You feel like a hollowed out mash potato but you are in possession of a lot of spite.



You grab.
The fucking.
Sword.

And you throw it at a window.



You watch as it crashes through the glass.

A golden light breaks through, finally unobstructed.

You drag what's left of yourself to an as of yet unsmashed pew for a better look at what lies outside the dungeon. It ... looks like the sky, but...


yellow, and orange, swirling in a way you have never seen a sky do.

...And the longer you stare at it
the more you can begin to make out a shape
something colossal
bigger than you
bigger than this dungeon
beyond the sky
behind it
beating on it
It wants inside.

You can feel it.

Hear it.

Pounding on the walls.

You can only see one but it's not just one.

Many of them.

Each different, each beating a different rhythm.

Each bigger than you can possibly comprehend.

It coalesces into a drumming both frantic and assuring,
like the peace one knows at the end of the world.
You are drawn into it

and into the gaze of a god with far, far too many eyes in its everstretching mouth.



You wake up feeling like something has grabbed the inside of your stomach and attempted to pull you inside out. It passes quickly.

It's about 9:00 am.



You do still feel the telltale ... lessness of having faded, though. Staring at God did not kill you, you don't think, you just ran out of time.

You sit up in bed. "Kate...?"


Silence.


"KATE!"

She jolts up. "Buh? ...Did you wake up before me?," she asks sleepily. "What kind of bullshit is that?" Kate slooowly starts to sit up. "Tell me you kept going after I died."

Cici begins to stir, as well.

"Yeah," you reply, relieved. "The double doors lead to a boss room like I thought. The boss is a big wall wearing my dad's face--I figured out what it does but I wasn't able to beat it." You put your glasses on and begin to climb out of bed.

Cici finally speaks up, rubbing her eyes. "Hold up--it worked? I don't remember anything."

"It would only let me take one person with me," you tell her. "Kate's been researching the house even longer than I have, so I figured it was only fair I give her the spot--but I can bring you next time."

"Well..." Cici huffs, "Okay. As long as I get the next one!"

"Be warned," Kate comments as she stands and begins to stretch. "You will turn into a goofy doll thing."

"...What?" Cici sits up, giving a bewildered look from you to Kate. "Why?"

Kate gives a big shrug.

"Accomplices have to have something called a demonshell," you explain. "Kate's... sign is The Devil, yours is The Sun. ...So her form in the dream is a small... demon puppet thing. Yours might be different."

"Accomplices?," Cici asks. "Are we committing crimes? Sleep crimes?"

"Man, I hope so," Kate says with a smirk. "So bad I do crimes in my sleep. Being tiny sucked but flying was cool. It's a mixed bag."

Cici's face lights up. "You could FLY?"

"Yeah," replies Kate, nonchalantly. "The dungeon's cramped as shit, though. Like I said, mixed bag."

"Uhhh..." you finally, fully stand, and exhale slowly. "About that... I, uh, may have broken a window. I saw outside."

You get Kate's full attention. "And?"

"The sky was a weird amber color. I think I made eye contact with something I wasn't supposed to."

"...Oh," Kate remarks simply. "Huh."

Cici, with renewed confusion in her face, stares from Kate to you. "Okay, I am missing something because that sounds nuts and you guys are just like... oh huh."

"The dream is weird," you tell her bluntly.

"The dream's real weird," confirms Kate. "Everything has its own rules, monsters are always crawling out of the walls and shit, and nothing can stay the same for five minutes. Hallways get longer and shorter when you're not looking at them, doors get bigger and smaller, nothing just IS."

"The proportion thing isn't that bad," you comment. "That part's just like any other dream."

Kate gives you a look. "How many stitches did I have across my stomach, Plaire? On my little doll body, how many of those black stitches did I have?"

"Three," you reply. ...Before giving it more thought. "Four?"

"I rest my case," says Kate. "I watched you jump up and down like... two feet of height and three cup sizes in ten minutes. Shit is wack. You get used to it, but now I feel like... I dunno. I'm having trouble getting used to this now. The dream got so real that being awake feels..."

"Too consistent," you mutter. "Like you're being restrained."

"You guys are freaking me out," Cici chuckles. "You sound like you're getting addicted to it."

"Oh, I could definitely see it being addictive," Kate replies. "If I ever figure out how to shoot fireballs I'm just straight up moving in."

"Is... is that a thing?," asks Cici. "Fireballs."

"I could make fire," replies Kate with some clear indignation. "I know that's not all of it. That dungeon's holding out on me."

"So now what?," you ask.

"Well," Cici begins, "it's Sunday, so the library's closed. I need to check on Meatloaf sometime today, but I'm free otherwise."

"And I don't work 'til this evening," Kate adds. "So I'm good to go."

"Yeah, but--" You look from Cici, to Kate, back to Cici. "What are we doing?"

"Old library?," Kate suggests. "I dunno. You're fucking this sheep, we're just holding the legs."

"Eww," immediately follows Cici. "What?"

Kate laughs quietly to herself, shaking her head. "It's something Marlow says. I'm spreading it. ...Like a disease."

"Why am I in charge?," you ask, completely ignoring all that. "I'm not a leader."

"It's your spooky house," remarks Cici. "AND your sleepover."

"Yeah," agrees Kate. "You said it yourself--we're your accomplices."

"Oh!," interjects Cici, suddenly remembering, "did that volleyball game do anything?"

"No," you blurt out with far more thinly veiled rage than Cici really has context for. "My dives sucked and my spikes sucked even harder. It didn't do JACK! It's a dumb, horny cash-in and it's not even made by Yamau--"

Wait.


Wait wait wait.

It's not made by Yamauchi Co.

User The Thirst Guy said:
they really knew how to make games back then if you know what I mean


...Is that what he meant?

Is that what he fucking meant?!

Magic Mustachio Extreme Beach Volleyball wasn't made by Yamauchi, it was (like a lot of the Mustachio sports spin-offs) outsourced to a different company. It... it can't just be a matter of the game's age, because Crush Souls is pretty recent--or at least, it wasn't made in the 80s. Are your game powers in the dream not just a side effect of brain stuff? Is it a property inherent to each game? Do Yamauchi and Toward do something to their games that other developers don't?

"You okay, Plaire?," Cici asks. "You kinda just... shut down."

"Yamauchi's putting dream stuff in their first party games," you say slowly, almost afraid to speak it aloud. "Like... on purpose. Toward Software, too. Maybe MASAMOON and a few other companies. It just hit me and I have no idea what to do with that information. It's not a property of all games, it's particular games."

Kate squints. "Like how rock albums used to have subliminal messages? ...Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"The subliminal message bit's been thoroughly debunked," you point out, "and I'm tentatively flagging it as a bad thing, only because I'm tired of all my answers coming strapped with thirty more questions. I am... fucking sick of questions. I have a list. I don't think it would fit on normal paper anymore."

"I mean--" Cici shrugs, and smiles. "you are dealing with some heavy duty witchcraft business, and it hasn't even been a week yet. You gotta be patient!"

"The list is toO FUCKING BIG," you insist at a steadily increasing volume while staring vacantly into space. "I DEMAND. THAT THE LIST. BE SMALLER."

Kate turns, stumbling as she tries to exit your room and put her jacket on at the same time. "Fuck, I forgot how to walk."

"SMALLER LIST."

Cici finally stands, and shakes her head. "We are all gonna need therapy after this."

"SMA. LLER. LIST."
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