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  1. Brian didn’t do anything to the new Carmen that appeared in front of him -- she just fell over on her own. There was a part of him that wondered if he was supposed to test this new person in front of him, like, get her to say something that only the real Carmen would know or whatever, but two things stopped him. The first was he didn’t want to get too paranoid. A password just set the point of failure back a bit. Who was to say what someone could and couldn’t figure out? And if he went down that road, well, then he’d just be back where he started. The second reason, though, and the more important one in his eyes, was there was no way something trying to copy Carmen could ever be as dopey as the real thing. The fake Carmen had tried, but it had to give up the ghost eventually. His phone buzzed. Brian’s first reaction to the news was, “Holy shit, we spent how long trapped in there?” But he didn’t want to think about it, so he just let the expression hang in the air while he read the notification. “Yeah, okay, we’re done.” He grabbed the box of seals and a flashlight in one hand and offered the other hand out to Carmen. Unless she picked herself up, Brian dragged her along out of the building. It was relieving to see Shiki, if only because it meant he didn’t have to drive this time, especially this late at night. Becoming aware of the time made Brian’s brain realize how tired it was supposed to be, even with a sleep schedule as weird as his was. That inner paranoia bubbled up again in a “How could he be sure anything was real anymore?” sort of way, but Shiki seemed to know exactly what Brian was thinking. “We ARE Shiki,” they said. In fairness, Brian thought, nothing could be as weird as Shiki was for the same reason nothing would ever be able to replicate Carmen. But he didn’t let that get in the way of a good snark. “Well, you’re welcome, I guess,” Brian said. “Had to deal with a worse version of Carmen that I think was about to eat me, but the seals are still working, so I guess that’s good. Do we have to go apologize to this ghost too? Oh thank god, you got McDonald’s.” Not that he was a particular fan of hamburgers -- there was a reason he took Carmen to tacos the night they’d met -- but just as he had only just now realized how tired he was, the missing hours had not negated his growing hunger. He snatched the top burger in the stack and unwrapped it messily. He grimaced after one bite. “Get them without pickles next time,” Brian said, but he kept eating.
  2. It was not every day that a person expressed genuine curiosity at Quinn’s condition, and Quinn took full advantage of Briget’s invitation. He told Bridget about its abduction, how xe was found dead on Mount Coronet, and how only a spirit and Cassiopeia remained. Even when a shorts-wearing Youngster ran up and demanded Quinn battle his brand-new Starly, Quinn’s focus was still mostly focused on her new companion. It was a good thing Normandie was used to fending for herself. “It does not affect my usual day-to-day activities as much as you would expect. I still walk along the material plane. I still consume food for nutrients, although, of course, more spiritual fare is preferred. Oh, use Tackle!” Quinn called out. Normandie hissed and charged right at the Starly, who flapped its wings in an attempt to escape, but by the time it was airborne, it had extra Ratffian weight keeping it down, and the two tumbled to the ground in a pile. Quinn continued, “Perhaps the part that is most odd to me is the occasional reaction I get. People identify me as strange, which is understandable, but when I explain my situation, it only seems to amplify their assessment. I do not see anything strange about it. You said it yourself. Ghost-type Pokemon exist. Can Human ghosts not also exist?” Bridget nodded. “You’ve got a really good point! Tho’, ‘sides yourself, all I’ve ‘eard of ghosts is just rumors. Bet everyone’ll fink this’s just hearsay too when I go back an’ tell ‘em about you.” “I understand,” Quinn said, returning Bridget’s nod. “I do not have a way to prove myself, but I do not have a particular desire for one either. Tail Whip, Normandie, let us make this next hit count!” Normandie was in the middle of dodging the Starly's counterattack but as she ran around the field of battle, she did manage a few cracks with her tail as requested. Quinn said, “Thankfully, I do have other things outside of being a full-time ghost. I have my art. I have this journey.” They broke zir attention completely away from the battlefield and stared at Bridget directly. “What are you besides a Pokémon Professor to-be?” It took a moment for Bridget to respond with anything more than “Hmm, difficult question, that.” She watched the two Pokémon battle even when Quinn did not. She came up with the answer: “A gym battle fan, I suppose. Dunno how the rest of the world handles ‘em, but in Galar they're a big deal. I’d even bet I’m one of the top fans of my hometown’s gym leader.” Quinn widened hir eyes. “Oh, your town has a gymnasium as well? Everyone in Eterna City knows the movements of our gymnasium leader, Gardenia. She is surely the city’s foremost celebrity. Even those who do not follow League movements know Gardenia. And why should they not? Everybody sees the influx of fresh young upstarts. We all want to succeed.” Quinn felt herself get a little melancholy, but ey pressed on anyway. “I want to succeed. What I did not have the opportunity for in life…” But the moment passed quickly. Quinn whipped back around to the battle. The Youngster seemed annoyed and was recalling his Pokémon, but Quinn put a stop to that. “Now, Normandie! Pursuit!” It was amazing how fast the Ratffian could run when she needed to, glowing with that purple aura as she raced forward to catch the Starly before it could fully retreat into its ball, a snarl so loud that even Quinn had to flinch. But Normandie did let up as soon as all could confirm the Starly had fainted. Quinn was glad for that, at least. “Well done, Normandie!” Quinn said, digging through faer bag. “Come get your reward!” The Youngster pouted. “It’s not as fun when you’re just battling a Pokémon. I wanted to banter too,” he said. Only then did Quinn realize just what he had done. “Oh! I apologize. Here, if you go and heal up your Starly we can go again if you like.” The Youngster wanted to sulk instead. Quinn forewent taking any money from the boy, though. It was the least ze could do. All Quinn could do after that was wish the Youngster luck on finding an opponent who would better respect his time and effort. Yet still, Quinn was happy for the victory. E turned back to Bridget, a smile escaping their lips despite her best efforts. “I think it is time for me to go looking for more Pokémon,” Quinn said. They pointed at the statue off in the distance. “I am going to go this way and see what I can find.”
  3. a male clodsire named jimothy
  4. Chris thought about just lurking about the rest of the day until the group’s assigned meeting time, staying out of further trouble as best he could (after all, the more crimes he committed at once, the more likely it was he’d be caught), but Ziun was doing bard things in the Drooling Dragon while he was fetching the mop, so it wasn’t like he hadn’t been spotted already. Plus, the more he thought about preparations for that night, the more he thought about the upcoming dungeon run, and the more he realized he was woefully underequipped without his daggers. Lana had her axes, of course, and Estellise’s light bow had been incredible, but he’d been used to them and he didn’t want to go without. Maybe the shopkeep would sell him out later, but that was a risk he was willing to take. He didn’t want to disappoint every other member of the party because he had already disappointed one. The ones he ended up purchasing felt different in his hands even though the weight was the same as what he was used to, an odd feeling that Chris hoped wouldn’t mean anything when the time came to use them. There wasn’t any time to test them out first, unfortunately. By the time he’d completed the transaction, he was running a little behind to meet up with everybody else. Even when running late, Chris still tried to take as many less-traveled roads as possible. There probably was something to be said for blending in with a crowd, but if the other family that was mad at him tried to start a fight, he didn’t want people getting in the way. When Chris did arrive at the dungeon, everyone else was already there. “Sorry,” Chris said. “Um, it’s a long story. I don’t know if…” He didn’t even want to finish the sentence. Estellise had been their healer on top of everything else. That was something everyone would just have to deal without. Maybe he had disappointed everyone after all. He tried to change the subject. “Did you both sleep okay? What do you think we’ll find down there this time?”
  5. Intermission: Caesar Information Security wasn’t just making sure your enemies didn’t know something. No, in Caesar’s -- ˈkae̯sar, of course -- view, equal importance was placed on what your enemies did know, and knowing what they knew as well. That was what was frustrating about The Fates, for example. Nobody, not even he, knew every detail of how Legion’s power worked. He was happy to exploit it and Legion was happy to oblige, and everyone else was allowed to have a good idea. Only Legion was allowed to know for sure. When that brat grabbed Legion off of one of his officers and the power shorted out, it meant she knew something, and suddenly he, Caesar, leader of the Gibbons, did not, or even know that she knew before that. If they knew something about Legion, they could know something about Project Rubicon. He had been just as careful with that one as with Legion. Even more careful, really. The only people who understood the entire scope of the project were himself and the tinkers putting the finishing touches on it all and only right this moment. Everyone else who ever worked on it was only allowed their own job and nothing else. There were rumors, sure, but he knew they knew those. “Have you heard the machinery they’re running at the edge of town?” “Project Rubicon is the reason for Caesar’s hostility.” “Caesar is working on taking over the stars themselves.” People could not help but talk, even if he mandated otherwise, even under the threat of death. But if The Fates knew what it was… No, this was no time to be paranoid. It technically wasn’t too late for them to do anything about it, but the door was closing rapidly. He was marching into the deepest laboratory in Battle Labs to pick up the final piece right that moment. He had a personal set of guards with him while mercenaries cleared out the rest of the building. The enemy alliance’s strongest were off fighting a proxy battle that was proxying nothing. “How are the intruders at the Casino?” Caesar grumbled into an earpiece. “Leaving now. Pit’s probably irrecoverable but Legion’s still up and running everything,” Tidebinder said. “I suppose you wouldn’t have been able to reach me he wasn’t.” Caesar turned a corner and was coming on the final door now. “You would have found a way,” he said. Legion spoke next. “Arcturus and those mercenaries lost. Ophiuchus is calling for your surrender.” That stupid fucking man with that stupid fucking snake. Caesar could hear his drawn-out voice now. “This is the way things are done.” Sweet Astra, the way things were done was the reason things were the way things were. If he wanted to get anywhere in life, to improve the Gibbons’ (and therefore his) standing, he had to break some rules. He didn’t say anything to Legion because there wasn’t anything worth saying. No response was more powerful than anything else. He turned his attention back to his guards instead. “Clear?” he asked. The guard nodded, and Caesar pushed open the door. There were two Battle Labs employees in the room. Both were on his payroll. They both knew this was coming. “It’s too soon,” one of them blurted out. “The output is within acceptable bounds, but it’s unstable. The matrices-” Caesar flexed his power and took a step forward. “Put it simply. We don’t have all day. There’s a war on, don’t you know?” In a final analysis, with all the cards on the table, it was a weak power. Boosting other people’s abilities was fine and all, but most people did just fine without you. Encouraging people to like him was helpful, but it was inconsistent. People were still fickle when they wanted. He could just have easily been the support of some group, maybe the fifth ranger helping out a solid squad of four. He could have faded into obscurity within the year. His Power -- not his superpower, Power with a capital P -- was more nuanced than that. He didn’t control the largest gang in Scarlet City with that. He did it with people. Understanding and using people was his Power. For example, maybe Arcturus was fuming after losing two battles in the same day, to the same capes, even, if he had to guess the people G3 decided to send over to the Shoe. She wouldn’t accept fault, probably blaming the mercenaries he had hired to go along with her, just as she had when she insisted on revenge after dragging Lucky Cat to safety. “It was her plan, yes, but only she had managed to execute it. It would have gone perfectly,” or something along those lines. But she could be appeased by more tasks, no matter how meaningless they might have meant to his long-term plans. Any tasks, Arcturus believed, proved her worth. For Caesar, she wouldn’t get the opportunity to try and seize someone like the Archangel ever again. This scientist, meanwhile, had simpler levers. They had a job, and he was the client. Money wet most tongues sooner or later, and the Casino had been profitable before Tidebinder had gone and blown up half of it. Failing that, well, his guards could go on the offensive if need be. “If you activate Project Rubicon now, there’s no telling what will happen.” Caesar raised an eyebrow. “But it’s ready? If I activate it, it will run?” “I don’t-” He asked again before the scientist could even finish. “Will it run?” He extended his hand out. There was a look of worry, of fear, in the scientist’s eyes as they looked over to his colleague and partner on this project and back at Caesar. “It will run,” they said. They both said it, even. The second scientist took a small box out from one of the lab cabinets, and from it produced a console. There were all sorts of meters and inputs on it, but the most important feature was the red button covered with a safety hatch. Legion piped in his ear again. “They know something’s happening,” he said. “That group you handled earlier called in more.” This button was a form of power too. In a final analysis, there was still something to be said for a little brute force. Caesar wasted no time taking the console, opening the hatch, and pressing the button down. The River Earthquakes were rare in Scarlet City but they did happen. There were natural ones, yes, noticeable, but not really threatening. Most of the time, though it was the fault of some S-Class villain looking to inflict damage to as much as they could, the earth included. This was no different. Far out west, well into Gibbons Gang territory, underneath some otherwise nondescript warehouse nobody would think twice to look at, the earth shook with a massive force. The warehouse collapsed to the ground, and from the rubble, from underneath the earth, it emerged. It was an automaton, but it was much too big and had too much flesh to be called a robot. It was bipedal, with two arms and a head to match, but to call it humanoid would be too much comparison to a human body. It had a “mouth,” but who dared imagine such a thing eating? Or worse, imagine it talking? And yet, it breathed. Project Rubicon was alive. Ut stood there at the one of the ends of the entire world, surveyed all of Scarlet City, and inhaled. When it exhaled, it produced two things: The first was a screech, a high-pitched whistle that would likely be ear-splitting if experienced up close, and was still audible even as far away as the Shoe arena. The second was a beam, cutting a swath through the western regions of Scarlet City. It only took a few moments for everything the beam touched to ignite into flames. In the aftermath, every open space on Project Rubicon -- mouth, eyes, even joints -- let out belches of steam. It took a step forward. Somewhere in Goodale Park, Director Victor Sekelsky issued the call. “We still need extra hands at Battle Labs -- Caesar’s got to be in there somewhere. And we need capes dealing with whatever the fuck just came out of the ground.” OOC
  6. easter is an underrated candy holiday

  7. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. -Matthew 19:14-15 (NIV)Melissa was surprised when she was asked to reconsider her journey downwards. The option was there, wasn’t it? Why would they have the option if they dissuaded people from using it? And if they were only dissuading her specifically, well, that just opened another host of questions. So, in a moment of self-determination that was becoming more and more common for her (should she be worried about this?), Melissa persisted onwards, downwards one more level into Prana. Teleporting almost felt natural this time. The next level down shocked Melissa, though, in how drastically the city changed. After two levels of urban development, what was supporting it was dirt paths and buildings that could be described as cottages at best. It wasn’t all like that but that certainly was the first impression she got. As she continued, she found the activity lay mostly in two forms. The first was vehicles -- these hovering cart contraptions -- making their way in the direction of a large white-walled central structure. Melissa decided to follow suit in that regard, keeping off to the sides of paths to let the vehicles pass her by. The second form of activity was children. Melissa had seen a few loitering around the shrine when she had exited, but there were many more out and about. Most groups had at least one guardian that she could see, though there were a few wild packs chasing each other about. Part of the way through her trek, one child about waist-height tall crashed right into Melissa’s leg. It hadn’t even been enough to knock either of them over, but the child still looked up at Melissa with eyes that seemed too big for their head, an expression on their face that was a mix of incredulity and regret. “Sowee,” the child said. “It’s alright,” Melissa said. “I’m alright. Are you alright?” But the child heard their parent calling after them and ran off without answering, so she continued onward. When the entrance to the white-walled structure came into view, Melissa saw a secret third type of activity: guards. Several were stationed around the exterior of the building, and the entrance was basically a checkpoint for those trying to get in. Vehicles had to stop and be searched before the entrance, an energy barrier the same size as the rest of the wall, lowered and they could continue onward. Melissa’s curiosity was certainly piqued, but it was tempered a little by the thought of how to actually sate that desire. She wasn’t about to go up to one of the guards and interrupt them in the carrying out of their duties just to ask a silly question. Even the thought made Melissa shrink back a bit. She thought one of them looked her way and retreated back. She just had to ask someone else. She just had to ask someone who looked a bit more accommodating. Melissa retraced her steps back to where someone was supervising a gaggle of children and tried there. “Excuse me,” she said. “Sorry, um, I’m new in town and was just wondering, what is that building?” They followed where Melissa was pointing and identified the building instantaneously. “Ah, that’s the wall around the mines, that is. Not a very pretty thing, but guess it’s prettier than the rest of this place, eh?” It felt weird to be defending a place she had been in for an hour at most, but Melissa still stepped to the plate. “I wouldn’t know if I would go that far,” she said. “I suppose you could think of it as an eyesore, but there are words you could use for this level of Prana that aren’t so bad. Rustic, rural, um, down-to-earth I guess is hyphenated…” Melissa hadn’t meant it as a joke, but they laughed anyway. “Down to earth is right!” It was a quick laugh, though, before their tone got more serious. “But what’s a young lady like yourself want with a place like that, anyway? It’s not very safe, you know. Monsters lurk down there, I hear.” Melissa blushed and looked down at her feet. “Oh, I don’t think I’ll actually be going down there anytime soon,” she said. “I hope not, anyway. I suppose dealing with monsters is technically my business, but that wouldn’t be my decision.” Another unintended joke, apparently. “Some kinda monster slayer, huh? That’s a good one. Really, though, best stay away from that place. The Great Dragon knows we all would if we could.” Melissa thanked them, but she had to be off. That was enough exploring for one day. She knew they weren’t laughing at her, or, at least, they weren’t in a meanspirited way, but needed a break from maintaining herself in the face of it regardless. She went at a brisk pace back towards the temple and the associated teleporters. As she neared the shrine, her stomach began to rumble, and she started to think about food. It at least got her calmed down a little, but now she was wondering what she might have for lunch.
  8. switch pro controller pretty goated in my opinion, but i also have mouse+keyboard, xbox wireless controller (also for pc games), and some old ps3 ones that barely hold a battery charge anymore. oh and i built a fightstick if that counts but i don't use it as often as i should. weirdly nostalgic for the gamecube controller despite never owning a gamecube
  9. 0046_03.gif

    i saved this image for whenever an adventurer with a forum name died and then one did on the final boss.

     

  10. ←Previous Post Week Sixty-Four -- Hell is in the Heart Okay so listen, On paper, this is an easy fight. It’s manipulatable in ways that I wouldn’t even call cheese, and the boss is pretty easy in obvious ways even besides that. We’ll get to how and why that is in a moment, but for now, I want to thank you for reading along. I’m sorry again for letting all the air out so close to the end, taking a year off and whatnot, but I want to make it up to you by having this be the best post it can be for this fight. We start with some good news. Not that our money was ever in doubt, but I don’t even need to spend it here. I definitely overpack here. You don’t need half of this stuff, but I couldn’t be bothered to double-check the wiki with an opportunity cost so low. For the record, here is what you should be packing: Bandages and Antivenom, obviously Medicinal Herbs if you remember to cure your debuffs ever Holy Water if you ever remember that Holy Water has a use besides curios Aegis Scales if you have Aegis Scales from the Shieldbreaker DLC and don’t decide that, since they’re so rare you might want to save them for an even better opportunity (Note: This is the final boss. There aren’t many other opportunities, but I know how you all think). Blood if you need blood for your adventurers Everything else -- food, keys, ladanum, shovels -- are useless here. Don’t do what I do unless you also get free stuff the week you decide to do this run. That map in the corner? That’s the entire map of the dungeon. That’s why I didn’t post a map of the dungeon with little annotations like I did for the other Darkest Dungeon fights. There are only five points of interest in the whole dungeon (unless you consider the “putting the cosmic in cosmic horror” background interesting), only one of them requiring preparation. In fairness, it is a lot of preparation. A whole game’s worth of preparation leading up to this moment. Three of the points of interest are the same, so we’re going to go through the odd one out first. Halfway through the hallway is a secret room, with a chest containing no loot but a little message: That’s nice. We’ll hold onto that for luck. The three that are the same are three bits of lore blocking the way. You have to physically interact with all three of these to get past, no ignoring the lore here. In all my terrible researches, what I sought was a glimpse behind the veil, a crumb of cosmic truth... I found it here, and in that moment of brain-blasting realization, I ceased to be a man and became a herald… an avatar of the Crawling Chaos. Life feeds on life. In your petty pursuit of family redemption, you consumed those who rallied to your cause, and in so doing you strengthened the Thing, accelerating the end. This is as it should be. It is why you are here. We are chained here forever, you and I, at the end of the world. Free yourself, rouse the Thing, and embrace the ineffable cosmic hideousness that lives within us all. Darkest Dungeon is not exactly at the forefront of storytelling. That’s not a bad thing -- I think this game is fantastic -- but its storytelling has not been its focus for that. This is a funny ludonarrative touch, though. The Ancestor, posing as still a mortal man, has called in his kin to right his wrongs. However, the bloodshed caused by the slaughter of the adventurers you hire is what fuels the ineffable evil beneath the manor. By playing this game, you are contributing to the end of the world. This is why, on the harder Stygian/Blood Moon difficulties, you only have a set number of deaths allowed before you get a game over. That’s neat. I mean, the game says this even if no adventurers have died yet, but then again, the end of the universe is always going to happen in real life, too, whether people die in it or not. So the existential horror is there all the same. Anyway, the final point of interest is the final boss: Your Ancestor. You still foolishly consider yourself an entity separate from the whole. I know better. And I. will. show you. This is a four-phase boss fight designed to test all four of the major fundamental play patterns this game facilitates. The first phase is a combination of grinding through enemies despite growing stress and limited healing. On the opening round, the Ancestor will summon three Perfect Clones of himself and will continue to refresh these clones as you cleave through them. These clones will stress your adventurers out and inflict bleed on them. The actual Ancestor, meanwhile, only appears to have five hit points, but he is immune to all forms of damage*. *okay technically his debuff resistance is low enough that you can debuff one of his bleed or blight resistances and cheese the fight that way but don’t do this please don’t it’s not worth it. Let’s take a moment to talk about party composition. Some of this was dictated by who was left after the first three rounds, but I knew I wanted Yui the Leper for this fight because of his high damage output, and I figured that Skaia the Bounty Hunter would be a good support for that. He does do bonus damage to Human-type enemies, and the Ancestor is somehow still Human-type, after all. Ren is our status-effect support, dealing bleed where possible, yes, but he also has Chain Gang, an ability that has a decent chance to stun two enemies. ABC is our healer, but can take advantage of Skaia’s marks as well if we decide to use any of those. An important part of the action economy for this phase of the fight is that the new summons the Original Ancestor creates don’t also get to act that turn, so you get a chance to clear them before they can even do any of their nonsense. That’s why Ren’s stun ability is especially useful. It just tilts things even more in your favor. Now, the reason you are fighting through all these copies of Ancestors is that, as the fight goes on, he will occasionally mess up and summon an Imperfect Reflection instead of the normal Perfect ones. These reflections are your opportunity. Each Imperfect Reflection slain deals one damage to your Ancestor. Like I said, he only has five health, so after five Imperfect Reflections, we’re on to Phase Two. The flesh is fluid, it can be changed, reshaped, remade! This phase of the fight tests positional awareness. These Absolute Nothingnesses the Ancestor Summons are impossible to even hit, let alone kill (don’t look up the video, that person ruined their life doing something stupid), and each move the Ancestor makes shuffles him around these obstacles. You have to always be able to hit every row because you don’t know where he’s going to be. Normally, this would be where Yui would struggle. He can only hit half of the enemy formation, after all. But that’s where Skaia’s Come Hither ability comes in, pulling the Ancestor two spaces forward on every hit. The Ancestor has pitiful Move Resistance in this phase of the fight, so he will almost always be in range of Yui’s blade. The pull also marks the Ancestor, which means ABC and Skaia also get to do extra damage to him when they get an opportunity. Anyway, the worst thing the Ancestor can realistically do here is shuffle your party. He gets Yui at one point, sending him all the way to the back of the line, but we have an opportunity coming up to crawl back to the front. The flesh is immortal, it is undying. Pray it does take not too hideous a form. The Gestating Heart phase is as close to a Rest phase as you can expect. The Heart will progress to the final phase in three turns, but if you can clip through all two hundred of its hit points before then, you get a head start. Hitting the Heart even heals you, though it also has a chance to inflict some Blight as it does so. it also has an area-of-effect Blight attack, but that’s negligible at this point as well (you did bring Antivenom with you, right?). Yui in particular can chop through all that health pretty quickly, and so the final phase begins. Behold the heart of the world! Progenitor of life, father and mother, alpha and omega! Our creator… and our destroyer. I love this image of Yui healing stress from killing the Gestating Heart with a critical hit while simultaneously glimpsing the eldritch horror in the center of the world. Maybe he’s just seen it all at this point. Anyway, this fight is a simple race. The Heart deals damage. You deal damage. Who can deal damage faster? That being said, the Heart of Darkness has a pair of tricks up its sleeve. The first trick is this: When it drops below two-thirds health, it uses a special move called Come Unto Your Maker. This is a unique attack. Instead of the monster AI choosing a hero to, uh, Come, it allows the player to choose who is being hit with the attack. The reason for this is that the output of the attack is a dead hero 100% of the time. There is no rolling for Death’s Door. The hero dies. A nice touch is the various reactions the selected adventurers have to being considered. Hovering the mouse over each of your party members causes them to say something. Here are the ones for the heroes that came with us: Yui the Leper: “Spare the others, I am ready.” Skaia the Bounty Hunter: “...hm.” Ren the Wraith: “Do what must be done. My sacrifice will restore the honor I have lost so long ago.” ABC the Arbalest: “Please no, I want to live!” I chose Ren for this. He was useful, and he will be missed, but perhaps his biggest mistake was joining a party with three forum-named characters in it. I do want to keep the forum-goers alive as long as possible, of course. Anyway, the second trick the Heart of Darkness has is that it uses Come Unto Your Maker a second time when it drops below a third of its health. Like I said, this last phase is a damage race, and with only two party members, it’s a race the Arbalest would be middling at at this stage. Also, ABC has the least forum reputation of you three, which is the best and most objective metric for this thing. Never mind that the Arbalest was begging for her life, right? Despite all this, the heroes do have an advantage in the action economy sense. The Heart of Darkness only ever does one move a turn, so between Skaia and Yui both wailing damage numbers in the thirties at it, the Heart folds quickly, the final blow coming from Skaia’s axe. Well, this was a journey. I enjoyed this immensely. It’s nice to play a good video game sometimes, huh? Commiserations to ABC for being the only forum-goer to die. You don’t have to get banned if you don’t want to. There is one final cutscene that plays upon the Heart’s defeat. I know the LP started with a content warning, involving suicide, but what follows is more suicide. Victory… A hollow and ridiculous notion. We are born of this thing, made from it, and we will be returned to it, in time. The great family of man… a profusion of errant flesh! Multiplying, swarming, living, dying… Until the stars align in their inexorable formation and what sleeps is roused once more, to hatch from this fragile shell of earth and rock and bring our inescapable end. So seek solace in a manner befitting your lineage and take up your nugatory vigil, haunted forever by that sickening prose echoing through the infinite blackness of space and time… Ruin has come to our family. Thank you all for reading, -r ←Previous Post
  11. “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.” -Daniel 7:6 (NIV) Melissa was returning some kind of nodding acknowledgment of a jogger crossing her path when she first heard the jingling of the bell. It had just seemed like background noise, a little embellishment coming from one of the endless stream of buildings. Melissa was pretty used to confines. Even when she wasn’t willingly locking herself in a bathroom stall for a good moment of alone time, she’d spent most of her life in a dome called Ambrosia. Still, even Ambrosia had places of openness to it. You could pretend the sky was real there. Here, though, she couldn’t help but feel a touch of claustrophobia. She was at an intersection deciding which way to wander next when she heard the bell again. The sound was unique enough to be memorable, and clear enough against the monotonous haze to recognize it. Melissa didn’t see anyone when she looked, but she did hear the bell a third time and finally identified the source. There was a cat following her. By the time she noticed that was what it was, the cat had stopped and was now sitting in front of her, looking up. “Oh, hello,” Melissa said, crouching down and offering the back of her hand to the cat. “Aren’t you curious? What’s your name?” The cat nuzzled against Melissa’s hand, though it didn’t purr like she expected a cat might in such a situation. It got closer to her and kept looking up, and Melissa could see that the cat had a collar with a tag on it. The tag didn’t have any more identifying information than a sigil that looked like a ghost, but at least it was something. “Well, it’s nice to meet you. My name’s Melissa,” Melissa said. “Do you live around here? I’m not trespassing in your territory, am I?” It really seemed like the cat was listening to her, even as it wove in and out underneath Melissa’s legs in a figure-eight pattern. Melissa nearly tripped over the shifting weight at her feet but managed to right herself. “I’m just wandering around too,” she said. “Where have you been? Anywhere exciting?” The cat stopped meandering and started trying to climb Melissa’s dress. “Oh! Okay, um, please don’t, um…” Thankfully, someone else came running up. “Ghost, wait,” the woman said in between haggard breaths. “Don’t… climb… on strangers.” Melissa guided Ghost off of herself and back down to the ground. “It’s alright,” she said. “I’d introduced myself, so I guess we aren’t strangers anymore. I take it you’re his?” The woman had regained her breath, but Melissa noticed that she still got quieter talking to her than she had with the cat. “Oh, um, I suppose so. He’s one of the babies from my shop but he hasn’t let anyone take him yet,” she said. The cat, meanwhile, leapt up onto the woman’s shoulder and remained perched there. “Like a cat café?” Melissa asked. “I’ve heard of those, but I’ve never actually been in one, not even back home.” She looked at Ghost, taking in all his features again. “He's a little big to still be a baby. How old is he?” “Oh, no, it’s a pet shop,” the woman said. “Or… a shelter? And also a shop. I’m not really explaining this well.” She looked down at the ground, cheeks flushed. Ghost had to nudge the woman to get her to answer Melissa’s actual question. “He’s ninety-five, so I guess you could say he’s more middle-aged.” Melissa’s eyes widened in spite of herself. “I think the oldest cat I met before I came here was around twenty years old or so,” she said. “You’re a very lucky cat, Ghost. And I’m sorry for assuming.” She had to rush to tack on that last bit, but Melissa thought it was an important one to add. “Really? I guess all cats are different,” the woman said. “Oh, but I should, um, let you get back to your business now. He didn’t rip any of your clothes, did he? I always tell him to be careful…” Melissa checked her dress again for any tears, but the fabric on Prana was impressive enough that she found none. She demonstrated this to the woman and said, “Alright. Oh, but I guess if you run a pet shelter, do you have any advice for raising a Slakoth? I… guess you could say I came into one a few days ago and I think he’s happy with how I’ve set him up, but it never hurts to get more advice, right?” Another extra thought. “I don’t think I got your name?” The Pokémon was unfamiliar to the woman. “Is a Slakoth a sort of slug?” she said before realizing that she hadn’t introduced herself with another set of flushed cheeks. “I’m… I forgot that part. I’m Delilah.” “A… I think it’s a sloth pun.” Melissa tried to find a picture on her watch to show it to Delilah. “I already told Ghost this, but I’m Melissa.” Delilah seemed a bit nervous as she glimpsed Melissa’s watch, but her eyes lit up as soon as she saw the picture. “What an interesting little one,” she said. “Perhaps you could bring him here sometime. I would love to meet an animal I had never seen before.” Just like that, though, whatever confidence Delilah had was gone. She took a few steps back again. “Sorry. I got excited.” “Oh sure, I’m sure Bartleby wouldn’t mind,” Melissa said. She switched her watch over to a map screen. “Just, uh, point out where your shelter shop is and I’ll be sure to come in sometime.” As Delilah sighed and leaned in to do so, Ghost reached out from his perch and booped Melissa on the nose. Melissa couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Alright, well, it was nice to meet you, Delilah and Ghost.” It took a moment for them to actually part ways. They both initially went the same direction, and Melissa feinted like she left something behind as an excuse to turn around and actually say goodbye to the two of them. Still, soon after that, she was alone again. “Well, that was an adventure in itself,” Melissa said. But at the same time, it felt like she had seen all there was to see on this level of Prana, at least for now. She really did mean to turn around, it turned out, go back to the shrine with the teleporters and try something new. “I wonder what the next floor has?”
  12. um acktually all speedruns are tool-assisted the tool is called the GAME CONTROLLER can't beat a video game without that go trim a hedge or something NERD

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