3rd Jun 2020, 10:30 PM
Check on Cici

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Check on Cici
You take out your cell phone and call Cici.

. . .

No response.

You call Kate.

"Hey," answers Kate. "What's up?"

"Cici's not here yet," you tell her. "And she's not answering her phone."

There's some slight hesitance from the other line.

"I mean... she's Cici, right? What's the worst that could happen?"

"I don't know," you admit. "That's what I'm worried about. ...That cop seemed pretty pissed earlier."

"I'm almost off work," Kate says. "I gotta take care of some stuff after, but like... she's gotta be fine. Cici could take the whole police force by herself, she's like the last person we need to worry about."

"...Yeah. You're probably right."

"I'll call you after work!"



Kate's probably right but you need to distract yourself.

You wander around the house for a while, looking for any changes that may have resulted from lighting that candle in the dungeon.

Nothing stands out, though.

Nothing has changed.
There's no new entrances,
the walls haven't shifted.
Still no washer.
Still no dryer.
No secret basement.
No absence of a back door.

. . .

There's no back door not there.
There is not no back door.

"What the fuck?," you mouth, before attempting to say it out loud. "I do not have no back door. ... This house doesn't not have a back door."

You squint.

Is this the Brainsate? Are you having a stroke?

You stare hard at where the backdoor wouldn't be if it wasn't. Or where it would be if it was, which it is.

"There is a back door," you state aloud. It doesn't feel like lying.

...So why can't you see it?

Or understand it; the longer you stare at where the back door definitely is the less sense it makes that there's a back door there.

Attempting to perceive the back door that your brain has apparently already accepted the existence of is just giving you a headache.

You consider just... going, and opening it, but the idea of opening a door you can't experience (yet one that totally exists) fills you with a very peculiar dread. Your mind does not like to consider the logistics. It... it has to be some kind of magic perception filter or something. Of the three of you, one of you should have noticed the back door.

... You can't notice the back door now, and you know it's there.

You walk outside, into the front yard.

You approach the fence.

There's... definitely room for a backyard behind it.

Maybe if you hop the fence--

"Plaire!," shouts a familiar voice from a few houses away.

You turn...

and spy Cici

...carrying a couch down the road.

"Cici!," you yell back. "What the shit? I called and you didn't answer!"

"I was carrying a couch!," she announces.

Once she gets closer, she continues. "We had this extra couch sittin' in the back never getting used, so I figured I'd bring it. ...It wouldn't fit on the bus."

"So you fucking walked it here?"

"Yeah?" she says simply. She shrugs, still holding a couch overhead. "I needed to work that burger off."

You hold the front door open. It takes a little effort to turn it right, but eventually, Cici puts the couch in your living room. You move the metal chair out of the way a bit.

"Be aware," you state, holding back a grin, "the third conviction for library theft is a felony."

Cici does not immediately find it funny. "Wait, really?"

"In Misuschaqua, yeah." You know a lot of goofy trivia. Thanks, the internet. "I don't know about other states, but you can only steal one more item from a Misuschaqua library before it stops being a misdemeanor."

"Huh," Cici remarks. Her brow furrows a little; she actually seems a little shook by the idea of having committed 1/3rd of a state offense. ...Whoops

"D... do you want to take it back?," you ask. "I could help you carry it, if you're really worried about--"

"No!," she blurts out, before giving a more thoughtful "...No. Kate doesn't have a monopoly on being cool and rebellious. I can do crimes, too, Plaire. I can steal a couch."

. . .

"You know," you begin to point out, "if we divvy up the heat, we could all three confess to two library thefts each. Then you can steal six couches, total, and it's not a felony."

Cici nods solemnly. "But what if Kate flips, and I get stuck with all six charges? That's a double felony."

"True, true." You nod, and stroke your chin. "Kate's been solid about the house stuff, but it could all be part of a bigger scheme to get free couches--and pin you with the damage while she gets away scot-free." You're pretty good at keeping yourself from laughing, but seeing Cici struggling not to giggle is making it much, much harder. "We should get our stories straight ahead of time. Officially, I stole this couch; this first 1/3rd of a felony is mine. I'll take the rap."

"Thank you," Cici says with a small smile. Though it has turned into jokes, you seem to have made her feel better. ...About the thing you scared her about in the first place.

"Don't fucking thank ME," you practically shout, "you carried a god damn couch over here. ...That I stole. Officially. Thank you."

Cici smiles wider. "I... I've been kinda worried. ...That I haven't been doing enough, compared to you and Kate. I know, it's dumb, but it feels like you guys are solving this crazy mystery and I just--"

"Cici." Jesus Christ. "I almost had a fucking episode because I thought I wasn't pulling my weight. Trust me, you're doing enough. You're doing..." You look, again, at the couch. It has a little wear and tear, but it's a nice couch. "You're doing more than enough. You are... going above and the fuck beyond."

Cici gives a small nod, and sniffs.

A moment of silence follows

which Cici finally breaks. "...Kate's really good at this, huh?"

"Kate's extremely good at this," you concede. "Kate's a detective and a cat burglar and a rock star at the same time and it's terrifying."

"AND she has a hot mom!," Cici asserts.


"Or so I hear," she adds, god dammit


"...She's about the same level of lost and confused as we are when it comes to the dungeon." You adjust your glasses, and put your hands on your hips like you're giving some big motivational speech. "She's still new to the dream stuff. So am I, so are you. ...Which puts us on an even playing field."

"This is our chance to also be bad asses," Cici says, clenching one big fist. You can hear her pronounce the space in the middle of the word badasses.

"Three thirds badasses," you say aloud, immediately realizing that it does not sound cool at all but it's too late you have to own it "...instead of only 1/3rd badasses."

"Yeah," says Cici with a tightened smile. She doesn't want to tell you it was lame but you can feel it. "3/3rds bad asses," she repeats god no just act like you didn't say it, don't turn it into a thing ugghhh why are you both such huge dorks

Your phone rings.

You answer the phone. "Hello...?"

"Hey," says Kate on the other line. "Cici make it?"

She sounds... out of breath.

"Yeah," you reply, "she's here, we're good."

"Cool," Kate replies, immediately followed by "Someone beat the shit out of Harv."

"Your drummer? What the fuck? Why?!"

"Don't know," Kate huffs. "On my way to the hospital now. He was at work; said a couple dudes in masks--one of 'em engineered--rolled up on the place, caught everybody by surprise with tire irons and shit. Three injured, total."

"Fuck." You don't even know what to say. "Do... do you think it was Mondol...?"

"Not sure," she says. It sounds like she's walking, or is out in public somewhere. "The timing's suspish but it'd take some big ol' FUCKIN' BAWLS to pull this so soon after the fire at Maria's. Harv's got a history with biker gangs... everybody working at that auto place has probably got a record. Could've been Mondol, could've been anybody with a grudge. Could've been anybody, period."

"I'm noticing a trend," you grumble.

"You guys might have to start the festivities without me," Kate states. "I'm gonna be here late asking questions."

"What?" Shit. Shit shit shit. You get it, but-- "Kate--"

"Ezra didn't say anything about the ring's range," interrupts Kate, "just that you had to think of a person and know their true name. My name is Kate Halford. Bring Cici in the normal sleepover way, try to bring me in with the ring. We can see how that shit works when I'm halfway across town."

You nod.


"Yeah," you blurt out. Phone. Right. "That... that should work. Yeah."

"Cool," concludes Kate. "I'll see you guys later. ...Be careful."

She hangs up.

"Was that Kate?," Cici asks. "What'd she say?"

Hoo boy.

You take a deep breath, and explain what you know of the situation.

"...Oh," Cici replies. "Damn. Now I feel bad that we talked all that smack about her."

"I mean..." You smile a little, and shrug. "I wouldn't say we were talking smack; we unanimously agreed she's a stone cold badass, and we can only hope to compete by literally dragging her into another dimension."

"Yeah," says Cici, "but we were very salty about it."

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3rd Jun 2020, 10:55 PM
I wonder if we should go ahead and check out the maybe backdoor with Cici.
Confirm its not just a weird halliconatoon?
3rd Jun 2020, 11:25 PM
4th Jun 2020, 12:47 PM
Definitely confirm the lack of absence of the very non-inexistent backdoor with Cici.

Although, I expect we won't be able to do anything to it since we can't see the handle, and the whole impervious house thing makes it impossible to force open.
4th Jun 2020, 4:10 PM
*read the above* *nods after a minute* *makes pistol fingers* "You're pretty good."
3rd Jun 2020, 10:56 PM
Clue Cici in about the non-existent-but-there back door?
3rd Jun 2020, 11:00 PM
Portal In Time
3rd Jun 2020, 11:00 PM
We've got backup now....open the Back Door!
3rd Jun 2020, 11:02 PM
To avoid spreading our focus too thin, let's try to remember there is a back door by writing it down somewhere. But I wouldn't mess with it just yet.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:25 PM
4th Jun 2020, 4:54 AM
+1 but maybe we could peek at the backyard through the back door and that would not be too dangerous
4th Jun 2020, 12:49 PM
Cici could throw Plaire above the fence, but... do we even want to try right now ? Maybe later, after we check the Library maybe.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:04 PM
Lunar Waffles
Ask Cici if she can say that "this house has no back door" see if it effects her the same way. (saying it like "can you say this house has no back door?" should circumvent the lie filter?)
4th Jun 2020, 4:12 PM
Agreed oh waffly one~! *hug*
3rd Jun 2020, 11:07 PM
Tell Cici you have to check out the back yard before you forget it exists. Or say something like "Try to perceive the back door"
3rd Jun 2020, 11:13 PM
First, let's see if there isn't also no back door on the outside of the house. Before we try to open it from this side, we should verify that it isn't, in fact, not something we just don't remember not being there.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:16 PM
I picture Cici just casually walking down the street carrying a couch under one arm, nbd.

But yeah, let's mention the double negative back door to Cici and maybe write it down and some other things we know. This might also be a good opportunity to go over last night's dream in fine detail with Cici, possibly even to the point of drawing maps and giving detailed descriptions of the monsters, including strategies to defeat/avoid them.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:28 PM
+1 I think we should call Cici as our accomplice tonight, if we're limited to just one.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:21 PM
+1 to everyone else, experiment with the back door and Cici. Have her try to say stuff, maybe lift us up so we can see over the fence.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:34 PM
"experiment with the back door and Cici" sounds kinky
4th Jun 2020, 3:09 PM
+1 on lift to look over the fence. Seems like the safest way to interact with whatever's back there.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:23 PM
Call Kate back and tell her we're Plaire Stevens, I don't think we've given her our true name yet, at least not explicitly, and the ring requires both parties to have it.

Trace the walls with a pen, making big marks wherever a wall turns a corner. Do it with your eyes closed if it helps. Have Cici watch. If you approach an anomaly, she should be able to tell.
3rd Jun 2020, 11:34 PM
4th Jun 2020, 12:05 AM
4th Jun 2020, 7:33 AM
The point that Ezra said "exchange true names" instead of "get a true name" is (may be?) pertinent. +1 to making it an exchange instead of a gift.

A name is an identifier for a person. A true name is a word that encapsulates your true identity, as a person.

What is your true identity, Plaire Stevens?
4th Jun 2020, 12:34 PM
+1 to both suggestions.

In regards to our house experimentations (particularly the non-non-existent back door), I suggest as gradual an escalation as time allows, in case there are other counter-measures besides what is befuddling us, for example:

Ask Cici to perceive the back door -> discuss the back door -> interact with the back door -> circumvent the back door by looking over the fence -> circumvent the back door by hopping the fence.

Halt investigations if anything drastically more serious than mental deflections occur.
4th Jun 2020, 1:05 PM
Lunar Waffles
yes, dip the toes in before jumping off the diving board, we have no idea how deep the water is .... also, didn't it just say that we had to be "close enough to have exchanged true names" not that we actually HAVE to?
4th Jun 2020, 3:10 PM
3rd Jun 2020, 11:31 PM
Play some Crush Souls to get dodge-roll powers that will help in defeating the wall-boss tonight.
4th Jun 2020, 12:05 AM
We already played Dig Dug, so we already have a power.
4th Jun 2020, 1:24 AM
We have a power but probably not the power that's going to be the most useful to us for where we're at in the dungeon right now.
4th Jun 2020, 7:36 AM

"gonna git 🆃🆄🆁🅱🅾🆂🆆🅰🆃🆃🅴🅳" -Ten Flying Leaps
4th Jun 2020, 8:35 AM
Why would we get turboswatted? We have the makeshift polearm to cut away at the wall-boss's flesh mask and the Crush Souls dodge rolls seem to be the perfect ability to avoid its only offensive ability that we know of. Furthermore, we don't even know for sure whether the Dig Dug game grants any powers but we do know that Crush Souls grants some because we saw the shadow-Plaire use them the night after we got killed in the dungeon.
4th Jun 2020, 11:45 AM
Sorry, just dropping the quote didn't make it clear what I meant.

Not, "Player's going to be turboswatted by the boss." You're going to be turboswatted, by the votes.

Isn't this the third time you've suggested this? Given community response previously, and community response now, I don't think you're going to muster enough support for this yet.

Not to say proposing it is wrong. I, personally, have gotten zero support for naming the bus Cherry (it's derived from Chariot Mass Transit, get it?), and I'm not going to let that drop, either.
4th Jun 2020, 12:52 PM
75% chance Cherry will be how Franklin names the bus when he's riding while drunk as a mutant skunk.
4th Jun 2020, 3:12 PM
Can we just present our ideas and have a discussion of their pros and cons? Thanks.

I really don't see what we could do that's a good use of our time in the dungeon tonight other than tackling the boss. We just fought our way to the upstairs hallway and why risk just fighting our way back through the same territory? Or risk a trip through other unexplored territory when there's another another achievement that's easily within our grasp right near our starting point?

Sure, we could check the two unopened rooms and the barrels in the hallway but that won't likely take the whole night.

Furthermore, time is likely of the essence in this story. There is a mega-corporation that's beginning to launch violent attacks around town and vampire mayor who knows way more about the spooky house than we do and has shown way too much interest in it. I can't think of anything other than defeating the boss that is more likely to get us more info about the dream dungeon or to get us some power that will help us to make further progress. It may even grant us some power that will help against problems in the real world.

The majority may be against me at this point but I haven't heard a good reason for them to maintain that position.
4th Jun 2020, 6:52 PM
It's tempting to just pocket veto this discussion, but my conscience will not abide it. You want my (I only speak for myself) side? You got it.

I'll reframe it from Pro/Con to Risk/Reward, though. Because this is actually a risky move. You yourself said, "Why risk just fighting our way back through the same territory? Or risk a trip through other unexplored territory when there's another another achievement that's easily within our grasp right near our starting point?" (Emphasis added.)

You associated the word "risk" with traversing known territory and with traversing unknown territory. Yet, beating the boss is "easily within our grasp?" Let's be fair with our options: They all have risks, and they all have rewards.

Option 1 - The Boss

Risk 1: The boss may be more dangerous than we have observed. There could be multiple phases, which ramp up in difficulty. It's reasonable to presume that the boss is harder than the regular monsters, such as the Right-To-Knows (of which Player has defeated two), Worm Corpses (of which she has defeated zero), and Chain Maws (of which she has defeated zero).

Risk 2: Player might not be able bring her new weapon into the nightmare. Sure as hell won't fit in her pocket, the only confirmed route to bring objects in. Then, to retrieve the closest weapon we know of, she needs to traverse Poison Gas Hallway and Chain Maw Hallway - twice. The door next to the save room might have a weapon, too, but it might not.

Risk 3: Player's weapon (combined with her fitness level) might not deal enough damage. The Whole-Ass Sword didn't give +5 to anime shit. The Makeshift Poleaxe might give -3. We need enough DPS to cut the flesh six times, before the wall crushes us. We could guess that there are the same number of explosions each attempt, but we haven't assessed how many. What if there's only six explosions? Then the Whole-Ass Sword was marginally above the minimum DPS required. If the Makeshift Poleaxe isn't as good (because carrying and swinging a polearm is hard and this thing was cobbled together out of trash), then we'll run out of time.

Risk 4: The weapon might break (Player observed damage to her Potato Sock, remember), again due to its composition. If, after three severs, the blade snaps off and falls into the pile of pews, Player is screwed.

Risk 5: Player takes too much damage and dies. Crush Souls may give a dodge mechanic, but Crush Souls is not an easy game. In fact, it's a brutally hard game (if it is indeed based on Dark Souls). Player may know the game well, but that doesn't mean she never dies to a boss, let alone a boss she's only marginally familiar with. Timing dodges is hard. We may need to perform multiple dodges with frame-perfect timing to avoid damage. Taking any damage injures her, further lowering her ability to deal damage fast enough (see above). One nice video game mechanic is where a character with 1% HP deals as much damage as one with 100% HP. But that's not a mechanic Player enjoys; she nearly botched a jump by springing off of an injured leg, to name one injury that has impeded her.

Reward: Unknown. Could be something absolutely great. Could be nothing but the right to access the next dungeon.

Option 2 - Known Territory

Risk 1: Arguably, this is the safest option, because Player has already proven she can handle the threats in it. But, dealing with what we know doesn't guarantee safety, either.

Risk 2: It could be that time is of the essence in the narrative, and wasting time on this will work to our detriment in the long run.

Reward: Basically nothing Player hasn't already gotten.

Option 3 - Unknown Territory

Risk 1: Unknown. But, likely to be less dangerous than the dungeon boss, following typical video game difficulty tropes.

Risk 2: It could be that time is of the essence in the narrative, and wasting time on this will work to our detriment in the long run.

Reward: Unknown. Likely to include better weapons and items (which we can later use to fight the boss), and possibly hints for beating the boss.

End of Options

That's my assessment. You can dispute (or add) any point you like. I'll concede that the boss guards the highest potential Reward, but insist that it has the highest commensurate Risk. I therefore advocate Unknown Territory, because it has a good chance of (eventually) eliminating or ameliorating the Risks of the Boss Fight.

I rather doubt there is any Risk at all to taking things one step at a time. Our good author isn't likely to punish us for exploring. Indeed, why would he give us a dungeon to explore, and then award maximal rewards for minimal exploration, i.e., making a beeline for the boss? But, I included those Risk lines, in recognition of your concern for them.

I'll bring up, like my post several comics back, the locked door next to the save room. It'll contain something useful. If it's something useful for exploration, I'd say that's a hint that our next step should be exploration. If it's something useful for fighting the boss, that's a hint that our next step should be fighting the boss. Finding something fairly clearly geared to the boss fight would be one thing that could change my mind at this point.
4th Jun 2020, 6:27 PM
I don't know. Dig Dug's main thing is inflation. It's even odds whether that would be a direct counter for the old windbag or just pump up his blowhard nature.
4th Jun 2020, 8:07 PM
We should definitely check the 1st floor hallway's locked room first thing when we re-enter the dungeon and what we find there (such as a sturdy, reliable weapon) may influence our decision-making from that point forward.

Even if the boss's difficulty does ramp up as we fight it and there are unexpected wrinkles, that is something we'll have to deal with eventually. We'll only be able to learn about the boss by getting in there and fighting it.

Based on the information we have at this point I think the dodge rolls power will best prepare us to fight the boss and may even put defeating it within our grasp. Plaire's fitness level wasn't an obstacle to defeating the boss the first time so much as her inability to evade its electrical burst attack and the dodge rolls will likely solve that problem for her. The timing of the dodge rolls may be tricky but dealing with any problem in the dungeon, whether it be in known or unknown territory, will be tricky and carry its own modicum of risk.

I can't help but think that symbolically defeating her masked hypocrite father would be a tremendous win for Plaire that will have very positive consequences for her psychologically and by extension for the dungeon, which is a reflection of her psyche. That psychological benefit will likely carry over into the real world as well. I don't think we could find anything else as good anywhere else in the dungeon right now.
4th Jun 2020, 10:30 PM
Reading my Risk list again, I realize that three Boss Risks are directly connected to the weapon problem. Solving that would make the Boss much more appealing.

Also, isn't it inconvenient that our fight/explore choice hinges at least partially on the contents of that room, but we have to choose our game before we learn it?
3rd Jun 2020, 11:33 PM
I love Cici so much. Also I feel like I might need some form of merch related to Cici and stealing couches.

Now, let's work on dealing with the whole back door thing. One thing we might want to try, if the perception filter messes with our attempts to interact with the door, is closing our eyes and doing it blind. Humans are primarily visual animals (we use words like "see" and "visualize" for all kinds of things, even in the occult realm where we're NOT using visual stimuli), so a perception filter designed for humans *might* be a primarily visual one, which we could potentially circumvent by relying on our other senses.
4th Jun 2020, 12:06 AM
If we plan to go back to the boss room we should brief Cici on the area, route, what we expect to face, and what she can expect from her form.
4th Jun 2020, 1:00 PM
Lunar Waffles
what if Cici doesn't become plush though? what if she becomes more like an action figure? or like a might version of herself? just one instance of outside help is not enough to form a viable data base to expect similar results for everyone.
4th Jun 2020, 1:33 PM
I imagine Cici as a plush gorilla, with a sunburst on her chest. The sunburst lights up, too! She's bigger than Plush Kate, and hits hard for a stuffed doll, but she can't fly.
4th Jun 2020, 1:12 AM
And thus the Choir sung, and in their voice even the forgettable and unperceptible can be found.
4th Jun 2020, 1:56 AM
Let's make a note on our computer about the backdoor, in case this perception messing thing gets worse somehow.
4th Jun 2020, 4:33 AM
Just as a future note: We should ask the bus (or research ourselves) about violent incidents like what happened to Maria's AND Harv.
The reason why is that we noticed on the bus trip to Kate's house that the town seems to be becoming abandoned. Combine that with what the bus mentioned before about the confirmed steady abandonment since Mondol showed up and I think we might have a confirmed conspiracy theory about them trying to run the town out of... well out of town.
This is important because if correct, Plaire might become a target of this "random" violence should Mondol figure out she's the current owner of the spooky house.
ALSO the mayor might be involved in that as well BUT she's trying to stop/slowdown Mondol if what Marlow said about her trying to reduce the "police state" the town was becoming is true (or Cici and the gang is her attempt to wrest that control over to her side). It might also be why the mayor is holding onto the house ownership history - so Mondol can't get it and target the owners. I do want to emphasize even if that is correct, the mayor may still not be an ally; just she can't make a move on us without attracting Mondol's attention at the same time.

Food for thought.
4th Jun 2020, 5:35 AM
Sheeitttt, the plot thickens. Definitely a conspiracy to consider once we are done with the MAGIC BACKYARD and the dream dive
4th Jun 2020, 4:57 AM
Have Cici play a video game (NOT volleyball I prefer Crush Souls) and see if that gives her dream powers?
4th Jun 2020, 5:04 AM
Discuss back door and back yard with Cici.
4th Jun 2020, 5:33 AM

Also bring up to Cici and text Kate the possibility of there being 3 witches, that totally seems to be something to notify everyone
4th Jun 2020, 6:46 AM
Have Cici boost Plaire up to look over the fence to look at the backyard. Then think about if the back door should be located and maybe Limrix's idea about tracing on the walls might locate the door.
4th Jun 2020, 7:26 AM
Player: Contemplate rings.

Some time back, a mysterious internet comment mentioned a Solomon Ring. Now we have a Dream Ring.

We don't have proof there's a connection, but it's possible. If a Solomon Ring can make a Dullahan into a Mech, maybe it would turn Plush Kate into... well, who knows what, but she was pretty hyped about shooting fireballs.
4th Jun 2020, 8:07 AM
Everybody seems so excited about the backyard all of a sudden. What's the big deal? It's always not been missing.


Jokes aside, I advocate spending the last of Player's daylight exercising. Every day she doesn't exercise is another day that her Ascension To Physical Godhood is delayed. Throw the backyard on the list of sidequests for now.
4th Jun 2020, 8:45 AM
+1 to Plaire getting some exercise.
4th Jun 2020, 12:42 PM
Lunar Waffles
to be fair, Plaire has probably done more walking then she normally dose lately, don't want to do to much to fast, that can cause more harm then good, but yes, exercise is good, so if it wouldn't do more harm, then i vote +1 as well
4th Jun 2020, 1:32 PM
I agree some exercise for like 1 hour but I guess making videos to get more money for more Brainsate and more games is more important.
20th Jun 2020, 9:32 PM
It's a Back door. you have to walk through it from the outside backwards, probably eyes closed.