8th Jun 2020, 11:00 PM
Go over the dungeon with Cici

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Go over the dungeon with Cici
You microwave a potato, and make yourself a little salad.

While eating dinner, you sit down with Cici and go over what you know about the dungeon--how it works, what to expect, things of that sort.

You realize that a lot hinges on hypotheticals; you believe you'll spawn in the heart room. You think the boss fight will have multiple phases. You think you should have enough time to strip the face off the wall, but you don't know if the wall will stop at that point--it could accelerate for a second phase, for all you know. You think the locked door nearest to the stairs should hold something valuable, though (like the heart room and candle room) you may not immediately be able to use whatever's there.

Your plans and strategies both, at present, rely on a lot of assumptions that are based almost entirely on video games. ...At the same time, these assumptions have mostly held up, and have gotten you this far.

"So what happens to Kate when you use that ring?," Cici asks. "Is she just gonna pass out, or what?"

"I have no idea," you confess. "Ezra said it's harmless, but I don't think Ezra knows the full scope of what the ring's supposed to do. ...I'm going to guess not many 80s kids were using the ring for what I'm using it for. It might not even work, it just feels... suspicious."

"It's too big a coincidence to just be a coincidence," Cici states.

"Yeah," you concur. "That. ...There's a lot of that happening, and I don't really like the implications, but again: it keeps working. Assuming that no coincidences are JUST coincidences has gotten me this far."

Cici squints. "...What kinda implications?"

You take a slow, deep breath. "I've always had nightmares. Like, really vivid, frequent nightmares, before I ever moved into this house. That could be nothing. MondolGroup's trying to take over a town that's basically falling apart on its own, doing probably illegal shit for... what? To get rid of one grocery store? To intimidate some local bikers? Is that JUST how ruthless even the smallest corporations are now, or does Mondol know something? Like, there's SO MUCH weird shit going on under the surface--literally, because this town has old mines and shit, too. I don't know what's involved and what's just... Ninelives being Ninelives."

Cici gives a skeptical but understanding nod. "You think there's a bigger picture."

"I think there's a way, way bigger picture," you reply, "and I don't like being such a small, confused piece of it."

You think back to what you saw through the window.

What you felt.

The pounding on the sky.

Like it was itself a window, or a glass shield.

Things much bigger than you, both physically and otherwise.

Held back.

Unable to stand where you were standing.


You felt it earlier, too--in the room where you found the sword.

Beating on the walls, like something outside indignantly demanding to be let inside

but inside is your brain.

The dungeon is a product of both your mind and your house, and you'd really rather not have anything with an above average number of mouths or eyes in either of those places.

You show Cici the maps and notes you've been working on in your spare time, you give her a general run down of enemies and traps that may be encountered, and how to best approach the boss--a subject slightly complicated by not knowing how Cici will manifest in the dream. You somehow doubt she'll be a fire-spawning demon doll like Kate was.

"So what's our goal?," Cici asks. "Are we going after the boss, or...?"

"Probably," you answer with some hesitance. "Maybe. It might depend on what's behind that locked door, and whether or not the candle room and the heart room do anything new. I still think the triangle symbol downstairs is connected to the candle room somehow--like, the candle room's lit but it's not activated, if that makes any sense."

"I feel like I need to play more video games," Cici remarks. "Like, in general! 'Cuz I'm barely following here."

You smile a little. "Yeah, it's... very videogamey. I'm still not sure if that's because of me, or if there's some sinister cabal of game developers behind all this bullshit. ...Probably won't have an answer to that until we find Franklin."

You start to get your equipment in order

and run into a small logistics issue.

You stare, briefly, at your gear, your bed, and your dirty laundry box.

"What is it?," Cici asks.

"...So like," you begin, trying to process how to phrase this, "on the second night I did an experiment with potatoes? Anything not in my pockets doesn't go with me. The clothes I wore throughout the day go with me, even if I take them off before bed, and a potato in my pocket goes with me as long as I wore those pants when I was awake, but--"

"Ohhh I gotcha!," Cici declares. "You can't put the armor in your pocket, you know it won't come with you if you just leave it in the box, and you don't know if you wore it enough for it to... uhhhh... for it to count?"

"Yeah," you reply. "Basically. ...I might have to sleep in the armor."

You give it a little more thought.

"...While hugging the polearm and the toolbox, I guess, because those aren't going in my pockets either."

"Kate's backpack is still here," Cici points out.

"Yeah," you reply, "but God only knows what else she has in there, and I'd still have to sleep in a backpack."

"Does stuff you're carrying to bed still show up in the dream?," Cici asks. "Have you tried... snuggling with a potato?"

"I have not," you admit, trying not to laugh. "...I'm relying a lot on optimism tonight. It's not been a primo strat so far, but it's the best I've got."

Cici smiles.

You put on the fightball gear, the helmet, and the MMA gloves.
You shove your ropes and keys and tools into the toolbox.
You take your makeshift polearm and toolbox to bed with you.

It is not very comfortable.

Cici rolls out the sleeping bag, and the two of you lay there in silence for a while.

It is (not surprisingly) difficult to fall asleep in body armor, while clutching a weapon and a toolbox you found in a junkyard.

You try to think about Kate as you're falling asleep.

You wake up in a soft bed

in the heart room.

"Holy shit." You sit up in bed. Your voice is muffled by your helmet.

It worked. It all worked. Your armor's here, the polearm is here, the toolbox is here--so if you're holding it OR wearing it when you fall asleep, it comes with you.

"Plaire!," Cici yells. "I'm smaller! Did I get turned into a doll? Wait--"

You turn toward the source of the voice.

Cici inspects her wings. "I got wings! PLAIRE! I'm a BIRD!"


"I'm a bird I'm a bird I'm a bird!," she emphatically chants, hopping around on what is clearly three legs.

"You're... kind of a bird."

Cici wavers a bit as she flaps herself into the air, fluttering toward you.

"What do you mean," she asks, "kind of a bird?"

"You're..." you squint. "You're an egg...?"

Boy does that raise some questions.

"What?!" Cici almost bumps into your helmet trying to hover in place. "Why am I in an egg?"

"I don't know," you admit.

You look around the room. "...I don't know where Kate is, either." Same striped room; nothing you can see has changed since last time.

"Maybe it didn't work 'cuz she's still awake," Cici suggests. "Or something. I dunno. I'm a BIRD!"

You grip your polearm in one hand, the handle to the toolbox in the other...

and spot the note on the bed.

While Cici excitedly flaps around the room, trying out her newfound birdness, you inspect the note.

... Oh.


That definitely said 12 last night.

You didn't die--you faded out
which means whatever this countdown represents,
it doesn't matter how you go out.

And it is, definitely, a countdown.

You turn the page over, just to make sure there's nothing--



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Rate this comic:

average rating: 5

8th Jun 2020, 11:15 PM
8th Jun 2020, 11:15 PM
... Huh. Don't think we know anyone named 'Nat'. So uh.. go ahead and write down no? And that we don't know Natalie?
8th Jun 2020, 11:17 PM

That's awesome.
9th Jun 2020, 12:34 AM
Okay, glad I wasn't the only one that was thinkin' that when I saw Cici. Certainly makes me curious as to what she can even do in that form, honestly.
9th Jun 2020, 2:20 PM
I remember one such bird who could mimic a sun...
But that was in a different kind of game.
8th Jun 2020, 11:22 PM
Write: "Who is this? Are you communicating from outside the dream?" on the note.
8th Jun 2020, 11:22 PM
Let's take a few moments to process all of this -- at least the immediate impact.

Nat might be one of the witches?
8th Jun 2020, 11:29 PM
The note comic, and as a reminder, the MC's name is Plaire Stevens.
8th Jun 2020, 11:48 PM
8th Jun 2020, 11:59 PM
Portal In Time
+1, but we should mention we own a house that lets us get here through dreams. And NOT give out our name.
9th Jun 2020, 12:19 AM
House part might be too identifiable, but otherwise agree.
9th Jun 2020, 9:02 AM
Yeah, it might be best to identify ourselves as "Dreamer" or something that isn't Plaire's given name or her online handle.
9th Jun 2020, 1:10 AM
"New house, who dis?"
9th Jun 2020, 7:15 AM
"New Dreamer, who dis?" Might work better(?)
9th Jun 2020, 11:05 AM
Identify as "new dreamer" and state we just bought the house sign as 7 in a lizard.

Ask if there is a waking location we can communicate.
9th Jun 2020, 6:34 PM
Also ask if we can not lose lives
9th Jun 2020, 2:14 PM
+1 to this, including the dreamer stuff
9th Jun 2020, 3:18 PM
-1 to "Demand info, give nothing (except a false name)."

Last night, Player expressed gratitude for the save room and signed with a symbol of her online handle. Tonight, she is supposed to be absolutely paranoid?

The other party is going to conclude that if Player sent both messages, she's got multiple personalities.

Bonus points for the guys for the guys recommending ebonics. That would really hammer in the dissociative identity disorder.
9th Jun 2020, 12:01 AM
Portal In Time
Everybody else has the note thing down, so I want to suggest taking a closer look at Cici. What's underneath the shell? Is the shell material really gold, or is it just a brittle egg? And what's underneath that eyepatch, if she wouldn't mind us taking a peek?
9th Jun 2020, 2:15 PM
9th Jun 2020, 1:12 AM
Check if we got anything from the arcade machine we played.
9th Jun 2020, 1:19 AM
Write: "Call me Seven. I don't know Nat. Where can we talk?"
Well, time to do a bit of exploration- what is in the busted up room? Are the traps downstairs reset? Warn Cici about them. Check every rooms on the floor. Is the candle still lit?
Can Cici do fire, or maybe other things? Wind or light maybe? Ask her to think bright thoughts.
9th Jun 2020, 6:23 AM
+1 except call ourselves the Porcelain Salamander.
9th Jun 2020, 7:34 AM
OOH i like that! +1
9th Jun 2020, 7:59 AM
Well, she is THE SUN so fire instead of wind sounds more logical to me. In combination with her apparently being like a captemon maybe it would make sense trying to give her commands to do so, you know like: Cici use fireball! just how you would do it in a captemon duel. Probably that was the reason why Kate couldn't use proper fireballs, she was not ordered to do it by Plaire.
9th Jun 2020, 2:15 PM
9th Jun 2020, 2:00 AM
the fact Cici is a egg when she's called the sun makes me think that our Associates or in a alpha state. think the first evolution of a pokemon. Cici is a egg for lets say a phoenix Kate is a Imp the lowest demon. they may "evolve" as we go along and get stronger.
9th Jun 2020, 2:34 AM
I guess that goes with the Captemon-theme the dolls seem to have.
9th Jun 2020, 2:25 PM
so if we are right what do think their more developed or Evolved forms would be? I said phoenix as a random guess. like what would kate end up as? i mean she could be like a puppet sucubess
9th Jun 2020, 5:59 AM
the sister of the witch is somewhere in this dungeon? or on the other side of that note
9th Jun 2020, 6:23 AM
Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
9th Jun 2020, 6:25 AM
Find out what's in the locked room in the hallway first thing upon leaving the heart room.
9th Jun 2020, 7:42 AM
Agree, though try using the toolbox keys before the house key.
9th Jun 2020, 8:39 AM
Yes, better to see if the scavenged keys work first.
9th Jun 2020, 7:47 AM
Our message should be concise and informative. Anyone good at casting Sending or writing telegrams?
"Call me Seven. It's my fourth night. Trying to fix this. Anything helps. What happened; who and where are you?" Put a key from the toolbox on top of the note when we leave.

Nat and the person we're writing to are probably the witch sisters. The candle probably functions like a bonfire in at least some capacity. Lighting it may have changed our spawn, but we don't yet have the fast travel unlocked.
From this point on, we should avoid dreaming in our house unless we have a targeted goal and a plan to reach it. Unless we want to play tag with the house ownership, we should try to make every go count.

Do we feel stronger or more coordinated, like we have Kate's strength?

Open the locked door, try calling Kate on the cell phone, check that the candle is still on, and open the barrels.
9th Jun 2020, 8:59 AM
+1 to all these, generally.

However, our new pen pal isn't being concise and informative, so it's a fair bet she might not follow perfectly if we go full 'telegraph' mode:

"I'm Sal [Salamander, but super-short]. Fourth night. Need help. Will help. Name?" And so on, filling the page.

Communicating with her too densely risks confusing her, whereupon she asks for clarification, which would mean one of our (limited?!) communication opportunities is partially or even completely wasted.

Check out her handwriting, too. We could literally be dealing with a child!

On the other hand, if she will understand, maximum density is ideal. We simply don't know the optimal density to use.

I say, if anything, dumb it down just a little: "Call me Sal. It's my fourth night. I'm trying to fix this. Let's help each other. What happened; who are you?"
9th Jun 2020, 8:50 AM
Would it be worth it to go to the triangle room to activate the candle room? Not sure how we can reach the triangle room before fading out since Plaire starts so far away.

The dad wall seems like the final boss we may not be ready.

Could Plaire go in the hallway and make a quick DigDug drill through the floor and get to the triangle in the basement fast? That might be worth it. And DigDug can also drill up. So we can get back up to near the heart room fast?

1. Open the locked room nearby and investigate
2. Go to the hall and tunnel to the basement
3. Get to the triangle
4. Dig back up to the hall
5. Save progress in the heart room

1. Open the locked room nearby and investigate
2. See if we can get the whole-ass-sword again if we don't like the polearm.
3. Fight Father Warden and hope the DigDug powers make us immune to the explosions.

Maybe we could fight Father Warden now since we are so close and dig towards the triangle next time?
9th Jun 2020, 10:28 AM
+1 to trying to dig through the floor or walls
9th Jun 2020, 11:08 AM
There are gaps in the walls on the map...
9th Jun 2020, 11:34 AM
See if Cici can carry the toolbox with her three legs so that Plaire doesn't have to.
9th Jun 2020, 1:53 PM
+1 and Cici can drop the toolbox when she has to fight.
9th Jun 2020, 12:36 PM
Just wanted to note since the picture is a tower AND a heart, it might be a checkpoint system rather than a lives system. I.e. we have 11 more times we'll wake up in THIS bed before going back to the default dream bed.
9th Jun 2020, 2:25 PM
That would be a lot less stress-inducing... wishful thinking ?
9th Jun 2020, 2:52 PM
Maybe ask whoever wrote us back on the other side of the note what the number-in-the-heart means?
9th Jun 2020, 2:35 PM
Starting to feel like an MMO with the mismatched equipment and since we seem to have just found a chat system. : P Actually, if we *tried* playing an MMORPG from the right company, might that give us an *actual* chat system instead of having to leave notes, perhaps? Well, moot point right now I suppose.

See if we can leave a page from our notebook on the bed so we can try leaving a longer message, but leave a message on the other paper too, just in case.

Have Cici practice moving around and see if she has any special abilities.
9th Jun 2020, 2:53 PM
Looking at the note Player left, I noticed something in the candle room. Kanji! The three exterior circles contain "Power," "Courage," and "Heart." Probably a reference to the in-universe Zelda proxy.

Well, none of the party has announced any Japanese fluency, so it's not an action point right now.
9th Jun 2020, 8:31 PM
How does it go already...

▲ ▲, right ?
9th Jun 2020, 7:18 PM
Ezra said "you will have their strength in your dreams", not they'll join you in your dreams. Maybe Plaire should think about setting her own hands on fire?
9th Jun 2020, 8:00 PM
Or otherwise doing Kate-like things.
10th Jun 2020, 12:01 AM
Hold up, a bit late now but upon going back some...