23rd Jan 2020, 10:17 PM
Send a thank you

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Send a thank you
You continue to stare at the comments for... a while.

These people know something. You're not sure how much or what, but there's hints that they're not just talking about games. ...Which means they might know about the dungeon? Somehow?

You suspect--at first--that the five comments are, in fact, only being made by two people across different accounts. There's a definite pattern to their screennames:

Users The Thirst Guy and A Burst Lye obviously rhyme. Probably the same person.

Users Theodore's Football League and Ten Flying Leaps both abbreviate to TFL. T-Eiffel also sounds like TFL.

It's only after you start to really consider what they've said, though--in relation to the dream dungeon--that it suddenly clicks.

if your channel gets huge remember the thirst guy


You're not seeing two different patterns at all.

You're seeing one.



All of the screennames either rhyme with the first lie or abbreviate to TFL--again, the first lie. The words that were engraved on that broken blade, words that meant nothing to you at the time, mean something to these people. You're not sure if that means they're in on your dreams and have tracked you down or they're spying on you, or... or if maybe your experience isn't isolated. Maybe these people have been through this, and they've seen that message themselves. Whatever's going on, you're seeing at least five different accounts--possibly five different people--that know something.

Most of what they're saying is just as nonsense as remember the first lie, though.

For instance, no video game you can remember has both a solomon ring and a dullahan in it. They're definitely not talking about Crush Souls, which has neither of those things--and you would know, you've combed over the game's wiki maybe more than anyone on the planet. You've meticulously scouted every route, even looked into unused assets and incomplete zones. There's no items, enemies, or dating options by those names.

T-Eiffel mentioned the ring and dullahans right after bringing up Toward Software, who made Crush Souls--but they've made other games you haven't played. It could be about one of those games... or maybe they're not talking about games at all.

Are... there dullahans in the dream somewhere?

Maybe?

You're pretty lost on everything else, as well.

they really knew how to make games back then if you know what I mean


Like, what does this even mean? Are they saying some games work better than others, outside of the abilities themselves? Because graphics and engine processing power has only gotten better over time, and there's much bigger, flashier, explosive-ier powers in newer games than anything from the 80s. There's games from the last five years or so where the protagonists fly and throw planets at each other and shit.

Magic Mustachio just jumps good.

You can't imagine how the era the game was released in would make it more effective, or what

the dude that designs all the Toward games married a 7


...has to do with anything.

Unless, by "a 7" the poster doesn't mean the developer's wife is hot, they mean...

something else.

Something else that you have no context for.

Ugggghhhh it's all fucking code and you don't know the code, you don't even know who's supposed to know the code or why it's in code



--Okay, maybe you do know why it's in code, because somehow the conversation got your video delisted. It can't be the content of the video itself, that doesn't make any sense.

But a cover up of... strange behavior in the comments section

that fits a little better.

...But it also implies that this is bigger than you first suspected, because it means the company running the streaming video site is actively hiding whatever it is these people are talking about. Ten Flying Leaps' joke (you hope it's a joke) about being "turboswatted" suggests that being silenced on the subject isn't even unusual.

. . .

You just don't know enough.

There's information here. You know that. They're trying to tell you something but it's like it's buried under an entire subculture you've never seen before.

For now, the best you can do is take their game suggestions. That seems pretty straightforward--they listed games, you should try some of those games. Maybe you'll figure out what the rest of it means later.

. . .

A seven. A seven what?

Ugh.

You send a private message to user The Thirst Guy.

User Porcelain Salamander sent:
Thank you.


You also do a quick search online for the price of cheap cell phones.

...Which are becoming a rarity, it turns out. As companies push for data plans and contracts and long term commitments, and as companies are... well, consumed by bigger companies until there's only a handful left, fewer and fewer outlets are providing cheap flip phones. There's also been a big push to ban what's referred to as 'burner phones,' citing their use by the criminal element.

MondolMall does still sell them, though, according to the internet. The current going price is... just about your entire funds at the moment.

So you can get a cheap phone, but it's going to be from Mondol and you'd be broke afterwards. You do need a phone, but that's a tough call versus saving up more and getting... not a MondolPhone.

Maybe you'll get lucky and Kate's hypothetical black market psychiatrist also sells off-market cell phones. You're past due for good luck at this point, it's not too much to ask.


You decide to just... say fuck it and take a bath.

You have shit to do but you can do it when your brain isn't about to explode.



Your bathroom is small, but surprisingly nice.

The whole house, honestly, wouldn't be bad if it wasn't for everything it does and is involved with.

You try not to think about what all's going on--in fact, you try not to think at all, just relax.

It's harder than it sounds, though. How much do those random internet commenters know? Have they gone through what you're going through... or are they keeping up with your exploits? Do they know what you're doing in the dream? Are you being monitored?

Watched?

A great thing to consider while you're sitting naked in the bathtub, naturally.

You can't get Cici's apartment out of your head--the idea of sensors, everywhere, constantly scanning for a turn of phrase or a slipped keyword. Constantly analyzing everyone. Constantly taking information and feeding it to algorithms and selling it to the highest bidder.

Maybe the dream's just some kind of fucked up game show, and everyone on the internet is a huge fan of you getting shit shoved up in your brain.

. . .

The worst part--

the worst part is that in a vacuum, you don't even think you'd care. The worst part is that as terrifying and otherworldly and unknown as your dreams in this house are, you're more confident in there than you are out here.

You're more at ease running from monsters than human cops.

You've been caught by the monsters, you experienced a very real and very visceral death, and somehow the prospect of facing that again fills you with less dread than the thought of getting arrested.

Because that doesn't just end.

It keeps going. And you'd have to go to court. And sit in jail. And talk to cops. And get your video posting schedule all fucked up and lose followers because you didn't post anything for weeks or months or however long you're imprisoned. Probably lose your house and be homeless afterward. And have a fucking record that you get to carry with you forever.

The monsters just kill you and that's the end of it.

Even knowing that the dungeon could actually kill you, in real life, if what the mayor said was accurate--even knowing that, you'd rather take on the dungeon than argue with the mayor or deal with her creepy secretary or ride a bus with a bunch of strangers or

There's a weird sense of escapism in the nightmare.

The flooding dungeon scares you less than walking outside does and that makes you very, very uncomfortable to realize.

At least being afraid in there felt rational. It feels oppressive because it IS, it's an entire fucked up physical manifestation of the worst period of your life with a sole, singular purpose in making you suffer and die.

...But outside feels like that, too. Like the world just wants to hurt you.

It always has, and it shouldn't, but it does and it's insane.

Or maybe it's you.

Maybe you're going insane.

Maybe you lost your mind growing up in a place and time where you had to constantly hide who you really are, constantly lie straight to the face of your friends and your family and your teachers about what kind of person you are and what love even means to you.

Maybe you lost your mind when the only person you had, the only person you believed in and who believed in you, the only person who knew YOU, the REAL MOTHERFUCKING YOU

that person just

stayed behind.

For you, Addersfield was torture. It was Hell. Not even the avatar of it, the representation of it in your nightmares, does it justice. You would rather die than go back to Addersfield.

You thought Lora hated it as much as you did.

You thought that hiding what you had, who you were, was as painful for her as it was for you.

Apparently it wasn't, though.

Apparently she was fine giving you up to keep it.



You breathe a heavy sigh.

You know you need to stop thinking about her but you can't.

She was supposed to come with you. That was always the plan. She'd rescue you, or you'd rescue her, and you'd run away from Addersfield forever and find a place where you can be together without being afraid. You had both been talking about it since you were kids. That was the dream.

It's hard to think about the house, the situation, the dungeon without remembering that she was at some point going to be in this with you.

You're alone and you shouldn't be.

You shouldn't have to be.

You weren't supposed to be.


. . .


No.

Fuck that.

Fuck all of that, you're not alone.

Cici and Kate both knew you less than a day but they were willing to fight with you. For you.

The bus is a bus but she's a cool bus and she supports you.

Maria helped you and she had no reason to.

Meatloaf is a cat and he's fat and you can go pet him whenever you want.

This isn't god damn Addersfield. Everyone's been nice and accepting and ridiculously competent, not a bunch of old overzealous fucks lashing out as the modern world leaves them behind. There might be nefarious forces at work in this town but at least the town itself is not a nefarious fucking force.

Ninelives isn't perfect but you're not trapped here. Not like you were in Addersfield.

You have some semblance of freedom. You can get shit done.

You should get shit done, because while you can't help everyone the way they've been helping you there IS something only you seem capable of right now, and that's dealing with whatever the fuck this house's deal is. There's something, SOMETHING in that dream--something the mayor wants, something that Mondol might want. You're not yet sure if you should let that something fall into Parsons' hands, but you sure as hell have to keep it away from Mondol or the feds or whatever other faceless evil might be hunting for it.

Ninelives isn't perfect but the problems it has are problems you, Plaire Stevens, can actually oppose in a meaningful way and you've never had that until now.

Kate knows somebody that can get you anxiety medication. Worst case scenario, she knows someone that can get you level--not a good solution if you plan to keep doing parkour, but it is, at least, a cheap and dirty answer to the basic act of living with yourself.

You know that personal sized med synthesizers exist. They've gotta be expensive as hell, but you also have the internet... which means, given enough time and research, you could possibly build one and just make your own anxiety medication.

There's probably online mental health sites you could check out, but the thought of facechatting or--God forbid--talking with a therapist over the phone is actually less appetizing than the alternative five hours of driving round trip to meet a therapist is.

At any rate, you have options.

You have people willing to help you.

...You're not really used to having either of those.





You drain the tub, dry off, and get dressed. It's time to get shit done.

...Even if it's small shit.

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23rd Jan 2020, 10:48 PM
Hari_Seldon
Ok Mondol sells flip phones but it's Mondol so please no.

You could just email your friends for free, right? Or use Google Hangouts on your PC or phone to text or call them. Of course both are probably insecure and on record. Signal is secure and can be installed on laptops and phones for free but both people need to have it.
https://signal.org/

How about visiting The Back Room now (before they close you did wake up at noon) and finding Kate in the evening to talk anxiety meds and burner phones or non-Mondol flip phones?
23rd Jan 2020, 10:52 PM
Visiting the Back Room may not qualify as "small shit" because it's an unfamiliar place full of unfamiliar people. I have basically the exact same neuroses as Plaire, so I would know lol

A better bet would be to go talk to Cici-- she's familiar and also Meatloaf is a cat, and petting a cat is always a good thing to do but it's especially good when you're anxious. Cici can help us figure out when Kate gets off work so we can talk to Kate about anxiety meds and a phone, and going to the Back Room *with Kate* might also make it easier to do, so it would still be making progress toward eventually getting to the Back Room if we take the baby step of going to a familiar, friendly place.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:00 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 I changed my mind go to the library and get Cici's, Kate Halford's, Maria's, and Franklin's phone numbers and addresses and the phone numbers of anyone we learned about in the town brochure. Then ask Cici how to meet Kate then meet Kate to ask about anxiety meds and burner phones and see if we have enough money to buy some meds. Then play some Captemon and go to bed. Visit The Back Room tomorrow.

Edit: also ask Cici about how to do calisthenics at home to exercise
23rd Jan 2020, 10:48 PM
FUCK YEAH let's do some small shit!

We know Cici wants to talk to us where there aren't cameras, so one option is going to talk to Cici and also petting Meatloaf. We can pet Meatloaf *a lot.* Cici might also know when Kate gets off work so we can go talk to her about drugs and possibly a burner phone when she does.

Another option would be playing one of the games that the comments mentioned. Especially if they're older games, it should be easy (and not terribly morally troublesome) to emulate them.

Basically, it's down to whether we feel capable of leaving the house right now. Either one of these options would be a productive one.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:10 PM
Snervalton
+1 to try emulating one of the older mentioned games
24th Jan 2020, 2:08 AM
Lunar Waffles
+1 to bring Cici up to speed, maybe ask if she want's to see if there is a co-op option x: (asking Kate as well ofc) she might need to bring a sleeping bag though
24th Jan 2020, 7:55 AM
+1 to going to Cici's
23rd Jan 2020, 10:56 PM
Limrix
We've just scraped the surface of a very deep hole. Let's find out what we can about the people who contacted us, and then head to the back room and see if we can find some answers. Determination and curiosity should help to keep our mind steady.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:07 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 to visiting The Back Room if we have time, but I think we should spend our money on anxiety meds from Kate.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:04 PM
Hari_Seldon
Don't forget to read the town brochure for points of interest we don't know about.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:11 PM
Snervalton
+1
I think this qualifies as some small, but useful, shit.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:05 PM
"Married a Seven": Seven nights left sleeping in the house before the dreams consume you

"They really knew how to make games back then": The dreams are designed. Possibly some kind of VR experiment, maybe even intentionally some kind of game that generates challenges based off your past experiences.

Mondol phones: There is no ethical consumption under capitalism. It doesn't matter what corporate entity you boycott if you're doing it alone. The main thing to worry about here is price.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:13 PM
Snervalton
Not sure if price really is the only thing to worry about. Would getting a phone from a different company ensure that we are under less surveillance? Or at least not under surveillance from a company that is a major political player in this town?
24th Jan 2020, 12:49 AM
Other companies would likely have the same amount of surveillance. Whenever it is possible, data is collected so it can be sold. You're right about mondol being a major player in the town though, and that might have the possibility of causing issues for us if we're to get a phone from them, especially since we're starting to align ourselves as their enemies.

Perhaps we could look into what could be done to lessen or eliminate the surveillance capabilities and data collection of the phone? Someone here or on the internet would likely know something about cracking phones.

We could also look around town to see if we could get any second-hand. Buying from pawnshops is especially good since it doesn't support the manufacturers and also likely means buying items at a lower price.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:08 PM
So - what are the chances a 'seven' is someone who has been in the dungeon or something like it? Someone who has played the game. And the Toward software guy married one and that's why he designs games the way he does, having spoken with them about it a lot.

Maybe we should find out who his spouse is. Maybe even try to contact them?
23rd Jan 2020, 11:12 PM
undeadDreamer
You're Plaire Stevens who's name sounds like Player Seven who's age, height in inches, and weight are all divisible by seven. Now somebody is talking about sevens. What is it with you and sevens?
24th Jan 2020, 9:48 AM
pkrankow
Plausible
From the ID on pg 2

Might as well check the ID again.



Plaire Stevens
Female, Age 21
5'3" and 98 lbs
Blood Type A
Red Hair, Hazel Eyes
Addersfield, Misuschaqua


5 ft 3 inches is 63 inches.
24th Jan 2020, 11:45 AM
Porcelaine Salamander is Plaire's account.
25th Jan 2020, 7:21 AM
pkrankow
Fan art on discord confirms it in one of the oldest pictures.
23rd Jan 2020, 11:18 PM
pkrankow
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_of_Solomon
Can control djinn

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dullahan
Headless fairy horsemen

Porcelaine Salamander
is a short by Orson Scott Card
Porcelain is ceramic and a Salamander is a type of oven

Hmm....
23rd Jan 2020, 11:26 PM
Hari_Seldon
Next time we visit Cici we should ask about how to exercise at home using calisthenics.
24th Jan 2020, 3:57 AM
23rd Jan 2020, 11:36 PM
I love/hate that the entire middle third of this page. Everything from the third ". . ." to "stayed behind." is some of the most on point writing I have ever read. I relate to it too much and it hurts. Thank you for crystallizing this very specific feeling.
24th Jan 2020, 12:57 AM
23rd Jan 2020, 11:40 PM
A Fitting tribute, and potential theme song by Bruce Cockburn/The Barenaked Ladies
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dGNDUdtNh8
24th Jan 2020, 4:08 AM
37212513
Did anyone else notice the number pattern?
12807? Solo(mon), Du(lahan), 80's, a '7'....
Maybe it's an address? Numbers are tact on to the end of internet addresses to represent a number of things you don't name. Plaire did mention addresses when commenting on hidden videos. Just something I noticed, probably nothing.
24th Jan 2020, 5:42 AM
Woohoo, good going Plaire! Bask in that feeling of confidence and will to do something as you think of what to do next!
Personally I'd say check our food supplies and anything else we'd need for our life, to decide whether we should go grocery shopping first. Also check how many clothes there are before a visit to the laundromat is needed.
And if none of those things are immediate concerns, I'd say get on the bus, maybe ask around if it could mediate a meeting between you and Kate - perhaps just ask it to ask her when and where it would be possible to meet - and then maybe go check out the Backroom. Or, if you're that uncomfortable going to a new place with new, exciteable people without something against the anxiety, you could also go to the library and pet Meatloaf. Either is an equally valid and important option.
24th Jan 2020, 11:14 AM
Hari_Seldon
I JUST REALIZED SOMETHING about the knife engraving "Remember the First Lie":

"Ye shall not surely die." - Satan
That was the first lie in the Bible.

And the mayor said the Dream Alcazar is going to kill us.
24th Jan 2020, 1:20 PM
Hari_Seldon
Do you think the YouTube comment (in Plaire's video game powers video) mentioning "MASAMOON" is a reference to TYPE-MOON and the Fate series? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type-Moon#Fate/
Fate is basically a visual novel waifu game where you can summon historical and mythical figures to fight for you.
24th Jan 2020, 2:54 PM
Ah, so it's some bizarro world where companies making fighting games swapped with dating sims.
Wonder what the CAPCOM equivalent pulled in terms of VNs...
24th Jan 2020, 2:41 PM
WE MUST GO PET MEATLOAF!!!!! NOW!!!!!
24th Jan 2020, 2:44 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 we have a lot of business at Cici's public library but don't forget to pet meatloaf
24th Jan 2020, 7:02 PM
Hari_Seldon
Last minute idea maybe we could ask the bus where Kate Halford's house is.
24th Jan 2020, 8:08 PM
Just wanted to note that if The Back Room is filled with tinfoil-hat types, maybe they would know how to jury-rig a Mondol phone so we can get an affordable phone that's still secure.

Still wouldn't recommend buying a phone yet until we have more money. Gotta eat.
Speaking of which, we do eventually need to check Maria's grocery. If it's out of commission, even temporarily, we might have to shop at Mondol as we specifically bought only limited groceries.
22nd Feb 2020, 10:18 AM
You know, back when VampMayor offered to buy Player's (sorry, Plaire's) house, I thought to myself,

"Sure, she's super cagey. But Plaire could die here. Why would she RISK HER LIFE because the person offering the easy out (obvious bad end) is acting suspicious? She's a normal girl; not a paranormal expert or exorcist, she can't even dash a hundred feet before running out of breath. She's not equipped to handle it, and more than that, has NO REASON to try.

"So, sell the house and get out. Sure, it ruins the story for us, but it's in her best interests, and that's what makes sense in-character as well."

Now, scratch that. She has a meaningful purpose behind her now. Go for it Plaire, we're rooting for you!