Part 19: MElancholy
We have new directives, but we don't know where to use them yet. For this next route, we're going back to the upper path of the flowchart. Starting from the beginning of the flowchart:
Ancora 'wakes up in the classroom, and after introducing herself, decides to speak to Superbia. After they solve the puzzle and leave the classroom, they run into Ira, Avaritia, and Tristitia, and Ancora introduces herself to Ira. Luxuria and Gula exit their room without the ninth person. ME explains some more of the rules, and after she's done, Ancora approaches Gula first to introduce herself. The group make their way into what was known as the Crossroads when the school was open, and in the process Superbia hits her helmet on the doorframe and is incapacitated. Ancora helps Ira with her. The group split up to search for more ME-cards so they can initiate the first voting session, and this gives Ancora the opportunity to hack into another person's helmet; she decides to hack Ira, which is how she learns that Ira and Superbia are a couple. She uses this to her advantage in the first voting session, goading a fight between Ira and Superbia which leads to Ira committing suicide by asking the group to vote him out in a show of defiance. The group complies, and Ira is executed.
The group slowly leaves the Crossroads afterwards, but Ancora and Luxuria stay behind to put the used cards into the machine in the center. Luxuria floats the idea of forming a team with Superbia, who is shaken by Ira's death. After the door leading to the next batch of rooms is open, the group explores briefly before regrouping, at which point Luxuria brings up the fact she wishes to form a team with the rest of the participants; however, the rest of the group for the most part is against this. Ancora ends up agreeing with the rest, and the topic is dropped. At this point, Ancora has two options of who to team up with...
With those group compositions in mind, Ancora went with...
Well, we know now that going with Avaritia and Gula is a dead end, so we've gotta take the other option this time.
I'll just stick to the original plan with Bia and Lux.
Since we're going with Bia... we should go look for her real quick. She can't have gone much further...
The only way out of the wing was the way they all came in from, since anything leading further in was blocked by doors or walls. Because the doors clearly didn't have the rabbit in their surroundings, there was only one place she could be: after the bend, on the left.
She still didn't care much to group with Superbia after the fiasco of the first voting session. While they deliberated about it, Avaritia and Gula readied themselves and made their way to the door closest to the group- the first one down the hall on the left.
I don't really have a preference...
Invidia didn't seem in disagreement with that course of action. Ancora wasn't either, so the group started walking. However, she could tell that something was bothering Tristitia.
Hey, Trist... something on your mind?
Ah, no, not really... But I was thinking about epiphanies. You know what an epiphany is, right?
Yeah, kind of. Had an idea?
Maybe. I don't know if I can really talk about it yet, though. I'm a little bit reticent for now, since it's still somewhat baseless.
So he did have an idea, then?
No reason to press him for details right now.
Well, no matter for now, then. Lux, are you okay?
Ancora directed a flood of positive energy towards the partner she'd have for the next room, ignoring Tristitia's pondering for now.
Yeah... Think we'll be fine, though?
The blond one nodded with an encouraging smile. It wasn't like Luxuria could see it, but Ancora wished she could have.
Have to remember everyone's a criminal, here. Can't get too acquainted with them. Even Luxuria did something.
Despite that thought, Ancora decided to play along with Luxuria's whims for the time being. She was going to keep her friends close... and her potential enemies closer. A very short while later, Avaritia and Gula disappeared into their room. The leftover group of four went together further down the hall; Invidia and Tristitia would leave for the second room, while Ancora and Luxuria fetched Superbia.
Have fun with Bia!
Ancora could tell that was sarcasm. With a wave, the two of them vanished inside the room. Ancora tried to stretch her neck over to peek inside, but the door was already shut by the time she had the opportunity to do so.
Let's get Bia now.
Ancora could also tell that she wasn't too enthused about it. No surprises there; very few of them were enamored with the bunny girl, if anybody at all.
For good reason.
Very soon, their steps brought them to the corner of the hallway where Superbia had disappeared to. It was right next to the metal plates Ancora had previously investigated.
BGM: Memini Meminisse
What the fuck do you two want? Go away.
She was not in a good mood.
Look, we have to go explore the rooms...
You insane? I'm not moving from here. If things have to get bad... then let them get as bad as they'll be, I don't care.
Um... I don't think we can reason with her...
Luxuria timidly spoke to Ancora. Seeing how the situation wouldn't improve if they did nothing anyway, she gave it a shot.
Bia... we should form a vote group.
And with Superbia, it would be four. As much as she didn't want to think about it, Ancora believed that could work.
What a conundrum. Either not have a vote group and be at the mercy of everyone else again, or form a vote group with this... uh... bad egg?
I... I don't like seeing you like this. I was thinking we could include you in it. We'd all vote for the same person, and since we'd be four in it, then...
She left what would happen up in the air, but it was clear. This did get Superbia's attention, and soon enough she perked up a little.
Well... I guess this won't get me killed...
Ancora knew Superbia was thinking about it now. A few moments later, and she slowly stood back up, looking a little reticent, but willing to cooperate.
Huh. Luxuria actually convinced her rather easily. It was a little smooth, too. Hmm...
Fine... Fine, then. Whatever. Okay, I'm in.
That was easy.
The rabbit girl was a little less reticent to accompany the others. Ancora was thankful for that, because they needed their full team of three to begin with.
I'm very happy about that. Let's go now, we really have to hurry to that first room or we'll run out of time.
The group ran back to the closed doors and slid into the room next to them. All in all, this meeting had taken a few minutes off their clock. Inside, what greeted them was...
They marveled at this room they had never seen firsthand. And then, the 39 seconds elapsed.
BGM: ME Mori
On the dot, their visions were all taken by ME, just as the door leading outside of the room locked.
I hope you remember the newspaper article from the first room you've explored, because this is the Principal's Office, home of the Principal, the man who was arrested. Normally, it is in another wing, but that wing was destroyed by an explosion. Terrible affair, isn't it? And why am I mentioning this? I wonder if you can put together the puzzle.
That man is a rather large link between all of you, even if you ignored it up to now. Unfortunately, you won't be learning his name yet. I say that, but someone in your group already knows his name, since they are relatives! If they remember it, that's another matter entirely. Maybe you'll learn it soon! Either way, that's my introduction done. Don't forget...
The entire speech was much shorter this time around, lasting only a minute or two. The group of three looked at each other, trying to determine how to take that information.
Ancora pointed at an opening in the wall, in the far back.
And there's that area, too. We should investigate that.
Do you think there's another room connected to this one, as pasrt of the puzzle?
What do you think would be beyond the principal's office?
Beats me... Okay, let's go.
The three of them split up as convened. Superbia took the left side, while Luxuria focused on the right side, leaving Ancora to do as she pleased.
As always, going to talk to our companions before we do anything else. The topic we can ask about is, well, the principal. We're going to start with Luxuria this time.
I was wondering if you had any thought about the principal himself. It seems like his involvement with us might be a lot deeper than we first imagined...
I don't know. I can't remember anything about him. For some reason, though, when I hear Principal, I imagine a big, muscly man. You know, like a wrestler? I don't know why. I just feel like principals are large men with imposing physiques. Very solid guys, with rich-looking clothes, a little tight but not too much, with a tie and a pair of glasses...
Seeing how Luxuria was straying from the question, Ancora tried shaking her out of it.
Um, Earth to Lux, are you here?
She didn't get an answer for another few seconds.
Ancora couldn't tell if Luxuria was daydreaming about that description, or if she'd been mentally scarring herself by imagining it.
If you want to know about his name, I don't know. I can't remember what he looks like. But I feel like that man must have been a daddy.
don't say it like THAT, please
That makes sense... Most people get families.
I know for a fact he had one. And someone in this group of nine is a relative, too.
Maybe we should get back to the search...
You're right, let's go back.
Next up is Superbia.
Do you know what's linking him to us? It's kind of... weird. I mean, he's clearly important in some fashion, but I just can't imagine what's going on...
I don't know any more than you do, honestly. I'm trying to remember something, and it just won't come out. It's like I'm this close to actually realizing something important, and I can't even fucking do it...
I know, I can't remember much either...
This conversation again, huh?
She snapped her fingers.
UGH! I can't remember any more than just a letter. Boyd? No, that's not right...
I'm sure you can remember more in due time. Our amnesia can't be permanent, right? Like Vidi imagined, it's just gotta be a side effect...
Your desire to waste time with idle talking is incredible.
Let's go back to the search.
Alright, and now we can begin poking around. The door on the left is the one we came in through, so we can rule that out immediately. I'm starting our search with the bookcase on the right side.
I don't think that's going to open right now. There's some kind of electronics...
Yeah, I know. Behind the glass is a bunch of books. I don't see anything interesting.
Then why would it have the keypad?
I don't know... maybe there's something. Like you said, though...
She dejectedly sighed.
We can't open it yet.
We need to gather more information to open this. I mean, I can unlock it, but it would look really shady if I just did it. They'd immediately realize something's wrong.
Next up, the huge mess of books on the floor.
This is a big mess! How are we supposed to find anything in this pile of books?
What are you two dolts doing now? This isn't a ballpit.
We're looking for clues.
In this messy pile of books? Eugh, fine, I'll look too.
Guess she wants to get this whole search done and over with faster. I wonder why she changed her mind; beforehand, she wasn't all too useful, and now she's a lot less reticent. It's possible she's actually so afraid she'll be picked out for the vote that she feels she has no choice but to help out now.
The three of them separated the pile into books on various subjects. Most of them seemed largely useless, with titles such as 'Cooking Apprentice' and 'Writer's Block: Edition Five'.
This is messier than my room... Um, it's not just made of books, either. I think I spy a journal with a lock?
Maybe it's not his own...
On the back is written: Do not forcefully open! A mechanism will cause the book to incinerate itself! You have been warned!
Nice of them to warn us so we don't lose the contents of this book. But really? That's an elaborate failsafe!
Reminds me of another kind of book, a black one, that if the police got their hands on it, it would burn itself up... Some kind of notebook.
So what now?
We have no choice but to keep it around while we search for a key.
There's two sides of the desk we can check, so let's start with the cabinet on the right.
Okay... I'm gonna open it.
The small and timid girl reached for the handle, then she pulled the door open and inside was...
I don't... I don't think this is related to the room!
She closed the door afterwards and left the desk's surroundings. Ancora watched it all happen from the sidelines, offering no comments.
I better check on it again, just to make sure, anyway.
Leaning down, she opened the door and looked into it again. It sure was a head contained in the pot of formaldehyde. It was kind of hard to tell, because the hair was covering the entire side.
Let's see... underneath it, there are a few words. First, eliminate 2. Huh...
Something's familiar about this presentation. I can't exactly put my finger on it.
Did you hear me, Lux?
Well, that's that... First, eliminate 2, let's remember that.
If we examine it a second time...
Hey, Bia. Come take a look at this.
Here we go!
Superbia walked over to the desk, looking over Ancora's shoulder at what she was pointing towards.
It's a closed cabinet.
The blond girl fell to the ground, feeling the harsh resonating vibrations coursing through the interior of the helmet.
W... worth it...
That's all we can do with the head. Time to check out the drawers on the left side of the desk.
Behind this desk are some drawers. Mind taking a look in them?
Hey, you found them, why don't you do it for a change?
Superbia was about to retort, but she cleared her throat instead. It seemed as though, for a moment, she was going to act as she always did, but in the end she restrained herself.
Well, fine. I'll do it then.
In a surprising turn of events, Superbia opened the drawers herself, one by one, checking into each of them for any clue. She reached into the final one and pulled out an item.
There's a key in here. It's not like the ones before... It's missing some parts...?
I guess we have to keep our eyes peeled for anything that resembles the other half of a key. And we also have to find where the lock is. Maybe it opens a box?
She pointed at the hallway behind the wall, a little further away.
There's a door in there, and it's locked. I think that's where this goes.
Wow, did you quadruple your intellect in the span of five minutes?
Just if you want, huh.
Yes, just if I want, shortie. Let's keep searching now, we don't have much time to waste.
She reminds me a little of Invidia like this.
There's nothing else of note in the drawers, so next we'll check out that table in the back.
The table was mostly empty. Some thin binders contained a few newspaper clippings.
There are a few articles that might be interesting...
There's this one marked with a 7, related to the bombs that blew up parts of the school.
No, there's a fourth one. This one's talking about drugs, and it's marked with a 1. Apparently, one of the rooms of the school contained a massive amount of drugs. No one ever went in or out, and eventually it aroused suspicion...
...and that's when that room's contents came to light. Yeah, I actually remember that. How much was in there again?
If memory serves... there had been enough estimated value to buy an entire castle.
Nothing like a vast amount of illicit substances to draw the attention of the police for sustained monitoring.
Luxuria voiced a concern following their interest in the article about drugs.
But this doesn't really help us, does it? We still don't know which of all these is the Principal's crime.
We should keep the numbers in mind, at least. I bet they're linked to this room in general.
The trio kept the newspapers close for future reference.
Lastly, there's the shelves on the wall.
And there's a green pot...
And... some books...
And if we check the shelves one more time...
Look out, here comes Sir Am Icvase. And his companion, Sir Hamic Varz. Together, they're the two ceramic vases...
References to the first game aside, it's time to check out that hallway.
Ancora walked around the corner in the back of the room, doing a U turn into a small hallway. At the very back, and hidden from view, was a door.
There's a door here aaand... I doubt we can unlock it with only half of a key.
Hearing the girl talk about a key, Luxuria came into the little hallway in the back of the room.
You mean a half like this one?
She showed the item to Ancora, before the blond girl took it to add to the other half, busying her hands while they spoke about it.
Uhh... I don't remember.
How do you forget something like that? That doesn't make any sense to me.
I just don't remember, okay? I think I picked it up from one of those drawers next to the mess...
Well, whatever; this works regardless. Let's see, on the count of five...
Five. Hey, wait, where did you come from?
Superbia had joined the two of them out of nowhere. Without a word, she gave an annoyed sigh and snatched the key from Ancora's hand, hip bumping the girl on over to take her spot, and she inserted the key into the keyhole, turning it to unlock the door.
No more dumb countdowns. We have a whole other room to explore, so let's get going. Our time's diminishing by the minute!
Now they could use the little hallway to go into the next room.
They have no comment for this new room, apparently. We'll start with the clock by the door and go left from there.
This is cool. I always wanted to have one of those grandfather clocks.
It looks old, and also, what's with the cog imagery around the clock itself?
She pointed with her thumb, tracing the surface of the clock with it afterwards to check for dust.
Hey, you're gonna mess with the time!
There's nothing for us to do with the mirror, so next we'll look at that armoire.
What about this wardrobe?
Won't unlock. Neither the left nor the right door works. I think we have to do something else first...
The small girl crossed her arms, rather put off about her investigation yielding no results.
Just have to figure out what to do with it, then.
Let me guess, these contain nothing too?
Let's just hope we don't really have to eliminate anyone to leave this room... Let's put it with the other important stuff we found. I'm getting the hang of this now.
The shelves above the bed.
There's the dictionary on the shelves above the bed. To be more precise, it's a dictionary in... parts?
Who would read the dictionary as small time literature? Wouldn't that get absurdly boring or something...? Why not stories about unicorns?
Judging by the look of this place, I don't think whoever lives here would read stories about unicorns. There's a thesaurus in there, too.
Is that some kind of dinosaur? The thesaurus rex?
That's the tyrannosaurus rex. A thesaurus is just a dictionary for obnoxious people. This isn't useful to our search. Guess we can shelve this thought for now.
And lastly, the bed.
Maybe it's a replicated one, and not the actual one...
Duh. That must've been obvious; then again, you don't expect Pandora to be able to do something like this, so I can't fault them for not thinking about it.
I just wonder about the reason for replicating all these rooms...
Maybe it's so we feel at home? I don't feel like Pandora would want us to live here, though... We only have six hours in total, more or less.
If either of you want to search this bed more, feel free. I'm gonna check the rest of the stuff in here; it all looks so interesting, comparatively.
Yeah, sure, leave the people with the lesser stuff, won't you?
You feel like someone who leaves the people with the lesser stuff, so that's your purgatory now.
And if we check the bed out a second time...
I'm not a peasant, you idiot-
I don't care what you are; I care about what you found... if you found anything.
There was this piece of paper with a diagram. It's giving a bunch of hours, and I don't get it at all. Just take it; I'm gonna sleep here a little.
In the middle of an investigation? Didn't you just say we didn't have much time before?
A girl needs her beauty sleep.
And if we investigate the bed one more time...
HOLY SHIT, A LION! GET IN THE CAR!
Whozzawhat? Huh, what the hell?! Ugh! Let me nap!
No! Get back to the search!
Reminder this game came out in 2020, so I couldn't begin to tell you why it's referencing a 4chan meme from like 2006. Anyway, with the paper, we can re-examine the clock now.
After admiring the clock for a short moment, Ancora pulled out the piece of paper with the hours on it. Slowly, she adjusted each clock hand to the hours, minutes, and seconds indicated on it. Seeing how a few combinations didn't work in any way whatsoever, she gave up, not understanding what was wrong.
Tried all three combinations?
The bunny spied onto the paper Ancora was holding; the one Superbia herself had found.
None of them work.
Try adding them together.
Ancora tried that, but she saw no result. She was about to give up, but after a few seconds had passed... A small click echoed from a nearby piece of furniture.
The rabbit had already left the surroundings by the time Ancora realized that the clock itself opened, too. Inside was an object, waiting at the very bottom. It was a golden key.
Perfect... now maybe we can get that journal open...
Yeah, and keep talking to yourself aloud too. Good idea, Ancora.
Before we investigate that noise, we can go ahead and open the journal now by combining the gold key with the journal in our inventory.
Using the key she found in the clock, Ancora opened the journal. Flicking through the pages, she looked for any hints, but it was clear this was purposefully left blank for the most part.
Find anything in it?
Not yet. The pages are blank.
Superbia tried swiping the book over to give her own cursory search, but Ancora avoided her by quickly shifting to the side. She was nearing the end, anyway. The most interesting page was the penultimate one, on which some words were written, accompanied by a large periodic table of elements.
Keep note of the latter part, at least. The first part is... not related to the answer to this room. It's just that this Principal has a daughter...
Someone with daddy issues, huh? And what's with the periodic table? Ugh, that's so dumb.
Ancora closed the journal back up to resume her search.
The noise we heard was the wardrobe unlocking, so we can check that out again.
This is where I heard the click from. This thing should open now.
And just as predicted, the doors flew wide open after Ancora tugged onto them. She hadn't expected them to open nearly this easily, so the force she put in made her fall down right onto her ass.
Hey, watch out.
Do my sensory inputs decieve me? Did she just care for someone else?
Inside is another one of those pieces of paper... This one says: Second, eliminate 4. I wonder what that's all about...
Clearly, they're directives, but I'm not sure if we have everything we need with this. Let's keep looking around some more.
The piece of paper was added to their stuff.
We do, in fact, have everything we need to solve a puzzle in the first room, and there's nothing else for us here, so we're going back to solve that. Specifically, we're ready to solve the locked bookshelf. The solution for this one is to look at all four slips of paper that have to do with the numbers, and take note of the order they list. The jar head is first, with the number 2. Then the wardrobe note, which is 4. Then the journal, which is 7. Lastly, the bedroom nightstand note, which is 1. Therefore, the code to open the bookshelf is 2471.
I think we can open this now. We've found a few pieces of evidence with numbers on them, and this keypad takes numbers...
Oh, I want to do it. What's the code?
The code has something to do with the numbers. Remember 7, 2, 1, and 4?
Yeah. So what's the code?
Her tone was a little more demanding now. Since she stood beside the keypad, it was clear she wanted to input the number.
Well, we had indications before, too... How did they go again?
Everything needed to solve this has been gathered, so let's do it.
There you go. The correct code is 2471.
Ancora communicated the answer to Luxuria, who immediately input the combination, making the glass door open slightly. Now, the group could access the books inside.
Huh... I thought the numbers were for...
Hey! Look, inside, there are some ME-cards!
Luxuria already had swiped one, and she gave the other to Superbia. However, since there were only two cards, it left Ancora without one. There was something else inside, though. Ancora managed to grab a key out of the bookshelf, from behind other books.
And there's something else; there's a piece of paper inside. I bet it's related to the question.
Pulling it out, she read it over and then showed it to the others. Apparently, she had no idea what it meant.
If you eliminate those four, what is left? That's what it says.
Feels like... this time around, we don't have a lot of possible outcomes, huh?
Yeah. It's pretty simple for a question.
Huh? Huh? What's simple?
The answer, I think I have it.
Even I could deduce it. Why was this room a hella lot easier than the first fucking dumb room we've been in? Whatever. Let's gather at the door when you two are ready.
They're right, anyway. The paper has everything to do with the question.
Wait, wait, I don't know what the answer is.
Then don't answer the door. You'll have a 100% chance of living, too.
No, I mean, I'd like to understand the process...
Oh, well, it's rather simple.
She shrugged, motioning over to their combined findings.
Some stuff in there most likely has multiple uses. For instance, there's this whole elimination business that I don't think we're quite done with yet...
So the crime the Principal committed was... the bombs? He was the one who set them off as revenge for getting arrested? No, wait...
That's my conclusion, too. It's the only thing that makes sense based on everything we gathered.
No, that's wrong.
She shook her head a little.
The Principal didn't set off the bombs. That's most decidedly someone else. I guess I'll just answer, then. It's simpler that way.
No objections from me.
None from me, either...
Let ME out! The Principal's crime is...
The answer is pretty obvious, but if you haven't figured it out yet, the answer is 'nothing'- the only four crimes that are listed in this room are all ruled out by the clues that we found to open the bookshelf. Therefore, the principal has not committed any crime!
Nothing! He did not commit any crime!
For a moment, it seemed like the answer was wrong, but the door came unlocked very shortly. The two other girls released a breath they'd been holding.
What? What kind of answer is that? We searched through this entire place, we got a list of four crimes- four!- and the answer was no crime?!
Exactly. Eliminating all the numbers to open the bookcase wasn't the only use for the indications we found here. I forgot to tell you Lux, but there also was third, eliminate 7 that I found inside the journal. We just didn't keep track of it on a paper or anything. So your reasoning was good- it was just ignoring part of the solution.
Well, let's get the fuck out of here then. Everything's unlocked, so let's live.
Timer's going down, but we were fairly fast. Let's go!
The two of them left, followed by Ancora.
Probably one of the simplest rooms in here. Perhaps even the simplest one altogether. But this is interesting, isn't it? While this answer should come as no surprise, we now have introduced other crimes into the equation. Crimes the Principal didn't commit. Of course not. The reason is that... My Emptiness is to blame for all of those crimes.